Official Husker Locker Blog
2011 Apr 16
SPRING GAME: Report Card
Offensive Player of the Game – White: Wide receiver/kick returner Jamal Turner. The kid’s got serious sizzle with the ball in his hands, a juke and jump to his game that can make something out of scratch. Good hands, too. Impressive numbers: 227 total yards on 7 touches.
Defensive Player of the Game – White: Cornerback Joshua Mitchell. He didn’t even make the 105-man roster last fall; now he’s an aggressive, hungry playmaker with a little swagger to him. His back-side blow-up blitz of Taylor Martinez was impressive. It wasn’t the only play he made, either.
Offensive Player of the Game – Red: Quarterback Ron Kellogg III. NU’s fourth-string walk-on did not have the benefit of throwing to Turner, but he completed 11 of 19 passes for 124 yards anyway. Kellogg is pretty capable for a sophomore walk-on. He sticks in the pocket, makes calm reads and doesn’t try to put a bunch of mustard on the ball.
Defensive Player of the Game – Red: Defensive end Eric Martin. He ate alive true freshman tackle Tyler Moore. Ran around him and through him. Martin may not yet have the stamina to play end on every down, but in short bursts, there won’t be many tackles in the Big Ten who can slow him down.
Quarterbacks: C Not that Taylor Martinez and Cody Green had much help from a limited playbook, but their play was inconsistent at best. Martinez still struggled to progress past his initial reads in the passing game. Green lacks confidence and authority as a thrower. Neither had much of a chance to run. Brion Carnes played well, commanding the pocket with poise and throwing well on the run. He also was working against a weaker defense, too. Kellogg is a steady, efficient backup who threw the ball and got the team in and out of plays effectively.
Running backs: B Rex Burkhead looked better than ever. Shifty in a tight spot, blessed with balance and good vision, he’s NU’s most consistent offensive weapon. Backups Austin Jones, Ty Kildow and Zach Taylor all had their moments; Jones also had a fumble returned for a touchdown. Collins Okafor played sparingly; he appears, at this point, to be behind perhaps even Taylor, whose no-nonsense running style doesn’t waste energy. Nice game from Tyler Legate, who looks a little faster in 2011. Nifty fullback traps.
Wide receivers/tight ends: C+ Turner was excellent, as was, in limited play Kenny Bell, who flashed many of the same skills Turner did. Bell worked against better defensive backs than Turner did. Brandon Kinnie had a few many drops. He struggled to get open against Mitchell and other defensive backs. He did block well, however, on a variety of perimeter running plays. Quincy Enunwa and Stanley Jean-Baptiste both need to be more aggressive toward the ball. At tight end, Kyler Reed was blanketed by the defense and quiet. Ben Cotton made a few big plays, but had a penalty and a drop, too. Backup tight end Robert Barry established himself as a nice receiving target for Kellogg.
Offensive line: C Hot and cold, this unit suffered from being split apart for the Spring Game. Some plays were nothing short of a fire drill, as defensive linemen penetrated with ease. On others, the line made an effective wall for running backs to run behind. False start and holding penalties aplenty, however. The discipline wasn’t very consistent, given all the gassers these guys had to run during camp as penance for their mistakes.
Defensive line: B+. Martin was a terror for a handful of plays, but he wasn’t the only one. Defensive tackle Jay Guy tore up the backfield with quick, powerful moves past the guard and center. True freshman Kevin Williams, playing late in the game, notched two sacks, making a case to burn his redshirt next year. Overall, the defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and did its part.
Linebackers: C- This unit was inconsistent in stopping the run; again, you’d expect that because there wasn’t a lot of chemistry and the run fits weren’t great. Still, the backups consistently lost contain or overran plays, because running backs routinely turned an inside run out the perimeter.
Defensive Backs: C+ Mitchell, Alfonzo Dennard and Courtney Osborne stood out among the top guys, while backup safety Harvey Jackson had a strong day, finishing with an interception and two pass breakups. Andrew Green had a strong pass breakup, as well. Antonio Bell had a fumble return for a touchdown. Other backups struggled in coverage, especially against fade and wheel routes.
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