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  1. 2011 Jan 28

    YEAR IN REVIEW: CB Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

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    Samuel McKewon breaks down the cornerback play in 2010...and the highest grade just might surprise you. Check it out with a 30-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass!

    Tags: year in review, report card, alfonzo dennard, prince amukamara, ciante evans, anthony west, anthony blue, lazarri middleton, dijon washington, charles jackson, jase dean, antonio bell

  2. 2011 Jan 24

    YEAR IN REVIEW: S Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

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    Our report card for the Nebraska safeties and their position coach, Marvin Sanders. Eric Hagg A Stellar season for the senior Peso, who won Team MVP from his teammates. Terrific, good-natured...

    Tags: year in review, report card, eric hagg, dejon gomes, courtney osborne, austin cassidy, pj smith, rickey thenarse, marvin sanders

  3. 2011 Jan 19

    YEAR IN REVIEW: LB Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

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    Our grades for the Nebraska linebackers, plus its position coach, Mike Ekeler. Lavonte David A He had a month to learn the defense, and injuries immediately thrust the JUCO transfer into a...

    Tags: year in review, lavonte david

  4. 2011 Jan 18

    YEAR IN REVIEW: DL Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

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    Sam starts on defense with the line. How was life without Ndamukong Suh? Find out with a 30-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass!

    Tags: year in review, report card, jared crick, pierre allen, cameron meredith, baker steinkuhler, thad randle, jason ankrah, terrence moore, kevin thomsen, josh williams, chase rome, jay guy

  5. 2011 Jan 17

    YEAR IN REVIEW: OL Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

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    Sam takes a long look at one of NU's most-criticized position groups, the offensive line. Is it earned for Barney Cotton? Yes and no. Check it out with a 30-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass

    Tags: report card, year in review, ricky henry, keith williams, mike caputo, jeremiah sirles, dj jones, andrew rodriguez, ben cotton, yoshi hardrick, barney cotton

  6. 2011 Jan 13

    YEAR IN REVIEW: WR Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

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    Here's our report card for Nebraska's wide receivers and receiving tight ends, plus its position coach, Ted Gilmore and Ron Brown. Brandon Kinnie B+ Good year for NU's “No. 2” receiver, who...

    Tags: report card, year in review, brandon kinnie, niles paul, kyler reed, mike mcneill, khiry cooper, tim marlowe, quincy enunwa

  7. 2011 Jan 12

    YEAR IN REVIEW: RB Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

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    Who grades out best? It's a tie! Why? Sam explains...check it out with a 30-day free trial of HLP!

    Tags: report card, year in review, rex burkhead, roy helu, tim beck, tyler legate, tray robinson, lester ward, collins okafor, austin jones

  8. 2011 Jan 11

    YEAR IN REVIEW: QB Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

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    HL's Samuel McKewon breaks down individual grades for each of NU's quarterbacks, explains Shawn Watson's one big mistake and predicts a depth chart for next year. Check out a 30-day free pass of HLP!

    Tags: year in review, report card, taylor martinez, cody green, zac lee, shawn watson

  9. 2011 Jan 10

    YEAR IN REVIEW: Defensive Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

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    Here's our season report card for Nebraska's offense. Stay tuned for position-specific report cards, available via a 30-day free trial with Husker Locker Pass!

    Two key things to remember about the report card:

    *Grades take into account all players at a given position.

    *Greater weight was given to “big games” and the performances in them.

    Defensive Line: B

    Final combined stats: 20 sacks, 44 tackles for loss, 38 QB hurries, three forced fumbles

    NU's front four – Pierre Allen, Jared Crick, Baker Steinkuhler and Cameron Meredith – was still among the best in college football, and arguably the finest group in the Big 12. The quartet generated decent heat on the quarterback during certain points of the season. At other times, they disappeared, or needed help from Bo Pelini's blitzes Against the run, they missed Ndamukong Suh's ability to shuck offensive linemen and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. A solid year – but not 2009.

