Nebraska fans sure do love a good option play, which made this Week’s Play of the Game a no-brainer. It’s Samori Touré’s 8-yard rushing touchdown late in the third quarter.
Nebraska had the game well in hand at that point, leading 31-7. After a three-and-out by Fordham, Nebraska started its drive at its own 30. The Huskers moved the ball in chunks including a 36-yard catch-and-run by Austin Allen and a 25-yard reception by Touré on fourth-and-5.
Short runs by Adrian Martinez and Sevion Morrison set the Huskers up with a third-and-6 from the 8-yard line. Nebraska lined up on the left hash mark and Touré motioned from the left side into the backfield, and then the magic happened.
Love a good option 🔥
— Nebraska On BTN (@NebraskaOnBTN) September 4, 2021
On the snap, Martinez faked the handoff to Morrison as Touré looped around to the right in the backfield. The quarterback pulled the ball in and took off to the right, attacking the waiting outside linebacker, pitching the ball about 6 yards back to Touré. Martinez paid the price as the ‘backer drove him to the ground, but the pitch was on time and on target.
Toure caught the ball at the 10-yard line without breaking stride. Wyatt Liewer picked off the cornerback which left the safety as the only Ram with a chance to make a play. However, that safety took a bad angle as he got sucked in by Martinez and Touré beat him to the end zone, shaking off his late tackle attempt and staying on his feet in the end zone.
“It’s super fun,” Touré said about running the option. “I have all the trust in the world in Adrian to make the right read. I know if I get the ball it’s for a reason, I’m just trying to make something happen. I think it’s something that definitely opens up our offense a little bit.”
The touchdown was the first of Touré’s Nebraska career and it gave the Huskers a 38-7 lead. He finished with three carries for 35 yards and also led all players with eight receptions on 11 targets for 133 yards. After a fairly nondescript debut at Illinois (five touches for 46 yards), Touré showed off the skills that made him such a prolific receiver at Montana.
“We saw a lot of things in camp that didn’t show up last Saturday,” Coach Scott Frost said. “Some of them showed this Saturday, some of the guys that we’ve been seeing play well and some of the good things we’ve seen happening, so we need more of it. But he’s a pretty special kid.”
Touré said Saturday’s experience lived up to the expectations he had both for himself as a player and the atmosphere at Memorial Stadium when he made the decision to transfer to Nebraska.
“That’s what I was thinking to myself, running out of the tunnel, looking at 90,000-plus, ‘This is why I came here,’” Touré said. “To play on the big stage in front of big crowds, that’s exactly why I came here.”
Touré replaced the departed Wan’Dale Robinson as Nebraska’s starting slot receiver. He’s a very different kind of player at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, and he’s not taking handoffs as a between-the-tackles running back, but Nebraska is using him in a Duck-R type of role, both targeting him downfield and getting him involved behind the line of scrimmage with snaps in the back field, jet motions and option plays.
Touré’s versatility — and the chemistry he showed with Martinez on Saturday — should make him a major weapon for Nebraska’s offense this season. That’s why his 8-yard touchdown on an option pitch is this week’s Play of the Game.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.