Nebraska bounced back strong from a lackadaisical game two weeks ago with a strong performance against Kansas State, winning 48-13. Taylor Martinez caught the attention of the nation tonight with his arm and with his legs, rushing 15 times for a position-record 241 yards and four touchdowns. Add in a 5 for 7 performance with his arm, and the whole "Martinez for Heisman" campaign got right back up in the saddle.
Photo courtesy: Brandon Vogel
Photo courtesy: Brandon Vogel
Don't do it. Yet.
Don't get me wrong, it was a great performance, but Martinez can play better. He is a freshman, mind you. And tonight, he had a lot of help out there. Remember that 80 yard run up the middle? ESPN's replays showed Martinez had a convoy of blockers downfield that cleared the field for Martinez, who had clear sailing to the end zone after 10 yards. He had a fumble, and went the wrong way on a play. His first touchdown run looked like a busted play. He's a freshman; it happens. He underthrew Kyler Reed with a throw that wasn't particularly pretty.
On this night, it didn't matter. Martinez's speed and ball fakes were more than Kansas State could handle. His 80 yard burst set up Roy Helu's 68 yard touchdown run on the Huskers' next offensive play. Add in a great effort by the offensive line and receivers blocking downfield, and Kansas State didn't have a chance.
Defensively, it looked a little dicey early on. Bo Pelini elected to open the game with Dejon Gomes playing up in a dime defense, and once again, proved to be susceptible to the running game early on. The Wildcats took the opening drive deep into Nebraska territory, only to turn it over on downs after a mind-baffling decision to convert a 4th down and two with a Carson Coffman quarterback keeper. Passing up a field goal and the early lead for that play was a gift to the Huskers to open the game. Kansas State had to play from behind the rest of the night, and that limited the number of touches Daniel Thomas was able to get as the game wore on. As the game went on, Nebraska was able to lock down on Thomas with run blitzes and as K-State fell further and further behind, the opportunities to run Thomas evaporated.
Lavonte David led the Huskers in tackles with 16; it'll be interesting to learn Bo Pelini's opinion of his play tonight. He had the big numbers and had some big plays, but I really have to wonder if Pelini wants more out David. The defensive line played well from my initial perspective, making good adjustments as the game went on to shut down the Wildcats on the ground.
Weak part of tonight's game was on special teams. Niles Paul returned a kickoff from halfway in the end zone; he needs to be more aware of where he's at on the field. KSU's William Powell had 186 yards on six kickoff returns; that's simply not acceptable.
But that's nitpicking after a dominating 48-13 road victory over a team that was close to breaking into the Top 25. A good victory with plenty of things to work on. Now it's time to move on to the next objective: