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CFN Take: Nebraska Mistake-Prone In Iowa Loss
Nebraska Cornhuskers 2013 ...
Head Coach: Bo Pelini
Iowa 38, at Nebraska 17
| 2013 Record: 8-4|
8/31 Wyoming W 37-34
9/7 Southern Miss W 56-13
9/14 UCLA L 41-21
9/21 South Dakota St W 59-20
9/28 OPEN DATE
10/5 Illinois W 39-19
10/12 at Purdue W 44-7
10/19 OPEN DATE
10/26 at Minnesota L 34-23
11/2 Northwestern W 27-24
11/9 at Michigan W 17-13
11/16 Michigan St L 41-28
11/23 at Penn State W 23-20 OT
11/30 Iowa L 38-17
Basically … Iowa got two short touchdown runs from Mark Weisman and two scoring passes from Jake Rudock to come away with the win and to put the heat Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini. The Huskers turned the ball over three times, but they hung around with a five-yard Ameer Abdullah touchdown run and a 15-yard Quincy Enunwa scoring grab, but the Hawkeyes pulled away in the fourth with Weisman’s second run and a four-yard score from C.J. Beathard.
- Nebraska outgained Iowa 288 yards to 282 but was -3 in turnover margin.
- Iowa LB Christian Kirksey made 11 tackles with a sack, a forced fumble and three tackles for loss. James Morris made ten tackles with a pick, a forced fumble, a sack and four tackles for loss.
- Nebraska’s Michael Rose made 16 tackles with a broken up pass and three tackles for loss.
- Iowa QB Jake Rudock completed 9-of-15 passes for 126 yards and two scores.
Nebraska 23, at Penn State 20 OT
Basically … Nebraska’s Pat Smith hit a 19-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to tie the game, and he made the 42-yard field goal in overtime, while Sam Ficken missed his 37-yard opportunity. Ficken also missed an extra point early on after Adam Breneman caught a two-yard touchdown pass. Christian Hackenberg ran for a seven-yard score and threw two touchdown passes, with a 46-yarder to Jesse James in the fourth, but Nebraska kept up with Kenny Bell returning a kickoff for a score and with Quincy Enunwa catching a 27-yard touchdown pass. Smith finished with three field goals.
- Nebraska QB Ron Kellogg III completed 20-of-34 passes for 191 yards and a score.
- Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg completed 16-of-33 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns with a pick and he ran for a score.
- Penn State RB Zach Zwinak ran 35 times for 149 yards.
- Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah ran 25 times for 147 yards.
Michigan State 41, at Nebraska 28
Basically … Michigan State’s defense forced five turnovers in the school’s first ever win over Nebraska. Jeremy Langford scored on touchdown runs from six, three and 37 yards, and Keith Mumphery caught a 27-yard touchdown pass as MSU pushed ahead in the fourth quarter after Nebraska pulled within six on a 38-yard Kenny Bell catch to go along with a 51-yard Imani Cross scoring run. The Huskers tacked on a garbage time scoring catch from Ameer Abdullah from 12 yards out with ten seconds to play.
- Nebraska outgained Michigan State 392 yards to 361 and 182 rushing yards to 168.
- The Spartans held the ball for 38:37 to 21:23 and were +5 in turnover margin.
- Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah ran 22 times for 123 yards, and Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford ran 32 times for 151 yards and three touchdowns.
- Michigan State FS Kurtis Drummond led all defenders with ten tackles and a pick with a forced fumble.
Nebraska 17, at Michigan 13
Basically … In a tough defensive battle, Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Armstrong Jr. with just over two minutes to play. Down four, Michigan’s final drive stalled and the Huskers were able to run out the clock. Nebraska scored the first ten points of the game with Abdullah running for an eight-yard touchdown, but Michigan scored 13 straight on two Brendan Gibbons field goals and a five-yard Devin Funchess touchdown catch. However, the Wolverines finished with just 175 yards of total offense and were held to -21 yards rushing.
- Nebraska came up with seven sacks and 15 tackles for loss, while Michigan generated just one sack. Nebraska’s Randy Gregory made four tackles with three sacks.
- Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah ran 27 times for 105 yards and a score, and he caught the five-yard game-winning touchdown pass.
- Michigan QB Devin Gardner completed 18-of-27 passes for 196 yards and a score, but he finished with -32 rushing yards on 16 carries.
- Taylor Martinez didn’t play. Tommy Armstrong Jr. completed 11-of-19 passes for 139 yards and a score, and ran 12 times for 13 yards, and Ron Kellogg III completed just one of four passes for six yards and ran once for five yards.
at Nebraska 27, Northwestern 24, Nov. 2
Basically … Nebraska stunned Northwestern on a last-second Hail Mary as Ron Kellogg III’s tipped 49-yard heave was hauled in by Jordan Westerkamp. It was a game of runs, with the Wildcats going up 21-7 on three consecutive Treyvon Green scoring runs before the Huskers rallied with touchdowns from their offense and defense. Northwestern appeared to have secured the win on a Jeff Budzien field goal with 1:20 left, but it wound up simply setting the stage for a miracle finish.
- It was a challenging day for the Nebraska quarterbacks, Kellogg and Armstrong, who combined to go 22-of-42 for 277 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.
- Green finished the day with 149 yards and those three touchdowns on only 19 carries.
- Nebraska DB Ciante Evans was virtually unblockable by the Wildcats, with five of his eight tackles occurring behind the line of scrimmage.
- The Wildcats were in a position to win in Lincoln, despite their quarterbacks completing only 8-of-21 throws for 81 yards, no touchdowns and a pick.
at Minnesota 34, Nebraska 23
Basically … Minnesota overcame a 10-0 deficit with Philip Nelson stepping in for an ill Mitch Leidner and running for two one-yard scores – including the game-sealer with 48 seconds to play – and throwing a 33-yard scoring pass. That play to Derrick Engel in the second quarter gave the Gophers the lead for good in the second quarter. Nebraska’s offense was never in gear, even after taking an early lead with a two-yard Imani Cross run and the first of three Pat Smith field goals. The Huskers pulled within four in the second half on a three-yard Taylor Martinez pass to Sam Cotton and Smith’s third field goal, but 27-23 was as close as they got.
- It’ll be interesting to see and hear the Monday morning quarterbacking done on the Nebraska offense with Taylor Martinez back under center. He appeared indecisive, ran for just 16 yards, and he didn’t have much drive on his throws. The receivers didn’t provide much help – there were a few dropped passes – but Ameer Abdullah was great with 165 yards on 19 carries and the chances were there to take the game over. Martinez didn’t come through, especially on third downs.
- The Huskers have to blow this off in a big hurry. Minnesota isn’t going to win the Legends, and if Nebraska wins out, it’ll be off to the Big Ten title. However, the offense has to find its groove again after a bad week, and the defense has to stuff a dead Northwestern O before dealing with Michigan and Michigan State.
Nebraska 44, at Purdue 7
Basically … Nebraska ran the ball 56 times and scored the first 44 points with Imani Cross scoring on two short scores and Ameer Abdullah, King Frazier and Tommy Armstrong each rushing for touchdowns. Quincy Enunwa added an eight-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth. Purdue didn’t get on the board until the final minute on a DeAngelo Yancey 55-yard play.
- Missing Taylor Martinez hasn’t been a problem. Ron Kellogg completed 10-of-13 passes for 141 yards and a score, and the running game controlled the game with 251 yards and conversion after conversion. The problem? Tommy Armstrong struggled completing just 6-of-18 passes with three picks.
- Purdue’s offense failed to keep up the pace in any way and failed to slow down any Husker momentum. Danny Etling completed just 14-of-35 passes, mainly because he was under pressure all game long, and the running game went nowhere netting just 32 yards on 25 carries.
- Randy Gregory set the tone for the Huskers with two of the team’s five sacks, but it was a total team defensive effort with almost few missed stops.
