Official Husker Locker Blog
2010 Dec 31
HOLIDAY BOWL: Report Card
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: None. Kyler Reed made one excellent catch, but it's one play, not a whole performance.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. Played his corner spot with verve and anger all night, and made the game's best defensive play by stuffing Jake Locker on a goalline bootleg run to end the third quarter. Dennard was a blanket on his receivers, and the pass interference penalty called against him was garbage.
QUARTERBACK: D Taylor Martinez didn't get much help from his offensive line – virtually none at all, in fact – but his decision-making in the pocket was often poor. He took bad sacks in the second half after he was told by coaches to hang in the pocket more and bail less. Gee, that was a good idea, taking away the kid's scrambling talents. Martinez is not an intuitive quarterback when it comes to managing a game, down and distance, play clock, huddle, all that. He'll have to learn it – fast. Next year's schedule will not be kind. Cody Green played OK in mop-up duty, but missed too many open receivers downfield. Asked to run a two-minute drill against a fired-up defense, Green didn't deliver.
RUNNING BACK: C Rex Burkhead's first-quarter fumble was costly. He played OK for the rest of the game. Roy Helu seemed gimpy and uncertain and turned in another poor bowl performance. These guys just couldn't get untracked because of the lack of holes.
OFFENSIVE LINE: F As bad as any NU offensive line performance since the 2005 Kansas game in Lawrence, when the Jayhawks humiliated the Huskers 40-15. Washington's defense, however motivated it was, was depleted and awful, and the simplest power plays that gained 8 or 9 yards per play in the first game didn't make a dent this time around. Barney's bunch looked beat up and tired to boot. Where's the depth?
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS: C Kyler Reed made a nice grab, as did Mike McNeill on a fourth down play. As a group, the wide receivers fall down too much, leave their feet too often, and give away their routes too soon. Niles Paul was, as we predicted, a non-factor.
DEFENSIVE LINE: D Pierre Allen made eight tackles and Jared Crick seven, but they were the quietest tackles you'll ever see. No push against Washington's power running game. No pass rush on Jake Locker. Poor pass rush discipline that allowed Locker to scramble. Two personal fouls on Crick and Allen, too. One of the poorest performances of the year, frankly.
LINEBACKER: C Lavonte David got sucked inside on a couple of those zone read plays that Locker broke to the corner. He made his share of athletic tackles, too, capturing the school's single-season record in the process, but David didn't always make his run “fits.” Only a fair performance.
SECONDARY: C The pass coverage was strong, as usual, although Eric Hagg got beat on a costly corner route that eventually turned into a Washington touchdown. The tackling was shoddy, especially from safeties Austin Cassidy and Courtney Osborne. Normally sure-handed, boy turned into Rickey Thenarse for a night with their one-shoulder takedowns.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D Alex Henery shanked a punt and never got the chance to kick a field goal. NU struggled in kick coverage again, handing the Huskies 30 free yards thanks to two face mask penalties. This unit, as a whole, probably underperformed this year.
GAME MANAGEMENT/PLAYCALLING: F Martinez doesn't manage a game very well, and the coaches can't do all of the game management aspects for him. Shawn Watson called a terrible game full of conservative power runs that never paid off and static-looking dropback passes that didn't pay off. He used the Wildcat sparingly, but it didn't hit for much. Time to put back the Rex Burkhead passing plays for the winter and think hard about dusting them off next fall – if Watson's still around. The 12 penalties have sadly become a common occurrence for the Huskers. NU looked flat, played like it, and lost soundly accordingly.
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