    Crick heated up toward the end of the season, having his best game in the Big 12 Championship vs. Oklahoma. But he struggled in the Holiday Bowl. He still needs to improve as a run stuffer. As a pass rusher, the Brothers Pelini need to cut him loose more often to make big plays, instead of insisting on collapsing the pocket methodically.

    Allen played hard all year, anchored against the run, and did a fine job of collapsing the pocket from his end position. He was perhaps Carl Pelini's favorite player on the line because he executed his job so well and played through one painful injury after another. Nevertheless, Allen wasn't an elite pass rusher off the edge. It's been awhile since NU had one.

    Steinkuhler shot out of a cannon to start the year, then wore down as the season progressed, becoming less and less effective. He'll be back and more seasoned in 2011. A DUI arrest in December shouldn't be an ongoing issue.

    Meredith became a versatile chess piece for the Brothers Pelini, playing some “spinner” outside linebacker in some rush formations. A better pass rusher than Allen, Meredith will more of an impact next season. His best days are still ahead of him.

    Terrence Moore spelled Steinkuhler more often in late 2010 and started for him in the Holiday Bowl. The light finally seems to have blinked on Moore, a very good interior pass rusher. Thad Randle played inside for Crick on occasion; he held his own, but buckled a bit against the run. Josh Williams and Jason Ankrah need to get better this offseason; one of them will likely have a starting job next season.

    Linebacker: A

    Final combined stats: 17 tackles for loss, six sacks, 10 pass breakups, 7 QB hurries

    Is there another grade to give Lavonte David, the man responsible for most of that stats, plus a school-record 152 tackles? The kid had four weeks to learn one of the most complex defenses in college football, surpassed Will Compton on the depth chart before Compton's injury, then had to play practically every snap, all year, against a bevy of no-huddle, speedy offense. And do it with a smile.

    David is some kid, really. He saved NU's bacon against the run, improved in his pass coverage, and was unquestionably the Huskers' best blitzer. Along with being our defensive MVP, he earns his position an A grade. He played arguably his finest games in two losses – Texas A&M and the Big 12 Championship – when he strafed and chased and hit all over the place. The odds-on favorite for the Butkus next year still has weight to gain and room to grow, too. Part Terrell Farley, part Barrett Ruud, David was a thrilling player to watch in 2010.

    After suffering a broken foot, Compton starting playing midway through the season, and while he's good – he's no David. Compton thinks when David reacts. If Compton can ever stay healthy and turn the corner on trusting his instincts, he'll be a key cog in the wheel next year, as playing in the Big Ten will require NU to use more than one linebacker.

    Alonzo Whaley played in goal-line situations as a run stopper. He needs another spring learning the defense. The physically and “want-to” is there, though.

    Eric Martin flew around for half the season before moving to defensive end. He has all the ability David has – plus size – but he often put himself in bad spots to make tackles. He's a bit like Rickey Thenarse in that way.

    Sean Fisher got hurt before the year. Where will he play in 2011? Hard to say.

    Secondary: A-

    Combined stats: 19 interceptions, 4 defensive TDs 36 pass breakups, four sacks, 7 tackles for loss

    We grade on a curve around here, but NU's stellar pass defense still gets an A- from us. Simply spectacular for most of the season against the pass, the Huskers' safeties struggled at times making tackles – Texas, Oklahoma, Washington, Part 2 – on the second level, which led to big plays. But that was more than offset by the slew of big plays from the country's most talented secondary.

    Prince Amukamara enjoyed a Darrelle Revis-type season, rebuffing almost every challenge that came his way except a few plays against Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon. He's the nation's best corner.

    Alfonzo Dennard – cocky, physical, competitive – is pretty darn close. Dennard was nails at the beginning of the year, like glue on receivers. He was outplaying Amukamara, in fact. He slowed down a bit during the middle of the season, suffered a concussion in the Missouri game, missed the Iowa State contest – and immediately came back with a big play in the Kansas game. He was our MVP for the Holiday Bowl, too.

