Riley looks for sharper outing when Huskers host S. Alabama
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) If South Alabama hoped to be overlooked by Nebraska, that won't happen. Not after the Cornhuskers lost at home to BYU on a Hail Mary last week.
''This probably isn't the best time to be driving into Nebraska, especially after a game like that,'' Jaguars coach Joey Jones said.
The Huskers (0-1) will try again Saturday night to give Mike Riley his first win as their coach, this time against an opponent picked in the middle of the pack in the Sun Belt Conference.
Nebraska will be looking to clean up its act in advance of next week's trip to Miami. Offensively, the Huskers are looking for more than the 126 yards generated by the running game against BYU, and they probably will rotate two tailbacks instead of three.
Defensively, they want to cut down on the number of big plays allowed and establish a better pass rush. Riley also wasn't happy with the 12 penalties against BYU.
Addressing those issues is more than enough to keep the Huskers occupied, Riley said, so there will be no looking ahead to the Hurricanes.
''I tell our team this is not baseball, it's not a three-game series, so we've only got one game to prepare for,'' Riley said. ''Everything we've got goes into this game, coaching staff and players. If you do a good job of that then the future takes care of itself, so all of our energy will be poured into just helping correct what we can do better.''
South Alabama (1-0), which defeated FCS Gardner-Webb last week, is a bit of a mystery because of the influx of transfers who have taken over spots that opened with the departure of 17 starters.
Seven of those transfers came from the shuttered UAB program, and five of them start on offense, including quarterback Cody Clements. In a fortuitous twist, those five are playing in the same up-tempo, no-huddle system they were in last year. That's because their offensive coordinator at UAB was Bryant Vincent, who came along with them to South Alabama, where he had worked previously for Jones.
''They filled some needs and are doing very well, and our job is to get those guys meshing together at this point,'' Jones said.
The Jaguars were picked sixth in the 11-team Sun Belt Conference, and Jones said that's largely because of graduation losses.
''I think maybe we're a little better than people think,'' he said.
Some things to watch as the Huskers try to rebound from their loss to BYU:
AVOIDING AN 0-2 START: Nebraska hasn't been 0-1 since 1985 and hasn't been 0-2 since 1957, when Bill Jennings' squad opened with losses to Washington State and Army. No team has gone as long as Nebraska's 57 years without an 0-2 start, according to STATS. Florida is at 44 years, Clemson 40, Miami 37 and West Virginia 36.
POWER UP: South Alabama is playing an opponent from a Power Five conference for the seventh time. The Jaguars are 0-6 against the big boys, with their best effort coming in a 31-24 loss at Tennessee two years ago. The Jaguars will be paid $980,000 for coming to Lincoln.
ARMSTRONG'S CAREER HIGHS: Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr.'s only two 300-yard passing performances have come in back-to-back games. He threw for a career-high 381 yards against Southern California in the 2014 Holiday Bowl and had 319 yards against BYU last week.
NIGHT TIME IS RIGHT TIME: Nebraska has won 15 straight home night games and is 41-5 all-time in Memorial Stadium games under the lights. The last team to beat the Huskers in Lincoln at night was Missouri in 2008.
HALL OF FAME: Five former Huskers will enter the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame: national champion quarterback Scott Frost (1996-97), linebacker Demorrio Williams (2002-03), defensive back Josh Bullocks (2002-04), safety Jeff Krejci (1979-81) and quarterback Brook Berringer (1992-95), who will be inducted posthumously. The 1965 Big Eight champion Huskers also will be honored.
AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org