Saturday, September 12, 2009

Huskers Howl at the Red Wolves

If you're a glass half-full person, you certainly found a lot of things to like about today's 38-9 Nebraska victory over Arkansas State. Especially when you consider what else happened in the wacky world of college football today. If you're a glass half-empty person, you certainly found a few things to be concerned about Nebraska's performance today. Especially when you consider what Virginia Tech did to Marshall today.

First the good:
  • Zac Lee had a solid performance at quarterback. 27 for 35 passing, 340 yards, and four touchdowns. Nothing particular stunning, mind you. Just a quiet, confident performance that shows that he not only knows what he's doing out there, he's fully capable of doing whatever is necessary.
  • 14 Huskers caught passes today. I-backs, fullbacks, tight ends, and yes, wide receivers. For years, we've heard about the star power of Nebraska's receivers, but have only seen glimpses of it. Today, we got some proof that there is a deep pool of receivers at Nebraska, ready to contribute. (ESPN needs to spend this week studying Nebraska's roster. Last week, Ron Franklin didn't know who Zac Lee was. Tonight, the ESPN Bottom Line keeps showing "Niles: 69 yards receiving, 30 yard TD run"; that Paul Niles guy had quite a game today!)
  • The defensive line was solid today, generating pressure on Arkansas State quarterback Corey Leonard. 5 tackles for a loss from this bunch, including three by Ndamukong Suh. Many people (such as the World-Herald's Tom Shatel) are noticing that Barry Turner hasn't fully recovered from his leg injury last season.
  • Likewise, the secondary was solid today. Prince Amukamara broke up two passes, had a sack, and finished with seven tackles. Get the picture that Marvin Sanders is working his magic with this young man? One of my favorite plays of the day was watching Leonard take a knee when he spotting Eric Hagg closing in fast on a blitz. Roberto Duran would have been proud.
Now the not-so-good.
  • Only 136 yards rushing. Adam Carrington might be an NFL prospect, and the Red Wolves might have been focusing on stopping the run, but against Sun Belt calibre opponents, the Huskers need their ground game to be more productive...especially in short yardage situations. 3rd and short is now becoming a passing down for Nebraska because of the inability to muscle their way to a first down.
  • Anybody seen a Husker linebacker recently? The defensive line did an excellent job snuffing out much of the Wolves' running plays, but the linebackers seemed to be out of position to back them out. Will Compton did have a better second half, though.
  • Tackling. A lot of yards after contact, today.
All things considered, it was a good performance today for the Huskers. It's certainly better to be a Husker fan tonight than a Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Iowa State, or Colorado fan. Missouri fan is breathing a sigh of relief after a solid fourth quarter redeemed three quarters of stinky-bad football. What about Florida State, who trailed 1-AA Jacksonville State most of the evening?

Virginia Tech bounced back nicely by dominating Marshall, racking up 601 yards in stampeding over the Herd 52-10. Me thinks that Tech wasn't too happy with the egg they laid in Atlanta last week. Most of the damage was caused by running backs Ryan Williams and David Wilson, who each topped 160 yards on the ground. Needless to say, the Blackshirts will need to answer those questions about the tackling and stopping the run up front this week.

But for now, Nebraska fans can celebrate being 2-0...even if that 2-0 only puts them into the lead of the Sun Belt standings.

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