Well, that was more like it!
Nebraska’s special teams, so maligned last week, came up huge in the first quarter to spring the Huskers to a 17-0 lead that Purdue never could overcome. Of course, Nebraska made enough misplays to make it a little closer in the end than it should have been, but in the end, Nebraska made the plays they need to win. Fewer slips on the banana peel is a sign of progress.
A few weeks ago, we wondered if the Adrian Martinez era at Nebraska was over. Now, it seems he’s now firmly entrenched as the Huskers’ starting quarterback. Was it simply getting past the teeth of the schedule (against the two teams that will more than likely be in Indy for the Big Ten title game in two weeks)? Or did getting a week off against Penn State challenge his character and resolve? Either way, Adrian Martinez is Nebraska’s starting quarterback as long as he’s able to take a snap.
The Blackshirts came up strong most of the afternoon, aside from one overzealous miscue at the start of the fourth quarter. Marquel Dismuke collided with Cam Taylor-Britt and Purdue’s throw into double coverage became an easy 89 yard touchdown pass to David Bell. If those two don’t collide, you’d think the chances of an incomplete pass are pretty good...and that stat sheet looks quite a bit different. After that long pass, Purdue only gained two yards the rest of the game as the Huskers closed strong. A team learning to win? In this game, they figured it out.
With that, it’s onto the grades. As always, your feedback is always welcome in the comments.
Quarterback: Adrian Martinez continued his strong play following his time on the sideline. Not perfect, mind you. He didn’t see open receivers on a third-down scramble in the red zone, resulting in an incompletion and a field goal attempt. He misfired on a couple of throws as well, but overall, Martinez is making Scott Frost think twice about pulling Martinez for Luke McCaffrey. The biggest takeaway I saw today is more downfield throws that we’ve seen all season long. Grade: A-
I-Back: Welcome back Dedrick Mills! It wasn’t a great game for Mills (only 60 yards), but Mills adds an consistent element to the Huskers offense that the other backs haven’t, for whatever reason. Frost felt comfortable enough to let Mills carry the ball 16 times; no other back has seen that type of workload since Mills left the Penn State game. Grade: B-
Wan’Dale: This game gave us a near perfect use of Wan’Dale Robinson; a little bit of I-back, and a whole lot of wide receiver, catching balls downfield. Nine catches for 114 yards gives us an idea of what this offense is evolving towards. Grade: A
Wide Receivers: The rest of the receivers also played fairly well. Great to see Zavier Betts get more and more snaps, while Austin Allen is becoming a big threat in the passing game. I’ll put the blame on Allen’s “turf monster” stumble on Martinez, who made Allen reach out a little too much on his deep pattern. Grade: A-
Offensive Line: Considering the absence of Purdue’s George Karlaftis due to COVID, I expected a stronger performance by the Husker offensive line. Those two holding calls after the David Bell could have scuttled Nebraska’s chances to win, if not for getting bailed out by Purdue’s subsequent pass interference penalty. The line had it’s moments, though, where they did block well. It just wasn’t terribly consistent. Grade: B-
Defensive Line: Three sacks and five tackles for loss is a pretty good showing by the defensive line. And when you hold a team to minus two yards rushing, that’s a really strong performance. Grade: A-
Linebackers: JoJo Domann was all over the field, making 11 tackles. The inside linebackers were a little quieter, but that’s likely due to the defensive line making their presence felt. Grade: B+
Secondary: Cam Taylor-Britt had two huge pass breakups, including one spike that NU volleyball coach John Cook had to love. If he hadn’t been taken out of the play by Marquel Dismuke, I have a good feeling that David Bell’s 89 yard touchdown catch would have ended up as an incompletion. Dicaprio Bootle also was really strong on pass coverage as well. Grade: B+
Special Teams: The punt block and subsequent punt return by Taylor-Britt should have gotten special teams an A+ on the day. But then a blocked punt and a couple of long kickoff returns send that grade spiraling downward. Connor Culp nailed his three field goal attempts. So we had a lot of great and a little too much awful. Grade: C+
Overall: B+ Some might say any win this season should be worth an A. But a fast start by Nebraska didn’t hold in the third quarter. Aside from one play, the Huskers finished strong in the fourth quarter, which should make Husker fans feel good all week. The players, on the other hand, should limit their celebration to the weekend, because NU can’t afford another hangover performance like they had against Illinois. Not with the possibility of another rematch with Ohio State very much in sight, should Michigan and Minnesota continue to struggle with COVID this week.
How would you grade the Huskers for their 37-27 victory over Purdue?
This poll is closed
A - A win, and that deserves an "A"
B - Big win to snap a losing streak
C - Could have, and probably should have won by more
D - Don’t care, because this season is meaningless.
Elsewhere in College Football
Michigan State: Zero Bad Sparty returns once again.
Indiana: A+ I’ve learned my lesson about doubting Tom Allen.
LSU: F I know some Husker fans like to ridicule the Tigers’ defensive coordinator, but keep in mind they only had 8 returning starters and now only have 49 players left from last year’s national champions.
UCLA: B+ Don’t ridicule Chip Kelly anymore; the Bruins are now 3-2, and their two losses were by a combined nine points.