It was the blowout that Husker fans were hoping for; it was the performance that some Husker fans didn't think was possible this weekend. Purdue is a team struggling with a transition in coaching staffs and systems, so a 44-7 victory doesn't mean that all is right with Nebraska football now. It is what it is. A dominating victory over an overwhelmed opponent. So while Nebraska football looks better now than it did in September, we really won't get a good read on that until November.
And people who wrote 2013 off after the UCLA loss should recognize that the Big Ten's west division is there for the taking this season. Northwestern is 0-2. Michigan is 1-1. Michigan State may have finally found some offense, but that game will be in Lincoln. Does Nebraska have a chance? Well, probably as good as anybody else's at this point.
So here's the report card. As always, your feedback always welcome and encouraged!
QB: The Nebraska quarterback "controversy", manufactured by the "Nega-Taylors" and fed by a few members of the media, came to an abrupt end in West Lafayette. Tommy Armstrong had a freshman game; it happens. Purdue spent two weeks trying to reinvent itself on defense; it was a gimmick that worked against a freshman like Armstrong. Didn't work against a more cerebal quarterback like Ron Kellogg, who was able to adapt and dissect the Boilermakers with Peyton Manning-like precision. Armstrong will bounce back; he'll learn from his Eli Manning-like mistakes. But make no bones about it; when Taylor Martinez is ready to play, he's the unquestioned starter at quarterback. In the meantime, Armstrong and Kellogg might be counted on for one more game in Minneapolis. For Purdue, Armstrong gets a D-, but Kellogg gets a solid A. Meet in the middle, and you get a C+.
RB: Wisconsin's two-headed monster of Melvin Gordon and James White aside, Ameer Abdullah is now purring at an all-Big Ten level right now. Which made it all the more maddening when Tim Beck kept calling passes early on against Purdue; it was clear that Nebraska could run at will on Purdue most of the day. In the end, it didn't really matter because Purdue wasn't going to put up much resistance. Imani Cross and Terrell Newby looked good in relief as well. Grade: A-
WR: Aside from Quincy Enunwa's drop, it was a solid day all around. And Enunwa did snag four other passes, and made Purdue look pretty silly in doing it. Jordan Westerkamp made plays when it counted as well in relief of Jamal Turner, who tried but couldn't go with that hamstring injury. Grade: A-
OL: The biggest disappointment on the day was Spencer Long's knee injury. No word yet, but it sounds like it's probably season-ending. Is Mike Moudy ready for prime time? We'll have to find out. I'd hate to see Nebraska have to rip the redshirt off of Chongo Kondolo half-way through the season. Overall, it was a good performance, other than Andrew Rodriguez's butt-tackle of Ameer Abdullah near the end of the first quarter. (I worried initially whether Abdullah suffered a concussion on the play...) Grade: B+
DL: Give Randy Gregory his Blackshirt, please. The entire starting defensive line played well, but it's not like Purdue's offensive was going to put up much of a fight. You knew it right from the first play when Aaron Curry sacked true freshman Danny Etling for a five yard loss. Even Thad Randle and Jason Ankrah created a little havoc. Grade: A
LB: Without much of a threat by Purdue to run the ball, the linebackers had a pretty easy day. We saw good things in coverage from Nathan Gerry and a nice sack by Josh Banderas. David Santos played pretty well. Grade: B+
Secondary: First half was pretty good; second half had a few issues. From my perspective, the ejection of Stanley Jean-Baptiste was correct if you follow the letter of the rule book. He might have been fine if he hadn't dropped his head going for the hit. He might also have been OK if Purdue running back Dalyn Dawkins hadn't dropped his head either. If you don't like the call, blame the rule and not the official. Josh Mitchell had a rough second half, and Jonathan Rose blew the coverage on Purdue's final offensive play. But we did see some nice play from Le Roy Alexander with that interception. Grade: B
Overall: B+ Nebraska could have named their score against Purdue. Backups saw plenty of action, and we didn't see some of the defensive issues that have plagued the Blackshirts previously.
Elsewhere in College Football
Michigan State: B+ Is that an offense, Sparty?
Northwestern: F Didn't have much left in the tank after the Ohio State game, and nothing in reserve once Kain Colter and Venric Mark left the game.
Oklahoma: F Oh, for the love of Mack Brown...
Ohio State: A On a upset-filled Saturday, the safest opponent is "BYE".
Arkansas: F 0-4 since Mrs. Bert's "Karma" tweet
@jenbielema remember that when you lose your next 6 games #karma #dontbesalty— Josh Gutowski (@jguto) September 15, 2013