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  • This Just In...Purdue Commentary

    This Just In…
    Cameo appearances by the Blackshirts and Joe Dailey cap an easy Husker victory.
    Purdue subdued, 44-7

    Husker D may be a wet paper bag, but the Boilermaker offense couldn’t punch through…

    At least not until the very end and even that was just a small tear in a bag that otherwise held up for four solid quarters on Saturday. Does it mean that this young defense is ready to take another swing at a top 25 team? Not so fast, but it does show growth and it was not that long ago that NU was getting gashed by Wyoming and the Jackrabbits-two teams that I think are in the vicinity of Illinois and Purdue.

    The defensive line looked solid, and Gregory was blowing holes in the Boilermaker line faster than they could patch them. If it was not the line getting pressure, the back seven provided adequate coverage for most of the game and even picked up another interception and a fumble. SJB continues his solid senior campaign and the linebackers appear to be growing from game to game-regardless of the where’s waldo approach Bo has employed at that position this year.

    I was going to go into detail on SJB’s hit and subsequent ejection; however that is another topic for another time. At some point you have to be able to use some discretion and determine if there was malicious intent.

    We have replay-we should use it.

    While I didn’t feel it should have been called, I didn’t have a huge problem with the penalty either-it happens. Ejecting him from the game because the ball carrier dipped his head at the last second? That’s a terrible decision, shame on the replay officials for not chiming in and allowing them to overturn the ejection. It will be interesting to see how the league rules on this one, if in fact it is appealed by the Huskers.

    It’s hard in a game like this to judge exactly how much progress has been made since the meltdown against the Bruins, but you have to like the fact that for 59 minutes, this team was inches away from its first conference shutout in over 10 years. I would call that progress-especially given the starting point.

    In a bit of an odd scheduling quirk, NU gets its second bye week in the last month (or to some this entire month has been a bye), and the timing has worked out well with the issues the defense has encountered, along with the injuries that have been suffered on both sides of the ball.

    We will have to wait another three weeks to see if this defense is really ready to step up to the plate and help carry this team to the BIG 10 championship game, or if it is just another case of fools gold and they revert to the aforementioned wet bag analogy. Better get the two ply Bo, there is still a lot of football to be played, and something tells me we are in for some torrential downpours…

    If the boot fits, wear it…

    Going into the Purdue game, I was able to temper my enthusiasm and reserve judgment until after this week to formulate an opinion on whether there should be a QB controversy in Lincoln.

    Count me in among those that feel our best chance to win this year is with Martinez.

    Does that mean I think that Armstrong, after one freshman, mistake filled performance cannot get the job done, or that RK III cannot adequately fill in and lead us to victory? No, of course not--but after watching the offense on Saturday we need Martinez if we have any hope of getting through November alive.

    Both Armstrong and Kellogg bring different elements to this offense. Armstrong is the more physical of the two (although Beck’s hesitancy to run him more is puzzling), and Kellogg is clearly the best pure passer on the team.

    A healthy Martinez can bring both of these elements back to this offense in the same package. The question is will he be 100% healthy if and when he returns?

    Since his freshman year, Martinez, while at times still a dynamic runner, has not been the same person when tucking it and turning up field-and of course his ball security issues have been well documented. That burst of speed that put him on the map in 2010 seems to have been missing for quite some time now.

    We need Martinez to be able to beat defenses with his legs, which in turn will open up lanes for him to fit in some of those borderline passes. Even when he is not at his best throwing the ball (see MSU last year) we need him to be able to take over the game running the ball and forcing the defense to account for him at all times.

    With all that being said, I do think the future is bright in Lincoln with Armstrong, and who knows, maybe Stanton will push him harder in spring practice and he will turn into a better QB than Martinez. He certainly has proven to be a capable runner and is light years ahead of Martinez running the option, but will need to improve his accuracy and gain more experience going into next year. At a minimum I would hope they give him a series or two against Northwestern and MSU-he has earned that.

    Not to detract from what Kellogg has done, he was the better QB Saturday, but he limits this offense by taking away the running threat and against the MSU defense, that is not a good place to be.

    That being said, if I had to take Armstrong or Kellogg against the meat of our schedule, right now I would plug in Kellogg and hope that Abdullah and Cross can keep the defense honest enough for Kellogg to manage the game and dissect the secondary when needed.

    The bottom line to all of this is that if this season is ultimately successful-meaning a return trip to the BIG 10 Championship, then it will have been made so because we had all of our QB’s ready to step in and contribute-something we have not seen in a long time.

    I do hope that Martinez being sidelined will summon up that hunger that drove him to the starting position back in 2010, and the reality that these may very well be the last football he plays-at least at QB. He has all the records, but has yet to make his mark on his legacy.

    He is running out of time, but he still has that chance to take off that boot and kick it old school. If that happens, Ohio State may hear that familiar sound of a jet blowing past them on way to an upset win and Bo’s first BCS Bowl bid. One can hope anyway-get well soon Martinez…

    In Conclusion…

    Saturday was one of those games that reminded me of the good old days (for me that was the 90’s). Nebraska gets up early-has a scoring surge followed by a shutdown defense, then cruises in the second half, emptying its roster and providing valuable playing time for the next generation of starters.

    The only bad thing to come out of Saturday’s game was the crushing loss of Spencer Long. It doesn’t appear that we will be able to get him back if the injury is as bad as it looked. Garrison has been saying the right things, but you don’t just lose an AA lineman and expect to plug someone else in there and get similar results.

    One of the big reasons Abdullah is having a great year is because of him and his leadership. It’s unfortunate timing for the Huskers and with the upcoming bye week it will be crucial for them to not only replace his stellar play, but also his maturity and fire. Hopefully the troops will rally around him and step up their play to compensate.

    All things considered, the last three weeks have been good for this team and its growth. 5-1 is about where everyone expected, although I really thought before the season that we had a really good chance at being 6-0 going into the Northwestern game-which don’t look now but the Wildcats look like a defeated team.

    Defeated or not, Nebraska cannot take anyone for granted this year, or any year for that matter. Minnesota is up next, and I would expect more of the same game plan. If Martinez is ready to go he should see some time, but I would also like to see Armstrong get some extended playing time, both by design and by the scoreboard result.

    If this defense can continue to build off of the last two performances and turn in another 45-14 ish performance, then I like our chances going into November. Enjoy the win and the bye week-but be very, very quiet…we are hunting gophers…


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