Nebraska Football: Grading All 22 Starters from the Penn State Game
The Nebraska Cornhuskers trailed the Penn State Nittany Lions, 20-6, going into halftime. Clearly, the Cornhuskers had the Nittany Lions right where they wanted them. For the fourth (!) time this season, Nebraska engineered a double-digit second half comeback, ultimately winning the contest 32-23.
To help understand how Nebraska earned the victory, here are the grades for all 22 of Nebraska's starters. As always, the grades are on a 1-10 soccer-style scoring system.
Brent Qvale (LT) - 6.5: Once again, Nebraska had two ball-carriers rush for over 100 yards against a credible B1G defense. Qvale's false start penalty in the fourth quarter, helping to stymie a Nebraska drive and give Penn State another opportunity to mount a late comeback, was worthy of a slight downgrade.
Seung Hoon Choi (LG) - 7: A penalty-free performance, combined with another strong Nebraska rushing attack, helps to earn Choi high marks.
Justin Jackson (C) - 6.5: While Jackson did not draw a flag, it did seem like a delayed snap caused a penalty and threw the offense off rhythm. Jackson has, however, seemed to have cured his shaky shotgun snaps that seemed to plague him earlier in the season.
Spencer Long (RB) - 7: Long is still the standout performer on Nebraska's offensive line and helped pave the way for another solid Nebraska rushing attack.
Jeremiah Sirles (RT) - 6: Sirles had a false start and a personal foul called against him, providing a significant downgrade to an otherwise strong performance.
Taylor Martinez (QB) - 6.5: On a difficult day to throw the ball due to the wind, Martinez went 12-of-20 for 171 yards and a touchdown. He ran the ball 15 times for 104 yards, including a tough run for a critical first down late in the game. However, he had one critical fumble going into the end zone that could have cost Nebraska the game.
Ameer Abdullah (IB) - 7: Abdullah continues to impress in the absence of Rex Burkhead, rushing 31 times for 116 yards and being Nebraska's leading receiver with four catches for 29 yards. As Abdullah becomes a more recognized threat, his presence and consistent performance will open options for Martinez both running and throwing the ball.
Kenny Bell (WR) - 6: With the wind swirling, Nebraska's receivers were necessarily going to have less impact on the game than they would ordinarily. Bell did manage two catches for 31 yards, and put himself into position to make plays at other times.
Quincy Enunwa (WR) - 5: Enunwa had a quiet game against Penn State, with only one catch for negative-two yards. He was still important with downfield blocking, however.
Ben Cotton (TE) - 5.5: Cotton did have one important catch for 18 yards, keeping a Nebraska drive going. But like with the rest of the receiving corps, Saturday was not the day for gaudy stats.
Jake Long (TE) - 5: Long earned a spot as a starter against Penn State but did not record a catch.
Eric Martin (DE) - 6: Once again, Martin came through as Nebraska's presence in the opposing backfield, with a tackle for loss and a sack to complement his three total tackles.
Jason Ankrah (DE) - 5: Ankrah earned a start at defensive end but had a quiet afternoon against the Nittany Lions. He did not make an appearance on the defensive stat sheet.
Cameron Meredith (DT) - 7: Meredith was moved back inside to start the game and stood out with five total tackles, a tackle for loss and a sack. Meredith also applied the pressure on Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin, which forced the safety in the fourth quarter and helped swing momentum in favor of Nebraska.
Baker Steinkuhler (DT) - 7: Steinkuhler is beginning to demonstrate his long-thought potential toward the end of his senior season. He was a disruptive presence against Penn State, recording six tackles, a tackle for loss and a sack.
Will Compton (LB) - 7: Compton has matured into the anchor of Nebraska's defense, controlling the middle of the field and performing admirably when called into pass coverage. He recorded 10 total tackles, a co-team leader, had a fumble recovery and two pass breakups.
Alonzo Whaley (LB) - 6.5: Against an opponent well suited to Whaley's skills, he performed well. Whaley logged four total tackles and forced two fumbles.
Sean Fisher (LB) - 6: Fisher, who ended up out on the edge in coverage on Penn State's linebackers quite frequently, ended the game with six total tackles and a quarterback hurry.
Andrew Green (CB) - 5.5: Green had four total tackles, half of a sack and a pass breakup. He did, however, get beat deep late in the game as the only real blemish on an otherwise solid performance.
Ciante Evans (DB) - 7: Once again, Evans was a standout performer for the Blackshirts. He was the co-leader on the team in tackles with 10 and had a quarterback hurry.
P.J. Smith (S) - 6: Smith continued his solid performance as a regular starting safety. He had five total tackles and one quarterback hurry.
Daimion Stafford (S) - 7.5: Stafford was the defensive MVP for Nebraska against Penn State, recording eight total tackles, a pass breakup, recovering a fumble and intercepting Lions quarterback Matt McGloin to help key Nebraska's third-quarter comeback.
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