Official Husker Locker Blog
2010 Dec 05
BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP: Report Card
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Running back Rex Burkhead. The fumble credited to him wasn't his fault; it was a terrible snap from center Mike Caputo. Burkhead ran with power and determination Saturday, completed a very hard pass for a touchdown and would have had another if NU's offensive line had given him the protection.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Linebacker LaVonte David. Everywhere, as usual, to the tune of 17 tackles. Where Nebraska's defense would have been without this kid in 2010, who knows. He's some player for a first-year guy just figuring out the defense as he went along.
QUARTERBACK: F Taylor Martinez knows much better than to make some of the mistakes he did Saturday night whether he's 100 percent or 60 percent. Bottom line: He worries too much about making a play and not enough about the context of the moment – down, distance, field position, etc. He doesn't protect the ball. He doesn't find his check down receivers quickly enough. He seems disconnected from the larger game going on. He'll have to clean up his mental game a lot, because teams will look at a full season of tape and be ready in 2011. The days of 80-yard runs every week are over.
RUNNING BACK: B Roy Helu's outstanding 66-yard touchdown run was offset by another costly fumble by the senior; it could be the thing that keeps him from getting drafted by the NFL. He whiffed on a couple pass blocks, too, but that's not new. Burkhead has grown up in the last month, and he's running with purpose and toughness. He could be poised for a big leap next year; he's also a workhorse, should NU ever want to return to a power offense.
OFFENSIVE LINE: C- Carved out some holes and protected Martinez better than the sack numbers would suggest. Nevertheless – some of the power runs didn't get an inch. And a few of OU's pass rushes got right through. And when the line absolutely had to protect Burkhead on that halfback pass trick play, it didn't. Costly play there.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS: B Good effort, considering NU's receivers – aside from tight end Kyler Reed - are too slow to pose a serious downfield threat. They made their share of excellent catches and some decent blocks. This unit needs a serious upgrade in speed.
DEFENSIVE LINE: B The four-man pass rush didn't get home until the fourth quarter, and, even then, it couldn't generate key pressure on 3rd-and-24. But Terrance Moore's deflection of a Landry Jones' pass set up an interception and touchdown. Against the run, the front four held up pretty well. The “diamond” gave them some trouble. You can't argue too much with their performance or production.
LINEBACKER: A David was awesome. All over the place. He did well in pass coverage, pursued on outside running plays and got his nose dirty on power plays. He just might have a shot at some All-American lists. Will Compton played sparingly, but seemed to hang in. He'll get more playing time in 2011.
SECONDARY: C Oklahoma won the battle, folks. Yes, Courtney Osborne picked off a pass that set up a touchdown, but 342 yards is a pretty fat figure, and the Sooners picked directly on Husker corners Prince Amukamara and Alfonzo Dennard to do it. OU's receivers were, by far, the best bunch NU faced all year. Great routes, good hands, and tough.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B+ Alex Henery nailed his two field goals, Adi Kunalic did well on kickoffs and there were no major disasters in the return game. Too bad Nebraska didn't get off the fake punt; it looked like a nifty play. You can't help but think that NU still leaves some yards and points on the field in special teams, though. Something – that existed last year – is missing this year, and Henery and Kunalic's great legs won't be around to cover it up much longer.
GAME MANAGEMENT/PLAYCALLING: C The defense played better than the plan was sound. Nebraska didn't blitz Landry Jones enough. When NU brought numbers, Jones rarely completed a pass. When he was given all day to throw, he found receivers open and running free. The Brothers Pelini trusted their coverage a little too much. On offense, Shawn Watson didn't call as poorly a game as his critics would assert. He used the Wildcat at the right times – saving some of the good stuff for the fourth quarter – and dialed up the right plays – even when they didn't work – in the red zone. But he was far too conservative on first down and didn't operate enough under center, either. Taylor Martinez gave Watson no help. None whatsoever. You can't call plays that account for your super-mobile quarterback not being able to scramble or being afraid to. Nice timeout/challenge by Bo on the Osborne fumble.
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