- Purdue needs an identity. It’s not able to find anything offensively it can do well on a regular basis, and the defense isn’t getting pressure, it’s not coming up with big hits, and while it came up with three interceptions, it’s not generating any key stops. Nebraska didn’t have to breathe very hard to get the blowout road win.
at Nebraska 39, Illinois 19
Basically … Nebraska took over early with the running game and was never threatened. Ameer Abdullah ran for the first of two scores and Tommy Armstrong hit Quincy Enunwa for a four-yard score on the way to a 17-0 lead, and Abdullah put it away early in the third on a 43-yard scoring run to go along with a 37-yard Kenny Bell touchdown catch. Illinois got short scoring runs in the second half from Donovonn Young and Josh Ferguson, but the Huskers had the game well in hand.
- With Taylor Martinez out, the Nebraska running game stepped up its play with Ameer Abullah running for 225 yards and two scores. Give credit to the Husker offensive line that opened up big hole after big hole, helping the ground game average close to seven yards per pop. Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg III combined to hit 11-of-19 passes for 186 yards and two scores with no picks.
- Nathan Scheelhaase was never able to get free. He only completed 13-of-26 passes for 135 yards with a pick, and while he broke out for one decent run, he wasn’t able to make things happen on the move. The running game worked fine, but the Illini needed to throw the ball to get back in the game.
- Are the Blackshirts back? Not quite, but the Nebraska defense swarmed into the Illinois backfield with 12 tackles for loss and constant push on Nathan Scheelhaase. The downfield passing game wasn’t there for the Illini because of the pressure.
- This has become a weekly thing now – Jonathan Brown deserves all-star consideration. He made 13 tackles with four tackles for loss, and while the Illini didn’t do much of anything against the run, Brown tried to make up for the problems up front.
at Nebraska 59, South Dakota State 20
Basically … It was scary for a quarter with South Dakota State taking a 17-14 lead on a 48-yard Justin Syrovatka field goal, and then it was all Nebraska the rest of the way, going on a 45-3 run with Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg each throwing a touchdown pass, and Randy Gregory returning a pick 33 yards for a score. Imani Cross ran for two early scores, and Terrell Newby ran for two in the second half.
- That was a better win than it might appear – SDSU is an FCS playoff-caliber team, and RB Zach Zenner, who ran for 202 yards and two scores, is one of the best backs the Huskers will face all year.
- With 310 passing yards and 335 on the ground, the offense worked without Taylor Martinez – that’s all that matters. Tommy Armstrong completed 12-of-15 passes for 169 yards and a score, and Ron Kellogg completed 8-of-9 throws for 136 yards and a touchdown.
- The defense gave up yards, but it made up for it by forcing mistakes with three key turnovers. If it wasn’t obvious before, the offense is going to have to win games in firefights.
UCLA 41, at Nebraska 21, Sept. 14
Basically … UCLA overcame a sluggish started with 38 unanswered points as Brett Hundley finished with three touchdown passes and Jordan James and Paul Perkins each ran for scores. Nebraska came out hot with three Taylor Martinez touchdown passes with two to Quincy Enunwa, but the offense stalled after a 22-yard touchdown catch from Kenny Bell midway through the second quarter.
- It took a little while for UCLA’s offense to find its footing, it wasn’t sharp out of the gate, but Brett Hundley got red hot and that was it. He completed 16-of-24 passes for 294 yards with three touchdowns, and he ran well with 61 yards on 19 carries.
- Nebraska didn’t do enough to establish the ground game. Taylor Martinez threw for 203 yards and three touchdowns, but he should’ve done more running once the offense fell flat. He tried to make things happen through the air and finished with -13 rushing yards on ten carries.
- UCLA never let the Huskers get the ball late in the game, but the Nebraska offense had a lot to do with the time of possession with misfire after misfire. UCLA had the ball for 10:25 in the fourth.
- Nebraska got good pressure into the backfield and on Hundley, but it didn’t matter much. Hundley was cool under fire, but Nebraska came up with three sacks and nine tackles for loss.
at Nebraska 56, Southern Miss 13, Sept. 7
Basically … The Huskers scored early and often in a rout of visiting Southern Miss. Nebraska was balanced on offense, led by Taylor Martinez's three touchdown passes and Ameer Abdullah's two scoring runs, while the defense returned two of its four interceptions for touchdowns
- As long as Martinez is distributing the ball with consistency, there aren't many opponents on the schedule who'll stop this Nebraska attack. Abdullah looks good for 100 yards whenever he gets at least 15 carries.
