Nebraska Cornhuskers/UCLA Report Card:
Quarterback: Taylor Martinez is digressing more each week. When looking at his first half stats you would think that he was on pace for one of the best passing games of his career. Three touchdowns through the air and a total command of the passing game. Getting things going through the air was one of the five keys to victory that I wrote on Friday. Well in the second half it was less than stellar. Taylor Martinez was indecisive, clumsy, and quite frankly, bad. He doesn’t seem to want to run the football in situations when he could obviously be a huge factor. Something is wrong with Taylor Martinez. It could be mental, physical, or both.
Running Backs: The Huskers ran the ball 42 times yet only finished the game with 128 yards rushing. That averages out to 3 yards per carry. Ameer Abdullah tried to be the spark plug that Nebraska needed in the second half, but he alone could not carry the burden of mounting a comeback. Not much can be said for the other Husker backs who only had a combined 8 carries on the day.
Wide Receivers: Again, they had a great first half. Unfortunately it takes a full four quarters to get things done. There were several drops in this game, something we have not seen thus far in 2013. The receivers seemed to lack an ounce of swagger after halftime and it was reflected by not seeing the end zone. This group needs work, which is something no one thought heading into this year.
Offensive Line: The difference in skill level between Southern Miss and UCLA could been seen yesterday. It is obvious that the offensive line is better than we have seen in the past few seasons, but it is equally understood that this group has a long way to go if Nebraska’s offense will reach it’s full potential. This group is a major concern moving forward.
Defensive Backs: This unit is being asked to carry an awfully heavy burden. I don’t know that the group is good enough to do all they are being asked to do. They failed miserably in man coverage with the athletic receivers that UCLA brought to Lincoln. They also have issues with open field tackles. Ciante Evans referenced not stepping up and making critical plays yesterday. We thought this was the strength of this defense, yesterday might have proved otherwise.
Linebackers: Michael Rose and Josh Banderas continued their improvement as linebackers yesterday. That being said, this unit either needs to grow up now or Bo Pelini and John Papuchis might need to re think the entire defensive scheme. I’m not sure if they have noticed, but The Big Ten is full of mobile quarterbacks, good running backs, and solid receivers. If the linebackers don’t fully grasp what they are seeing, Nebraska could lose four more games this year.
Defensive Line: Randy Gregory, Greg McMullen, and Avery Moss continue to make progress at the defensive end positions. The same can be said for Vincent Valentine and Maliek Collins at defensive tackle. The two players who are holding this unit back are DE Jason Ankrah and DT Thad Randle. They are great guys and good vocal leaders, but their play does not match the Blackshirts they were given. This group took a few steps back against UCLA.
Coaches: There is a lot that I could put in print here, but I like to think that this is a family friendly website. Their grade can be summed up with one play. Fake punt with an offensive lineman running the football.