I admit it; I was completely wrong about the Blackshirts. I attributed last week's issues to first game jitters and not having anything to base their plan on. I figured that the tackling issues would fix naturally.
The tackling issues didn't get better. Mostly, that goes to an opponent with enough talent to exploit the mistakes. What was exposed was how the Huskers front seven were dominated much of the night...and by a bunch of freshman on the Bruins offensive line.
The 36 points were bad enough; the 653 yards allowed were even worse. The only thing between that performance and the worst performance in school history (656 yards by Oklahoma in 1956) was the three yard loss on the final "take a knee". That's right...in terms of yardage, this was worse than anything Kevin Cosgrove was involved with.
*** shudder ***
And so, after the jump, we have the gory breakdown. The offense wasn't bad; 439 yards and 30 points should be enough to win most weeks. Not perfect, mind you...but not bad. And when the defense is as bad as it was against UCLA, not nearly enough.QB: The "Negataylors" will jump on Martinez's performance at the end of the game. Martinez didn't go through is progressions under pressure. A lot of quarterbacks do that; even hall-of-famers like Brett Favre. It's not like he had a lot of time to throw the ball in the second half. But in the first half, he was pretty good, and that 92 yard touchdown run was vintage Martinez. If Martinez makes a game winning play in the second half, the national guys are throwing Martinez's run onto a Heisman resume. Grade: C+
RB: Ameer Abdullah's first touches of each half were easily his worst: a one yard loss on the Huskers first possession and a fumble on the first play of the second half. Outside of that, a great job in relief of Rex Burkhead. Most importantly, he was great in pass protection in picking up blitzers. Braylon Heard looked good running the ball in his few carries. In hindsight, it's clear that Tim Beck underutilized his backs on Saturday night. Grade: B
WR: Kenny Bell had a good game with some big plays in the first half and that second half kickoff return that kept a glimmer of hope alive in the closing minutes. Nebraska keeps trying to get the ball to Jamal Turner, who keeps finding ways to manufacture yards with his feet. But Nebraska could have used these guys to make a few more catches. Grade: B-
OL: Datone Jones had a field day at times going up against the Nebraska line. They were OK to fine in run blocking, but the Bruins were able to apply pressure consistently to Martinez by sending just four rushers. That's not acceptable Justin Jackson had a really rough day with several bad snaps. Grade: C-
DL: Not since Kevin Cosgrove wandered the sidelines in Lincoln have I been so disappointed in Nebraska's front seven. Some will draw comparisons to 2007, and while the results were the same, the problems were different. In 2007, the line was just dominated. (Remember the holes USC opened up?) Last night, they just were average against a young Bruin offensive line. When they were able to get into the backfield, they couldn't take down Brett Hundley. Jason Ankrah whiffed on a tackle, turning a six yard loss into a 10 yard gain. This week, the line will need to work on the fundamentals, but I also wonder if it's time to rethink who's playing. If the upper classmen aren't able to be playmakers, get the freshmen in - especially the ones who's redshirts have already been burned. Grade: F
LB: A lot of people were criticizing Will Compton last night, and it's true he didn't have a good game, even though he led the Huskers with 12 tackles. He was exploited by UCLA in pass coverage, and frankly, couldn't keep up with Johnathan Franklin at times either. Alonzo Whaley was a mess trying to cover Joseph Fauria. Here's another spot where it may be time to seriously consider bringing in one of the young players. Let's see Zaire Anderson or David Santos next to Compton, who can help the youngsters know their assignments and their checks Grade: F
Secondary: If there was something to be a little optimistic about on defense, I think it would be in the secondary. I think the coverage wasn't as bad as the front seven were. I saw a few things to like about Josh Mitchell, and Daimion Stafford did better than anybody else trying to cover Fauria. Stanley Jean-Baptiste was in position to make a big play on defense that could have turned the game around late in the fourth quarter. Devin Lucien took the ball away from Baptiste for a 33 yard gain; otherwise, it would have been Nebraska ball at midfield with over five minutes to go. Grade: C
Special Teams: Brett Maher started to emerge from his funk after shanking his first two punts. But it's obvious that his timing with new holder Jase Dean isn't quite right; his missed field goal could be attributed to not getting the laces right. But he showed Jim Mora where he could stick his timeouts at halftime by drilling a 54 yarder after Mora's two icing attempts failed. Grade: C-
Overall: D- Nebraska lost a very winnable game. Some people will want to give Nebraska an "F" here, and I can't disagree with that. I do think that Nebraska was just a few plays from pulling off the win, and the Huskers would have gotten a C in that situation, in all likelihood. So I'll split the difference with a "D".
Elsewhere in College Football
Fox: That Fox pregame show is simply a trainwreck. There are certainly better ways to showcase Erin Andrews than that. But their production quality on the broadcast was a pleasant surprise in comparison to what FSN inflicts on fans each week. I'm not a big Gus Johnson fan; I suppose he breathes "Buffalo Wild Wings" excitement into games that you wouldn't otherwise care about. But when it's your team playing, you don't need that. Charles Davis is under-appreciated nationally; ESPN would be wise to sign him to be their lead analyst once his contract with Fox expires. Grade: B-
Iowa: If Husker fans are feeling down, they can at least be grateful that they aren't Iowa fans. One touchdown in two games so far? Greg Davis is working his magic once again in Iowa City. Grade: F
Iowa Throw-back Uniforms: I don't know whether that uniform design was intentional, or the team anti-perspirant had a massive failure. Judging by the stinky product on the field, I'm leaning towards deodorant breakdown. But you can't be sure...Iowa is a Nike school. Grade: F
Michigan: Survived a Mountain West school. Congratulations. Grade: C-
Wisconsin: If Husker fans are feeling down, they can at least be grateful that they aren't Badger fans this season. Grade: F
Penn State: A valiant effort, but Bill O'Brien is going to get a Cob nomination for his end of game strategy. Your kicker has missed four kicks so far on Saturday...so rather than try to get closer or even score a touchdown, you take a 3 yard loss to center the ball so he can try to hit a career long field goal. There's a reason Bill Belichick's coaching tree hasn't been fruitful. Grade: F
Kansas: Speaking of the Belichick coaching tree, Charlie Weis has eaten just about everything from that tree. Grade: F
Colorado: If Husker fans are feeling down, they can at least be amused that Colorado is still Colorado. Sacramento State? Grade: Snort.
Bobby Petrino's Motorcycle: How many Arkansas fans are wondering just what-if on this one. Grade: F
Northwestern: Thanks for salvaging one speck of pride for the B1G this weekend. Yeah, it was Vanderbilt. We'll take it. Grade: A
Northwestern's Groundskeepers: After thundershowers rolled through Chicago on Wednesday, the groundskeepers didn't get the tarp off before the sun came out. The grass was scorched, and while the field played OK, it looks like a cow pasture in Nebraska during this drought. Grade: F