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September 4, 2010
Report Card: Western Kentucky vs. Nebraska
The Nebraska football team improved to 1-0 after their 49-10 victory over Western Kentucky on Saturday. It was an impressive day for the Husker offense, but a shaky performance for the Blackshirt defense at times.
Here is the complete report card grade out from Saturday. The Huskers take on Idaho next week at 11:30 a.m.
It's hard to imagine Nebraska getting a better performance than what they got out of redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez. In his first ever collegiate game, Martinez rushed for 127 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 136 yards. Martinez is an electric playmaker and he's the best running quarterback NU has had since Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch. I also thought Cody Green played very well when he entered the game on Saturday. Green was 5-of-6 passing for 66 yards and one touchdown. On the TD pass, Green threw a very nice ball to wide receiver Niles Paul that was easily the best passing play of the game for the Huskers. Senior Zac Lee came into the game in more of a mop-up duty type of role. It's clear right now Martinez is the guy heading into next week, while Green is right behind him.
Running back: A-
The running backs weren't leaned on a lot Saturday night, mainly because Martinez did all the work with his legs himself. However, sophomore Rex Burkhead was very productive with 57 yards rushing and 47 yards receiving to finish with 104 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. Burkhead did all of that on just seven touches. Senior Roy Helu had just five carries and Dontrayevous Robinson had only four. I thought the productivity was very good for the little opportunity the running backs had.
Wide receiver/Tight end: A-
I really liked how offensive coordinator Shawn Watson tried to establish wide receivers Niles Paul and Brandon Kinnie early. Paul had five catches for 92 yards, while Kinnie had six for 59 yards. Both Tim Marlowe and Will Henry also got on the field and made some plays. Overall it was a good day for the wide receivers and a pretty consistent performance, minus Paul's fumble.
Offensive line: A
Nebraska's offensive line only gave up one sack and led NU to 536 yards of total offense. On the ground the Huskers averaged 8.8 yards on 33 rushing attempts. It's hard to find anything to downgrade this group for on Saturday.
Defensive line: C
Nebraska's play up front was inconsistent at times on Saturday. Yes the Huskers had their moments, but Western Kentucky was still able to rush for 189 yards. Overall, Nebraska only had one sack and didn't have a lot of success forcing turnovers or causing havoc in the backfield.
For his first time out junior college transfer linebacker Lavonte David had a solid day to lead NU with 13 tackles. David was a ball hawk on Saturday and will only get better over time. I also thought Alonzo Whaley showed some promise, but obviously has some areas he'll need to get better at for the future.
It's fun watching these guys play. Alfonzo Dennard and Prince Amukamara were all over the field making plays, Eric Hagg made a few bone crushing hits and DeJon Gomes once again had a flare for the dramatic. It was also good to see Rickey Thenarse out there making plays. It was too bad P.J. Smith's interception return resulted in fumble, because it was a heck of a play by him.
Special teams: A-
Nebraska was solid in the return game, as Marlow had a 42 yard kickoff return and Paul averaged nearly 20 yards on three punt returns. The only area you could downgrade the Huskers was on kick return coverage where NU had a few missed tackles in space.