Folks are going to say many things about this game. NU again relying on big plays, defense getting run on while having 6 or 7 in the box and third down inefficiency. And all that is true, because you need to be a blind fan to have not seen it with your own eyes.
The fourth or fifth best team in the WAC, at times dominated both sides of the line play. Fresno State QB Derek Carr displayed the arm that many knew he had and the Bulldogs play callers managed to waggle and bootleg their way into some big plays. Ciante Evans was targeted while playing off-man coverage some half-dozen times.
The job of Nickel back, held now by Justin Blatchford, should be wide open. Brandon Kinnie no matter how poor the pass has to make some big senior catches. Redshirt Soph Taylor Martinez has to have better ball security. Too many times Martinez puts the ball in harm’s way whether in the air or more often the ground.
And finally, on this side of the story, the play callers for the Huskers have to figure out what will work when they face big 10 defenses. Because believe me this is not it.
Five times in the first half NU’s offense went 3 and out. And on one drive it could have been worse. An INT was turned back over after Quincy Enunwa laid a huge hit on the bulldog player. Then Taylor, while trying to get a first down, fumbled again. Luckily the Fresno players feet were out-of-bounds during the recovery. Ok that’s enough of that.
How about the young play makers? Kenny Bell flashed his speed getting behind the very inexperienced Fresno secondary. Jamal Turner just missed making a move off a seldom used WR screen. And then showed great hands twisting his body to make a 43 yard catch. Kyler Reed jumped off the milk carton to again get behind the defense for a 53 yard catch. Then there’s maybe the steal of the 2011 recruiting class, Ameer Abdullah. I Abdullah received all kinds of praise during fall camp while managing to win the return job as well. Ameer needed some oxygen after a 100 yard kick return and had some near misses in the punt return game. The next step is to get him some work with screens and runs out of the backfield.
And a quick P.S. about the true freshman, I am not trying to compare Abdullah to one of the greats of all time, but the story is similiar. Southern schools wanted the Alabama product as a defensive back, but he wanted to play running back, and chose the school that let him do that. A lot like Louisiana product Marshall Faulk.
What can you say about Rex Burkhead? I think his nickname should be the Leatherman instead of superman. His versatility is amazing. Right now Rex is probably the best FB on the roster. He lined up everywhere on Saturday and in the end when the Huskers needed to salt the clock away Burkhead did his best Roy Helu impersonation. Breaking tackles and getting extra yards on 2nd and 3rd effort. By the way did you see the block he had on the blitzing player on the pass to Ben Cotton? No way that play is successful without it.
How about Taylor Martinez? I said all week that the Husker QB would make hay down the field and over the top. Of his ten completions at least four of them were over 20 yards. Taylor had a great rushing day with 166 yards on 15 carries and two TDs. He got to the edge on the option a few times and probably checked out of two dozen of the 56 plays Nebraska ran. Still as the season evolves Martinez is going to have to be more accurate and confident in the pocket.
Many have said we’ll find out if he can do these things and how well he can when the games start to count. Well after a huge challenge by Fresno, two and oh Washington comes into Memorial stadium and trust me it will be a game that counts.
At the same time celebrate this hard-fought win against a game Fresno state. And we’ll see what happens next week.