Official Husker Locker Blog
2010 Sep 18
NU-UW REPORT CARD
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. Stuck to his assignments like glue, then slammed the coffin shut with a Pick Six in the second half. Dennard is playing his way into the 2010 NFL Draft. Don’t kid yourself. Enjoy the kid while he’s still here.
QUARTERBACK: B It’s for the whole position, not just Martinez, so the grade comes down for Cody Green’s fumbles. Martinez has the occasional mistake, too. Early in the game, he kept the ball too much on the zone read, and he took two unnecessary sacks. Overall, though, the kid led Nebraska like a champion, never had a false start penalty, appeared to run the team well, and made his trademark big plays. He’s not a great passer yet. But he completes them when they count.
RUNNING BACK: A Roy Helu and Burkhead ran with authority, decisiveness and toughness. I wrote that last week. I’m writing it again. They’re both off a terrific start this year. A healthy Helu is scary thing. He’s fast again. And Shawn Watson is using him the right way, too, on outside runs. Burkhead, meanwhile, is just a bulldog. He’s an upbeat country music song waiting to happen.
OFFENSIVE LINE: A- A couple of rough penalties on a drive or two, but, otherwise, these guys played like men Saturday. The Pipeline blasted Washington’s defensive front. Go back and look at Martinez’s three quarterback sneaks in the game and the push the Huskers get off the line. The most pleasant surprise, to this point in the year, is center Mike Caputo, who is outpacing Jacob Hickman from last season.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS: A Brandon Kinnie had career day catching the ball. But you should have seen some of his blocks. He engulfed his blocking assignment in several situations. Niles Paul did, too, Mike McNeill made the most of his big catch for a touchdown by reaching for pylon. These guys will be a little unloved this year because Nebraska’s running game isn’t going anywhere.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A- Better than the statistics would suggest. The front four kept Jake Locker hemmed in most of the day with a disciplined pass rush that limited his scrambling lanes and notched a sack. Pierre Allen consistently got good pressure. Against the run, just remember what the Huskers’ defensive line is supposed to do - hold up the running lanes for the linebackers. Only a few times did they get knocked off their positions.
LINEBACKER: B Rough start for Eric Martin and LaVonte David, but they settled in and made some nice plays against the run after Washington’s first TD drive. For a big guy, Martin can pursue. And David nearly landed a sack on Locker in the first half. Both still get caught a little too far inside at times and are vulnerable to the cutback.
SECONDARY: A You can live with one breakdown and one ticky-tack penalty call if the result is 4-for-20 for 71 yards, right? This the nation’s best. Some pro teams can’t field this good of a unit.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A- A small demerit just for Paul’s curious catch of a punt at the 5, and his generally circuitous running on kickoff returns. Kinnie did a better job. Adi Kunalic was awesome on kickoffs and Alex Henery - living a boring life this year - hit a few good punts.
GAME MANAGEMENT/PLAYCALLING: A It might have seemed, early in the game, that Shawn Watson was getting a little cute with play calling. On the contrary - he was setting Washington up by spreading the Huskies and getting them tired. One UW was gassed, he hammered it right down UW’s gullet. It was clever. Plus, he kept that counter play to Roy Helu - the same one he scampered 58 yards on last week - until just the right time, as well. On defense, NU stayed in a basic pass rush plan while mixing up the coverages on Locker in the back seven. It really worked; Locker didn’t know what day of the week it was.
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