[Jon - I delayed Mike's report card until Monday Morning, so it's me being late again, not him. Besides, you got all excited about that Martinez thing, didn't you? Wasn't that enough for one night? :) ]
It's only natural that after a bad night that you try to look for any extenuating circumstances. And last night, it seems that there were a bunch of extenuating circumstance. Yes, the Aggies Twelfth Man was wearing stripes last night. That being said, we can't forget one simple fact.
Nebraska didn't play a great game last night. A&M outexecuted the Huskers, and they won the game. In all the criticism of the officiating, that little observation is getting lost. Whining and complaining about the officiating might make us feel better, but it's not going to do any good other than the cathartic effect. We know not to expect Dan Beebe to do anything about it, even if he possibly could.
In the meantime, it's a short week coming up. Three weeks ago, it looked like this Friday's game was going to be Dan Hawkins goodbye game...except his suckage was so immense that Colorado had to ditch him prematurely. The Buffaloes were handed over to longtime assistant Brian Cabral who bleeds Black and Gold, and Colorado is playing like they want Cabral to get the job. Colorado is playing for EVERYTHING this Friday: beat Nebraska, and the Buffs go to 6-6 and become bowl eligible. If Cabral does that, I have to think Cabral almost assuredly gets the job. He'll have earned the job, and he'd take the job for less money than nearly anybody else.
So now that we've sounded the alarm about this week, let's go back and revisit last night's Husker performance. As always, your comments are always welcome!QB: For the first ten minutes, Taylor Martinez looked like he was about 95% back. He still didn't have that gamebreaking speed, but he was making plays. Then Martinez re-injured his ankle, and it was all downhill from there. Cody Green came in, and was mostly ineffective from my perspective...mostly because his teammates' penalties kept moving the Huskers back. Martinez came back in the second half, and the Huskers moved the ball better...but interceptions on the Texas A&M side of the field killed potential scoring drives, and that was the final straw. I know Martinez played hurt and was limited, but the mistakes are what killed the Huskers. Grade: F
RB: There wasn't a lot of running room there, but Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead made the most of their limited opportunities. Burkhead gets a lot of credit for willing the team down the field after back to back penalties on the kickoff forced the Huskers to start a drive at the five yard line after a touchback. Grade: B-
WR: Niles Paul played tough, and made some clutch catches, including a screen pass where he broke several tackles to earn positive yardage. Brandon Kinnie had a couple of drops that I would normally swear would have been good catches. Kyler Reed is an emerging weapon at tight end. But Ben Cotton lost his composure and started the cavalcade of yellow hankies; we all know why, but it's always the retaliator who gets caught, not the classless instigator. (And yes, Beergut, we've noticed how you said you have avoided and censored this topic.) Grade: C-
OL: Six penalties by the linemen for 60 yards. Two on back-to-back plays by D.J. Jones turned added 20 yards to the first Husker field goal. A holding call on Keith Williams led to a Cody Green interception on the next play. A false start by Marcel Jones caused a three-and-out on Nebraska's opening possession of the second half. Some of this could be forgiven if the line were driving the Aggies off the ball...but they weren't. Not much production from the line, and a lot of negatives. Grade: F
DL: The line got a decent push most of the night, but could have done a better job later in the game helping contain Cyrus Gray. Grade: B+
LB: Once again, this was Lavonte David only, and he had another great night on the stat sheet. He continues to improve with his reads and his instincts are top notch. Grade: B+
Secondary: They did almost everything they could do to shut down the A&M receivers; half of their receptions were passes to Gray. The only complaint is the two pass interference penalties, and frankly, I still wonder if the second one on Dennard wasn't offensive interference. Grade: A-
Intangibles: Hard to ignore this one. Nebraska didn't handle the storm of negativity well last night, starting with Ben Cotton's double personal fouls while being assaulted by Tony Jerod-Eddie. Bo got increasingly incensed with the officials and erupted on the sideline, which didn't endear himself to the rest of the college football world..or the officials, who tossed their yellow hankies all night long. It obviously didn't help, and probably hurt the team badly. Bo is going to get a handle on this, and I think he will. Grade: F
Overall: D+ The Huskers went -14 in penalties and -2 in turnovers against a ranked opponent on the road, and only lost by three points. Not bad in that respect, but those penalties and turnovers are a huge problem.
Elsewhere in College Football
Colorado: A+ Anybody who thought this was going to be a cakewalk, think again. Colorado is surging with Brian Cabral motivating the Buffies and they're playing for a bowl bid. Grade: A+
Purdue: D Nice job leading Sparty...but what kind of punt protection was that???
Wrigley Field: A+ Yeah, the field layout made for an interesting set of rules, but let's be honest. Nobody would have paid attention to this game if were played in Evanston. The last minute ground rules change means that we'll almost certainly never see this again, but this was the perfect place to play a game like this.