The Piscataway Put-Away.
New Jersey's Nightmare.
Excellence on the East Coast.
The Huskers are finally starting to look like a functional football team. They played good football (mostly) but they had done that in some of their other wins (and a couple losses). This game felt like they were checking a box. They had a purpose and were not going to be denied. It was not mistake-free football but is was business-like football.
Improved health along the defensive line and for some key linebackers was helpful too. It is good to see, because they have a big test coming in a week and a half.
Oh, and welcome to the party Cethan Carter!
The "questions" half of this article is here.
Can this Husker team win two games in a row?
Yes!! The Huskers took control of the game immediately and jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead. Tommy threw some interceptions that allowed Rutgers to get back in the game. Outside of those short fields for the Scarlet Knights, the Blackshirts were making stops all over the place. Then, the offense got back on track and extended the lead.
The secondary finally held a mediocre quarterback below his season average in passing. Laviano is averaging 180 ypg this season and has a 60% career completion rate. He went for 170 yards Saturday with a 50% completion rate.
For two weeks in a row, we saw a really balanced Husker offense where the run game and pass game were complimenting each other. A few times this season, the offense felt like it went into desperation mode early and spent the game trying to make something happen rather than focusing on the things they should be able to do well.
It might be worth mentioning here that against Iowa, three interceptions and two fumbles (although we did not lose either one) will not be a favorable statistic. Obvious, I know, and a slight spoiler for the Iowa "Questions" article. Also worth noting was the two, TWO total penalties against the Huskers (two others were declined). This has been one of the biggest areas of improvement throughout the season.
Can the Husker secondary corral Carroo?
Sort of. On Rutgers' first offensive play of the game, Carroo got behind the Blackshirts, but Laviano overthrew him (whew). He was clearly playing at less than 100% health as he limped off the field after that first play.
He did end the game with 4 catches for 62 yards and 0 touchdowns and was Rutgers leading receiver. Chris Jones' interception in the first quarter came on a Carroo target.
Holding a wideout of his caliber to that output is partially a result of the best game of the year for the Huskser pass defense. It was also partially a result of the Rutgers quarterback just not being very accurate.
With a long list of wounded wideouts, will Nebraska be able to take advantage of bad and equally wounded Rutgers secondary?
Somewhat. Tommy was well below his average with 188 yards passing and Rutgers defensive backs accounted for 2 of his 3 interceptions. On the flip side, three of the Husker touchdowns were through the air as were half of Nebraska's first downs (8 of 16). Tommy registered a 67% completion rate, going 14 of 21.
Cethan Carter's monster game made up for the lack of healthy wideouts. This was the sort of thing we thought we would see from tight ends when we first began learning about Riley and his offensive philosophies.
Jamal Turner and Lane Hovey got on the stat sheet with a catch apiece. Brandon Reilly left the game with an ankle injury but I believe he is expected to be OK against Iowa.
Keep an eye on the battle of kick returners.
Stanley Morgan only got a chance at 2 kickoff returns and averaged 17.5 yards while Rutgers speedy returner, Janarion Grant, got a crack at 4 kick returns, averaging 19.8 yards. Both teams sported solid kickoff return defenses (both top 20) and it showed.
Grant also only got one chance to return a punt and that went for a mere 5 yards.
The highlight? Janarion Grant, meet Andy Janovich.
What are your thoughts? Did I miss something? Tell me in the comments!