Bo Pelini grades on results, and when the scoreboard reads Virginia Tech 16, Nebraska 15 as the teams leave the field, I'm sure Pelini would offer up failing grades for everyone:
"You've got to win the football game. We didn't win the football game so we didn't play good enough in any phase of the game. I measure it on results. That's how we measure things around here."
While Nebraska failed to close the game out, despite numerous opportunities to do so, not all was negative for the Huskers. Here's my report card; as always, your feedback and commentary are always welcome. Let's get this hairball coughed up and move on.QB: Shawn Watson tried to ease Zac Lee into his first road game by focusing the offense on Roy Helu early on...and that didn't go anywhere. (0 yards in the 1st quarter.) Second quarter, Lee broke out and had a pretty good quarter in my book, going 5 for 10 passing for 70 yards, with several passes being created on scrambles after protection broke down. Second half, it was all downhill. Whether Lee thought he needed to become a playmaker instead of a manager, he was off most of the time, thanks to a stout Hokie defense.He barely hit a wide open Curenski Gilleylen on the sideline; get that ball to him in bounds, he scores easily, and we're all happy and singing today. Some nice runs though, especially that 17 yarder to set up that disasterous 1st and goal at the Tech 6. So while it wasn't a great performance, there were a few bright moments. C-
IB: Roy Helu finished with 202 yards of offense on the day. The lone bright spot on offense, he ran tough and found openings when there didn't appear to be any. A
WR: Oh, if Menelik Holt could have snagged that apparent touchdown pass. Again, we're dancing today. Niles Paul had a nice punt return, and kept his head about him when Tech's Dorian Porch swung his helmet off. Gilleylen showed great footwork by snaring that errant Lee pass and getting a food inbounds. C+
OL: I've got mixed emotions here as I want to give them credit for Helu's big day. But those two holding penalties on that 1st and goal series discombobulated that drive. Nobody on the line had an answer for Jason Worilds, who spent most of the day flushing Lee from the pocket. (D.J. Jones channeled his inner Lydon Murtha in one particularly futile attempt to block Worilds.) C-
DL: Up until the final thirty seconds, I really thought about giving them an A+. Pierre Allen showed great pursuit, as did Barry Turner, who responded to his critics in the media on the field. Jared Crick dominated, and what can you say about Ndamukong Suh. He set a school record with 4 pass deflections, including one spike that I'm sure John Cook would have appreciated. But alas, tentativeness in pursuing Tyrod Taylor on that final scoring drive allowed Taylor to throw the winning touchdown pass. A
LB: The Hokie running backs found even less running room running wide yesterday; great pursuit out there. Will Compton is coming into his own; easily his best game as a linebacker. B
Secondary: Again, this grade was much higher until the final couple of minutes. Prince Amukamara nearly came away with an interception that could have iced the game. Larry Asante was solid. But woe be Matt O'Hanlon who will probably rue that one play for a long time. Solid otherwise throughout the game, especially in sacking Taylor on the very next play. B-
Coaching: The defense was ready to play the whole game, but I tend to agree with StatePaper.com's Samuel McKeown that the cover-2 scheme was a bad idea at that point in the game. No timeouts, about a minute left...the Hokies needed yards in a hurry. I'm not saying go to a prevent defense, but at least don't get burned deep. If they want to run around underneath and burn clock, let 'em. I also like Shawn Watson's attempt to mix up the run and pass game in the second half; the team just didn't execute. I think balance is going to be the lynchpin of this offense, and this team will be more successful when it doesn't try to become one-dimensional. B
Overall: B- Went on the road against a higher ranked opponent and didn't fold. Great. Even was in position to win the game. Even better. But simply didn't finish the job.
Elsewhere in College Football
Colorado: B Cody Hawkins was his usual mediocre self, but they put together enough of a running game and a surprisingly stout defensive effort with a shutout.
Florida: C OK, I expected the Gators to respond to Lane Kiffin's talk yesterday, and really didn't do it.
USC: F It's hard to keep taking Southern Cal seriously as an elite team when they keep taking games off early in the season.
Texas: C Figured that since USC lost and Florida didn't dominate, that they could waltz through Tech. Guessed wrong.
Texas Tech: B+ Made it a game last night, and vindicated ABC's scheduling department.
BYU: F So much for the dreams of crashing the BCS. Buh-bye.