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Husker notes: Anthony Grant gets lion's share of chances at RB in Nebraska's opener

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Sam McKewon breaks down Nebraska's 'clunker' of a loss in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic between Northwestern and Nebraska at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on Saturday, August 27, 2022. Northwestern won 31-28.

DUBLIN — Nebraska’s presumed starter at running back was the workhorse Saturday while the position’s most versatile member didn’t get a touch.

How the Huskers would divvy out carries to a group of six scholarship rushers played out, in part, how it was trending in fall camp. Junior college addition Anthony Grant received the lion’s share of chances, toting the ball 19 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns — with 46 yards coming on a breakaway score in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Jaquez Yant (three carries for five yards) and freshman Ajay Allen (three for seven) also had opportunities.

Perhaps most surprising was the absence of Gabe Ervin — a two-game starter last year who has recovered from a knee injury last September — and Rahmir Johnson. The fourth-year speedster Johnson in particular has split his time between receiver and rusher, calling himself a “wideback” during camp.

“We played the guys we thought had the best camp and, really, week leading up to this game,” Frost said. “I think if it had been a different kind of game we would have gotten more guys in but it wasn’t.”

Defense struggles with 'tricky' Wildcat concepts

To a man, the Huskers swear that Northwestern didn’t wear out their defense on Saturday. The Wildcats did not run for 214 yards because NU got tired.

Chris Kolarevic says the Huskers struggled to defend some of NW’s “tricky” concepts. Motions, shifts — “We did a good job preparing for them,” Kolarevic said, “But that’s something that’s a little difficult (to defend).”

Ochaun Mathis said NU struggled with communication. Not all game, Mathis said. But in a few key moments, the Huskers didn’t call plays fast enough.

Nelson had no explanation.

“That just can’t happen,” he said. “That’s not how you win Big Ten football.”

The Huskers’ offensive line struggled to generate a consistent push, too. Tight end Travis Vokolek said the offensive line played well, in his estimation. But so did Northwestern’s defense, which stopped the Huskers on six straight possessions to close the game.

“Northwestern's a physical team,” Vokolek said. " ... We always say the more physical team is gonna win. I think the whole Northwestern defense is physical and they attacked everything."

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