Nebraska dominated the first quarter of tonight's final conference matchup with Oklahoma, but offensive mistakes the rest of the way doomed the Huskers in the end. It almost seemed like two separate games; Nebraska was rolling early on behind a dominating offensive line performance and a stifling Blackshirt defense. I admit it, I was feeling pretty good when the Huskers were up 17-0. But the Sooners struck quickly, and the momentum was clearly on the side of the Sooners.
The Blackshirts played well enough to win tonight. I would have liked to have had an answer for the running back screens, but overall, it would have been enough if the offense could have delivered.
All week long, e-mail boxes throughout the state were filled with stories that Taylor Martinez was suspended last week and was transferring somewhere else. Those rumors turned out to be just that; bogus internet garbage just like the stories about Bob Davie's cable guy or the the banker in Ghana that needs my help to transfer $25 million out of his country. Martinez started, and sadly, finished the game.
I have no issue with Martinez starting tonight's game. He looked more mobile than he has since the first half of the Missouri game, so it was an easy choice for him to start. But against the best defense he's faced all year, he made way too many mistakes. Trouble holding onto the ball. Holding onto the ball too long and taking a sack. Panicking and throwing the ball into coverage for an interception. Martinez made a lot of freshman mistakes, and this late in the season, a quarterback shouldn't be making those mistakes. Granted, in September and October, Martinez wasn't so much a quarterback as another running back, amazing us with his legs, making us forget his limitations throwing the ball. We saw a little bit of a dual-threat quarterback emerge against Oklahoma State, but he regressed back tonight.
Which raises the question, why was Martinez allowed to finish tonight's game? Midway through the fourth quarter, Rex Burkhead seemed to take over with Martinez moving to wide receiver. All that to set up a deep throw to Martinez? Martinez was open, but Burkhead couldn't get the ball to him until the coverage caught up to the quarterback. The Wildcat is a nice diversion and wrinkle, but down the stretch, that seemed to be all Nebraska had available.
Which makes no sense to me. Were both Cody Green and Zac Lee unavailable tonight? Was Rex Burkhead really the best backup quarterback available tonight? I didn't hear that asked in the postgame press conference, and it's the number one question I have about tonight's game.
Credit goes to Oklahoma for winning tonight's game; they made the plays tonight, and Nebraska didn't. But Nebraska's coaching staff has to answer the question as to why Nebraska didn't pull Martinez tonight.
And that's the question that's going to eat this state and the Husker fan base tonight. The Blackshirts played well enough to win, but like last year, couldn't do it all. At least last season, Zac Lee made a few plays down the stretch to give the Huskers a chance. This year, the Husker quarterback wasn't making plays much of the game, and didn't get pulled, even though there were two other options that have shown that they could make plays in previous games.
Why? Why? Why?