    Eric Hagg was valuable in all kinds of ways – as a linebacker, as a safety, as a corner – and his absence next year will be sorely felt. His athleticism allowed him to matchup with all kinds of players.

    Our favorite player, Houdini Gomes, wore down a bit as the season closed, but he's still one of NU's best pure playmakers in recent memory. Smart in coverage, ahead of the game, tough for his size – Gomes has a place in the NFL.

    At safety, P.J. Smith and Rickey Thenarse played the first half of the season, while Courtney Osborne and Austin Cassidy essentially played the second half. NU sacrificed pass coverage for better tackling, and while that worked well in wins over Missouri and Colorado, it hurt in the Big 12 Championship. We'd like to see Smith back in the lineup to start 2011; his hook and benching seemed a little premature.

    Ciante Evans spelled Dennard for a game or two and filled in well. He reminds us of Ralph Brown. He'll be just fine next year.

    More Year In Review Features
    The Best in Pictures, Part 1, Highlights and Lowlights, Ten Best Defensive Plays, Ten Best Offensive Plays, Offensive Report Card

    Tags: year in review, prince amukamara, alfonzo dennard, eric hagg, dejon gomes, courtney osborne, pj smith, rickey thenarse, austin cassidy, ciante evans

  10. 2011 Jan 07

    YEAR IN REVIEW: Offensive Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

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    Here's our season report card for Nebraska's offense. Stay tuned for position-specific report cards, available via a 30-day free trial with Husker Locker Pass!

    Two key things to remember about the report card:

    *Grades take into account all players at a given position.

    *Greater weight was given to “big games” and the performances in them.


    Final combined stats
    : 160-276 for 2,073 yards 13 TDs and 8 INTs 1,104 yards rushing, 13TDs

    You could pretty much split the season in two – before Taylor Martinez's injury in the Missouri game, and after it. NU's play before it was a solid B+. After Martinez rolled his ankle, it was roughly a D+.

    But we give a little mercy and offer the Husker QBs the slight benefit of the doubt. The season as a whole could have been much better. But, for awhile there, it was pretty stinkin good.

    We rate Martinez's performances as follows:

    1. Oklahoma State (One of the great performances in NU quarterback history)
    2. Washington I (Nails in the passing department)
    3. Kansas State (Cats' D had no chance)
    4. Missouri (Excellent for a half)
    5. Western Kentucky (The auspicious debut)
    6. Idaho (Good, but mistakes aplenty)
    7. Kansas (Played hard on a bum wheel)
    8. Texas (Got yanked, but drops not his fault)
    9. South Dakota State (The Jackrabbits provided the blueprint)
    10. Texas A&M (Got hurt, got screamed at, couldn't recover)
    11. Washington II (One bad INT, sluggish running, got hurt again)
    12. Oklahoma (Plum poor game. INT, fumble and seven sacks)

    The first four were as spectacular as the last were decidedly not. The middle four games tilt just a bit in Martinez's favor. He didn't handle his injury well, but as a redshirt freshman, that's not a stunner.

    Cody Green started two games, finished a couple others, played in a few more. Green made progress from his skittish fumbles in UDub I to his solid work in a 45-17 win over Colorado. He set his feet more, progressed through his reads, and played with more confidence. He's still not an accurate enough passer, though.

    Zac Lee played the second halves of the Texas and Missouri games, making a positive impact in both. Strangely, he hardly played through the first five games of the year. Why? Only Bo Pelini can answer that. His grade is essentially incomplete.


    Final Combined Stats: 2,325 yards, 19 TD 23 receptions for 214 yards, 1 TD
    Roy Helu vaulted into the top five of NU's career rushing list, and he leaves the Huskers with a hard-to-top single-game rushing record of 307 yards. Running faster than he ever has, Helu was a big-play artist in 2010, ripping off huge touchdown runs in the Idaho, Washington I, Kansas State Missouri and Oklahoma games. In short yardage, he was a little less consistent. He also committed costly fumbles in several games: SDSU, Texas, Iowa State and Oklahoma. Fumbling is a problem Helu never solved. He'll have to work on it to stick in the NFL.

