Long: Time to put foot to pedal

2013-09-26T17:01:00Z Long: Time to put foot to pedalBy BRIAN CHRISTOPHERSON JournalStar.com

While Nebraska's defensive issues have mostly dominated the conversation around these parts, those on the offensive side of the ball are feeling encouraged this week after hitting almost all the right notes on Saturday.

Granted, South Dakota State has a defense that has struggled, giving up an average of 412 yards per game in its first three contests against FCS teams.

But the fact Nebraska rarely met a stop sign while putting up 635 yards could be just the right medicine for an offense hoping to keep its momentum going against Illinois in nine days.

"We just hit on all cylinders," said senior right guard Spencer Long. "We finally put four quarters together where I feel like we were constantly driving. It felt good to get a little more confidence back."

The Huskers did this with backups Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg III taking over the responsibilities at quarterback.

Count Long among those who was impressed by the presence redshirt freshman Armstrong displayed in his first start this past weekend.

You apparently wouldn't have known it was his first start by the way Armstrong met the huddle.

"Tommy is a confident guy," Long said. "It's hard to shake him."

As for where this team is at heading into Big Ten play, the senior captain said his message to teammates is to not dwell on the past.

There's no taking away the loss to UCLA. But Long also knows sulking over that fat lip won't help the Huskers as they approach the Big Ten grind.

While some negativity may be swirling in the air outside the program walls, Long says everyone on the team should see that all the goals that remain obtainable.

"Our season's not over. One loss, man. Yeah, that sucks. We don't want that to happen, but we have Big Ten play in front of us and we still have the championship sitting out there for us to grab. That's what our ultimate goal is, so everything's still sitting out there for us. Really, we just have to keep motivated and not hang our heads from what happened in the past, just learn from it and come back a stronger team.

"But the time is right now. We need to put our foot on the gas pedal and really make a change and go into Big Ten play strong."

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. Follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.

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