Nebraska AD 'angry, frustrated' after loss to Northern Illinois

Ross Houston
September 17, 2017

"You win and lose as a team, but there are units, whether special teams and offense and defense", Riley said.

"We're bitterly disappointed in losing", said Nebraska coach Mike Riley, whose contract was extended by one year earlier in the week. "The defense got us out to a 14-0 lead and we really just fed off that defensive energy".

NIU got a nice check for its win too.

At the end of the first half, Northern Illinois was up by 14, with all of its points coming from pick 6s. Shortly after, Lee took advantage of an open lane and ran it for a touchdown putting Nebraska on the board for the first time.

With Big Ten play about to start, it's hard to get optimistic about Nebraska. Huff scored from there, putting the Huskies back on top to stay, 21-17.

"It got me into a rhythm, for sure", Santacaterina said of the big throw. "We definitely needed that offensively, it got us going".

"Obviously we are not playing good enough on offense right now". "You guys might go ahead and be critical to every little thing". We went through that last week with Eastern Illinois. We were down 17-14.

And now Riley, who just received a one-year contract extension through 2020 this week, has Nebraska in the hard situation of entering conference play in need of five more wins simply to go to a bowl game. Are we going to enjoy it for 24 hours?

Nebraska, which was 3-0 against MAC teams prior to Saturday, was held scoreless in the first half at home for the first time since 2007.

Nebraska played its worst half of football in the first 15 minutes. Few were fooled by the 42-35 final score, but the hope was Nebraska calmed the offense down and could return home to keep that going.

In the last seven days, Nebraska might have established the tone for this season: disappointing and frustrating.

Lurry stunned the Memorial Stadium crowd when he jumped the route, intercepted Lee's pass intended for wide receiver De'Mornay Pierson-El (eight catches, 101 yards) and returned it 87 yards for a touchdown on the Cornhuskers' first possession. Lee's four-yard plunge with 8:05 left in the quarter capped a two-play, two-yard drive that followed a fumbled punt by Jalen Embry that was recovered by Nebraska's Marquel Dismuke at the NIU 2.

Northern Illinois hasn't returned two interceptions for touchdowns in a game in at least 10 years. It did, to the point where the Huskers grabbed a 17-14 lead in the fourth quarter.

The former Tulane recruit entered the game completing just 52 percent of his passes with a 6.7 yards-per-attempt average.

In the third quarter, Nebraska produced 81 yards on 22 plays, compared to just 28 yards on 11 plays by the Huskies to take a 282-116 edge in total yardage to the fourth quarter.

The Huskers kept fighting, and Lee connected with JD Spielman at the 2-yard line setting up a quarterback sneak for Lee a couple of plays later. The Huskies went into the half with a 14-0 lead. Maybe I'll be wrong about that moving forward, but NIU lost to Boston College in the first game of the season.

But Lee and the Huskers couldn't put together a clean drive. "It's insane how you're with them for three or four years and get real close to them, (but) then you might them for a while".

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