Rush Offense: A
You couldn’t have asked for much more from Rex Burkhead. Nebraska’s running back set a school record for the most carries in a game, beating Cory Ross’ 37 by one carry. Burkhead ended up with 160 yards rushing and a touchdown. Freshman running back Ameer Abdullah saw more time than usual, and added 35 yards on 12 carries. Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter and was mostly contained to the pocket. Still, the Huskers needed to find a way to run the ball to get the win, and they did it early on and rode it all the way to a victory.
Pass Offense: B+
Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez had a fair day passing, completing 12 of 22 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown. Early on the game, Martinez struggled to find a rhythm, and under threw a number of wide receivers. However, later in the game, Martinez began to find wide receiver Kenny Bell more often and started to pick up steam. Bell finished with 5 receptions for 93 yards, but should have had more, as Iowa defenders were flagged for penalties on Bell three times (1 pass interference, 1 defensive holding and 1 horse collar tackle). While the passing game started to click later in the game, there were still a couple concerning drops from guys like Bell.
Rush Defense: B+
While the Blackshirts did allow 87 rushing yards for Iowa running back Marcus Coker, it was clear on the field that they were dictating the rushing game. Linebackers Lavonte David and Will Compton combined for 15 tackles. Head coach Bo Pelini said defensive tackles Baker Steinkuhler and Terrence Moore both suffered injuries on the first series, and as a result, Pelini played a number of new faces at the position including moving defensive end Cameron Meredith inside for most of the game. While the rush defense wasn’t stellar, the Blackshirts were still calling the shots on most plays.
Pass Defense: A-
Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg entered the game as the Big Ten’s leading quarterback in passing yards. The Blackshirts made a statement early on and forced Vandenberg to have the worst completion percentage of the season – 45.7. The credit for the excellent game in pass coverage by the Huskers can be shared by the pass rush, which forced Vandenberg to throw the ball early, and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who locked down Iowa’s leading receiver Marvin McNutt, who finished the game with 4 receptions for 29 yards.
Special Teams: B
The Huskers had a pretty pedestrian day on special teams. Brett Maher showed good reliability, knocking in kicks of 40 yards and 21 yards, while punting for an average of 41.9 yards per punt. Not much was required of the return teams, as they only fielded 3 kicks all afternoon. While there was nothing dazzling out of Nebraska’s special teams, there was nothing concerning either.
Photo Courtesy SourceMedia Group News
By Chris Peters