Riley amazed as 76,000-plus show up for Huskers' spring game
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) According to the school fight song, there is no place like Nebraska.
Mike Riley had to agree Saturday when he came out of the tunnel and saw 76,881 fans waiting to watch his first Red-White game as the Cornhuskers' coach.
"I think I have been in an environment like that but not even close for a spring game," he said. "That's what really separates it. I don't want to overdo it. I've been around lots of really good fans at all the places I've been. The people here think we have the greatest fans in college football, and I think they're out to prove it all the time."
The Red squad, stacked with most of the experienced players, outscored the White 24-15 in front of the second-largest crowd for a spring game at Nebraska. The school record of 80,149 was set in 2008 for Bo Pelini's first spring game.
Riley alternated sidelines and was with the Red team as time ran out. Players doused him with Gatorade.
"That was a first," he said. "I was glad to do it, though. I moved to the red sideline just in time to get my record right."
Some points to ponder coming out of the spring:
QUEUEING UP THE QBS
Tommy Armstrong Jr., who has started 21 games, is the clear front runner to run the new pro-style offense. The spring game did provide some hints about the pecking order after him.
AJ Bush started and played the most for the White squad. He got better with time, but he was intercepted twice and almost picked off another two times. He finished 12 of 22 for 124 yards.
Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said Zack Darlington and Ryker Fyfe also are in contention for the top backup job. Darlington had the best series of the first half, completing a couple short passes and breaking a 19-yard run before connecting with Jamal Turner for a 29-yard touchdown.
PIERSON-EL THE PLAYMAKER
De'Mornay Pierson-El emerged late last season, and Riley has talked him up all spring. The sophomore receiver went for 12 and 27 yards on fly sweeps and caught three balls for 37 yards, including a 32-yard TD from Armstrong. He also ran back a punt 46 yards and would have scored if punter Sam Foltz hadn't stopped him.
KEEP EYE ON NELSON
Walk-on Jordan Nelson, one of the best special-teams players in 2014, busted a 22-yard run against the No. 1 defense and went 52 yards for a touchdown on a catch-and-run against backups.
Dedrick Young, a freshman linebacker from Peoria, Arizona, who arrived on campus in January, made six tackles. "He probably should be at his prom today," defensive coordinator Mark Banker said, laughing. "He needs to be on the field."
FOLTZ A WEAPON
Foltz got off a 59-yard punt and averaged 45 yards on three kicks. "I've coached three NFL punters, four counting the one when I was in the NFL," Riley said, "and he might be as consistent as any of them I've been around."