The Nebraska Cornhuskers prevailed over the Washington Huskies 51-38, moving their record to 3-0. The offense played a great game, but for the second straight week, the defense did not live up to expectations.
The offense had a great day, accumulating 464 yards of total offense. Taylor Martinez was not the most crisp passer, he was 10 of 21, but he make some big plays with 155 yards passing and two touchdown passes with no interceptions.
Rex Burkhead led rushers with a season high 120 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Martinez added 84 yards rushing and a score, as did Aaron Green who had 36 yards with his score. Also getting carries were fullback Tyler Legate who had 37 yards, and running backs Braylon Heard and Ameer Abdullah who had 34 and four yards respectively.
The receivers were led by Kenny Bell who hauled in two catches for 59 yards. Jamal Turner had 34 yards. Running back Aaron Green had a 25 yard touchdown catch, as did fullback Tyler Legate who hauled in a three yard touchdown catch. Tight ends Kyler Reed and Ben Cotton had 19 and eight yards respectively. Quincy Enunwa had seven yards.
I was impressed by the Nebraska offense, they showed they can score quickly and have drives that can eat up clock. The offense was only forced to punt four times. Yes there were some mistakes. Like when Kenny Bell did not read the audible correctly and Martinez threw it to nobody. However this offense is really starting to come together and is not solely reliant on Taylor Martinez's legs.
The defense once again did not play well. Giving up 38 players and 420 total yards of offense. Granted that 21 points came in the fourth quarter when some backups where in, but they should not have let Washington get back into the game. With roughly ten minutes left in the game, the Huskers were up 44-17. A dominant score, but they let the Huskies trim the game to 13 points and let them back into the game. That is not good.
The secondary got torched again, but they still made some plays. Both Safety Austin Cassidy and Linebacker Lavonte David got an interception. They still gave up 267 yards passing. Hopefully the defense tightens up with the return of cornerback Alfonzo Dennard because right now, they are not playing well.
The run defense was a lot better than last week, they held one of the best running backs in the Pac-12 to only 130 yards. While that may seem like a lot, the Washington running back did not have 100 yards rushing going into the 4th. The pressure Nebraska got was a lot better than last week's, with Crick and Meredith each recording a sack. The defensive line played well, and would have gotten some more big plays if not for some terrible officiating not calling obvious holds.
They played better than last week, but the Blackshirts can play better. Hopefully Alfonzo Dennard returns soon to bolster what used to be the strength of the Huskers.
Brett Maher continued his perfect season with three field goals with a long of 44 yards. He also kicked for 163 yards, averaging 40.8 yards a punt.
The return game had some big plays and big mistakes. Ameer Abdullah returned three kickoffs and had 129 yards, averaging 43 yards a return. He made a big mistake in fumbling a punt return. He was also injured, so hopefully he is not out for too long.
Abdullah's backup, Tim Marlowe, was not impressive in the return game and almost lost the ball. He was replaced by sure handed Burkhead.
The kicking game has been impressive, as well as Ameer's return abilities. Our kickoffs have been less than stellar though, Nebraska has been spoiled for the last three years with Adi Kunalic's awesome kickoff abilities.
If it was not for the defense letting up in the fourth quarter, this would have been a dominant win for the Huskers. Instead those who look at the final score will see a game that was closer than what it was. The offense played great, better than they have since playing Washington last year. The defense needs to play better, but they catch a break with a trip to Wyoming next year as a warm-up and time to fix things before playing Wisconsin.