Official Husker Locker Blog
2010 Nov 14
NU-KU: Report Card
OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE GAME: None. Not that Nebraska's offense played awful, per se, but every aspect of the unit had breakdowns and mistakes somewhere. Niles Paul and Brandon Kinnie probably came the closest to clean games.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Defensive tackle Jared Crick. LaVonte David had flashier numbers – but Crick created some of that success with his terrific effort. Kansas quarterback Quinn Mecham wanted no part of Crick on one first-half pass, simply falling into the fetal position rather than let Crick crunch him in two.
QUARTERBACK: C Yes, Taylor Martinez battled through a pretty severe injury Saturday night with that ankle. But his two turnovers in the third quarter were entirely avoidable, killing Husker drives and basically handing Kansas three free points. In the first half, Martinez actually played better – in part because he wasn't running as much. He converted some key third-down plays that turned into first downs on both of the Huskers scoring drives. How much of a toll will this game take on Martinez's ankle. We'll find out in a week. Nebraska clearly needs him, though.
RUNNING BACK: B- Tough sledding for Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead, who didn't always have very big holes through which to scoot. They also missed some holes, too. Helu once again put the ball on the turf, but he luckily recovered his own fumble. Helu's 20-yard touchdown run was a big-time highlight play down the sideline. It's hard to be too rough on this bunch. They weren't a big part of the problem.
OFFENSIVE LINE: C- At some point, Nebraska should be able to simply blow defensive lines like Kansas four yards off the ball and run it right up the gut, instead of NU constantly having to pull linemen for Missouri-style sweeps and counters. Some of those plays worth beautifully. And some of them don't. A couple more costly penalties Saturday night. This unit still isn't great. It's pretty good. Sometimes very good. But KU got too much penetration at times, and you wonder why.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS: B+ Niles Paul and Brandon Kinnie made a bunch of tough catches and repeatedly broke tackles after the catch, too. Perimeter blocking was not the problem. Ted Gilmore shuffled a lot of guys in and out of the game and they didn't seem to miss much of a beat.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A Yes, Kansas doesn't have much of an offense, but NU stuffed the Jayhawks' running game and consistently got pressure on Mecham in the second half with the front four. Crick had his best of the year. He's coming on, finally, poised to make the All Big 12 team. Cameron Meredith should, for all he does, but the coaches know how valuable he is.
LINEBACKER: B+ LaVonte David still got sucked inside on a few wide plays and one pass play to the flat, but he blitzed well and filled the run fits effectively, too. Kansas was pretty versatile with its formations and play calls, but David seemed to keep up pretty well.
SECONDARY: A+ Mecham had no options downfield, and Nebraska's blanket coverage was the reason why. Alfonzo Dennard's return made a clear impact; he shut down his side of the field and set the edge on an early outside run. KU rarely tested that play again. Dennard later made a terrific interception. This unit was simply surperb. As good as they've been all year, because KU has some decent receivers.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C KU got two more kick returns on Nebraska than it should have. Alex Henery made his field goals, the Jayhawks' punts were uniformly awful, and Niles Paul had a few good kickoff returns. Kansas has the worst collective special teams unit in the America. None of this was surprising, really.
GAME MANAGEMENT/PLAYCALLING: C Terrific work by the Brothers Pelini on defense; they had Kansas dead to rights, even when KU unveiled something the Huskers hadn't worked on yet. The blitzes got home tonight, as did the four-man pressure packages. Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson didn't fare so well. He failed to create tempo with the offense with his constant shifting and substitutions; sometimes NU just needs to run the ball downhill, stay in the same personnel grouping, and rattle off 7 or 8 running plays in a row. Watson tries too hard, sometimes, to catch teams off-guard.
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