Official Husker Locker Blog
2010 Sep 11
NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: NU-Idaho Report Card
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Hybrid Dejon Gomes. Just about everywhere as a tackler and he had an interception for a touchdown, as well. Gomes is a Houdini-type player who’s just there, man, all the time, every game. Jared Crick played pretty terrific, too.
QUARTERBACK: B- Martinez again ran the zone read like a gem, and kept the chains moving with several completions on third-and-short. He also badly under threw a pass to Mike McNeill that would have been a touchdown and lost a fumble when he failed to see a backside blitz. And then he threw an extremely foolish intercept instead of taking a sack. But man - he can really, really run. He’s tough, too; the Vandals laid some big shots on him, and he got right back up. The test will be more severe next week.
RUNNING BACK: B+ Roy Helu and Burkhead ran with authority, decisiveness and toughness. Tray Robinson’s costly fumble in the fourth quarter drops the grade a bit. Robinson has not looked very good in two outings thus far. Burkhead, right now, looks like NU’s most complete back, and the one who meshes best with Martinez.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B- The Pipeline dominated the Idaho front seven, but the Vandals were so lost trying to decipher NU’s shotgun attack that most lines could have. The costly penalties - a false start, a clip - have to be nixed. At times, Idaho’s pass rush got to Martinez. Very physical bunch, though. Much more than the 2008 or 2009 version.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS: B- Niles Paul had a weird fumble while playing Wildcat QB, but the receivers blocked well down the field- saved Brandon Kinnie’s hold on a Martinez touchdown - and generally made the catches asked of them. Both Paul and Kinnie suffer from that disease of wanting to run around guys instead of getting up the field. Ben Cotton had two costly penalties, although one of them, a clipping call, looked suspect. Hot and cold day here.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A- Terrific. Nebraska’s front four got terrific push on the pass rush, as Jared Crick and Pierre Allen were simply quicker and stronger than their offensive line counterparts. Crick was the dominant player Husker fans had come to expect. Baker Steinkuhler, too, had a fine game. The second-team line, especially against the run, looked vulnerable.
LINEBACKER: B+ LaVonte David is the team’s best linebacker, period, and he’ll be the one playing every down for the Huskers this year, even if Will Compton returns. Seven tackles, a sack, a terrific pass breakup. He’s really good. Eric Martin started over Alonzo Whaley, but didn’t appear to play any better or know the alignments any better than Whaley did. Martin is a plus in pass coverage, however.
SECONDARY: A+ Brilliant! Nebraska’s defensive backs might as well have wearing Vandals’ jerseys, returning two Nathan Enderle passes for touchdowns. That’s a school record. While the safeties got most of the glory, NU’s corners - Prince Amukamara and Alfonzo Dennard - were so good that Enderle had no choice but to make risky throws downfield.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A NU didn’t have to do too much on anything else other than kickoff, and there, Adi Kunalic was his usual excellent self on kickoffs and Mathew May made a dramatic tackle on one kickoff coverage play.
GAME MANAGEMENT/PLAYCALLING: B- In the first half, Shawn Watson’s playcalling spot on except for getting a little conservative in the red zone. Then again, penalties prevented an easy touchdown on the first drive. In the second half, Watson got a little cute, and got away from the zone read and the basic power game that worked so well in the first half. Why? At times, Watson almost outsmarts himself and plays away from his strengths…in the process exposing Taylor Martinez’s weakness.
About those penalties…NU has to clean up foolish aggression flags that virtually no bearing on the play. Ricky Henry now has one costly penalty in each of the first two games. On defense - The Brothers Pelini were kind - perhaps a bit too kind - in playing the second-team defensive line so much. But a couple of timely blitzes - especially that zone blitz in sending David to the quarterback and putting Jared Crick at defensive end.
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