Nebraska started their season off with a 49-20 win over Southern Miss. in Lincoln. Nebraska had an offensive explosion where redshirt junior quarterback Taylor Martinez threw for 354 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Here is how each group graded out against their first opponent.
Martinez couldn’t have played a better game. Aside from one delayed throw in Kenny Bell’s direction that was almost intercepted, he played perfectly. That one throw is keeping him from getting an A+. The one thing I was dissapointed in was, that head coach Bo Pelini and offensive coordinator Tim Beck didn’t let Ron Kellogg III throw the ball. He came in late in the fourth quarter with a big lead. The former walk on from Omaha, has the best arm on the team. It would have been nice to see him throw it once or twice.
Running Backs B
Nine Huskers carried the ball on Saturday. The biggest story from the game was senior running back Rex Burkhead spraining his MCL. Before he suffered the injury, Burkhead rushed for 68 yards, including a 57 yard touchdown run. In his absence back ups Ameer Abdullah, Bryalon Heard, and Imani Corss rushed for 177 yards and 1 touchdown. Abdullah led all rushers with 81 yards on 15 carries.
Full back Mike Marrow had 4 carries for 15 yards. Back up C.J. Zimmerer had one carry for 4 yards.
Tight Ends B-
Senior tight end Kyler Reed had 5 catches for 57 yards, and 1 touchdown. Ben Cotton had 1 catch for 5 yards. Reed looks like he is back to his sophomore form, when he was Nebraska’s biggest receiving threat. His production will be fun to monitor going forward.
Offensive Line B+
The Pipeline only allowed one sack, and provided impressive holes for a stable of running backs to run through. There is still a lot of room for improvement, and attention to detail needs to be a key point for the coaching staff in week 2 preparation. There were three plays were a Golden Eagle defender came unblocked on the side to where the play was going. UCLA’s defense will make the plays Southern Miss. missed.
Defensive Line C-
There was a huge lack of pass rush Saturday, and missed tackles by the entire defense. Seemingly the only time there was someone in the backfield was a linebacker. My biggest question mark going in to the season was senior defensive end Cameron Meredith. After Saturday my concerns only grew. The defense seemed to be more impressive when freshman Avery Moss, and senior Joseph Carter were in at defensive end. The end rotation will be my position to watch going forward.
Senior linebacker Will Compton played out of his mind on Saturday. The grade is only a B, because of the lack of playing time for other linebackers out side of Compton and senior Alonzo Whaley, who played poorly on Saturday. His form tackling needs a lot of work. Nebraska will see more of three linebacker sets on defense against UCLA’s pro style offense.
Defensive Backs B-
Aside from Martinez, junior Ciante Evans may have been the most impressive Husker on Saturday. He was running step for step with every receiver he covered. My player to watch this season was senior safety Daimion Stafford. I thought this defense would go as far as Stafford could take it, and I think that showed on Saturday. The defense played sloppy, and Stafford was practically a non factor. He will have to step up for this defense to be successful.
Special Teams F
There really isn’t much to say about two missed field goals, a kick off that went out of bounce, a shanked punt, and kick off return. The special teams couldn’t have played any worse. Its not a very good start for first year special teams coordinator, Ros Els.
All-American kicker Brett Maher, was in rare form on Saturday. He struggled all day, and going forward he needs to get back to his 2011 form if he wants to finish the season on any All-American, or All-Conference lists.
By Jimmie Allen
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