3 & Out: FAU
Three quick takeaways from Saturday’s season opening win, the Huskers’ 29th consecutive win to open the season.
I only think the defense is maturing a growing at a lightning pace, but I know for sure we’re going to see something special this year in the Tommy Armstrong to Jordan Westerkamp connection. It’s quite clear the two are on the same page, with Westerkamp hauling in a game-high seven passes for 125 yards and a touchdown.
“The kid is my best friend, so we have that chemistry,” Westerkamp said. “As the reciever I’ve obviously got a lot of passes from him. I take a lot of pride because he is my best friend and I never want to let that guy down, so I go out there and play hard for him. He’s our leader, our quarterback and he played well today.”
Third on the receptions list after Westerkamp and Kenny Bell? True freshman De’Mornay Pierson-El. I don’t know how many serious snaps he’ll see with Westerkamp playing in the slot, but Bo Pelini doesn’t play true freshmen unless he’s going to get his money’s worth. One thing I’m looking forward to most is seeing him get an opening on a punt return.
Interestingly enough, I still see big questions on the defensive line. Not questions of talent, but questions of how to most effectively utilize Greg McMullen, Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine. In Pelini’s firs three years, his defense were at their best when he had defensive tackles that could collapse the pocket from the inside – it looks like he’s got that ability this year. However, that philosophy varies a bit from defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski’s style, which aims to dictate the line of scrimmage and stuff gaps rather than collapsing it. Regardless, the pressure on opposing QBs will be fun to watch.
The most interesting takeaway from today’s game, in my opinion? The Huskers were turnover free for the first time since the 2012 season opener against Southern Miss. Yes, it had been two years since Nebraska managed to not turn over the ball. And don’t think we were the only ones paying attention to that. When asked what he liked about the game, Bo Pelini had a simple first answer: “Well, first of all, we didn’t turn the football over.” That’s a reason to celebrate, no?
Most folks, including myself, believe Ameer Abdullah should be getting more credit. Yet, as Tommy Armstrong noted in the post-game press conference, Abdullah is only considered the No. 2 or No. 3 running back in the Big Ten. After today’s performance, expect more people to take note of Abdullah. In the meantime, FAU’s head coach Charlie Partridge summed it up best.
“He is a tremendous back. He is a back that is going to break tackles against any defense in the country. Whether it is someone in the Big Ten or someone in Conference USA, it doesn’t matter. He is one of the best backs in the country. At times he was certainly what I expected today, and that is what he has been here for several years now. He was a class player today.”
I’m not sure I’ve ever spoken with a player who was happier to do a post-game interview than junior walk-on defensive end Jack Gangwish. He was obviously elated to get a shot after being forced into duty due to Randy Gregory’s undisclosed injury — Pelini said Gregory is day-to-day, but you know how those things go — even if the circumstances were less than ideal.
Gangwish only ended up with one tackle on the day, but just getting on the field was proof enough of not just all the work he’s put in but the effort of his coaches.
“They did a lot of work with me and put in a lot of extra time and molded me into a new football player,” he said. “I’m pretty happy about it.”
A new player who might have to take major snaps with Gregory’s status up in the air. Maybe between now and then, Gangwish will have time to brainstorm with Nebraska’s all-everything end because that definitely didn’t happen on Saturday.
“Those are some pretty expensive legs. I think they were more concerned about what was going on with him then having him interact with us. We had a job to do and so did he; he’s gotta get healthy,” Gangwish said.