The Nebraska Cornhuskers bounced back in a big way on Saturday beating Southern Miss 56-13 at Memorial Stadium. I caught up with Husker Corner staff writers Leland Johnson and Josh Shaw to get their reactions on the win.
Nebraska cleaned things up defensively against Southern Miss. Who were you most impressed with in Saturday nights win?
Leland Johnson: If the pick six by Stanley Jean-Baptiste in the first minute of the game sparked the Blackshirt defense, then the pick six by Ciante Evens in the final minute of the first quarter set the defense on fire. A fire that was fanned by a pair of true freshman linebackers Josh Banderas and Nathan Gerry making their first real contribution to the Husker defense. The speed and aggression of No. 44 Randy Gregory is something opponents surely took note of after he laid a few hits on the quarterback and recorded four QB hurries in Saturday night’s game. The Blackshirts definitely took a step towards respectability by holding Southern Miss to single touchdown.
Josh Shaw: I was most impressed with the secondary. Ciante Evans grabbed two interceptions and Stanley Jean Baptiste also had one. They are gelling at the right time with UCLA looming next week.
Josh Banderas seemed to handle the Mike position like a pro. Do you think David Santos starting position is in jeopardy?
Leland Johnson: We’ll see both Josh Banderas and David Santos throughout the year, in fact Banderas did start the game against Southern Miss. Banderas was fast and aggressive, exactly what I like to see coming from the middle of the defense. I thought it was a great move by Pelini. Starting youngsters sets a precedence the entire team notices, it makes everyone work harder. Young players want the chance to contribute. It’s refreshing to see some real hungry guys out there.
The defensive line did a much better job of getting penetration. The weak link seems to be Jason Ankrah. Do you think he will continue to start at Defensive End?
Leland Johnson: Jason Ankrah’s size and experience will continue to get him onto the field, for now. If he doesn’t start making an impact though, that field time should be limited. I see youngster Greg McMullen ending up with the spot before the end of the season. He’s too talented to keep him on the sideline.
Josh Shaw: At defensive end it is unclear right now and Ankrah is struggling. Avery Moss seems to have the tools to accomplish great things. Greg McMullen could see more playing time if Ankrah doesn’t get things going. Gregory is a beast and big Vincent Valentine will only get better.
Taylor Martinez was obviously not himself. Do you think he was hesitant to run the ball because his shoulder injury is worse than the team is letting on, or was he reserving energy and contact in anticipation of the UCLA game?
Leland Johnson: I thought Taylor looked healthy and was extremely effective running the offense Saturday night. Martinez passed for 170 yards and three TD’s. He didn’t need to run for more then the 34 yards he gained. Smartly, he let rising star Ameer Abdullah do most of the rushing work. I’m excited to see Martinez lineup against UCLA on Saturday. I think he’ll do fine, even if he decides to run the ball.
Josh Shaw: Yes, Taylor was hesitant but with the stable of running backs Nebraska has does he really need to run for the offense to be successful? And plus with a bruised shoulder I think it was more of not risking injury on his part. He will have to run against UCLA next week for sure though.