Nebraska's vigilant fumble watch

2013-09-09T16:12:00Z Nebraska's vigilant fumble watchBy BRIAN CHRISTOPHERSON JournalStar.com

It's hard to knock the Huskers for ball security too much in the first two games.

There were two turnovers against Wyoming -- though one Taylor Martinez fumble came on a play that was going to be a failed fourth-down conversion sneak anyway.

And there was one fumble by true freshman Terrell Newby against Southern Miss. It was the first time in 14 games Nebraska did not give the ball away twice.

Baby steps, baby steps.

But it's fair to say the ball has just not been on the ground as much in the first couple games as it was last year, when the Huskers lost a country-high 22 fumbles.

Now, the Huskers need to prove they can value the ball against a big-name foe.

You'd expect to see improvement because, frankly, there was nowhere to go but up in this category. Also, the Huskers have put a whole lot of emphasis on ball security this offseason.

"Even if you don’t fumble, but you are in a position that is vulnerable to fumble, we count that as a fumble," said junior running back Ameer Abdullah. "We discipline accordingly to that. Even if you didn’t fumble in the game but you are in a position where you can fumble, then you need to tighten that up. Later on down the road, you don’t want to develop sloppy habits carrying the ball, we want to be sharp and up-tight with the ball. That’s what we continue to do."

To go a step further, Abdullah said he watches film of the way some of the best ball-security backs carry the football.

Trent Richardson was a great back at Alabama. Mark Ingram. Montee Ball. Names like that who are very secure with the ball and very effective runners," Abdullah said.

There's a line to walk there. You want to value the ball, but you also want to be a dynamic runner while doing so.

"A lot of guys when they are too secure with the ball, they don’t get the best out of their running ability, they are too worried about holding on to the ball to make plays," Abdullah said. "Those three guys do a good job of being effective while holding onto the ball securely.”

So far so good for Abdullah, who has no fumbles to his name this season.

Saturday will be an important day to keep that streak going.

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

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