Was that a game, or a scrimmage Nebraska just played? At some point in the second quarter, the analysts drifted away from the game. In the third quarter, one of the tv analysts, former Washington QB Brock Huard, spent more time critiquing Taylor Martinez’s throwing motion than calling the game.* The fourth quarter had time dedicated to a hypothetical Boise State vs Alabama matchup. I was searching for Christmas gifts to buy my boys. Not much to say from this game, let’s get to it.
*By the way, Brock Huard was a 54% career passer at Washington. Taylor Martinez? 57%.
First Down: Taking care of business – Nearly everyone expected the Huskers to handily beat Minnesota, but there was still a tone of hope to it. No worries today. Nebraska dominated every facet of the game in the first half in building a 34-0 halftime lead. Yes, Minnesota is bad, but Nebraska did what a good team should do against a bad team. They put them away, and it could have been worse in the first half. The team’s performance adds to their confidence, and momentum, as they head into what could be their toughest game left in the season.
Second Down: Blackshirts – Minnesota may not be good on offense, but the Blackshirts looked good. Other than a reverse flea-flicker pass play, the Blackshirts didn’t allow Minnesota to do much of anything on offense when the game mattered. Plus, they were able to get some inexperienced players some necessary reps with Jared Crick out for the season. A good performance by the defense.
Third Down: Steady diet of Rex – While the inability, at times, to be able to run the ball effectively in the red zone needs to be addressed, some of it being curious play calling, the Huskers running game was solid as usual. Rex had over 100 yards, but what I like is he carried it 24 times. He, along with the offensive line, ground out scoring drives, and they spared Taylor Martinez from getting additional hits. (Plus, backup QB Brion Carnes got a quarter of snaps.) Taylor stays healthy, the offense continues to gel in the running game, and Nebraska is in good position for the rest of the season.
Fourth Down: Passing the ball – The analysis of Taylor’s throwing motion is almost a joke at this point. I think everyone gets it, Taylor doesn’t have a traditional motion. That narrative masks that as the season progresses, OC Tim Beck has played more and more to Taylor’s strengths. It’s one reason why the offense is the team’s strength. Some passes today were good, but if some were just a bit better the game could have been blown open even more. And, his receivers dropped a few, like Jamal Turner dropping what could have been a touchdown. If the passing game can improve just a bit more, this offense could be scary good. If the passing improves just a bit more, it makes the running game that much more potent.
Looking Ahead: Even though Michigan State handled Michigan last week, I’m cautiously optimistic. Michigan State will be coming off of two straight hard-fought games, so they could be in for a letdown. I think if the Huskers play to their strengths, they’ll be able to beat the Spartans in an ugly game in Lincoln. If they get the win, it gives them an advantage in getting to the Big Ten Championship Game. That’s a realistic goal for the rest of the season.