    Rex Burkhead became the Huskers' Swiss Army knife in 2010. He got the tough yards on third down, executed the Wildcat, three through three touchdown passes and served as the main receiving threat out of the backfield. Burkhead was seen as the steady of the Rex/Roy duo, but he, too, made costly errors. A drop of a sure touchdown in the UT game. A fumble out of the Wildcat in the OU game. Another fumble out of the Wildcat again in Washington II.

    Still, the production of these two was often stellar. Some 1-2 punch, the reinvention of the We-Backs. We'll miss it. It's Burkhead's show now.

    Tyler Legate did most of the work at fullback when Nebraska occasionally went to an I-formation or offset I in short-yardage situations, and when Burkhead operated out of the Wildcat. He played OK, blocking better in the Wildcat than he did out of the I. Legate isn't quite big enough to blow a guy out of a hole, but he's tough.

    Tray Robinson played some early and clearly didn't fit into NU's spread/zone attack. Austin Jones had spot work. Collins Okafor and Lester Ward are scholarship guys who work hard in practice and don't play.


    Combined stats: 139 catches, 1,893 yards, 15 TD

    Such hopes for this bunch at the beginning of the year. Many of those hopes, let's face it, were fairly dashed by the sharp change in the offense from a spread passing attack we saw in the Holiday Bowl to a spread running game spearheaded by Martinez. Head coach Bo Pelini chose to trade in his senior pass-catchers for a rookie quarterback's running skills. In the end, we're not sure the gamble quite paid off.

    The wide receivers themselves had a hot-and-cold season. Asked to block more than they possibly could have dreamed, the execution and effort was decent-to-solid most of the time. The best of them turned out to be Brandon Kinnie in our view, even if Niles Paul often got more credit for his blocking.

    As receivers, their best total game was vs. Oklahoma State, when the passing game was most needed. The ugliest performance was vs. Texas, when drops by Kinnie and Niles Paul arguably cost the Huskers the contest.

    Paul regressed this year, becoming less of a deep threat than he ever was in 2009. He caught just one touchdown this year. He caught one less pass, but had 280 fewer yards, too. His primary big play was a long-developing crossing route. When he did go deep, he rarely shook his defender, and dropped a few touchdowns in the end zone.

    Kinnie improved. He showed he could catch the ball with his big frame and run after the catch. He, not Paul, eventually became Martinez's primary weapon as the boundary receiver.

    Kyler Reed was the team's most pleasant surprise. He bloomed into the deep threat that Paul wasn't, repeatedly beating linebackers and safeties for big plays and touchdowns. Reed also didn't drop the ball. Tough, athletic and only getting better.

    Mike McNeill was, in some ways, a forgotten man at times this year. He was often open, but running routes out of the slot that Martinez or Green apparently couldn't hit. But McNeill wasn't as forgotten as Khiry Cooper and Curenski Gilleylen. They combined for 30 catches and almost 400 yards last year. This year, with no real injury issues to speak of during the season, they barely played.

    This whole unit seems oddly coached. How could a former Husker baseball pitch in Joe Broekemeier, who never had a career catch, suddenly become the key guy in the Colorado game? Where was he all year? Another Ted Gilmore mystery.


    Spotty performances here, too. Terrific early in the year when they were healthy and sporting an offense most defenses hadn't seen. Merely average once wear-and-tear set in and the lack of depth was exposed. Once again, NU's offensive line struggled against defenses with some size to it.

    Ricky Henry landed on several All-Big 12 teams, and he deserved it. He's still a little raw, but he's tough and physical. Keith Williams battled injuries all year, but plowed them – and defenders – when he was healthy enough to do it. Rookie left tackle Jeremiah Sirles wore down toward the end of the year and needed more help than Yoshi Hardrick gave him. D.J. Jones wasn't pushed much by an injured Marcel Jones, but D.J. held his own enough to get through. Mike Caputo was terrific in space, but had a hard time when defenses lined up a nose tackle on him and barreled away.

