Welcome Husker nation and college football fans alike.
Week 3 of the college season is behind us. Some called it road test weekend with a large number of top teams going on the road to tough environments.
Defending champion Auburn faltered to a good Clemson team in Death Valley, possibly overrated Arizona State was up ended in Campaign Ill., and the Buckeyes laid and egg in Miami.
The No. 10 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers were at good old sold out Memorial stadium though. Welcoming the Washington Huskies to town for the third matchup in 364 days.
The first two meeting saw the highs and lows of last season. Game one went the way of the Huskers, as Nebraska went into Huskie stadium last year and throttled the Huskies in nearly all aspects winning 56-21. Game two was the Holiday Bowl in San Diego; Washington went to the opposite direction as Nebraska last season and capped it off with a sluggish win 19-7.
Washington came to Lincoln riding a six game winning streak. The Huskie offense under new QB Keith Price seem to be more of a complete offense, not missing a beat with the loss of Jake Locker to the NFL. Cris Polk continued to his impressive season by rushing for 130 yards on 22 attempts with a touchdown.
On Saturday Tim Beck's all option all the time offense finally opened up and the Huskers sent the Huskies home with a big loss in a high scoring affair 51-38.
There was some good things to take from this win but there is still plenty of work to be done before the road trip to Madison on Oct. 8.
Martinez is one of the most explosive players in college football. Husker fans are not the only ones who notice that either.
Tim Beck hadn't exactly opened up the playbook in the Huskers first two wins of the season. Even admitting to a little hard headedness in the first half of the Week 2 win over Fresno State.
An 8-to-10 man front is what Taylor Martinez and the Big Red offense have faced this season and that trend will likely continue. Tim Beck did take some measures to at least make opposing defensive coordinators acknowledge a Husker passing game.
The Cornhuskers first play from scrimmage saw a 9-man front from the Huskies. Taylor Martinez promptly ran a option...no wait its a pass. A strike at that of 50 yards to speedy freshman Kinney Bell.
Play two from scrimmage at the Washington 3-yard line, Huskers come out in a I-formation against a goal line front for the Huskies. Iso to Burkhead...no wait yet again play action and full back Tyler Legate is wide open for the first score of the day for the Big Red.
We know Nebraska can move the ball on the ground we will see how Martinez grows as a passer.
So far this season the Nebraska defense has played without All-American candidate CB Alfonzo Denard, and it has showed.
The starting corners for Nebraska had a total of nine starts between them. There is a stable of young talent to plug into any game for Carl Pelini's defense. The problem comes with experience.
Washington's' experienced wide outs took full advantage of that youth this week. That's to be expected somewhat. The only problem is that Fresno States' young wide outs did something very similar last week.
Josh Mitchell, Ciante Evens, Justin Blatchford and Andrew Green are just that green. Double moves, play action, bump and run are all areas that seem to be of some concern for DBs coach Corey Raymond.
Talent is not what any of these players lack but game time is of major concern. The Cornhuskers will likely have to travel to Wyoming next week without the services of Denard once again. With only one more preseason game, its time for those young players to take the next step.
The first six quarters of the season saw Nebraska run more option then Osborne ran in two seasons...maybe not that extreme. None the less the Huskers have at least worked the option out of nearly every formation one could imagine.
All that sideline to sideline running didn't do a young offensive line any justice in the eyes of the fans. The play calling changed in the second half of game two though. Tim Beck began to get those young massive human beings moving downhill with some success.
Week 3 saw another NFL caliber DT line up in the middle across from senior center, Mike Caputo. That's nothing new this year for the former walk-on. Washington has at least one if not two DTs that could play on Sundays and before that Fresno State had a couple solid tackles who could do the same. Chattanooga wasn't lacking talent up front on the defense either.
The thing that changed this week for Caputo was being flanked by two walk-ons at guard. Sophomore walk-on Spencer Long has started all three games for Nebraska at right guard. The change was at left guard where true sophomore Andrew Rodriguez from Aurora (not a walk-on) was out with an injury. The Big Red turned to junior walk-on Seung Hoon Choi from Lincoln.
Looking back at the film both players showed promise. Spencer Long, who's brothers with TE Jake Long, looks like he is on his way to a long a productive career for the Big Red pipe line. Choi making his first start, played as well as one could expect. Aside from a couple what looked to be mental gaffs the junior played a phenomenal game for the Huskers.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers came into the season with an All-American candidate at all three levels of the defense. Jared Crick and Lavonte David have looked good through three games. As previously mentioned, Alfonzo Denard has yet to see the field for Nebraska.
In Week 1 the defense did all but shut out Chattanooga. The Mocs only score came on a blown coverage/slip on the turf.
Fresno State came to Lincoln in Week 2 and left with heads held high. The Bulldogs out-gained the Huskers 444 to 438. Fresno is a talented team with a lot of team speed (that's some sweet coach speak there kids). Experience on the other hand for the Bulldogs was not much better than the Huskers defensive backfield. What really stood out was the ability of Fresno's skill players to find holes and space in the Husker defense.
Washington brought a new starting QB into Lincoln and left with a loss but a big game from the offense never let the Huskies fall out of contention. Washington managed 420 yards with multiple big plays.
The brothers Pelini took a year to figure out the Big 12's wide open spread offenses. After they did though it was lights out for most opposing QBs. The Big Red rush defense gave up some yards on the ground last season. Though that was to be expected with the Huskers playing nickle and dime a majority of the time.
This year even with more LBs playing, Nebraska is still getting gashed for solid runs on a regular basis.
We know the Pelini's know defense, but maybe its a team effort in winning the Big Ten.
Bret Maher and Ameer Abdullah have been outstanding this year.
Maher is perfect on FGs this year, and is averaging 51.3 yards per punt with four of those being downed inside the 20, making Nebraskans miss Alex Henery less and less each week. Would have liked to see a 62 yard attempt from Bret then a hail mary to end the half. Maher has teamed up with true freshman Mauro Bondi to average 68.4 yards per kick off and four touchbacks.
On the return side, true freshman Ameer Abdullah is doing a fine job to say the least. Abdullah is averaging 16.8 yards per punt return and a unheard of 42.2 yards per kick off return with a touchdown. Don't look for those numbers to keep up at that pace but what a phenomenal start to a career.
The problem has been coverage. Yes Matt May made a nice special teams play and Eric Martin made a big hit. The thing is, the Huskers are allowing 16.6 yards per punt return with a touchdown. Sometimes you can blame the punter for line drive kicks, but that's not the case for the Big Red this year for the most part.
Kick off coverage is not nearly as bad allowing only 22 yards per return.
Nebraska has enough team speed and depth to insert on special teams that these numbers should decline as the season progresses.
Nebraska has shown some growing pains through three weeks of football. The Cornhuskers are 3-0 and up to No. 9 in both polls.
Tim Beck's offense shows it can win a semi-shootout. Points seem to come pretty easily for the Big Red thus far. Even if the consistency isn't there yet.
The blackshirts have played at or below par for much of this year. With the brothers Pelini in charge of the defense though, I foresee a turnaround.
Hopefully we see some of that turn around in Wyoming next Saturday.
GO BIG RED!
Thanks for dropping by.