Mills Celebration 11.23.19

Nebraska played one of its most complete games of the Scott Frost era in a 54-7 win over Maryland. The Husker offense put up 531 yards, while the defense held Maryland to just 206 yards. With that win, Nebraska is now one win away from gaining bowl eligibility.

Here are three takeaways from today’s win:

Nebraska finally catches a break

At times this season it has felt like the Huskers could never catch a break. That wasn’t the case Saturday as Maryland gifted the Huskers chances early and often. 

On the Terrapins’ first play from scrimmage, Maryland running back Javon Leake fumbled the ball and the Huskers recovered. The fumble resulted in the first Husker score of the game. After the next Husker score, Leake struggled receiving the kickoff and Nebraska jumped on the ball before he could recover it. The Huskers tacked on a field goal as a result of that play.

The Huskers’ luckiest break came in the second quarter on a 25-yard touchdown reception from junior wide receiver JD Spielman. Sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez overthrew him, but the ball bounced off two different Terrapin defenders and into the hands of Spielman.

While some of these breaks were because of Maryland’s own doing or just downright lucky, those chances weren’t there in many games early in the year. The other difference was the Huskers capitalized on those opportunities with 17 points scored off four turnovers.

Blackshirts came to play

Ever since a 13-10 victory over Northwestern, the Husker defense has been repeatedly torched by opposing offenses, allowing more than 30 points in all games since. Because of that history, Saturday’s performance was as surprising as it was impressive.

The defense played well at all levels, giving up a total of 206 yards, forcing four turnovers and registering six sacks. Senior Khalil Davis was a standout performer on the day with four tackles and 2.5 sacks. The Huskers allowed only seven points, the lowest amount this season and they were a 58-yard touchdown run away from getting their first shutout since 2009.

While Maryland’s offense has struggled in recent weeks, this performance is important for the defense as they can build confidence and momentum heading into the regular season finale against Iowa. A performance similar to Saturday’s would give the Huskers a good shot against the Hawkeyes.

True freshmen impress 

With a lot of injuries to begin with and a blowout game, lots of young players got snaps and chances to shine against Maryland. True freshman running back Rahmir Johnson was the leader of this young group as he gained 55 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown. With junior Dedrick Mills not feeling well and fellow true freshman Wan’Dale Robinson not making the trip, Johnson was asked to be the bellcow as he had the most rushes on the team.

True freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey also played well as he completed 3-5 of his passes for 32 yards and added 83 yards on the ground on 10 carries with a touchdown. He also had a nice 12-yard reception as he was forced into action as a wide receiver because of injuries. 

Other true freshmen who played well in limited time were walk-on inside linebacker Luke Reimer who registered four tackles and a tackle for a loss, along with tight end/wide receiver Chris Hickman who had one reception on the day. Hickman did drop a few passes but he is young and still improving.

All these performances were encouraging for the future of this team as this recruiting class is already looking like one that could carry the Huskers to the top in future years. Both Robinson and Garrett Nelson didn’t play today either, but are members of that class as well. While this season may not have gone according to plan, it has given fans a look at how bright the future can be with these players.

sports@dailynebraskan.com