Nebraska was never in trouble at home against Arkansas State today as they cruised to an easy 42-13 victory. The offense looked like their normal dominating self, the defense held the Red Wolves offense to no touchdowns and the coaching staff came together to fill in for Bo Pelini.
Today's victory was what a total team victory should look like.
However, there were some individuals who did not play up to an A-level today.
Let's take a look at the final grades from Nebraska's blow out victory.
Martinez had a great today against Arkansas State. He was near perfect, completing 13 of his 14 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Against Arkansas State, Martinez went back to making smart throws, while not being a run-first pass-second quarterback.
Last week, UCLA forced him into become a pass-only quarterback which evolved into Martinez completing only 17 passes on 31 attempts.
Today, Martinez looked comfortable in the pocket, found his top target, Kenny Bell, for two touchdowns and had another rushing touchdown in the fourth.
If Martinez can play like this during Nebraska's Big Ten schedule, they will be playing for the Big Ten Championship.
Running Backs: A-
The Nebraska running game had a phenomenal game against Arkansas State. They did rush for a total yards of 347 yards which was amazing.
However, they fumbled late in the fourth quarter, on top of a Taylor Martinez fumble in the third quarter.
But, in the end of the game, the rushing game dominated today behind a crushing offensive line. Ameer Abdullah had a career day against Arkansas State rushing 30 times for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Plus, Imani Cross had his first career rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The rushing game was great, but the fumbles kept them from being in the A+ level.
Wide Receivers: B+
There's really nothing bad about what the Nebraska receiving core did today. Bell was the standout receiver today, as he led the team in catches (3), yards (71) and touchdown catches (2).
However, after Bell, the rest of the receivers did nothing after catching one of Martinez's passes. Some of that blame has to do with the rushing game being on fire and that Nebraska was up by more than two touchdowns for a majority of the game.
Today, the offensive focus was on the running backs. Maybe next week we'll have a better chance to see what the Cornhusker receivers can do.
Tight Ends: B
Kyler Reed had a small role in the Cornhusker passing game catching only one pass for 22 yards. However, where his —and the other tight ends— roles were diminished today in the passing game their roles were instrumental in the success of the rushing game.
The tight ends were there to do one thing today: block for Nebraska running backs.
Their ability to make holes for Abdullah and the rest of the Cornhuskers were a big reason for their huge day.
Offensive Line: B
If you were to summarize the Nebraska offensive line today in one word, that word would be: dominating.
They made holes with the tight ends 59 times today for 347 yards and four touchdowns. However, while that was very impressive they did allow Martinez to get sacked twice in the second half which resulted in two fumbles. One of those fumbles resulted in the only touchdown for Arkansas State today.
If it wasn't for that fumble that resulted in a score, plus the other sacks allowed in the second half, this offensive line would have gotten an A.
But, they will go back and look at the tape and then come out next week with a better protection package to keep Martinez upright.
Defensive Line: B+
The Nebraska defensive line did not allow any Arkansas State running back to gain over 50-yards. However, they did allow the Red Devils as a team to average four yards per game and 140 total yards.
So, they did do a great job forcing turnovers and keeping the individual running backs of Arkansas State under 50 yards. But the fact that they allowed five running backs to run 37 times for 147 yards has to be a little troubling with some of the Big Ten better running backs coming up on their schedule.
The Linebackers were tested a couple of times in the third quarter when the offense and special teams turned the ball over giving Arkansas State great field position.
However, the Cornhusker defense held strong every time the Red Wolves got the ball deep in their territory. They did not allow an Arkansas State touchdown, while forcing 14 incompletions on 30 passes. Plus, they held Arkansas State to a 6-for-16 third down conversion rate.
The linebackers came up in a big spot today after getting ripped by UCLA last week.
The secondary did an excellent job keeping the Red Wolves quarterback, Ryan Aplin, useless against Nebraska.
Coming into today's game Aplin had back-to-back games of 300-yards. However, against Nebraska today Aplin didn't throw for any touchdowns and only for 138-yards.
The Cornhusker secondary did have one blemish today against the Arkansas State receivers. They allowed freshman J.D. McKissic to catch eight passes for 73 yards. But, after McKissic's eight catches, the Red Wolves' receivers had a total of eight receptions for 65 yards.
Special Teams: C
The special teams today was there only downside of today's Nebraska blow out victory. The kicking game didn't factor in the game at all today kicking only extra points. The punting game had a good performance punting twice for more than 50-yards on both times.
However, Abdullah allowed one Arkansas State punt to hit off of his heel that resulted in a Red Wolves field goal.
There was another time earlier in the game where another punt almost hit off of Abdullah which would have resulted in an Arkansas State touchdown.
The special teams coach has to get that fixed before Nebraska's next game.
The Nebraska coaching staff got thrown a curve ball when head coach Bo Pelini left after half time because of an illness. His absence, and a bad third quarter by Nebraska, could have sunk the team into a horrible loss at home.
However, the efforts of the Cornhusker coaching staff to keep this team focused on following their game plan led to Nebraska's huge victory.
Nebraska knew what they wanted to do against Arkansas State and they followed it perfectly winning 42-13.