There haven’t been too many games in the five years Tim Rebowe has been at the helm of Nicholls football where he felt like he did Saturday night. 

The Colonels’ 49-14 loss to Kansas State is one of maybe two or three games Rebowe can recall where he thinks the Colonels didn’t play up to their own capabilities. Sure, there had been ugly losses to FBS-level teams before. In his first season Nicholls lost to Colorado 48-0. 

But between the early mistakes and turnovers, little seemed to go right in the 2019 season opener. 

“I told the team that this is probably only the third time in five years that we’ve come off a loss like that,” Rebowe said. “We have to learn how to handle it. We don’t chalk anything up. It’s the first game of the year, we had some first-time people playing, we’ll learn from it, we’ll move on.” 

It started in the opening drive when Kansas State marched down the field for a 12-play, 72-yard scoring drive. The Colonels almost had the Wildcats stopped on an earlier third down, but a costly facemark by safety Khristian Mims extended the drive. 

The bad luck continued on offense, as well. 

Rebowe initially thought Nicholls would bounce back when running back Kendall Bussey picked up nine yards on the first offensive play of the day. But then quarterback Chase Fourcade was intercepted on the next play from scrimmage, leading to another Kansas State score. 

By the end of the first quarter Nicholls gained all of 17 yards in less than three minutes of possession time. The stage was then set for the rout. 

“Offensively we have some things to clean up,” Rebowe said. “We didn’t get a chance to really have the ball and sustain anything offensively. We only had the ball for five plays in the first quarter and 17 in the first half. But you cannot turn the ball over.” 

Fortunately Nicholls has two weeks to regroup before getting back out on the field against Prairie View A&M on Sept. 14. 

Rebowe was not a fan of the Week 2 open date when the schedule was first announced, but now sees it as a potentially advantage. 

“I don’t usually like coming off a loss and having a bye week, but I think this could really help us,” Rebowe said. “We’ve got some things to fix. everybody has some things to fix — offense, defense, kicking game — talking about individually.” 

Injury report

It turned out that defensive lineman Sully Laiche and linebacker Evan Veron were not the only starters missing from Saturday’s season opener. 

Senior running back Dontrell Taylor was also absent in Kansas State with an undisclosed injury, leaving ball carrying duties up to Kendall Bussey and Julien Gums, who combined for 131 yards and two touchdowns. 

Rebowe said Taylor is likely out for a couple weeks but did not specify an official timeline or diagnosis. 

No. 2 wide receiver Arron McKenney started Saturday’s game, but unfortunately did not finish it after going down early in the first half. McKenney was later seen on the sideline with crutches, according to the Nicholls radio broadcast. 

Rebowe said they’re waiting for him to see the doctor.

New O-Line 

One of the few bright spots in the opening weekend came from one of the most unlikely of units.

All offseason the Colonels were concerned with having to rebuild its offensive line from top to bottom after losing four of five starters from 2018. Until a few freshmen and transfers arrived in the summer, Nicholls struggled fielding a complete group. 

But line held strong at Kansas State, preventing the Wildcats from getting to the quarterback on any of Fourcade’s 18 pass attempts. The Colonels allowed no sacks, two hurries and two tackles for loss. 

“I think there were a lot of positive to come out of there,” Rebowe said. “It started with (center) PJ Burkhalter up front. He did a good job of getting everybody on the same page. I thought Mikhail Hill did a good job playing at the guard spot. We’ve got to get better at the tackle. For guys really as first-time starters in Jari Joseph and Bradston Burnside, I thought those guys could be a bit better for us.”

Rest of FCS 

The good news about Nicholls’ loss is that it shouldn’t drop too much in the polls. 

Like Nicholls, 11 other FCS Top 25 programs began their seasons this week against FBS opponents. But only one, Central Arkansas against Western Kentucky, ended favorably for the smaller school. 

Top 25 teams went 9-15 through Week 1. No. 24 Princeton did not play.