Grading the Game (Penn State)

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Rush Offense: B+

The Huskers struggled at times to move the ball on the ground against Penn State, whose front four is one of the best in the country. However, as the game went on, quarterback Taylor Martinez began to make smarter reads and running back Rex Burkhead began to run over Nittany Lion defenders. Burkhead finished with 121 yards rushing and a touchdown, while Martinez added 56 yards.

Pass Offense: C+

Quarterback Taylor Martinez was 13 of 26 passing for 143 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Nebraska’s wide receivers were dropping balls on and off throughout the day, so any big plays they made were downplayed by the frustration of drops. Still, Nebraska was able to use the passing game effectively to open up some rushing possibilities, so they served the purpose they had to against a tough Penn State defense.

Rush Defense: B

The Blackshirts allowed 166 yards rushing to Penn State, but when it came down to crucial plays at the end of the game, Nebraska was able to stop running back Silas Redd and the Nittany Lions. On fourth down and 1 with 1:49 remaining, linebacker Lavonte David and safety Daimion Stafford stuffed Redd at the line, giving the Huskers the ball back at a critical moment late in the game.

Pass Defense: B+

The Husker pass rush was making Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin dance around in the pocket all afternoon. McGloin completed 16 of 34 passes for 193 yards, with 40 yards coming on one pass to wide receiver Derek Moye. The Blackshirts were covering fairly well on the day, but often could not make a play on the ball, allowing McGloin to squeeze in a few throws for key first downs. Just like the rush defense, the secondary and pass rush came through in the clutch late in the game to slam the door shut on a Penn State comeback.

Special Teams: B+

Kicker/punter Brett Maher had two punts of 50+ yards and booted home a 41 yard field goal en route to the Huskers’ 17-14 victory over Penn State. Maher averaged 45 yards per punt, while Nebraska’s kick returners averaged over 20 yards per return. Overall, Saturday was a solid outing from Nebraska’s special teams unit. However, aside from some of Maher’s punts, the squad lacked a “wow” factor that players like Ameer Abdullah can provide.

Photo Courtesy Associated Press

By Chris Peters