Nebraska's eight turnovers were the statistic of the day and the simplest answer to what went wrong yesterday. Both coaches agree that without most of those turnovers, the Huskers would have not only won, but won handily. Bo Pelini said that with eight turnovers, "we could have been run out of the stadium." Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads added "They have an outstanding defense. Are you kidding me? Eight turnovers we gained and the final score is 9-7? Anybody else that had that kind of turnover advantage would have won by 30 or 40 points. Credit Nebraska. They have an unbelievable defensive football team."
So this week's report card is going to be a bit more focused on faulty areas.QB: Sorry to disappoint those of you calling for Cody Green to take over at quarterback, but Zac Lee wasn't the problem. It wasn't a great performance, but it wasn't horrible. A couple of tipped interceptions, and a pick on a last minute heave were Lee's biggest negatives. Well, Lee did stare down most of his receivers yesterday. But Lee's biggest problem yesterday weren't his throws, it's what happened after the ball left his grasp. Grade: C+
IB: Roy Helu is trying to play hurt, and I think it's hurting the team. When Helu first hurt his shoulder, he lost feeling in his arm, and judging from his fumble problems yesterday, he's not 100%. Please sit Helu for a week or two and get him better. Dontrayevous Robinson was fairly solid in his debut at I-back; he's not a game breaker but he's a powerful back who'll get some yards. I'm not that concerned about his fumble; there were three Cyclones trying to strip him of the ball. He'll learn from this. Grade: B-
WR: The drops were bad enough. The fumbles were even worse. Niles Paul seems to be haunted; between outstanding all-American type plays comes a blunder that costs the team badly. Brandon Kinnie got involved in the offense. The newcomers seem to be making an impact. Right now, I'm not sure that Nebraska wouldn't be better off starting Kinnie, Khiry Cooper, and Chris Brooks as the top three receivers. I liked the use of the three and four tight-end power sets; they were very productive when run to the right side. Grade: F
OL: I almost want to give two grades here. Mike Caputo came in for an injured Jacob Hickman and did a good job. Also playing well were the right side of the line with Ricky Henry and Marcel Jones. The left side, on the other hand, struggled. Keith Williams got burned, and in power formations, runs to the left went nowhere while runs to the right gained five to seven yards. So I'll give the right side a B+ and the left side a D-. Or an overall C+.
DL: Ndamukong Suh for Heisman again. What else is there to say about Suh and company. Suh blocked a field goal and an extra point, and both might have been Nebraska's best chances to avoid the loss even with eight turnovers. If Suh hadn't spiked the blocked extra point too far, Prince Amukamara could have returned it for two points and a tie game. Once again, they get an A.
LB: Phillip Dillard is a man reborn. He's flying to the football and supporting the line very well. Sean Fisher thought he was back at Millard North on the return of Suh's second blocked kick. Grade: B+
Secondary: Dejon Gomes and Alfonzo Dennard continue to impress me in coverage. They weren't tested much by Iowa State, but Eric Hagg got burned on the long pass. Grade B-.
Special Teams: Suh got the blocks, but that misplay on the ISU fake punt changed the tone of yesterday's games more than any of the fumbles by themselves. Grade D+
Coaching: Watson's game plan was better this week, though there still were too many screen passes for my taste. The Pelini brothers had another good defensive plan as well. Grade B-.
Overall: C- There's a certain amount of coachspeak going on when Pelini says the Nebraska wasn't good enough in any phase of the game. Truth is...they were good enough if the receivers could have held onto the ball. But by that same manner, everybody is capable of playing at a higher level and could have helped compensate for yesterday's turnovers.
Elsewhere in College Football
Texas A&M: A+ Go figure what's up in the wacky world of Big XII football.
Texas Tech: F Taylor Potts career in Lubbock is likely over now.
Missouri: F Good news... now you get to play the Buffies next.
Alabama: C OK, you survived. Good for you...
Iowa: C America's most overrated team survives another week. Who in the Big 10 is going to step up and save the BCS Championship game from another unworthy Big 10 team. Last year, it was the Hawkeyes themselves eliminating Penn State.