HUSKER FOOTBALL

He disappeared into the southwest corner of Memorial Stadium in a scene reminiscent of a "Rocky" movie.

The hundreds of red-clad onlookers stood two and three deep around the Nebraska locker room door and waited for the future of Nebraska football to pass in front of them.

The mass chanted Joe Dailey's name, and the only thing missing was a battered Apollo Creed lying in the boxing ring.

Not bad for mop-up duty against Utah State.

The true freshman quarterback from Jersey City, N.J., didn't disappoint when he entered the game with 3:27 left in the third quarter.

After handing off three times on Nebraska's first possession, Dailey finished the afternoon with 55 yards rushing on nine carries. Dailey also showed a strong, accurate arm, finishing the game 4 of 5 for 47 yards.

Nebraska fans weren't the only ones chanting Dailey's name and singing his praises following the game.

"I was yelling his name too, to tell you the truth," starting quarterback Jammal Lord said.

Dailey's biggest highlight came on fourth and six deep inside Utah State territory. Dailey dodged and darted through the Aggie defense to pick up 10 yards when it looked like he would be dropped for a loss.

As a true freshman, Dailey didn't shudder stepping under center for the first snap of his college career. Dailey said it was no big deal.

"It's an everyday thing," Dailey said of his debut. "That's how I see it."

The calmness Dailey showed at the post-game press conference was the same poise he showed under center. Coach Frank Solich said he was impressed by the freshman's first effort.

"I thought he played very well for the first time on the field," Solich said. "He controlled the huddle well. He controlled things at the line of scrimmage very well, and once the ball was snapped, his athletic abilities showed themselves."

Dailey's impressive outing and the fans' reaction may lead some to think a quarterback controversy is forthcoming. While Solich didn't do much to put talk of a controversy to rest, Dailey made it clear Lord was the starter in his mind.

"I'm still a freshman. I don't have an entire grasp of the game yet," Dailey said. "I was breathing a little heavy because I was so overwhelmed, but I had a great time. Jammal is the starter and you guys have to accept that."

Before he came to Nebraska, Dailey's high school Coach Rich Hansen described Nebraska and Memorial Stadium to Dailey as a college football Mecca. On Saturday, Husker faithful worshipped Dailey as the future savior of Husker football.

Dailey said he knew how he would describe his Saturday afternoon to Hansen.

"It's everything he said it would be," Dailey said.

"It felt great. It felt great to get out there and really get my feet wet."