No. 10 Nebraska Gets Past Sun Devils, 48-10
By DOUG ALDEN
AP Sports Writer
LINCOLN, Neb. - Maybe Nebraska coach Frank Solich can sleep a little more soundly now.
The No. 10 Cornhuskers beat Arizona State 48-10 on Saturday night in the Black Coaches Association Classic, showing Solich that his new starting quarterback can play well and that his defense has recovered from two embarrassing losses at the end of last season.
'I probably slept less before this game than any game in my coaching career,' Solich said. 'There's a lot of new faces.'
Nebraska is replacing half its starters and among those making their debut Saturday night was quarterback Jammal Lord, who was a pleasant surprise to Huskers fans.
Lord threw his first career touchdown pass and ran for 103 yards and did not turn the ball over.
'I think Jammal did a great job. With the pressure he was under I don't know that he could have done better than he did,' Solich said.
The Cornhuskers blocked two punts and played strong defensively on a night they were trying to forget closing last season with blowout losses to Colorado (62-36) and Miami (37-14).
'It feels great,' said rush end Chris Kelsay, who had one of four Nebraska sacks. 'Tonight some of that got put behind us. We came out, busted our butts, got in their backfield and created havoc.'
Nebraska scored 38 points in the second half as it improved to 6-0 in 'preseason' games.
'They came out today with a point to prove,' said Mike Williams, who ran for the Sun Devils' only touchdown. 'We met that in the first half, then they got real aggressive and we could not match that.'
Lord's first start was highly anticipated, largely because Nebraska's offense had been centered around 2001 Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch for the past three years.
With three new starters on the offensive line, Lord didn't get a lot of protection and was forced to scramble. He finished with 17 carries with most of his yardage coming on broken pass plays.
He also completed 5 of 13 passes for 33 yards, including a 9-yard strike to Wilson Thomas that put the Huskers up 17-3 early in the second half.
'I was a little nervous, a little excited and things kind of floated on me. That will get better,' Lord said. 'The statement is Nebraska is still here and we're not going anywhere.'
Arizona State's Chad Christensen, a redshirt freshman who was starting his first college game, was 6-for-16 for 77 yards, and Williams scored on a 34-yard run. Williams had 12 carries for 77 yards for the Sun Devils.
'I thought we started well and showed we can compete,' Christensen said. 'We let it slide with a blocked punt. Then Nebraska poured it on.'
Dahrran Diedrick, Cory Ross and Judd Davies also scored for the Huskers and Fabian Washington, a true freshman who starts his first college classes next week, returned an interception 29 yards for the final TD.
'We're going to look at the tape and we'll probably like a lot of things we saw, but we're also going to see we'll have to get a lot better,' Solich said.
After yielding 99 points in the final two games of last year, Nebraska's defense wanted a big night and got it. The defense held Arizona State to 258 total yards, 52 of which came on the final drive against Nebraska reserves.
The defense also set up one score with a sack just outside the goal line, scored one on a blocked punt and set up another TD with the second blocked kick.
Demoine Adams started it when he sacked Christensen at the ASU 1 on third down, then Tim Parker shanked the punt to the right sideline and Nebraska got the ball on the 20. The Huskers drove to the 9 and Lord hit Thomas for his first touchdown pass.
On third-and-7 in the next series, Kelsay ran down Christensen and sacked him at the 10. Demorrio Williams blocked Parker's punt and Scott Shanle scooped it up and went 6 yards for the touchdown that put the Huskers up 24-3 with 9:38 left in the third.
Arizona State cut it to 24-10 when Williams broke away on a run up the middle, but Nebraska countered with Josh Brown's 42-yard field goal and Diedrick's 2-yard dive over the top with 7:12 left. The Huskers opened the touchdown drive on the Arizona State 9 after Williams recovered the second blocked punt.
Lord quickly showed a knack for scrambling. His 33-yard run on what was supposed to be a pass started Nebraska's first touchdown drive. Lord eluded the initial rush and did a head fake on Mason Unck that spun the linebacker in a circle, then took off down the right sideline to the Arizona State 24. Davies scored on a dive eight plays later.
Christensen, who lived in Lincoln for five years as a kid and used to go to Nebraska games, showed some early poise for somebody who had never played in a college game.
With the crowd roaring 'Go Big Red,' Christensen calmly hit Shaun McDonald on a 14-yard pass on the Sun Devils' second play from scrimmage. Christensen had a 6-yard run later in the series and took off for 9 yards on a play later in the quarter.
Brown gave Nebraska a 3-0 lead with a 40-yard field goal to end the opening drive of the game. Mike Barth tied it for Arizona State with a 33-yarder with 2:12 left in the first.