    The alarming thing about Barney Cotton's bunch was the lack of depth. NU stuck that core six over the last half of the year without working in much of anyone else.

    More Year In Review Features
    The Best in Pictures, Part 1, Highlights and Lowlights, Ten Best Defensive Plays, Ten Best Offensive Plays

    Tags: report card, year in review

  11. 2011 Jan 04

    YEAR IN REVIEW: The 5 Best Special Teams Plays


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    He gave us a pretty amazing ride, Alex Henery.

    The most accurate kicker in NCAA history was a self-taught tactician possessing ice-cold blood and a giant foot. We remember some of his best moments here – along with a couple of big returns and Adi's perfect day.

    The five best special teams plays of year:

    Boom-boom: Henery's best field goal of the year was a 53-yarder in the Big 12 Championship. He blasted the ball through the Cowboys' Stadium uprights with 10-15 yards to spare. A shame he never got that shot to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Henery finished 5-5 in Cowboys Stadium. He'll be back. Heck – maybe with the Cowboys.

    Henery in a Hurry: On 4th-and-8 from his own 22-yard line, Henery rolled out for a rugby kick and saw a big hole in Oklahoma State's punt return setup. So he took off for the first down, made it, and ran 27 yards before he was tackled. The play helped set up NU's first touchdown of the game.

    Adi is nails: On a day when Nebraska really needed it, Adi Kunalic delivered seven consecutive touchbacks against Missouri in a 31-17 win. The Tigers' dangerous kickoff return game never got a chance.

    A Hero in Hagg: The strangest – and possibly most spectacular – play of the year occurred at the end of the Nebraska-Texas game, as safety Eric Hagg, picked up a punt – kicked out of a field goal formation by the Longhorns – and raced 85 yards for a touchdown. Hagg wove his way through UT's traffic, got a couple key blocks and zoomed to the house for the score.

    Paul's Point and Martin's Mash: After enduring the worst game of his career vs. Texas, Niles Paul went to Stillwater needed to make a play. He did, returning a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. On the play, Eric Martin knocked out an Oklahoma State player with a high – but in our view legal – hit. He was subsequently suspended for it.

    More Year In Review Features
    The Best in Pictures, Part 1, Highlights and Lowlights, Ten Best Defensive Plays, Ten Best Offensive Plays

    Tags: year in review, eric hagg, alex henery, niles paul, adi kunalic

  12. 2011 Jan 04

    YEAR IN REVIEW: The 10 Best Offensive Plays


    By HuskerLocker

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    It began with one incredible, explosive play after another. It ended with something considerably less.

    But the 2010 season for Nebraska's football team was full of memorable offensive plays. The ten best, with a full helping of Taylor Martinez.

    The Debut: NU's third offensive play of the year. Martinez's first carry. He faked to Roy Helu, saw a hole in Western Kentucky defense, zipped through the first and second levels and outran three WKU defenders to the end zone for a 46-yard touchdown. The Memorial Stadium crowd its approval for the play. The Martinez era at Nebraska – all of its ups and downs – had begun.

    Quick Strike: On the Huskers' second offensive play of the first Washington game, Martinez executed a playaction fake to Rex Burkhead, eluded the Husky pass rush and located wide receiver Mike McNeill, who caught the ball, streaked toward the sideline, and jumped for the pylon as he soared out of bounds. He hit it with the football; yet another acrobatic play from the senior McNeill.

    T-Magic in a Flash: NU extended its 28-14 lead over the Huskies to 35-14 on a single play to start the second half, as Martinez ran the zone read to perfection. He held the fake to Helu an extra beat, sidestepped one UW linebacker, and zoomed 80 yards for a touchdown. Just like that.

    T-Magic on the Dash: Third-and-long in a still-competitive game vs. Kansas State. NU dials up a quarterback draw that's blocked like dream by guards Keith Williams and Ricky Henry. Martinez gets the first down, then turns on the jets, accelerating toward the end zone. Another 80 yards. Just like that.

    Helu-Goodbye, Part 1: With the offseason help of former NU offensive line coach Milt Tenopir, the Huskers installed a double-pull counter sweep play that repeatedly worked throughout the year. The first time it hit: In the Washington game. Helu took the handoff and followed the convoy of guard Ricky Henry and center Mike Caputo to the secondary, where he flew by all pursuers for a 65-yard touchdown.

    Helu-Goodbye, Part 2: The same play in the Kansas State game. Same big hole. Same Helu acceleration. For a 68-yard touchdown.

    Helu-Goodbye, Part 3: NU's first offensive play in the Missouri game. A backside zone read play. Helu reads the kick-out block of Ben Cotton, sets up corner Carl Gettis with a quick dart inside, then lays Gettis to waste with another quick move to the outside. Touchdown from 66 yards away. He'd score two more in this game from 73 and 55 yards.

    Killer Kinnie: Wide receiver Brandon Kinnie wasn't a burner by any stretch of the imagination, but he was Martinez's favorite target throughout the year, and he made his share of runs after the catch. The best of them was Nebraska's first touchdown in the Oklahoma State. He caught a slant, slipped two tackles and streaked to the end zone for a 45-yard touchdown.

    Kyler Up Top: Husker tight end Kyler Reed caught a series of big touchdowns throughout the year, but the prettiest came in the Oklahoma State game as NU led 34-27. Martinez set up OSU's defense with a playaction, found Reed streaking behind his man in the secondary, and delivered a good pass to the end zone. The sure-handed Reed came down with it.

    Callahan Special: Shawn Watson dusted off one of his old boss's favorite plays in the Colorado game, a halfback toss pass. Out of an ace bunch set, Cody Green flipped the ball back to Rex Burkhead, who rolled hard to his right. As he he was approaching the sideline, Burkhead threw a perfect pass to receiver Brandon Kinnie for a 26-yard touchdown. Burkhead would throw two more touchdown passes later in the year before his final two passes – out of the Wildcat – ended in disaster.

    More Year In Review Features
    The Best in Pictures, Part 1, Highlights and Lowlights, Ten Best Defensive Plays, Ten Best Offensive Plays

    Tags: year in review, taylor martinez, roy helu, kyler reed, brandon kinnie, rex burkhead, cody green

  13. 2011 Jan 04

    YEAR IN REVIEW: The 10 Best Defensive Plays


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    So many excellent plays to choose from on Nebraska's stellar, suffocating defense and just ten spots to fill.

    It's never easy narrowing down the best of the best with Bo Pelini's crew, but here's our effort to recap the finest defensive plays of the 2010 season. There's no real order – except awesomeness.

    Houdini Special: NU defensive back Dejon Gomes marked his Husker career with spectacular plays on the ball, and his strip of Western Kentucky running back Bobby Rainey in the season-opener was among his finest plays. Rainey seemed a sure bet to score a touchdown when Gomes popped the ball out at the Nebraska 1-yard line. The Huskers recovered and saved a touchdown.

    Whaley to the Rescue: In a tighter-than-expected 17-3 win over South Dakota State, NU sophomore linebacker Alonzo Whaley made a huge goal-line play on SDSU's first quarter drive to Husker 1. On fourth down, Jackrabbit running back Kyle Minett took a Wildcat snap and veered hard to his left. Whaley met him at the line of scrimmage, drove him back and pounded him to the turf. It was the best play by any NU linebacker all season – including every terrific play by Lavonte David.

    Pick Six, Part 1: Textbook play from Gomes, who baited Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle into throwing a short curl route. Gomes stepped in front of the pass, snatched it in stride and coasted in for a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown.