- It's going to be another long year in Hattiesburg for many reasons, but mostly because new head coach Todd Monken doesn't have a reliable quarterback. Cal transfer Allan Bridgford has looked lost so far, throwing three of the team's four picks on Saturday.
- Sure, it was Southern Miss, but Nebraska head coach has to be happy with his beleaguered D's performance this week. The Blackshirts played with passion, making a dozen stops for loss to go with those four interceptions.
- Huskers DE Randy Gregory has a ton of potential as a pass rusher. But, after turning none of his pressures into sacks, the sophomore has to do a better job of finishing.
at Nebraska 37, Wyoming 34, Aug. 31
Basically … Nebraska got three touchdown passes on a nearly perfect day from Taylor Martinez, and Imani Cross ran for two touchdowns, but the defense had to hold on for dear life as Wyoming QB Brett Smith bombed away for 383 yards and four touchdowns leading the offense to 602 yards in the wild shootout. Down 37-21 late, Smith threw two long touchdown passes to cut the lead to three with under two minutes remaining. The Cowboys had one final shot, but they couldn’t get out of their own end of the field.
- The Nebraska offense was fantastic. Four Huskers ran for 76 yards or more with Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross each going over the 100-yard mark. The rushing attack was unstoppable, Martinez connected on 17-of-22 passes, and everything clicked. The defense simply couldn’t come up with a stop.
- The Mountain West is absolutely loaded with quarterbacks. Brett Smith didn’t keep the Cowboys alive by himself, but he was balling late in the game to throw a mega-scare into the Big Red. He ran well – going for 92 yards – but it was his fearless passing that made it a fight.
- The Wyoming defensive front was gashed time and again. The good: Marqueston Huff made 18 tackles and forced a fumble. The bad: He’s a free safety.
- Where’s the Nebraska pass rush? There was absolutely no pressure whatsoever into the backfield. It’s absolutely inexcusable for a Bo Pelini defense to come up with no sacks and one tackle for loss. Wyoming came up with eight tackles for loss.
Why To Be Excited: The offense that led the Big Ten in yards and finished second in scoring comes back full of talent and options. Rex Burkhead might be done, but Ameer Abdullah proved last season that he could step up and produce in his place. Taylor Martinez is back for his final year under center, and he has a terrific receiving corps to work with led by Kenny Bell on the outside and Quincy Enunwa at flanker. Throw in the four returning starters to a line that paved the way for the league’s best running game, and the Husker offense should be even stronger.
Why To Be Grouchy: The defense loses a ton of talent. On the plus side, it’s a new day for a D that completely and totally melted down over the final two games of the season, but outside of the loss to Ohio State, it was a good year before the Big Ten championship debacle against Wisconsin. The entire starting linebacking corps is gone along with big-hitting safety Daimion Stafford and running mate P.J. Smith. The top pass rushers up front – end Eric Martin and tackle Cameron Meredith – also have to be replaced. The biggest loss could be in the kicking game with star punter and placekicker Brett Maher done after a terrific career.
What Needs Working On: Turnover margin. The running game just couldn’t seem to hang on to the ball with a steady stream of fumbles throughout the season. There weren’t any lost fumbles in the opener against Southern Miss and in the thrilling win over Michigan State – that was it. With 22 on the year to go along with 13 interceptions, turnovers put the team in a hole time and again. Those games against USM and MSU were the only two without two giveaways, while the defense failed to come up with a fumble recovery in the final four games of the year.
