Nebraska linebacker Alex Davis (22) recovers a fumble by South Alabama quarterback Cephus Johnson for a touchdown during the second half of a game in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday. Nebraska won 35-21.
LINCOLN — On a day when Nebraska struggled to move the ball on offense against South Alabama in Lincoln Saturday, the defense turned in one of its best performances of the Scott Frost era in a 35-21 win.
The Nebraska defense forced five turnovers including two that resulted in touchdowns, and put unrelenting pressure on Jaguar quarterback Cephus Johnson all day long.
Senior safety Eric Lee Jr. led Nebraska with two interceptions, including one for a 37-yard touchdown return on South Alabama’s opening possession of the second half.
Near the end of the third quarter, the Nebraska defense struck again.
Sophomore cornerback Cam Taylor blindsided Johnson on a corner blitz inside the South Alabama 10 yard line, jarring the ball loose and into the hands of senior linebacker Alex Davis who walked into the end zone.
Taylor also picked off Johnson at the Nebraska 2 and returned it to midfield to end a South Alabama drive in the fourth quarter.
“Cam had a big game for us,” Head Coach Scott Frost said. “Saw him make some big hits. The sack fumble. He can play all four spots for us and again he’s a baller. It’s a good thing we played well on defense and special teams.”
Taylor said he lost track of the ball after nailing the quarterback on the fumble recovery.
“I knew I hit him hard, really hard because it hurt me,” he said. “I didn’t know it was a touchdown. It’s kind of like slow motion, it’s almost like I’ve got a free lane. I hear nothing but fans, what happened. I didn’t see the ball. The quarterback didn’t look my way so I said OK, I’ve got to do what I do.”
Despite the offensive struggles for Nebraska, Taylor said he knows the offense side of the ball will get things sorted out.
“It was just a bad game,” he said. “We went against them all camp. They’re very explosive.”
Lee said he and Taylor have an interception competition going and are ready to make plays.
“Whether the offense is struggling or they’re cooking on all cylinders,” he said, “as a secondary we try to make all the plays we can. From my aspect I just try to do everything I’m supposed to do and keep it from there.”
Frost said he was pleased with how the defense was flying to the football.
“The defense made a lot of really good plays,” he said. “The way they ran around the ball and hit. We’ll get this offense juiced up and going, and when we get it going turnovers are going to help us win games. I think the defense was excited and ready to build off it. I’m thrilled to see the Blackshirts like the Blackshirts we expect. If you look at the secondary they persevered through a lot of the coaching changes, now they’re good teammates. I’m glad to see the success those guys are having.”
Linebacker Mohamed Barry led Nebraska with 12 tackles, while Taylor had five including two for 16 yards in losses.