Report Card: Huskers 40, Chattanooga 7

Daimion Stafford introduces himself to Chattanooga RB Chris Awuah and Husker fans with a slobberknocking hit that sent the ball deep into the Husker bench. Good thing Ed Cunningham doesn't work for BTN. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

Every season opener brings us new players, players in new roles, and players breaking off the rust as a new season unfolds. So there's always a list of what didn't go well as well as a list of new things that we really like. It's the nature of the first game, and everybody expects it. Today the coaching staff is going over the video from the game and evaluating the Huskers' performance against Chattanooga. We'll do the same, albeit at a much simpler level. It's a Sunday CornNation tradition, and of course, your input in the comments below are always encouraged. If you aren't already a member of the CornNation community, join us with the link on the right.

 

QB: Taylor Martinez's game-breaking speed is back. His passing is still a work in progress. His release is still a work-in-progress. He doesn't step into his throws, and Saturday, he gunned fastballs into receivers downfield who dropped them. My quick take from the stands is that his passes were a little more accurate than last year. He was far from perfect in his accuracy though...just better than he was last season. It sounds like the coaches were impressed by some of his audible calls at the line of scrimmage; if so, that's a good sign for his development. But if Nebraska wants the option to be a staple of the offense, Martinez has to work on his timing...because it ain't there now. Brion Carnes looked confused and overwhelmed in his first action of the season. Hopefully that's nervousness because if Martinez is going to carry the ball as much as we saw in the first game, Carnes is going to be put into a pressure situation at some point. Grade: B-

 

RB: Seeing Rex Burkhead take a pitch down the sideline in the first quarter brought back a lot of pleasant memories...but the fact he didn't score underscores my only criticism of Burkhead. He's a powerful, tough runner --- but not a game-breaker. Although we didn't see it on offense, Ameer Abdullah showed us that he IS a game-breaker on his punt returns. Only a P.J. Smith "own-goal" tackle kept Abdullah out of the end-zone. I think the backfield could be stacked at I-back, so frankly, I don't see a reason why Martinez needs to lead the team in carries. Some of the precision was really lacking Saturday. Burkhead nearly sacked Martinez on one play, and Braylon Heard made one option pitch an adventure by being out of position. And was that a fullback trap to open the game? Grade: B+

 

WR: Quincy Enunwa caught four passes Saturday to highlight this group. Ben Cotton caught a nice pass over the middle for a key 27 yard gain to keep a drive alive. Jamal Turner gave us another highlight reel run late in the game, catching a short pass and juking his way for a 19 yard gain. But it was an inconsistent performance, as the receivers dropped several balls. Some of the passes were off target, but many were catchable. Grade: C

 

OL: Yes, the Mocs stacked the box. But let's not forget that this was a 1-AA opponent who should have been dominated...and they weren't. But with four first time starters, some inconsistency is to be expected. Judging by the lack of substitutions (other than Jake Cotton replacing an injured Spencer Long), the coaches wanted to see players learn from failure. I imagine the film review will not be pleasant this week. Grade: D-

 

DL: Whee! Jared Crick and Cameron Meredith absolutely dominated up front...though they should have considering the inexperience and relative lack of size of the Mocs' offensive line. Lots of guys played and contributed up front. Grade: A-

 

LB: Trevor Roach came in early after Will Compton was injured and played pretty well. Lavonte David was, well, Lavonte David. Sean Fisher looked like...a guy who hasn't played a real football game in quite some time. Several missed tackles, and so it wasn't a huge surprise that he was in the game with all of the subs. Grade: B-

 

Secondary: Sometimes the Blackshirts lost track of Joel Bradford, which was disappointing there is no excuse for not covering the returning 1-AA all-American. Andrew Green played really soft at times, and on the Mocs touchdown, got beat at the line of scrimmage. In the second half, junior college transfer Daimion Stafford put on quite a show, especially in the second half. The only thing holding him back is understanding the scheme after arriving on campus this summer. I think we'll see him playing regularly by October, perhaps as the nickel back. Grade: C

 

Special teams: The Huskers were all over the board on special teams: lots of very good and a little bit of breathtakingly horrible. The Mocs opened the game with a squib kick that nobody in red thought to field. Hey guys...that's a live ball! Wil Richards tried to field a punt with his rear end (or so it seemed), with the Mocs recovering the muff. But otherwise, it was really good. Ameer Abdullah looks really good returning punts, and as hard as it is to believe, Brett Maher played better than Alex Henery. Into the wind, he boomed several punts and even added a 50 yard field goal. The only question is whether Maher can be as reliable as Henry was the last few years. A+ at it's best, F at it's worst...grades out about a B.

 

Overall: C+ It's a win, and at least we're not Iowa State, Kansas State, Washington, or (shudder) Oregon State.

 

Elsewhere in College Football

 

Wisconsin: A- The offense might be A+, but the defense probably has a few issues.

 

Boise State: A Stakes their claim for another BCS bowl berth.

 

Baylor: A Arguably the second best team in the Big XII.

 

Notre Dame: D Quarterback controversy and Brian Kelly made Bo Pelini look like Tom Osborne.

 

Colorado: F Well, at least it wasn't at home and it was to a 1-A foe this time.

Kansas State and Iowa State: D- Yeesh.

 

Big XII: F "This is how we play."

 

ESPN: F Between Bruce Feldman and the Longhorn Network, it's been a rough week for the so-called "Worldwide Leader"

 

Nike: F I swear, is Herb Tarlek from WKRP now in charge of designing football uniforms for Nike? When Oregon's uniforms are tame compared to what Oklahoma State and Georgia wore last night, you know that the entire organization is aesthetically challenged.

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