Official Husker Locker Blog
2011 Oct 11
NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Top Five Things We Saw Against Ohio State
Saturday night's game was definitely one to remember. As the rain came down by the bucketful, Nebraska came back to make school history, beating Ohio State 34-27. There were a number of things worth noting, but what were the most important that fans saw this week?
1.) Smarter Play Calling
Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck did exactly what he needed to do in the second half of Saturday night’s matchup against the Buckeyes. The play calling was near-perfect and ultimately turned a 20-6 deficit around into a 34-27 Husker win. For Beck, it was the perfect rebound from Nebraska’s loss at Wisconsin.
While he still had quarterback Taylor Martinez put the ball in the air, this was far less frequent. The heavy use of Rex Burkhead that Nebraska fans had seen against Wyoming and Washington returned. The run game wore out Ohio State’s defense, and Beck proved that his offense can truly be something special. Whether fans choose to believe in Beck and his team or not at this point, last Saturday was a testament to the strengths of the first-year offensive coordinator. What happened was more than just adjustments, it was a statement.
2.) A Dominant Defense
The first half of Saturday’s game was a rough one for the Nebraska defense. While some of the fan criticisms were a little harsh (“This is the worst defense in twenty years!”), it was difficult to deny that the defense still looked a little off. While it was not the worst defense in twenty years, it was a change from the past few under Pelini’s watch. Ultimately, the defense’s effectiveness (or lack thereof) has come down to leadership, and Nebraska was truly missing it. Then the unexpected happened.
During the first four games of the season, senior linebacker Lavonte David jumped around and yelled at his team. He did everything he could to get the defense fired up. It never seemed to work until Saturday night. When David told the defense not to give up, it was an order. It was not too long after his speech that he stripped the ball from Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and changed the game for good. David’s presence was exactly what the Nebraska defense needed. Combined with Stanley Jean-Baptise’s debut as a cornerback and his eventual interception, the defense wasn’t perfect, but it found its swagger.
3.) Confidence From Taylor Martinez
When Martinez threw an interception in the first half, it appeared as if the sophomore quarterback was throwing in the towel. The crowd was booing and the stage was set for the biggest meltdown of the young quarterback’s career. That’s when Martinez made a career-changing decision.
After halftime, he came out swinging. In the remaining 30 minutes of play, he executed a near-perfect game of football. While his throws were still oddly-delivered, he got the job done. In fact, two Nebraksa’s four second half touchdowns were passing touchdowns. For a quarterback that had received so much negative attention, Martinez chose to rise about it. This game was going to be “make or break” for him only if he determined that it would be. If fans take nothing else away from Saturday night, let it be this – Don’t ever count Taylor Martinez out.
4.) No Turnovers
Saturday night’s game was one for the ages. Nebraska completed the largest comeback in school history, and turned the ball over far less than usual. A problem that has plagued the Nebraska offense, the Huskers made a huge improvement in this area last Saturday.
While Martinez still had one interception, fumbles were not an issue. Players were much more careful with how they handled the ball, meaning Nebraska didn’t lose valuable drives to mistakes. It was a big game all around for the Cornhuskers, but the lack of gift-wrapping scores for Ohio State should be applauded.
5.) Recovery from Wisconsin
By the end of the first half, Memorial Stadium sat in stunned silence thanks to the 20-6 score. The game began to look eerily like what was seen against Wisconsin. The air was thick with anger and disappointment. Boos were not uncommon. It was a dreary start to the game as rain eventually began to pour.
With seven minutes left in the third quarter, Nebraska decided that it had taken enough punishment and was going to dish some out. Martinez, along with Burkhead, the entire offensive line, and the blocking power of wide receivers Brandon Kinnie, Kenny Bell, and Quincy Enunwa, made the decision to win. It was an impressive comeback, one that all in attendance and who watched on television will remember. In the end, it was the just the revitalization that the fans, but more importantly the team, needed.
Nebraska heads into a bye week with a big win under their belt and Minnesota on the horizon. Fans should be feeling pretty good about their team. If nothing else, the Cornhuskers showed that they have a lot of heart. That alone should bring reassurance for fans going forward.
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