One day following Nebraska's victory over Wyoming hasn't done much to change my thoughts on the game. Nebraska won - beat the betting spread even - but left me wanting more. I get the feeling that the coaching staff has a good handle on the situation. Doesn't mean they are pleased with where the Huskers are, but rather that they are comfortable with the progression of of the program.
In some respects, I think this team is very much a work in progress, and should be viewed as such. The Nebraska team that played in Laramie won't be the same one that takes the field in Madison. We saw defensive tweaks this week, and we'll see more this week. That's good, because the performance of the Huskers on Saturday wasn't anywhere near the type of performance that will be necessary in Madison. And while I'm not as optimistic about Nebraska's initial Big Ten game as I was in the summer, I'm not fatalistic about it either.
Not with Bo Pelini as head coach. Nebraska always has a chance.QB: The previous two weeks, Taylor Martinez looked more comfortable leading the team and his passing was more accurate than we'd seen out of Martinez previously. This week, it was a step backwards. Martinez was erratic with his throws in the first half, and didn't handle the football all that well. In the first quarter, Martinez felt non-existent pressure, and ran right into the line where he was sacked. That's not the offensive line's fault; that goes on Martinez for running into trouble instead of staying out of it. Grade: D+
RB: I'm not sure I'd call Rex Burkhead's game "Sexy"...but the tough runner from Plano is a lot of fun to watch. It takes more than one tackler to bring down Burkhead as he pinballs his way for extra yardage. Great vision and effort against Wyoming, rushing for 170 and averaging over 11 yards a carry. And he took the snap a couple of times out of Nebraska's version of the "Wildcat." Did you see that Bret Bielema? The other freshmen backs looked good, except for a case of the dropsies. That needs to get cleaned up this week. Austin Jones had some impressive runs in garbage time. Tyler Legate laid out a devastating block on Burkhead's 45 yard touchdown run. Grade: B+ (downgraded only because of the fumbles)
WR: Brandon Kinnie broke out of his funk with three nice catches, and getting some nice moves after the catch. Kenny Bell and Jamal Turner both had nice catches, and Kyler Reed would have scored easily if Martinez hadn't badly underthrown him. Only downgrade was Kenny Bell forgetting the snap count and getting a brain-damaged false start penalty. Grade: B+
OL: I was as hard on these guys as anybody in the first two games...but they've been road graders the last two weeks. But a holding call deep in Nebraska's end of the field wasn't good. Grade: B+
DL: The rotation on the line was really affected by Jared Crick's absence, but early on, Nebraska really didn't miss him. Eric Martin saw quite a bit of playing time early on and wreaked some havoc. But as the game went on, we saw a little bit less effective play on defense. Grade: B-
LB: One of the things that I miss watching the game on TV versus in the stadium is following the linebackers... especially when I'm watching the game in standard definition. So I didn't get a good feeling for the play on Lavonte David, but what I saw was a little better than the last couple of weeks. Will Compton created some pressure in situations, though he didn't have much to show for it on the stat sheet. So I'm going to grade this a B- as well.
Secondary: Obviously Bo Pelini hasn't been pleased with the play of the secondary this season, and this week, it was completely reworked. Corey Cooper switched on Monday from safety to cornerback and had a rough start...played better later on. Nice to see Alfonzo Dennard back on the field, though I'm not sure he deserved that personal foul penalty, as I don't think he could have let up prior to the ball sailing out of bounds. New faces in new roles led to lots of issues. This is still very much a work in progress, but we need to see better. Much better. Grade: C-
Overall: C+ It's a win. But Nebraska is capable of more. Much more.
Versus: F I love the job Versus does with the NHL, but last night's coverage makes FSN's coverage look like an Emmy winner. Former Iowegia quarterback Paul Burmeister was pressed into service to call play-by-play, and former Tulane quarterback Shaun King was absolutely painful on color commentary. Maybe not Artie Gigantino bad...but when we finally end up on an ESPN telecast with Pam Ward, I don't want to hear any complaining. Technical production was borderline public-access cable quality. On screen graphics (clock and down/distance) were frequently missing. Replays were few.
Elsewhere in College Football:
Minnesota F How do you let the defense return a Hail Mary for a touchdown just before halftime?
Indiana F Did Kathy Ireland kick the game-deciding field goal?
Kansas State A+ Impressive victory over the "U"
Oklahoma State A Did Okie Light come back, or did A&M just choke? A little of both...