7:00 PM ET, September 4, 2004
Memorial Stadium, LINCOLN, NE
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- All the flash that was expected from Nebraska's new West Coast offense was on display early Saturday night.
The Cornhuskers looked very much like their old plodding selves in the second half against Western Illinois, attempting only seven passes in the final 30 minutes of a 56-17 victory.
The Huskers scored three touchdowns in five minutes in the second quarter and were never threatened by their Division I-AA opponent.
"All in all, a good way to start, but I'm very realistic with where we're at and that we have greater challenges ahead of us," Callahan said.
Dailey completed 15 of 30 passes for 218 yards, but four interceptions blemished his first career start.
"I played two games today," he said. "I played a great first half and not even a mediocre second half."
All of Dailey's TD passes and his first scoring run came in the opening 20 minutes as Nebraska broke out to a 35-0 lead that stretched to 42-3 at halftime.
His six total-offense touchdowns tied the school record.
"We couldn't slow Nebraska down," WIU coach Don Patterson said. "Their passing game was sharp and we couldn't get pressure on Dailey. I thought what helped them was their running game. It seemed like they were able to get runs of 8 to 10 yards consistently."
Ross ran 13 times for 125 yards, and Green has seven carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns. The Huskers finished with 363 yards rushing.
But the Huskers got sloppy after their fast start, committing six turnovers and the equivalent of two others when they failed to field two pooch kickoffs.
They also gave up a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by James Norris after Norris had run another one back 75 yards.
"We made a lot of mistakes we shouldn't have made," cornerback Fabian Washington said. "Against a better opponent, we would have paid for it. We got away with some silly mistakes."
Matt Herian tied a school record for receptions by a tight end with seven catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Six other receivers caught balls for Nebraska.
"Everybody was on the same page, everything was clicking, and we had them on their heels," Herian said. "They didn't know what to expect with all our motion. We kind of stuck it to them."
Nebraska's defense had seven sacks and held the Leathernecks to 220 yards. WIU netted minus-3 yards on 35 rushing attempts.
Travis Glasford, a 1,000-yard rusher last season, was limited to 25 yards on 14 carries.
Dailey scored on a 6-yard run less than two minutes into the game, then flipped a 5-yard touchdown pass to Herian.
Western Illinois' best chance to make a game of it came when Norris ran back the ensuing kickoff 75 yards to the Nebraska 8. But Smith fumbled the snap on first down and the Huskers' Jay Moore recovered.
The Huskers were ahead 21-0 after the first play of the second quarter, with Willie Amos catching a 36-yard pass for his first career reception.
Dailey's other TD passes went 22 and 18 yards, respectively, to Herian and Amos.
"He managed the system very well, and I'll tell you there aren't many quarterbacks in the National Football League who could have handled what he handled tonight mentally," Callahan said. "I know he's a little down for how he finished the game, but I'm positive about where he can take us this season."
The Huskers were woeful on special teams. Kade Pittman muffed two punts and the Leathernecks recovered two short kickoffs that the Huskers failed to field.
Callahan joins the last three Nebraska head coaches -- Frank Solich, Tom Osborne and Bob Devaney -- as winners in their first games coaching the Huskers.
Nebraska won its nation-leading 19th straight opener.
"A lot of Nebraska fans wondered what they were getting, but tonight should give them a lot of cause for enthusiasm," Patterson said.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-20||5-8|
|4th Down Conversions||0-2||1-2|
|TD||13:07||JOE DAILEY 6 YD RUN (SANDRO DEANGELIS KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 79 yards.
|TD||5:47||MATT HERIAN 5 YD PASS FROM JOE DAILEY (SANDRO DEANGELIS KICK)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 85 yards.
|TD||14:54||WILLIE AMOS 36 YD PASS FROM JOE DAILEY (SANDRO DEANGELIS KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 53 yards.
|TD||12:34||MATT HERIAN 22 YD PASS FROM JOE DAILEY (SANDRO DEANGELIS KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 34 yards.
|TD||10:03||WILLIE AMOS 18 YD PASS FROM JOE DAILEY (SANDRO DEANGELIS KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 18 yards.
|TD||4:45||TIERRE GREEN 28 YD RUN (SANDRO DEANGELIS KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 70 yards.
|FG||0:58||JUSTIN LANGAN 24 YD FG|
Drive info: 4 plays, 5 yards.
|TD||11:54||JOE DAILEY 10 YD RUN (SANDRO DEANGELIS KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 53 yards.
|TD||11:42||JAMES NORRIS 98 YD KICK RETURN (JUSTIN LANGAN KICK)||10||49|
|TD||0:10||BOOMER MOORE 6 YD PASS FROM ADAM SMITH (JUSTIN LANGAN KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 66 yards.
|TD||5:22||TIERRE GREEN 34 YD RUN (SANDRO DEANGELIS KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 74 yards.