By Robert Cameron

      J.T Hollowell (#2) and Philip Bland (#21) get the crowd pumped up.
78,058 Husker fans and 800 former players were on hand to witness Nebraska's 17th straight season opener win. Nebraska beat the 24th ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys 17 to 7 with a strong showing from Bo Pelini's Blackshirt defense. The Cowboys averaged 411 yards of total offense last year, but were held only to 183 yards of total offense Saturday and only 57 yards in the second half. The Cowboys scored on their first drive and then the Blackshirts pitched a perfect shutout the rest of the game. The defense forced five turnovers including a 15-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Barrett Ruud. Ryon Bingham recovered a fumble and Josh Bullocks picked off two passes during the game. Lornell McPherson had a spectacular interception towards the end of the second quarter in which he read the quarterback perfectly and had to layout to make the catch. The Blackshirts looked extremely fast and played with a lot of intensity the entire game. It started with the linebackers, Demorrio Williams and Barrett Ruud who kept the defense fired up by making one defensive stop after another. In particular, Demorrio Williams was playing like a man possessed the entire game.

Nebraska's offense on the other hand, still needs some work. Josh Davis got the start at I-back and carried 20 times for 95 yards. He also looked good performing the kickoff and punt return duties. Jamal Lord also ran the ball extremely well with 18 attempts for 90 yards and was 8 for 16 for 78 yards passing and one interception. Lord needs to cut down on the mental mistakes. For example, the personal foul and some of the decisions he made with the ball. He started the game off by throwing the ball extremely well and completed a couple of out patterns. As the game went on, he missed some short throws and dump off passes that should have been completed rather easily. During the off-season, we kept getting reports from the coaching staff that Lord's passing had improved greatly. With the exception of one or two throws, he looked just about the same. Barney Cotton's offense looked very similar to last year with a few new wrinkles. I thought they did a better job this year in disguising the pass, but Lord still needs to get better. The offense had the ball three times during the game inside the Cowboys' 20 yard line and walked away with 0 points; a missed field goal from the 4 yard line, a blocked field goal from the 16 yard line and a Josh Davis fumble on the 12 yard line. The offense needs to do a better job of taking care of the football in the red zone.

Solich needs to work on the kicking game. DeAngelis missed one field goal and had a second blocked. His kicks appear to be very low as they pass the line of scrimmage. If this continues, expect more blocked kicks in the future. Josh Davis did a fine job in the return game. However, our kickoff coverage could still use a little work.

It's been said that the most improvement during the season is made during the first and second game. I hope this is true for the offense. I think this year's Blackshirts have a real opportunity to make a statement and clear their names from last year. Our next game is in Lincoln September 6, 2003 against Utah State. My prediction is Nebraska 34 and Utah State 10.