Abdullah and Huskers Fall Short with UCLA

Muslim Matters

Abdullah and Huskers Fall Short with UCLA

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Despite 116 rushing yards and two touchdowns from running back Ameer Abdullah, the 17th ranked University of Nebraska football team fell to unranked UCLA 36-30 in week two of the college football season. Abdullah started the game because of an injury to starting running back Rex Burkhead. Abdullah, a sophomore from Homewood, Alabama, ran for 83 yards on 15 carries the previous week against Southern Mississippi after Burkhead sprained a ligament in his knee.

Abdullah is averaging 6.5 yards per carry, had his first 100-yard game at UCLA and has scored two touchdowns. He also has four receptions with a score, but lost a fumble starting the second half Saturday night with the score tied against the Bruins. In his own estimation, Abdullah rated his play as “pretty average.” “I feel like here and there I had some pretty good plays, but obviously when you watch the film it’s never as good as you think and it’s never as bad as you think,” he said.

With 31 rushing attempts in Nebraska’ first two games, Abdullah is happy for the bump in workload (although regretful that some of it has come due to the injury to Rex Burkhead). “I feel like I’ve held up pretty well,” Abdullah said. “I haven’t got a ton of carries. I only have 15 and 16, which isn’t a lot. A lot of backs are getting 30, 28, high 20s and things like that. “I’m prepared for the heavy load. I’m prepared for the short doses. It doesn’t matter.”

Abdullah is just 5-foot-9 and weighs 185 pounds. Abdullah, however, still doesn’t think of himself as small. He never did. “It’s funny because until I got here, I didn’t realize I was that small,” Abdullah said. “I get here, and people ask me how was the transition from running outside to inside. I never did run outside. I love to run inside. I feel like that’s where you get most of your yards. If you run outside, you might be getting (wide) but you’re not getting north.” “It’s all about pad level,” Abdullah said. “It doesn’t matter if he’s bigger than you. If you get lower, you’ll win that battle. Coach (James) Dobson does a good job getting us strength in our lower bodies.”

“He is one tough guy,” Nebraska running backs coach Ron Brown said. “He can pass protect…He stood in there and saved Taylor two or three times by picking up a blitz. Of course he can go out of the backfield and catch the football. He can catch the football in traffic. He’s one of the most dangerous guys you can imagine.”

“My dad, he played running back in college,” Abdullah said. “He said, ‘If you can’t protect, you won’t play.’ I feel like the main objective of the offense is to protect the quarterback. I feel like pass protection is key. We have a very dynamic offense. If we give Taylor time, he’ll pick the defense apart.”

By his own admission Abdullah wasn’t really ready last year, although he thought he was at the time. He finished the year with 42 carries for 150 and also had some impressive performances in the return game.

“He was a young guy and a true freshman last year,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. “He started to get comfortable about midway through the year last year, maybe towards the end of the year. He was more of a specialty guy last year, and we’d give him special situations and bring him into the offense a little bit slower and use his talents in certain ways.

“Now he’s shown he can be an every-down back, and he can run inside and outside and he’s really similar to Braylon (Heard). They are talented guys that can really put stress on a defense in a number of ways.”


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