NU-MU Report Card

By at October 31, 2010 | 12:14 AM | Print

Here's our report card after the Nebraska-Mizzou game!

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Running back Roy Helu. It's probably too late for Helu to make a push for first-team All Big 12 – those spots seem reserved for Daniel Thomas and Kendall Hunter – but he'll always this one game, one of the best in Husker history, on a huge stage. Helu was awesome Saturday, a combination of speed, power, agility and patience. All of his skills were on display.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Defensive tackle Jared Crick. Mannned up. Crick played his best, most consistent game of his career against a big-name opponent. He repeatedly flushed Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert out of the pocket and toward the sidelines. Crick also played a huge role in slowing down Mizzou's running game. Overall, he had seven tackles and a sack.


QUARTERBACK: C Taylor Martinez had a terrific first quarter, completing 5 of 5 passes for 101 yards. He didn't play well at all in the second quarter, losing yards while trying to scramble around, taking bad sacks and finally getting hurt, leaving with a bone bruise. Martinez was trying too hard Saturday. Zac Lee played the second half. He didn't turn it over, and he hit one big pass to Kyler Reed.

RUNNING BACK: A+ Helu broke the school record, while Rex Burkhead provided a few carries and Tyler Legate blocked well when he was in the game.

OFFENSIVE LINE: A Barney's Boys mauled all over the joint, pushing around the Tigers' defensive front with regularity. Mizzou wasn't big or agile enough to get around some of the Huskers' big trucks. In pass protection Nebraska was a little shakier, especially in the first half, but Martinez's scrambling around and indecision did them no favors.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS: B+ Strong blocking on the edge from Niles Paul and Brandon Kinnie, while Ben Cotton cleaned up at tight end. Reed caught two passes, one of which went for a touchdown. He's quickly becoming one of the Huskers' best receiving threats, and certainly the best downfield threat.

DEFENSIVE LINE: A Asked to stuff the Tigers' running game and pressure Gabbert, they did just that. Special kudos to Cameron Meredith and Kevin Thomsen for learning a stand-up linebacker role this week and playing it without too many busts. Dumb helmet-to-helmet penalty by Meredith that needlessly extended a Missouri drive by a few plays. The unit overall lost contain a few times, but Gabbert's scrambles downfield weren't entirely their fault.

LINEBACKER: B- LaVonte David was again active and around the ball – until Gabbert started scrambling. David has to come back to the ball in some of those situations and find the ball carrier. He did a nice job of covering Mizzou's Micheal Egnew, however.

SECONDARY: B Considering everything involved – three new players on the field, a complex passing offense to defend, long plays that featured Gabbert running out and around the pocket on nearly every snap – they did about as well as could be expected against the pass. Against the run, corners Ciante Evans and Prince Amukamara have fight back toward the ball and slow the guy down. But Mizzou never hit a deep pass, and that's saying something.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B Adi Kunalic's kickoffs were a lifesaver – seven touchbacks! – while NU's kickoff return average of 28 yards per tote was solid, as well. The punt coverage was poor. The Huskers fielded punts, for the most part, OK.

GAME MANAGEMENT/PLAYCALLING: A Great coaching staffs know when to make it count, and Nebraska most certainly did Saturday. Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson called a brilliant first quarter, while Bo and Carl Pelini crafted a special, effective defense to slow down Mizzou's running game. NU botched the coin flip by electing to kick instead of deferring, but that's the fault of the captains on the field, not the coaches. The best-called game of the year in our estimation.

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