LINCOLN — There was something satisfying about Nebraska's first three offensive scoring drives Saturday night, when each took 10 or more plays and gave the Husker defense some time to catch its breath.
NU receiver Quincy Enunwa knows the value of those, especially with the Blackshirts so young and still learning the ropes — and busy Saturday night as they took two interceptions back for touchdowns and had to come right back out against Southern Mississippi.
“At the same time, we have a fast-paced offense so we can score at any time,” Enunwa said.
The senior was referring to the two times when Nebraska took momentum-changing plays by its special teams and defense in the third quarter and scored instantly to help feed the rout as the Huskers beat Southern Miss 56-13 at Memorial Stadium.
One went 37 yards and into the official statistics as a nine-second possession. The other covered 26 yards and seven seconds.
When the object is to score, NU center Cole Pensick said you don't always care how it happens.
“Obviously we always like putting points on the board on any drive,” Pensick said. “That's our goal, to score every drive. We've just got to go out there and do our job.”
Nebraska came away from its season-opening win over Wyoming feeling a little empty after failing to finish off some late possessions. It had some trouble Saturday night when two of its first three series started in holes — one at its 7-yard line, the other inside the 1 — and turned into three-and-outs.
But the rest wasn't too bad as NU finished with 479 total yards and was able to let Taylor Martinez take a seat after his 26-yard touchdown pass to Sam Burtch made it 49-13 with 10:32 left in the third quarter.
“I liked our plan,” offensive coordinator Tim Beck said. “I thought our guys played hard, and we didn't shoot ourselves in the foot as much as we did the first game. We made improvement. That's the goal.”
Beck called the Huskers' ability to extend drives “a big positive” in the first half after they didn't convert some short-yardage plays the week before.
Martinez completed an 8-yard pass to Enunwa on third-and-7 during a 10-play, 68-yard scoring drive in the first quarter. The Huskers then went a combined 5 for 5 on third-down conversions as they later finished the first half by going 79 yards in 14 plays and 75 yards in 11.
“Finish is the key,” Enunwa said. “We didn't finish drives last week, so we wanted to go out there and finish drives, finish plays … and we're happy with the results we had.”
The quick strikes in the third quarter followed a 63-yard kickoff return by Kenny Bell and an interception by Ciante Evans.
I-back Ameer Abdullah took off on a 37-yard run after the first. The Martinez-to-Burtch play came right on the heels of the second.
Burtch, Enunwa, Bell, Jake Long and Jordan Westerkamp all had receptions of 15 yards or longer as Martinez went down the field with more throws. The senior finished 15 of 23 for 170 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
“We saw that from the beginning,” Enunwa said. “We knew that we could take some deep balls out there and we tried to take advantage of that as much as possible.”
Abdullah logged his second 100-yard game (17 carries for 114) and scored twice. Enunwa paced the receivers with five catches for 58 yards.
But Beck said Nebraska will start all over as it prepares for UCLA next Saturday.
“Everybody's all warm and fuzzy right now, but we'll go back and look and there'll be things that we're going to have to fix,” he said. “There's no doubt. But we'll see that film and move on to UCLA.”