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October 23, 2010STILLWATER, Okla. - Nebraska improved to 6-1 on Saturday with their 51-41 win over Oklahoma State. Here is the final report card grade out.
Next week NU will take on Missouri in Lincoln in a game that will have huge implications on who wins the North.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez grew up on Saturday. After his worst game as a Husker against Texas Martinez silenced his critics and showed everyone he can do more than just run. Martinez was magnificent in the pocket and finished 23-of-35 for 323 yards passing and five touchdowns - both numbers were NU freshman records. Martinez also added 112 yards on the ground. Every week Martinez continues to amaze you with something and he has clearly done a good job of improving his game.
Running back: B-
The running backs weren't asked to do a lot. In all Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead had a combined 22 carries for 83 yards. The game wasn't really tailored for them to have success, as Martinez took things over in the second half. Fullback Tyler Legate also had a touchdown reception in the first half.
Wide receiver/tight end: A
All week Nebraska's wide receivers were called out by the public and they silenced their critics with a huge game on Saturday. Niles Paul had a career-high nine catches for 131 yards, while Mike McNeill had five catches for 61 yards and Brandon Kinnie had three catches for 62 yards - all for touchdowns. Kinnie has started to become NU's best red zone option, as he creates match-up problems similar to the way Maurice Purify did in 2006 and 2007. At tight end Kyler Reed was also a big play threat with two catches for 58 yards, including a 41 yard touchdown reception.
Offensive line: A
Nebraska's offensive line did an excellent job in pass protection on Saturday. Martinez had plenty of time to make his reads down field. I thought Jermarcus Hardrick did a great job at left tackle filling in for the injured Jeremiah Sirles. Running wise, NU was really never able to break off a big one, but Oklahoma State's scheme didn't allow it, so that's why the Huskers went to the air.
Defensive line: D
Nebraska didn't get a great push up front from their defensive line, as OSU running back Kendall Hunter gashed the Huskers for 201 yards on 26 carries. NU also didn't get a lot of pressure from their front four in the pass rush.
Lavonte David was big in the second half helping NU slow down OSU enough to break things open. David had eight solo tackles and one tipped pass that led to an interception by Eric Hagg. Sophomore Will Compton also played well at times and finished with three tackles.
Oklahoma State was not afraid of Nebraska's secondary and they attacked the Huskers on Saturday. OSU's Justin Blackmon had five catches for 157 yards and two touchdowns and got the best of NU's Prince Amukamara. There were also some open field tackling issues from safeties DeJon Gomes. Anthony West, P.J. Smith and Rickey Thenarse. The missed tackles led to some of Hunter's biggest runs of the day.
Special teams: A+
Nebraska's special teams set the tone on Saturday. Alex Henery's fake punt run on NU's first possession gave NU the early play they needed to get going. Paul also answered with a huge kick return for 100 yards after OSU started to get some early momentum on offense. NU's special teams controlled the field position and really gave the offense and defense some good situations for most of the day.
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