Saturday, September 18, 2010

Huskers Make Husky Fans "Sleepless in Seattle"

At times this afternoon, the Huskers made it look easy, seemingly scoring at will on big play after big play. Is this a sign that Nebraska is "back" and "national championship worthy"?

No. Not yet.

Let's remember that Washington had a losing season in 2009. They lost to BYU to open the season, then trailed woeful Syracuse 10-0 last weekend.  Much of the hype around Washington centered around former Heisman candidate Jake Locker, who was considered the top pick for next year's NFL draft prior to kickoff today.

Then for the second week in a row, the Huskers made an apparently NFL-bound quarterback look like a scout-team reject. Remember last winter when Bo Pelini thought he this year's Blackshirts might be even better? He might know something after all.  It was a total undressing on regional television.

Today the Blackshirts showed only one weakness:  Chris Polk and Jesse Collier gashed the Huskers' dime defense when Eric Martin wasn't on the field early on in the game, leading to Washington's first touchdown of the game. Idaho exploited that a bit last week as well, but this week, Nebraska adjusted to remain in the base Peso defense on first and second down late in the first quarter, and the Washington offense was pretty much non-existant after that, except for a brief outburst at the start of the second half.

Offensively, Nebraska was slow to give the ball to the I-backs until the second quarter, when Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead began to pound away at a woeful Husky defense up the middle. Add in a few keepers by Taylor Martinez (especially a sweet 80 yarder to open the second half), and the Huskers rolled easily.

Brandon Kinnie had an outstanding game, making several good catches and gaining some key yards after the catch. Martinez performed nicely for a redshirt freshman in his first road start, and if you saw the ABC camera shaking at the start of the game, you know the 50,000 Husky fans who didn't sell their tickets to Husker fans were loud and into the game initially. That's not a perfect performance; Martinez made a few wrong reads on the zone read and held the ball too long in the pocket at times. But against BCS level competition, he impressed many national pundits who intended to focus on the other quarterback as the star o the game.

A good win for the Big Red today, and it does nothing to quiet expectations around the Husker football program.  But Husker fans probably should keep an eye on Kansas State, where Daniel Thomas is setting himself as the biggest foil to the Blackshirts scheme on the upcoming schedule. That's not to say that Thomas is the best player remaining on the schedule, but rather that the Huskers have shown a weakness to power running up the middle, and nobody does that better than Thomas.

But that's for three weeks from now.  Tonight the Huskers celebrate being 3-0, with 1-AA's South Dakota State on the schedule for next weekend.

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