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September 11, 2010Nebraska improved to 2-0 on Saturday with a 38-17 win over Idaho at Memorial Stadium. The Husker defense carried most of the load coming up with five interceptions and two touchdowns, while the offense struggled to find any consistency in the second half.
Here is the final report card grade out from Saturday's win over Idaho.
Overall, it was an up and down performance for redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez. Let's start with the bad first. Martinez took a sack on a third down play in the first half in which he fumbled and gave the ball back to Idaho on their own 7 yard line. Martinez also threw an interception on a third down play where he should've either just threw it away or taken a sack. He also missed wide receiver Mike McNeill down field on the first drive of the game on a play that would've resulted in a 58 yard touchdown.
As for the good, Martinez once again proved he can run. He finished Saturday with 157 yards rushing and two touchdowns. His 67 yard TD run in the first half was the longest ever by an NU freshman quarterback. Martinez's other rushing touchdown came on a play where he fumbled it in the open field but recovered the ball in the end zone. Passing wise, Martinez was an efficient 12-of-17 for 106 yards. They really never let him go down field deep. Everything was a high percentage short throw. It's clear they don't want to take a lot of unnecessary risks right now with his throwing, especially when the ground game is clicking like it has the last two weeks.
Running back: B
Senior running back Roy Helu led Nebraska with 107 rushing yards and a touchdown, while sophomore Rex Burkhead finished with 77 yards on nine carries. NU's running backs finished with a total of 204 yards rushing on Saturday on just 23 carries for an average of 8.9 yards per carry. Burkhead was also NU's leading receiver on Saturday with 41 yards on three catches, including a game long 31 yard reception. The low point for the running back happened when Dontrayevous Robinson fumbled the ball on the 1 yard line, taking a way a sure touchdown.
Wide receiver/Tight end: D
It was a very sloppy game on Saturday for Nebraska's wide receivers and tight ends. The third quarter was where things really started to fall apart for this group when Niles Paul fumbled the ball on the first play out of the Wildcat formation. Then both Paul and Brandon Kinnie were charged with costly holding penalties on the same drive. Sophomore tight end Ben Cotton also hurt NU with two 15 yard penalties of his own. Cotton was tagged with a personal foul in the first half and a clipping penalty in the second half. These plays didn't come back to bite NU too bad on Saturday, but you can bet they would be very costly down the road in Big 12 conference play.
Offensive line: C-
Like the wide receiver and tight ends, the offensive line also had their inconsistent moments on Saturday at times, despite paving the way for 360 rushing yards. Senior Ricky Henry was charged with a 15 yard clipping penalty and a holding call - both plays once again that would be very costly in bigger games down the road. Maybe the most disappointing moment of the day for the line though came on a fourth-and-1 play from the Idaho 12 yard line where the Vandal front seven stopped the Huskers cold. This was a play NU needed at that time. They needed to flex their muscles and show they can run with power and not just out of the spread. Nearly all of NU's rushing yards on Saturday came out of the spread or from the zone read option.
Defensive line: A
Defensive coordinator Carl Pelinichallenged his front four to get after Idaho on Saturday and that's exactly what they did. Junior defensive tackle Jared Crick was dominant with four tackles for loss and 2 ? quarterback sacks. Sophomore Baker Steinkuhler also added 1 ? sacks and two tackles for loss, while senior defensive end Pierre Allen added a sack. This group definitely lived up to their billing.
It was a steady game by NU's linebackers, but we really only saw junior Lavonte David play with the first defense. Idaho ran mostly four wide receiver sets, which meant David was the lone linebacker on the field. David finished seven tackles and one quarterback sack, along with two pass break-ups. Sophomore Eric Martin finished with three tackles, while sophomore Alonzo Whaley had one.
Nebraska's secondary on Saturday was Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle worst nightmare. NU absolutely dominated the game with the play of their defensive backs, forcing five interceptions and four pass break-ups in coverage. The Huskers ran two of those five interceptions back for touchdowns, which virtually put the game away in the second quarter when the Huskers scored a total of 21 points in a 9 second span. Enderle finished the game just 16-of-31 passing for 141 yards.
Special teams: A
It was a solid day for NU on special teams. The kickoff coverage was much better than a week ago and Alex Henery made his only field goal attempt of the game. Henery also placed both of his punts inside the 20 yard line.