LINCOLN — It was some pretty simple math Saturday when it came time for Nebraska to sit back and crunch the numbers from a 49-10 win over Louisiana Tech.
The 332 passing yards plus the 252 rushing yards added up to something more than just the highest total in the Bill Callahan era as Husker head coach. They provided something Callahan and his football staff hold sacred: Balance.
"Offensively, I think this is probably the most complete game we've had since we've been here,'' NU offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. "As far as converting on third down, running the football, scoring in the red zone, throwing for a high percentage . . . all those things.''
Nebraska wasn't as excited about its 584 total yards as how it got them. One element of the offense set up the other, and vice versa, in NU's march to a 21st straight season-opening win.
"That's what we want,'' quarterback Zac Taylor said. "That's the type of offense we want to run every game.''
The largest Memorial Stadium crowd ever — 85,181 — might not have seen it coming after NU's first three offensive series produced two punts and a Taylor interception. The Huskers then started overwhelming a team that finished 7-4 last season but was replacing nine starters defensively.
With Taylor passing accurately and the offensive line clearing room for all four I-backs, Nebraska followed with scoring drives of 65, 74 and 78 yards to finish the first half, then added 72 yards to start the second.
Nebraska already had 400-plus yards heading into the fourth quarter, which Taylor started with his third touchdown pass. Backup quarterback Joe Ganz was on the field for the Huskers' final two scores, including his first career TD pass.
"It felt a lot like the Colorado game did last year,'' Taylor said, referring to the 30-3 romp in Boulder. "We just kind of were doing whatever we wanted. Those are the kind of games that are just really fun.''
Taylor and the coaching staff credited offensive line play for making it look so easy. In NU's previous 23 games under Callahan, the Huskers had posted only three better rushing totals and three better passing totals.
The higher numbers, obviously, never came together in the same game as they did Saturday.
"We had a good idea what they would be in defensively, but we really didn't know,'' Norvell said. "We really felt like we wanted to run physically on these people, and we wanted to mix in the pass after we settled them down and really saw what they were going to do.''
Among the I-backs, Cody Glenn, Marlon Lucky and Kenny Wilson all got at least 13 carries. Glenn and Lucky both averaged better than 6 yards a carry and scored once, and Brandon Jackson used one of his three carries to get a 25-yard touchdown.
Taylor (22 of 33) and Ganz (2 of 3) spread their completions among 10 receivers. The four touchdown receptions were registered by tight ends — Matt Herian, J.B. Phillips, Josh Mueller and Hunter Teafatiller.
"They obviously do a lot of different things, and I think their quarterback is a very good player,'' Louisiana Tech coach Jack Bicknell said. "I don't know if it was just me, but they seemed to be very big. Everybody seemed to be big — big tight ends, big linemen and big receivers. They obviously have some talent there.''
After NU took a 7-3 lead into the second quarter, the Huskers' next two scoring drives showed the versatility.
NU ran on nine of 12 plays as it went ahead 14-3. It then passed on nine of 11 in the two-minute drill that made it 21-3, with Taylor completing 8 of 9 throws for 97 yards.
Before gushing too much, Callahan did point out Taylor's interception and Wilson's lost fumble in the red zone. On the drive just before halftime, the Huskers also had to overcome 25 yards in penalties, thus needing 103 actual yards on a 78-yard drive.
Defensively, Nebraska gave up some ground as Louisiana Tech picked up its field goal and touchdown in the second quarter. The latter came on a one-handed catch by Johnathan Holland as he beat cornerback Titus Brothers, who came in when Cortney Grixby and Isaiah Fluellen were injured earlier in the series.
"We gave up too many yards,'' NU defensive end Adam Carriker said. "That guy made a heck of a catch on the touchdown pass, but I think we gave up too many big plays.''
Offensively, the Huskers more than made up for it. The numbers looked pretty, but according to guard Greg Austin, the only thing that mattered was NU starting another season 1-0 — something that's happened every year since an opening loss to Florida State in 1985.
"The perfect stat sheet is our score over their score,'' Austin said. "We can have however many yards of offense, but if we don't win the game we're mad.''
|Yards per carry||3.2||5.3|
Nebraska is 2-0 all-time against Louisiana Tech.
|Louisiana Tech||Sept. 2|
|Nicholls State||Sept. 9|
|Iowa State||Oct. 7|
|Kansas State||Oct. 14|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 28|
|Texas A&M||Nov. 11|
Nebraska has played 4 games on Sept. 2. See them all »