LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- All the flash that was expected from
Nebraska's new West Coast offense was on display early Saturday
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
Joe Dailey threw for four touchdowns and ran for two others, and
Cory Ross and Tierre Green each rushed for more than 100 yards to
highlight Bill Callahan's first game as head coach.
"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,"
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
Ross ran 13 times for 125 yards, and Green has seven carries for
112 yards and two touchdowns. The Huskers finished with 363 yards
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.
Starter Adam Smith was 10-of-15 for 111 yards and a touchdown,
and Steve LaFalce was 10-of-26 for 112 yards, with four
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
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
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