    Pick Six, Part 2: On Idaho's next possession, NU's pass rush flushed Enderle from the pocket, where the North Platte native wildly flung a pass toward the sideline. Thenarse, sprinting, lunged in front, kept his balance and bolted home for 47-yard interception return for a score.

    Pick Six, Part 3: The best play of them all from cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who slipped around Washington wide receiver Devin Aguilar to intercept Jake Locker and return the pick 31 yards for a score. The play essentially slammed the door on the Huskies' hopes of a comeback. Dennard played freakishly well for the first half of the season; not quite as good after suffering a concussion in the Missouri game.

    Pick Six, Part 4: Safety Austin Cassidy stepped in front of a bad pass from Iowa State's Austen Arnaud and wove his way through traffic for a 29-yard touchdown. Cassidy flashed his running skills on this particularly; dipping and darting his way to the end zone. The play gave NU a 17-10 lead over the game Cyclones.

    The Kid Makes a Play: Subbing for Dennard, true freshman Ciante Evans – all 5-foot-11, 185 pounds of him – stuffed and flipped over Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert right at the goal line on third down, forcing the Tigers to settle for a field goal. Evans got low while Gabbert stayed high like a giant car high-ended on a low curb. It was some play for a true freshman.

    Lockdown Lavonte: On Kansas State's opening drive, the Wildcats had a 4th-and-2 from the Husker 25. Bill Snyder rolled the dice - calling a quarterback keeper, complete with a jet sweep fake – and tried to fool the Huskers. But JUCO linebacker Lavonte David – in just his fifth career start – had none of it, tracking the play beautifully and knocking out KSU QB Carson Coffman one yard short of the first down. The air went out of the Cats' cause with that single play.

    Crick's Monster Sack: In the Big 12 Championship game, Jared Crick fought off an Oklahoma lineman trying to yank him to the ground to make a big sack on OU's Landry Jones. It was Crick's “Suh Moment” of the 2010 season and he got a torn jersey for the effort.

    Freak: The most athletic defensive play of 2010 comes courtesy of Eric Hagg, who made a deflection in the Washington game that rivaled any Major League centerfielder climbing a wall to save a home run. UW quarterback Jake Locker had perfectly lofted a pass to a UW receiver running a deep corner route when Hagg elevated...and elevated...and just kept elevating to deflect the pass away. Hagg made more important and noteworthy plays in 2010 – but none was better than that one.

    More Year In Review Features
    The Best in Pictures, Part 1, Highlights and Lowlights, Ten Best Defensive Plays

    Tags: year in review, eric hagg, jared crick, lavonte david, ciante evans, dejon gomes, alonzo whaley, alfonzo dennard, austin cassidy

  14. 2011 Jan 03

    YEAR IN REVIEW: Highlights and Lowlights


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Our big season-in-review commentary is yet to come at the end of the week. For now, we bring you the superlatives of the 2010 season. Highlights and lowlights. Enjoy. We'll have lots of year in review content this week:

    Offensive MVP: Quarterback Taylor Martinez. The numbers don't lie: When Martinez was healthy, he was T-Magic, and so was NU's offense. After he got hurt, he was T-Muggle, and the Huskers lost three of their last four with him starting the games and taking the majority of the snaps. As dynamic a runner at the quarterback position as any in Husker history, Martinez's acceleration and instincts killer slower, less disciplined defenses. But when defenses slowed down his zone read game and forced him to throw downfield in the Big 12 Championship and Washington games, he really struggled. Still, it's hard to argue that he's not the most “valuable” player on NU's offense in 2010. He clearly was. Should he have been? That's a different question. Runners-up: Rex Burkhead, Roy Helu.

