LINCOLN – After grabbing its first win of the season last week, there would be no letdown for the Nebraska football team.
The Huskers came out and put up 28 points in the first quarter during a 45-9 win over Bethune-Cookman Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
While it was a game the Huskers probably knew they were going to win, Nebraska coach Scott Frost said they did a great job of getting out of the gates strongly to give some of the younger players a chance to play later on in the game.
“It was really important, considering with how we approached this week, letting the guys rest this week and have a light practice on Tuesday,” Frost said. “It’s easy to not come in prepared to play, and I thought at least at the start of the game, the guys were really dialed in and ready to go.
“We wanted to win the game, first and foremost, we wanted to play well second and, ideally, we wanted to be in a game where could get a lot of young guys experience. There were some details that were both good and bad throughout the game, but I thought we accomplished all three of those things.”
The game wasn’t originally on the schedule, but the two schools agreed to play each other a few weeks after Nebraska’s first game of the season with Akron was canceled because of weather.
Bethune-Cookman coach Terry Sims said at first, he didn’t know if the offer to play Nebraska was a good idea, but after thinking about the opportunity for a while, it was something the Wildcats really couldn’t pass up.
“We were definitely appreciative of the opportunity to have a test to come to Nebraska and play in a historical venue such as Memorial Stadium, and play a program like Nebraska,” he said. “I really couldn’t take this opportunity away from our players. This is something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. Coming here is going to do nothing but help our program.”
The Huskers rolled up 468 yards of total offense, with 364 of those coming in the first half. They also scored on six of their seven possessions in the first half.
Quarterback Adrian Martinez was 15 of 22 for 213 yards with two touchdowns, while running back Devinie Ozigbo had 11 carries for 110 yards with a touchdown and Maurice Washington had six carries for 48 yards with a score.
Stanley Morgan had seven catches for 82 yards with two scores, while JD Spielman had five receptions for 72 yards.
It didn’t take the Huskers long to get going. They ran seven plays that lasted only 2:23 for their first score. Martinez was a perfect 5-for-5 for 53 yards, while Ozigbo scored on a 14-yard run.
After getting the Wildcats to go three-and-out on their first series, Spielman took the punt return for a 77-yard score for a quick 14-0 lead with 10:47 left in the first quarter.
Bethune-Cookman did get on the board after a Uriel Hernandez 28-yard field goal, but the Huskers would score two more times in the first quarter to go up 28-3.
Martinez found Morgan both times. Morgan caught a 3-yard pass on the first score, then a 27-yard reception on the next one.
The Huskers scored two more times in the second quarter to lead 38-3 at the half. Washington scored his lone touchdown on an 8-yard run, while Barret Pickering kicked a 29-yard field goal.
Frost said it was important for the Huskers to set the tone early, especially since this week was supposed to be the Huskers’ bye week.
“We needed that to happen. We needed to go out and get the game secured early,” Frost said. “I’ve said it a bunch, 12 weeks in a row is a long time, 13 weeks of practice in a row is a long time without any break.
“It just isn’t the physical, it’s the grind of it. It takes a toll on you emotionally, especially with what these guys have been through this season. We needed a break and didn’t get one. Physically, it was important to put the game away so that the guys could play 30, 35, 40 snaps and be done.”
The defense held Bethune-Cookman to 355 yards with a majority of those coming in the second half. The Wildcats’ only touchdown came on the final play of the game by Alfred Adams, who scored on a 5-yard run. The defense also forced three turnovers, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.
“Turnovers are great,” Frost said. “That’s one of the areas we’ve been lacking. We’ve got to create turnovers to get the offense the ball back. It’s good to see those in this game. I hope they carry over into some of our other games we have for the rest of the year.”
The game also provided a few backups an opportunity to see some action.
Noah Vedral was 2 of 9 for 29 yards and also had seven carries for 13 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Albion’s Wyatt Mazour also got in and had five carries for 55 yards.
Frost said it was important for the Huskers to get out to a big lead so those players can get into a game, especially for the players that are from Nebraska.
“I wanted to have a game where we get a lot of the young guys some experience,” Frost said. “A lot of those players who came in were from Nebraska and they make up the fabric of this program. We want more of them, especially when they can contribute. Anytime one of those kids can get out onto the field is extra special.”
Another area that pleased Frost was seeing the Huskers not committing a lot of penalties. They had five for 35 yards.
“We’re making few mistakes with penalties but we still have to clean a few things up,” Frost said. “We’ve had officials in practice which I think has helped so the guys don’t practice bad habits.”
Now the Huskers can turn their attention to Ohio State next Saturday.
Frost said playing the Buckeyes in Columbus will be a tough task, especially after they fell to Purdue 49-20 in their previous game last weekend.
“We got to go on the road to a tough place and play a very good team that’s going to be very ticked off who had two weeks off since their last game that didn’t go well for them,” Frost said. “We know what we’re in for and I know we’re going to get their best shot and I hope we can give them our best shot.”