Nebraska's veteran line setting tone for run game

Published on NewsOK Modified: October 6, 2013 at 2:58 pm •  Published: October 6, 2013

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska's big boys have been, well, coming up big.

With week-to-week uncertainty at quarterback, strong play from the veteran offensive line has played a large role in keeping the Cornhuskers moving.

That was certainly the case in Saturday's 39-19 victory over Illinois. The line cleared the way for 335 yards rushing for the second straight game. All that with no false starts and no holding penalties.

"I felt up front we were controlling the line of scrimmage," offensive coordinator Tim Beck said. "We just rode them."

Of course, it didn't hurt having a hot back like Ameer Abdullah running behind those linemen. Abdullah rushed for a career-high 225 yards against the Illini, and the Huskers (4-1, 1-0) are second in the Big Ten and ninth nationally in rushing at 291.5 yards a game.

"That's what we live for," center Cole Pensick said. "We love running the ball."

Abdullah, as is his nature, gave all credit to his blockers. Pensick said it goes both ways.

"We trust him to hit his holes," Pensick said, "and he trusts us to make the right block."

Jeremiah Sirles, Andrew Rodriguez, Jake Cotton, Spencer Long and Pensick have combined to start 90 games on the line. That has lent stability to an offense led by redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr. for two straight games in the absence of injured quarterback Taylor Martinez.

Offensive line coach John Garrison said he figured the onus would be on his unit on a chilly afternoon when the wind was howling at 26 mph.

"It was exciting to see our guys come out, with the opportunity we had starting Big Ten play," Garrison said. "It didn't take long to figure out we were going to have to run the ball."

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