Bradley offers Ickes advice
Nebraska fifth-year senior Adam Ickes felt confident Friday night on the eve of his first college start.
For good measure, though, he called his buddy, Stewart Bradley. It made sense, considering Bradley’s season-ending knee injury pushed Ickes into the lineup at strongside linebacker.
“I had a couple of questions about a couple defenses,” Ickes said.
Bradley was glad to help.
“He said that once I got out there on the field, everything would come back to me,” Ickes said.
Bradley was right. In Saturday night’s win against Baylor, Ickes forced a key fourth-quarter fumble, batted down a second-quarter pass at the line of scrimmage and finished with two tackles.
“I didn’t make any mistakes, and that was my goal,” Ickes said.
Ickes, who entered the night with 11 tackles this season, played every snap of the 23-14 triumph. He said true freshman Barry Turner was designated as his backup. Turner, who plays defensive end as his primary position, finished the night with four tackles, including a career-high two sacks.
Ickes’ strong play in his first-ever start didn’t surprise middle linebacker Corey McKeon.
“He stepped right up,” McKeon said. “Adam’s a big-time player. There’s very little difference between he and Stew.”
Nebraska junior wide receiver Isaiah Fluellen, who suffered a hamstring injury last week against Texas Tech, didn’t make the trip to Waco, though he practiced at least once last week.
Among other players who didn’t make the trip were Jake Wesch, who handled kickoff duties for the past few games (junior David Dyches took over Saturday); defensive end Ty Steinkuhler, who had appeared in three games; and tight end Justin Tomerlin, among the most touted members of the 2005 recruiting class.
The Huskers included two backup quarterbacks on the 70-man travel roster — true freshman Harrison Beck and redshirt freshman Joe Ganz.
Baylor scored on its opening drive for the fifth straight game. Against Nebraska, the Bears’ 14-play, 81-yard opening march was capped by quarterback Shawn Bell’s 5-yard run on a bootleg left. Bell threw completions that converted two third-and-long situations in the early stages of the 7½-minute drive.
“We let them off the ropes,” NU defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove said of the third-down plays.
Nebraska came right back with an 18-play drive that ended with Jordan Congdon’s 41-yard field goal. The Huskers picked up first downs on two third-down situations and two fourth-down plays along the way.
The teams’ long drives chewed up all but 34 seconds of the first quarter.
Nebraska held Baylor to 51 rushing yards. The Bears were particularly frustrated in the second quarter, with minus 26 rushing yards. The Huskers, who ranked fourth nationally in rush defense entering the night, have limited four opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing this season, including each of the last three foes.
Nebraska, which entered the night with a nation-leading 30 sacks, recorded three in the first half, two by senior nose tackle Le Kevin Smith and another by Turner. Turner added a second-half sack.
The win was Nebraska’s third straight in a road opener after winning at Southern Miss in 2003 and Pitt last season. The win ended a three-game losing streak in conference road openers. The triumph also snapped a four-game road losing streak dating to last season.
Baylor is one of 24 NCAA Division I-A schools to have a live animal for a mascot. A bear was led to the middle of the field five minutes before the game, and sat down on his haunches for his handlers. The bear received a round of applause.
Here and there
Although Baylor officials were hoping for a near-sellout crowd of 50,000, a few corner sections of Floyd Casey Stadium were sparsely populated. … The crowd included about 8,000 red-clad fans. … At halftime, Nebraska’s Sam Koch had gone six quarters with only one punt.