LINCOLN — Nebraska assistant Ron Brown wanted to get Terrell Newby going sooner, but he also didn't want to disrupt any rhythm that Ameer Abdullah or Imani Cross might be developing.
When it was finally time Saturday night, Brown turned the freshman I-back loose.
“I think we got a great look at Newby,” Brown said. “I think it was a great first game for him.”
Despite Newby having one carry before Nebraska took possession with two minutes left in the third quarter against Wyoming, the Huskers' prized newcomer finished with 76 rushing yards on 15 attempts in the 37-34 win.
It was the best production by an NU freshman I-back in a season-opening game since Quentin Castille ran 18 times for 78 yards against Nevada in 2007.
It also was a glimpse of what might be ahead for the California speedster. A taste of what the 5-foot-10, 185-pounder can bring to the Husker backfield.
“He's dynamic,” Brown said. “He even ran inside fairly well. He bounces things outside, made some things happen. So we've got three guys back there that all give you something a little different.”
Nebraska no doubt will study how it uses the trio after Abdullah had 19 carries for 114 yards and Cross ran 13 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Without being specific, NU coach Bo Pelini said: “I'll look at how the backs played, but I think we need to get a better rhythm going as far as subbing those guys out.”
Brown said he was “waiting on the right time” with Newby on Saturday night. After his first career attempt came just before the touchdown that put Nebraska ahead 31-14, Newby got the last five carries of the third quarter, four of which went for 6 yards or more.
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Newby got four more carries on the same 13-play drive that resumed in the fourth quarter and finished with NU taking a 37-21 lead with 11:38 left in the game.
“I thought we were at a point in the game where we were beginning to wear them down, and I thought Newbs — with fresh legs and as scatty as he is — might break some,” Brown said. “He came close to breaking a couple. We were one block away from him going the distance on some things.”
Newby got five more carries on the Huskers' next offensive possession before Nebraska went back to Abdullah and Cross for the following two.
All three of those failed to produce points and left the door open for the Wyoming comeback, however. That spoiled how Brown and offensive coordinator Tim Beck felt about the overall efficiency of the running game, despite the 375 yards and 6.0 per carry.
Nebraska had been on a roll coming out of halftime with three straight scoring drives, including a 15-play march that included 11 runs.
“We just made some adjustments and we were wearing them down, and we were trying to do the same thing in the fourth quarter,” Beck said. “And we just didn't do it for some reason.”
Most disappointing was the failure to convert third-and-2 and fourth-and-1 runs on one series. NU tackle Jeremiah Sirles said the offensive line took full responsibility for those, but Brown said it was across the board and something that NU needs to get ironed out.
“We had a chance to put it away and we didn't,” Brown said. “That's not good. Yeah, we racked up a lot of yards, we had two guys over 100 yards, the backs all had quite a few yards and quite a few carries, but we didn't finish the game the way we needed to.
“We don't want to have to punt the ball. We don't have to give it up. We don't have to come up short on fourth down. We want to get what we've got to get. That's where we have to work.”