mike riley

How do you lose a football game? Usually it’s with mistakes, either a whopping amount or a handful that are poorly-timed. And make no mistake: errors killed Nebraska’s victory chances in its season-opening football game against BYU.

To spare you a lengthy recap, just observe each team’s final drive of the game. Nebraska’s drive ends in a shanked field goal. BYU’s ends in a Hail Mary touchdown with all of NU’s defenders behind the receiver.

I didn’t watch the entire game — stories to write and post and the like — but I mainly liked what I saw from the offense, although I was more pleased with the passing game as opposed to the rushing attack. So much was made of how head coach Mike Riley’s passing emphasis was different from quarterback Tommy Armstrong’s demonstrated skill set, but that side of the game could have ended up a lot worse.

Punting wasn’t bad, but missing two field goals inside 45 yards is about inexcusable at the Power 5 level these days.

And then there’s the defense, shredded for a half and the out of position enough on the final play to claim defeat.

It’s unfortunate the Huskers lost the game, and with it the streak of consecutive home opening victories. But the game showed there is a lot of hope for the Mike Riley era. They say the most improvement in a given football season happens from Week 1 to Week 2. If that happens, Nebraska’s chances for returning to relevance improve dramatically — if not this year, then certainly by next season.

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