    Defensive MVP: Linebacker Lavonte David. He stepped into a nearly impossible position: Starting his first major college football game just four weeks after he began practicing with Husker coaches watching. And yet David, a junior, did just that – spectacularly, setting the team's single-season tackle record. David's instincts in stopping the run were a major reason why NU could afford to have what amounted to six defensive backs on the field for most of the game. He struggled in pass coverage during a 20-13 loss to Texas, but improved as the season wore on. Linebacker could have been a disaster after injuries to Sean Fisher and Will Compton. David erased all those concerns. It was some feat. Runners-up: Prince Amukamara, Jared Crick, Eric Hagg

    Special Teams MVP: Kicker Alex Henery. It's not everyday that a kicker is the team's most popular player, as Henery was on Senior Day when the Memorial Stadium crowd cheered loudest for his introduction. It's not every day a kicker truly earns that distinction. But Henery – with his talent and his humility – really did.

    Best Individual Offensive Performance: Taylor Martinez, Oklahoma State. He accounted for 425 total yards and five touchdowns, and Nebraska needed every last ounce of both. On a day when the Blackshirts' tackling and coverage took a day off, Martinez bailed out the Huskers with one big play after another, especially in the passing department, as he threw for a career-high 311 yards. Martinez had a chance to go in the tank after OSU took its first lead late in the first half. But he answered instead with a two-minute touchdown drive. It was the moment when Martinez seemed capable of anything.

    Best Individual Defensive Performance: Eric Hagg, Washington. He didn't make a ton of plays in the game, but he made the two that counted – a perfectly timed interception in two-deep coverage, and a spectacular deflection of a sure completion in the second half (Hagg was beaten on this same play in the Holiday Bowl). It's one of the best defensive plays of the year in all of college football.

    Best Coaching Decision: Bo Pelini's daring call to replace both safeties, Rickey Thenarse and P.J. Smith, with Austin Cassidy. It was a wholesale switch right before NU's biggest game to that point: Missouri. Until the Holiday Bowl, Cassidy and Osborne played really well, tackling with force and nabbing key interceptions in the Iowa State game and the Big 12 Championship, respectively. It was a classic Bo move: Shift on the fly, and commit accordingly.

    Worst Coaching Decision: After Nebraska closed to 20-13 in the Texas game, Bo, with the full force of the Memorial Stadium crowd on his side, chose to try an onside kick despite having two timeouts to call and three minutes remaining. UT recovered deep in Husker territory, the air was sucked out of the crowd, and the defense never had a chance to pin Texas deep. An onside kick – even with Alex Henery booting it – is one of the lowest-percentage plays in college football.

    Best Win: 31-17 over Missouri. Nebraska pounced all over the previously-undefeated Tigers with a 24-point first quarter, then frustrated Mizzou's pass-happy defense with a “spinner” defense that included using walk-on Kevin Thomsen and two new starters at safety in Austin Cassidy and Courtney Osborne. NU adjusted to Martinez's injury by managing the game with quarterback Zac Lee. Helu set the single-game school rushing record with 307 yards. Simply put, the Huskers' best game from an execution and coaching perspective.

    Worst Loss: 9-6 to Texas A&M. Nebraska played worse vs. Washington. The loss to Texas and Oklahoma were more painful. But the Huskers – especially head coach Bo Pelini – lost control that nutty night in College Station, and we're not sure NU ever really recovered from the feeling of persecution and poor execution that night. Pelini melted down on the sideline, upbraiding referees and Martinez on national TV. The officials screwed the Huskers on a late-hit penalty that set up A&M's game-winning field goal, but we can't help but think Bo's management of the game contributed to that bad call.

    More Year In Review Features
    The Best in Pictures, Part 1, Highlights and Lowlights

    Tags: year in review, taylor martinez, lavonte david, eric hagg, alex henery, bo pelini, texas am game, holiday bowl, missouri game

  15. 2011 Jan 03

    YEAR IN REVIEW: The Best in Photos, Part 1


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    We begin our year in review of the Nebraska football season with some of the memorable images of the 10-4 campaign. Enjoy shots of some of NU's biggest plays during the year, and the faces that made Husker football in 2010.

    Remember, too, that these photos belong to our photo store and can be purchased by clicking on the options at the bottom of each photo.

    Click here!

    More Year in Review Features

    Highlights and Lowlights

    Tags: year in review, photos

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