It was the best of times.
The Huskers stormed out to a 17-0 halftime lead in “West Evanston” as Nebraska fans seemed to have purchased three out of four seats outside the Colorado student sections. Despite the field being painted in Colorado’s colors, the crowd was clearly pro-Nebraska as Colorado’s players decided to taunt the crowd IN THEIR OWN STADIUM to shush after a big play.
Adrian Martinez was a perfect nine-for-nine passing, while the Blackshirts had held the Buffaloes to ZERO yards rushing on 14 carries and just 84 total yards.
Then it was the worst of times.
Nebraska’s offense went stagnant while Colorado opened their playbook and went “all-in”. A flea-flicker from their own end-zone woke their student section for a 96 yard touchdown. Reverses, wildcat formations. They threw everything they had in their playbook, and most of it stuck. In the fourth quarter, Colorado gained 258 of their 451 total yards for the game. It was exciting for channel surfing football fans, it was exhilarating for Colorado fans.
It was devastating for Husker fans. We’ve seen this same sad story multiple times over the last few years, as the Huskers, in the end, found a way to lose a game they could have - and really should have - won.
I’m less upset about the defense; they played admirably most of the afternoon, and Colorado had to throw the kitchen sink at the Huskers late in the game to get back into the game. It’s Scott Frost’s offense that I’m concerned about, and it starts on the offensive line. In the first half, Adrian Martinez had a clean pocket and had time to make plays. In the second half, it was more like the South Alabama game. I don’t think they were overmatched as much as outschemed; the Buffs found ways to create pressure through cracks in the offensive line. And under pressure, Martinez misfired. Martinez needs teammates not named Maurice Washington to step up in this offense to work with.
And the sooner the better.
With that, here’s this week’s report card. As always, your comments are welcome!
QB: Nebraska’s talented quarterback can’t carry the offense completely by himself. He did on Nebraska’s final touchdown drive, but then tried to force Maurice Washington do it in overtime, and made a bad read on the opening play of overtime.
This had to be a read play, right? 71 releases his guy to climb, 2 reads the defender? pic.twitter.com/aJKkRDdOi9— Sam McKewon (@swmckewonOWH) September 8, 2019
A quick review of the stat sheets shows that Martinez threw to Washington five times,JD Spielman six times, WanDale Robinson six times, Jack Stoll three times and Dedrick Mills three times before finally throwing twice to transfer Kanawai Noa at the end of the fourth quarter. That’s not very balanced distribution, and it was a problem last season as well. Martinez is going to have to work harder to find someone else downfield to get the ball to. Grade: D+
I-Back: Maurice Washington might be Nebraska’s only game-breaker on offense right now. But he’s not an inside runner. We had hopes that Dedrick Mills could be Ozigbo 2.0 this season, but it’s just not happening yet...at least with this offensive line. Mills averaged over 5 yards a carry as a freshman at Georgia Tech, so you have to expect that he should be better than this right now. Grade: B-
Wide Receivers: I think Wandale Robinson will be a good playmaker for this program eventually, but someone else needs to step up: Noa, Mike Williams, Jaevon McQuitty, ANYBODY? Grade: D+
Offensive Line: I’ve only rewatched a handful of plays, but from what I can see, it wasn’t so much that Colorado out-muscled our offensive line but rather that they kept the pressure coming from the outside in places that our line was slow to recognize and react to. We had free offensive linemen...with Martinez under pressure, making mistakes. Frost’s coaching staff has some work to do here. Grade: D
Defensive Line: I really thought the defensive line actually played pretty well, snuffing down Colorado’s running game and pressuring Steven Montez. The Davis twins were especially productive, IMHO. Grade: B
Linebackers: At first, I wasn’t sure the linebackers had played that well initially. But then I looked at the stat sheet and the general consensus of others, and I’m rethinking my first opinions. I think Mohammed Barry had an off afternoon, but Will Honas and Collin Miller had better days. Alex Davis might have had one of his better outings with two tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. Grade: B-
Secondary: As soon as I saw Lamar Jackson leap, I knew he was coming up with that interception. But it was a quiet day for him and Dicaprio Bootle, but it likely was the result of trying to keep Laviska Shennault under wraps...which they did a great job of. Cam Taylor-Britt was in the unenviable position of being left on the island on Colorado’s game turning flea-flicker; he’ll probably not like watching that on replay. There’s a whole lot of other things he’ll like watching better, though. Grade: C+
Overall: D+ Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. Bottom line: Didn’t. We keep seeing flashes that tell us this program is improving, but there are still too many holes in the lineup. The statute of limitations for blaming the previous regime is running out soon. The defense has rebuilt itself well, but Frost’s offense still needs to figure out a few too many things.
Grade the Huskers performance against Colorado
This poll is closed
A - I left at halftime to start celebrating. Hope I didn’t miss anything good.
B - Basically, I didn’t watch the second half
C - Great first half, bad second half.
D - Disappointed that Nebraska failed to answer the halftime bell.
F - Once again, a loud "efffffffff"
Elsewhere in College Football
Hawai’i A For those of you who didn’t want to stay up, the Rainbow Warriors beat their second Pac-12 team of this season with a 31-28 over Oregon State. For those of you keeping track, Tristan Gebbia didn’t play, Tyjon Lindsay caught one pass for 15 yards (and lost 2 yards rushing) and Avery Roberts led the Beavers with 9 tackles.
Washington D+ Next up for Hawai’i’s quest for a perfect Pac-12 season is a game against the Huskies, who lost 20-19 at home in a game that actually ended after the game in Honolulu, thanks to a nearly three hour lightning delay.
Wisconsin A The cumulative score for the Badgers this season? 110 to Zero.
Iowa A- Yeah, but it was against Rutgers. The Hawkeyes are separating themselves from the rest of the Big Ten west.
Minnesota D+ The Goofers survive again, this time in double overtime against Fresno State.
Michigan D Who else predicted a Michigan-Nebraska game in Indianapolis? Yikes.
Maryland A+++ When I previewed the Terrapins, I saw a bunch of question marks on both sides of the ball. Turns out, they were actually exclamation points.