Breaking Down Michigan State

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In last Saturdays 41-14 victory over Minnesota, Nebraska had seven different receivers make a catch. In Saturdays win over Michigan State eight different Cornhuskers carried the ball.  Junior Rex Burkhead carried the load, carrying 35 times for 135 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground.

Nebraska did get the wide receivers involved in the rushing game. Both junior Tim Marlowe, and freshman Kenny Bell got a carry. Marlowe got a jet sweep that he took 39 yards down inside the Michigan State’s 5-yard-line.  Kenny Bell took a reverse for 4 yards, but sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez took the inside defender on his block as opposed to the outside guy. If Martinez would have taken the outside guy, Bell may have scored.  Look for Nebraska to keep this reverse in their arsenal.

Martinez only found 5 receivers this week. Completing 7 of 13 passes for 80 yards, 1 touchdown and an interception. Martinez’s interception came on a fade route to Bell, that was tipped up in the air. He rushed 12 times for just 23 yards. Which the coaching staff can look as a positive after this game. If Rex Burkhead can get going, you just need Taylor Martinez to make good decisions with the ball, and you can be successful.  Burkhead also had the only receiving touchdown on the day.

The Blackshirts held Spartans quarterback Kirk Cousins to just 86 yards passing on 27 attempts, and forced an interception on the first series of the game. Senior Lance Thorell jumped a s;ant route to pick off Cousins on his 2nd pass attempt. Nebraska had 4 drops that should have been an interception. Junior Damion Stafford dropped a pass that hit him right in the numbers, with no Spartans around him, and more than likely would have taken it for a score. The Spartans scored their only points of the day on a Dan Conroy 28-yard-field goal on the next play.

The defensive backs seemingly flowed to the ball all game. It may be due to the fact that, the Huskers showed a lot of “Peso” defense that they ran last season. Every member of the defense looked in place and way more comfortable with 2 linebackers and 5 defensive backs in the game. It will be interesting to see if the Huskers switch this back to their base defense.

One of the biggest stories of the game was penalties for the Spartans. After not committing a single one in the upset over Wisconsin last week, Michigan State had, 9 penalties for 90 yards against Nebraska. With a depleted secondary, the Michigan State defensive backs were having trouble defending Husker receivers, and the yellow flags showed it.

After the 23-3 win over Michigan State, Nebraska improves to 7-1 (3-1)  and faces the Wildcats of Northwestern, at 2:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium next week. Michigan State gets to go back to East Lansing and play the Minnesota Golden Gophers next Saturday at noon.