Well, it wasn’t a “one-score” defeat at nine points. Yet, it’s still in the neighborhood of “close”. And so, it’s yet another sad episode of a formulaic television series; you don’t know how it’s going to get there, but you know exactly how it ends each week.
We’ve been through ten episodes of this series, and the amazing thing to me is that (a) the players showed up and did their damndest to try to get to a different ending against a top five opponent, and (b) about 70,000 Husker fans showed up to see if somehow game ten would somehow be different.
I wasn’t surprised the result. Disappointed, absolutely. But surprised? Nope. I predicted a nine point loss in the CornNation predictions. This team isn’t winning, but they haven’t given up either.
The Blackshirts played a whale of a game, holding Ohio State to their lowest point total since last season, when the Buckeyes played a meaningless game on a January night in Miami against a team from Tuscaloosa. The offense? Well, there were moments, such as some long passes from Adrian Martinez to Samori Toure, but there also were bunch of the same bugaboos (missed passes, awful pass protection) that’s part of the explanation for Nebraska’s seven losses. And special teams? Another debacle.
So with that, it’s onto this week’s report card. As always, your feedback is welcome in the comments.
QB: OK, we now have confirmation of Adrian Martinez’s ailments: the broken jaw from the Michigan State game and a high ankle sprain that occurred prior to the Minnesota game. We also have confirmation that Adrian Martinez plays tough and is a warrior.
Also, we have confirmation that the coaching staff believes a hobbled Martinez is better than Logan Smothers.
Martinez was mostly ineffective running the ball the first three quarters until Scott Frost and Matt Lubick decided to let him run some options to get Nebraska back into the game. So it’s clear that Nebraska needs that element in their game. And while Martinez didn’t have a lot of help from his offensive line (more later), he did misfire badly several times on passes. But those two long completions to Samori Toure were absolutely beautiful. Grade: C-
I-Back: Rahmir Johnson was the only back to carry the ball. Some of that was situational, as Nebraska fell behind...but I would have liked to have seen Jaquez Yant carry the ball. And Markese Stepp found his way off the milk carton in pass protection late in the game. Grade: C
Wide Receiver: Samori Toure made several huge plays on the day. Omar Manning tried, but several passes targeted his way were uncatchable, save for that deep throw into 1-on-1 coverage. Zavier Betts really could have helped Martinez out by coming back and getting open at least once. Grade: B+
Offensive Line: OK, let’s acknowledge that Ohio State’s defensive line is pretty good. But Nebraska’s freshmen tackles really struggled in this game. Five sacks and four quarterback hurries make for a tough day for any quarterback. It wasn’t all bad, though... just look at this example of what Cam Jurgens did.
As people have pointed out, #Huskers center Cam Jurgens did this several times Saturday. He double teamed with both 83 and 11 on the edge and pulled both ways *in pass pro*. Here’s another. Heck of an athlete. pic.twitter.com/crAx4TjqKj— Parker Gabriel (@HuskerExtraPG) November 7, 2021
Remember what Frost said about Jurgens having Rimington-like potential a couple of years ago? He wasn’t wrong. Grade: D
Defensive Line: Ben Stille with a key tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry, while Casey Rogers saw quite a bit of action. Damion Daniels led with four tackles up front. Nebraska’s new 2-4-5 defense (Do we convert Caleb Tannor and Garrett Nelson to defensive ends? The official depth chart lists them that way, but for consistency, I’m keeping them at outside linebacker for now.) Grade: B
Linebackers: Luke Reimer kept NU in the game early with that key fourth down pass breakup, and led wtih ten tackles. JoJo Domann was the defensive player of the game with nine tackles (one for a loss) and an interception (not so sure he shouldn’t have had two). Lots of rumblings out there that his hand injury may end his season; if so, that’s a shame for a player who gave it all out there. Grade: A
Secondary: Against the best receivers Nebraska will face this year, the secondary held up well. Myles Farmer was victimized by a horrificly weak pass interference penalty, but came back to thwart an Ohio State threat with his interception. Hard to give a top grade when Jaxon Smith-Njigba raced for 240 yards, but overall, the secondary held up well. Grade: B+
Special Teams: OK, the good: Brendan Franke is Nebraska’s most consistent specialist, nailing all of his kickoffs. Backup linebacker John Bullock made the special teams play of the day with an open field tackle of Tyreke Smith for a loss when Smith had a lot of real estate opening up in front of him. The mixed: William Przystup had several great punts...but then a 12 yard shank. And of course, the bad: Chase Contreraz missed two of his three field goal attempts. In a close game, Nebraska desperately needed those points. Grade: F
Overall: C- Some fans don’t like the “close” word, but it applies. Nobody likes all of the losses, but many appreciate the effort. And most importantly, even with the number of losses mounting, this team hasn’t given up. They keep fighting.
How would you grade the Huskers 26-17 loss to Ohio State?
This poll is closed
A - An Ohio State University fan here... good game, Huskers!
B - But for a few plays, Nebraska could have had an upset for the Blackshirts.
C - Could have won...but didn’t.
D - Didn’t win against a top five opponent.
F - Failed to win yet again, and I only grade on a pass/fail scoreboard basis.
B1G Refs: A pretty pathetic performance, starting with the phantom pass interference call against Myles Farmer. At least twice, Ohio State interfered with Omar Manning (including one full-fledged tackle) on passes that didn’t get flagged. The clueless crew even tried to flag Scott Frost for trying to call timeout until they realized they couldn’t do that. Grade: F