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Report Card: Michigan Wolverines 34, Huskers 3

Michigan was in control of this game from the opening kick.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Frankly, it was a boring, uncompetitive game...and to be honest, Michigan could have easily hung 60 on Nebraska if the weather was good. Or if they would have just stayed committed to running the ball, because the Wolverines were simply imposing their will on the Huskers all game long. It’s hard to believe that these two programs went down to the wire a year ago in Lincoln, because Nebraska looked like a Mid-American Conference team in 2022.

A lot of that was because Nebraska was once again without Casey Thompson. It’s pretty clear that the distance between Thompson and his backups is huge. I suspect 90% of Husker fans were dismayed when Chubba Purdy started, though it didn’t really matter whether Purdy or Logan Smothers started. I will say that Purdy looked like he was finally figuring things out on his final drive before he sprained his ankle. Mickey Joseph indicated after the game that Smothers wasn’t 100% this week. Whether it was his injury status or the fact that Nebraska could ill-afford to risk having to turn to their fourth or fifth-string quarterback, Smothers was pretty limited after he entered game.

On defense, the Wolverines established their dominance on the ground on their opening possession. They never really got much of a passing game going; whether that was due to the Nebraska secondary or the sleety/snowy weather (or both) is open for discussion...but Michigan’s dalliance with a deep passing game kept the scoreboard closer than the game really was most of the afternoon. The lone bright spot for the Huskers was true freshman linebacker Earnest Hausmann, who has the ability to wreak havoc once he figures out where the play is going. Just ask Michigan’s JJ McCarthy, who got sacked on a highlight reel play.

With that, it’s onto the report card, which is pretty brutal. As always, your feedback is welcome in the comments.

QB: On Purdy’s final drive, I think we finally saw what Nebraska’s coaches have been seeing from Nebraska’s beleagured backup quarterback in practice as he drove the Huskers into the red zone. The early stuff didn’t look good...but to be honest, nothing looked good on the day. And after Purdy left, the offensive play calling seemed to be “let’s not risk Smothers in a game we’re going to lose anyway,” so we didn’t see any of what makes Smothers a fan favorite. Hard to issue any other grade other than an F.

I-Back: Going in, I was skeptical of Anthony Grant’s ability to elude Michigan defenders, and that turned out to be the case. I could see a back like Ajay Allen having more success against a physical team like Michigan. Grade: F

WR: Lots of drops and missed opportunities, but there was the leap by Alante Brown, which served as a one play microcosm of the entire Frost era. We thought Nebraska was going to make a great leap back into national relevance, but ended up knocked down by a groin shot instead. Grade: F

OL: Simply couldn’t move the Michigan defensive line. One positive sign is that Bryce Benhart has improved his play since returning to right tackle. The next coaching staff might consider moving him to left tackle if they cannot find a better solution there. Grade: F

DL: Colton Feist played hard, but overall, the defensive line was rolled by the Wolverines. Grade: D-

LB: Ernest Hausmann is showing signs of being Nebraska’s best linebacker since Lavonte David. But Luke Reimer had a really rough afternoon trying to deal with the more physical Wolverines. Grade: D+

Secondary: Isaac Gifford had to slide back to safety to replace the suspended Myles Farmer. The secondary did better trying to stop the pass than the run, though the weather might have been a bigger factor. Grade: C-

Special Teams: Another good day for punter Brian Buschini. Kick returns remain subpar, but in a blowout loss, it’s not really a big deal to roll the dice and see if it’ll be better in week 10 than any previous game. (It wasn’t.) Grade: B

Overall: F Other than when Chubba Purdy found Marcus Washington on a long pass during Nebraska’s opening drive, the Huskers didn’t look like they belonged on the same field. Mickey Joseph publicly pointed out recruiting as the solution, but that’s only 1/4th of the answer. It’s far more important for Nebraska’s next coaching staff to develop the players in the program. Northwestern, Georgia Southern, Purdue, Illinois and Minnesota didn’t out-talent Nebraska. Iowa and Wisconsin won’t either.

Trev Alberts knows this. And he’s looking to hire a different kind of coach.

That doesn’t mean that recruiting should be completely ignored. But to counteract the common phrase, X’s and O’s matter a lot more than the Jimmies & the Joes. The best programs, of course, do both. But when you put recruiting first ahead of the development, you get Texas, Southern Cal...and now Texas A&M.

The natural reaction from recruitniks is to say “Look at Alabama and Clemson and those five stars!” Which is true...but also look at Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney. That...and their staffs are the difference between the five stars at ‘Bama and Clemson and the five stars in Austin and LA.

Nebraska has led the Big Ten’s west division in recruiting since joining the Big Ten. But the development side has taken a nosedive south ever since the end of the 2014 season. Nebraska doesn’t need better recruits as much as needs to make their recruits better players. That’s why I don’t believe that Mickey Joseph is a likely candidate to take this job on permanently, though I think he could be part of the staff moving forward. He’s shown that he’s a good developer of receivers. And recruiting better doesn’t hurt. But Nebraska needs the best developer of talent that’s available. And that’s where Trev is focusing his attention right now in his search.


How would you grade the Huskers for their 34-3 loss to Michigan

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    A - Ann Arbor is my home! Go Blue.
    (36 votes)
  • 0%
    B - Blue and Maize, Baby!
    (5 votes)
  • 3%
    C - Could have played a little better.
    (28 votes)
  • 10%
    D - Didn’t play well due to too many injuries
    (87 votes)
  • 37%
    F - Failed to compete
    (312 votes)
  • 44%
    0 - Nothing good happened. Nothing.
    (368 votes)
836 votes total Vote Now