LINCOLN — Ron Kellogg was scrambling for a first down in the third quarter Saturday when he realized he was on a collision course with the umpire.
He tried yelling as he sprinted closer. “Move!”
Kellogg bumped into the referee and was tackled a few feet short of the first down. Nebraska ended up converting on fourth down, but the senior backup quarterback was a little disappointed afterward.
“He prevented me from getting a first down,” Kellogg said.
Kellogg, who replaced starter Taylor Martinez in the 56-13 win against Southern Miss, expects that 9-yard run to get some extra attention in the film room.
There was one other memorable moment, too.
Later in that drive, Kellogg forced a pass into triple coverage, trying to hit Jordan Westerkamp over the middle. The Golden Eagles left senior Quincy Enunwa alone down the sideline on the play.
“As soon as I released the football I was like, ‘Oh my goodness. He was wide open,’ ” said Kellogg, who completed 4 of 5 passes for 24 yards. “At least it wasn’t picked off.”
Carter’s nerves were calmed
True freshman tight end Cethan Carter said it certainly felt easier to play as he experienced the atmosphere at Memorial Stadium for a second time.
But making a catch calmed his nerves more than anything.
His first game day experience in Lincoln was the season opener. He never took an official visit during the fall season last year, though he did attend the spring game.
So when Carter caught a 12-yard pass from Kellogg in the third quarter, he felt himself finding a new level of comfort.
Plus, the catch made it a little easier for Carter to smile after the game when asked about the one he almost had. Running wide open down the middle, Carter couldn’t catch up to a pass slightly overthrown by Martinez in the second quarter.
“Once I had my first catch, I got all the jitters out of the way,” Carter said. “I was excited for the first one.”
Freshman Gerry shows his growth
Want an example of Nate Gerry’s growth? Linebackers coach Ross Els mentioned one after Saturday’s win.
Southern Miss emptied the backfield on third down, but Gerry made the stop on a quarterback draw play in the second quarter. Gerry was lined up across from a receiver who sprinted downfield on the snap, but Nebraska’s true freshman didn’t get fooled.
“Nate understood what they were trying to do,” Els said. “He waited, which is hard for anybody to do because they’re getting nervous about the receiver. But he read the draw and hit it and didn’t hesitate.”
It was an in-the-moment adjustment that Gerry wouldn’t have made a week earlier.
Said Els: “Last week, that (play) went for about 70.”
Gerry and freshman Josh Banderas earned their first starts at linebacker Saturday. They were awarded the top jobs Thursday, Els said.
But the plan going into the Southern Miss game was to rotate five players at NU’s two linebacker spots. Junior Zaire Anderson, redshirt freshman Michael Rose and sophomore David Santos all played Saturday.
Els said there’s “not a whole lot of difference between the five.”
At this rate ...
Martinez once said 70 percent was a completion rate that he’d like to hit, throwing out that figure before the 2012 season.
Martinez went on to complete a career-high 62 percent as a junior, throwing for 2,871 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Through two games this season, however, Martinez is at 71.1 percent (32 of 45) with six touchdowns and one interception.
“He’s seeing things well, and what I like best is his decision-making,” Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck said. “Sometimes he hangs on to it longer than I like … but he’s been good.”
Martinez completed 15 of 23 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns against Southern Mississippi. The fourth-year starter, though, shrugged at his high percentage so far.
“They’re doing a great job with blocking up front and the receivers are just making plays and catching the football,” Martinez said. “So it’s not really based on me, it’s just based on the people around me.”