PITTSBURGH Letters of support poured in last week, a bundle of them, Joe Dailey said.
"I appreciate them," the Nebraska quarterback said. "It's good to know everyone has my back and supports me."
Dailey's morale needed a boost after he threw three interceptions and coughed up a fumble in last week's four-point loss to Southern Mississippi.
This week, Dailey would understand if he received a few letters of "thanks" from Big Red fans, as in "thanks for holding down your turnover count."
With Nebraska using a more conservative approach on offense, Dailey ended a disturbing two-game trend toward interceptions, helping allow the Huskers to hold off Pittsburgh 24-17 Saturday at Heinz Field.
After being picked off seven times in Nebraska's first two games, Dailey threw only one interception against Pittsburgh. It was a costly one, as the Panthers capitalized on the next play, Tyler Palko's 34-yard touchdown pass to wideout Greg Lee that pulled Pitt to 24-17 with 4:45 left in the game.
Nebraska's defense came through in the end, and Dailey, in addition to expressing his appreciation for the fan letters, had some kind words for the Blackshirts.
"We have each other's backs," Dailey said, referring to the Husker offense and defense. "That's our new motto I've got your back."
Dailey finished 11-of-22 passing for 142 yards and a touchdown. He added a 17-yard scoring run on a nice bootleg play, scooting untouched around left end.
"I thought Joe bounced back well," said Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan, who's been patient with Dailey as the sophomore grows into Callahan's complex West Coast system.
The 6-foot, 205-pound Dailey had his best moments in the first half of Saturday's win. In leading Nebraska to a 24-7 lead, Dailey was 10-of-14 for 128 yards and a touchdown.
It should be noted that Husker receivers had dropped four passes by that point, including three by wideout Ross Pilkington.
Nebraska, leading 24-10 at halftime, attempted only seven passes in the second half, completing one, while rushing 22 times for 61 yards. Pitt's defense stiffened, and Callahan was perhaps wary of Dailey tossing costly interceptions, as he did last week.
Callahan was asked if he went to a more conservative approach.
"I would call it a smart offensive approach," he said.
However, Dailey acknowledged that Nebraska's game plan was to keep the ball on the ground, use play-action passes, "and make things happen."
Nebraska made enough things happen to improve to 2-1.
"We're still a running offense," Dailey said. "In bad weather conditions, we're going to run the ball and use play-action. In good weather, we're going to do it all."
The grass of Heinz Field was wet and slippery from heavy rains all day Friday. The conditions affected Nebraska's execution, not to mention its game plan.
The stats will show Dailey enjoyed an OK day. Nothing spectacular.
The most important stat in Dailey's mind? Nebraska 24, Pitt 17.
In the evolution of a young quarterback in a complex offense, there are going to be a lot of interesting games, unpredictable games, games such as Saturday's.
"The big thing I learned today is you can't stop fighting," Dailey said. "It's all about fighting to the end."