Official Husker Locker Blog
2010 Nov 26
NU-CU: Report Card
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Running back Rex Burkhead. Since Taylor Martinez's injury, he's become, in many ways, the focal point of Nebraska's offense as a runner, blocker – and now thrower. It's pretty hard to believe that some teams in Big 12 South were skeptical about Burkhead's durability and toughness. When the chips were down this year, he's been NU's offensive MVP.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Safety Dejon Gomes had an interception and returned a fumble to the CU 3-yard line. He remains one of the headiest players in the Big 12 – as do his mates in the secondary.
QUARTERBACK: B Cody Green was steady. He only let the play clock run down a single time, the fumbled snap wasn't his fault, and during money time – on third down – Green threw for two touchdowns and two more first downs. He still doesn't give Nebraska much in the running game – and he took a bad sack that pushed the Huskers out of field goal range – but, if needed to win the Big 12 title game, Green can do just enough with his arm to Oklahoma or Oklahoma State pause. A solid effort. Zac Lee came with eight minutes left and handled mop-up duty with class. He even completed two passes. That shoulder/elbow/whatever is healthy enough for that, I guess.
RUNNING BACK: A Burkhead was very good, making two terrific passes for touchdowns and gutting out one tough run after another until it became clear that Colorado was ready to say “uncle.” He's such a versatile weapon, and patient runner, that he helps an offense make yards even when the execution isn't perfect. After a slow start, Roy Helu chugged out 75 yards for his final home game as a senior. He was nursing an injured calf, so some of the burst was missing, but Helu still busted a 21-yarder. Tyler Legate's lead blocks were fair-to-good. In the second half, Tray Robinson did a fine job in mop-up duty. He'll be of more use in the Big Ten, when a power running game is a must. Austin Jones got a few carries, as well.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B+ Better! The big boys consistently paved open gaps for the three running backs; a gameplan heavy with inside counters and power traps certainly helped. First-half penalties gave way to a more focused, physical unit in the second half, when NU just lined and plowed away. You'd still like to see the Huskers punch it in from the 1-yard line, though. Pass protection was good, even against the blitz; of course, NU didn't throw it much, either.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS: B+ Excellent blocking from Ben Cotton from his tight end spot, and Kyler Reed caught two more touchdowns to continue his successful season. At receiver, Joe Broekemeier filled in capably for Niles Paul, catching two important third-down passes that kept alive touchdown drives. Brandon Kinnie caught two touchdown passes, although both were well-thrown balls. Perimeter blocking was just so-so, but NU tried to keep its game mostly between the hash marks.
DEFENSIVE LINE: C+ Against a pretty solid CU line, NU's front four struggled some to get a push on pass rushes, although they did deflect a few Cody Hawkins passes. Colorado had some success in the running game but had to abandon it when the score got out of control. Nebraska will get a much stiffer test next week from the Cowboys or Sooners, whichever team emerges from the Big 12 South.
LINEBACKER: B LaVonte David and Will Compton – who played extensively – filled their gaps well, for the most part, only letting Stewart out of the pen a few times. Both flowed to the ball without too much trouble. David made a nice play in pass coverage, breaking up a pass and nearly intercepting it.
SECONDARY: B+ Gave up two long touchdowns and kept alive a drive with a defensive holding penalty, but also set up three Husker touchdowns with second-half turnovers. Prince Amukamara may have had his finest game of the year on Senior Day – but still no interceptions. He remains one whale of a player.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A Nothing bad happened, so a clean grade. Alex Henery made a 42-yard field goal against the wind, NU fielded punts well, Henery punted well. Overall – fine.
GAME MANAGEMENT/PLAYCALLING: B Penalties are still a major problem for the Huskers, and they didn't go away in this game, with 8 for 79. Fortunately, Colorado committed a few costly ones of their own. On offense, Shawn Watson called a smart, clean game. He saw that Colorado was struggled to adjust to NU's shifts, so he loaded up on them throughout the game. He put enough wrinkles into the Wildcat to keep CU off balance, and his “toss” package, complete with a halfback pass, was a very smart installation. Ditto on the fake jet sweep action to Tim Marlowe. When Taylor Martinez understands the playbook as well as Green and Lee do, Watson will be a more effective playcaller. On defense, Nebraska didn't try to get too fancy, nor did Carl Pelini have to. He kept it smart and simple. Nice call by head coach Bo Pelini to go for it on fourth down; he's becoming more willing to do that in recent weeks, and it's a good idea.
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