Photo Credit: Eric Francis

3 Thoughts from Nebraska’s 52-7 Win Over Fordham

September 04, 2021

Slow start aside, Nebraska did what it needed to do on Saturday and beat the FCS-member Fordham Rams 52-7 to improve to 1-1 on the season.

A lopsided win over an inferior opponent isn’t going to convince the fan base that things have changed for the better for head coach Scott Frost’s team, but the Huskers needed a win and they got one without too many backbreaking, self-inflicted errors.

Next week the Huskers will host the Mid-American Conference-member Buffalo Bulls, who are 1-0 after rushing for 312 yards and seven touchdowns in a 69-7 win over Wagner in its season-opener this past Thursday. Kickoff for that contest is set for 2:30 p.m. CT.

But first, here are three thoughts from Saturday’s game against Fordham.

Stepp and Toure finally got rolling

Expectations come with being a high-profile transfer. Markese Stepp, from USC, was someone fans expected to be a bruiser in Nebraska’s supposed downhill run game. And while Samori Toure came from Montana—not quite the same level as USC—he was still an All-American at the FCS level.

Neither of those players showed much in last week’s season-opening loss at Illinois. Against a team like Fordham, you’d expect those players to show more, and that’s exactly what they did.

No pun intended, but Stepp stepped up on Saturday. A running back needs to emerge at Nebraska, and Stepp looked like he could be that guy against Fordham with 101 rushing yards on 18 carries. He was powerful and confident in the win, even shimmying his shoulders after a second-quarter run where he shook off a would-be tackle. After that performance, Stepp deserves more carries against Buffalo.

As for Toure, he clearly had a connection with Martinez with eight catches for 133 yards. The coaches seem to like Toure’s versatility, too, as he got some carries in the backfield on option looks. He had three rushes for 33 yards and one score.

After a three-catch performance at Illinois, Toure caught six passes for 103 yards in the first half against Fordham. He provided a big-play option for Martinez—he had catches of 23, 25, 30 and 31 yards— which is something that’s been missing the passing game. Would you like to see Toure do that against better competition? Yes, of course. But it was good to see a down-field threat actually happen in a game.

Cam Taylor-Britt shouldn’t be returning punts anymore

Look, Taylor-Britt is the team’s best corner and probably its best athlete. But the mental mistakes he continues to make as a punt returner are brutal and costly.

After fielding a punt inside his own 5-yard line at Illinois that resulted in a safety, Taylor-Britt made another mistake against Fordham, failing to run away from a bouncing football that wound up hitting him in the helmet. The Rams recovered and got the ball in Husker territory. The error ultimately didn’t hurt Nebraska as its defense forced a turnover (Deontai Williams’ second interception), but that won’t always be the case against better competition.

Oliver Martin, who wasn’t even dressed for the game, should be the move against Buffalo if he’s able to play.

The offensive line is still the team’s biggest liability

It got better as the game went on, but Nebraska’s offensive line didn’t have the start and game it probably wanted as a unit, especially after the poor performance at Illinois.

While the Huskers still rushed for over 200 yards—which would have been a disappointment if that hadn’t happened—the o-line struggled to get a push for much of the day. It wasn’t much better in pass protection, either.

That unit has a lot of work to do with a tough Buffalo team coming to Lincoln next week.

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