Non-Conference Games: Wyoming, Southern Miss, UCLA, South Dakota State
Games Against The Leaders: Illinois, at Penn State, at Purdue
Realistic Best Case Record: 11-1
Worst Case Record: 8-4
Likely Finish: 11-1
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Wyoming, Southern Miss, UCLA, South Dakota State, Illinois, at Purdue, at Minnesota, Northwestern, Michigan State, at Penn State, Iowa
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Michigan
Schedule Analysis: The Huskers have their tune-up games at home against Wyoming and Southern Miss before getting to make amends for last year’s rough loss against UCLA. Unfortunately, this year’s Bruin team should be even better, but if they can get by with a win, they’ll be 4-0 after playing South Dakota State and with an open date to get ready for the Big Ten season.
Illinois shouldn’t be a problem, and going to Purdue should be a breeze before getting a week off to prepare for a trip to Minnesota. If Nebraska is up to Big Ten championship snuff, it should be 7-0 before hosting a dangerous Northwestern team and going to Michigan State. With Michigan State to follow, it’ll be a rough month before going to Penn State ad closing out against Iowa. No, considering there’s no Ohio State or Wisconsin from the Leaders, the schedule really isn’t that bad.
Team Concerns For 2013: The Huskers have to improve the turnover margin, and mostly, they have to be better at holding on to the ball after losing 22 fumbles and giving away 13 picks. The offensive line still isn't up to normal Nebraska snuff in pass protection, and while it did a great job blasting away for the league's best running game, it allowed 35 sacks, partly because Taylor Martinez is a mobile quarterback who was technically caught on several sacks. The defensive front has to be far better and far stronger after giving up 193 yards per game.
Replacing star kicker Brett Maher is a big problem.
The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. Safety D.J. Singleton will be a big part of the secondary rotation right away, and running backs Terrell Newby (California) and Adam Taylor (Texas) are going to be a key part of the backfield, but the excitement for the offense should center around quarterback Johnny Stanton - a.k.a. Johnny Tebow - out of California. The defensive front is the area Bo Pelini and his staff focused on highlighted by tackle Maliek Collins and end A.J. Natter, who slipped away from Missouri and Wisconsin, respectively. JUCO transfer Randy Gregory could start on the end right away.
2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking:
48. That Class Was Heavy On ... More players. It was a concern when Nebraska joined the Big Ten that it wouldn’t be able to fight off the top conference teams for talent in the Midwest, and that appears to be the case with a light class that’s painfully lacking in top prospects. The linebacking corps is loading up a bit with some hard-nosed options for the future, and JUCO transfer Zaire Anderson for now, but for an offense that needs more options the class is lacking in skill prospects.
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 24. That Class Was Heavy On ... Quarterback. Either the coaching staff doesn’t 1) believe Taylor Martinez is a reliable part of the mix and/or 2) can’t stay healthy and other options are needed. Jamal Turner was taken away from Oklahoma and other Big 12 schools, and while he might be moved somewhere else, he could be a terror of a runner with his sub-4.5 speed. 6-5 Bubba Starling could be the answer with the passing ability to add more pop to the passing game to go along with the speed to be Martinez-like. The running will mostly be done by Aaron Green, a special back out of San Antonio who turned down Alabama, LSU, and Texas to be a Husker. Defensively, JUCO transfer safety Daimion Stafford will make an immediate impact.
2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 30. That Class Was
Heavy On ... defensive backs.
Again. Bo Pelini wants to make sure the defense
remains special, and he reinforced the secondary
with more great prospects after loading up the
secondary last year. Corey Cooper is a talented
safety who has the NFL size and speed to get the pro
scouts drooling now, while Ciante Evans is a good
looking corner who could play a role as a nickel and
dime back early on. Overall this was a good class,
but it would've been a special one had Pelini been
able to win a few of the bigger battles, most
notably the fight for top end Owamagbe Odighizuwa, who ended up signing with UCLA.
2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 31. That Class Was
Heavy On ... defensive backs. It was a common theme for teams throughout this recruiting season after everyone’s defense got ripped apart … get better against the pass. Nebraska was no exception with five good defensive backs to go along with DE Jason Ankrah and linebackers Eric Martin and Chris Williams for the front seven. JUCO transfer Dejon Gomes is a big, fast corner, while Lazarri Middleton and Andrew Green have good size and excellent speed.