Running game: Line creates push; Abdullah runs tough (A)

The offensive line set the tone early by blowing Arkansas State off the ball, and that really never changed. Ameer Abdullah displayed some outstanding effort in breaking tackles and gaining yards after contact. You can see the 500-pound squats paying off. Credit C.J. Zimmerer for great blocking on Taylor Martinez’s 18-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and Martinez for making good decisions in the zone read. The bad: The fumble by Mike Marrow near the goal line, even if it came with the game decided.

Passing game: Great accuracy, subpar protection (B)

Martinez was 13-of-14 passing, with his only miss an errant low throw, and threw for 180 yards and two TDs. Kenny Bell made a great adjustment on his touchdown reception in the first quarter, a ball Martinez threw perfectly to Bell’s back shoulder. Bell and Quincy Enunwa both gained key yards after contact. So why not an A grade? Because of some horrific breakdowns in protection that resulted in two sacks and two fumbles. Martinez is lucky he didn’t get hurt.

Against run: Speed helps, so does improved tackling (B)

We saw some more speed on the field with Zaire Anderson, who made a big play to track down quarterback Ryan Aplin on third down after Nebraska’s second turnover of the second half. In general, the Huskers swarmed to the ball with more regularity. Tackling was much improved, but not perfect. Loved the bone-jarring hit by Daimion Stafford, but notice he didn’t wrap up. What if the ball carrier (in this case, a receiver) spins out of that tough hit?

Against pass: Huskers bring the pressure (A)

Coaches say Eric Martin hasn’t been seeing snaps because he’s not been healthy, not because he hasn’t been performing well in practice. Whatever. Just keep him on the field. His pressure on the QB that forced two first-quarter incompletions, and later a fumble, was a welcome sight. Rick Kaczenski brought in defensive end Joe Carter as a tackle in obvious passing situations, hoping to get more speed on the field. That helped, too.

Special teams: The phantom fumble and Maher's return (B)

About the punt that officials ruled — and upheld after review — hit Abdullah’s leg? “An embarrassing call,” teammate Kenny Bell said. “That’s terrible.” Abdullah also said it was “a bad call.” It did look that way. Regardless, Abdullah either has to catch that ball or get the heck away from it. Good to see Brett Maher boom a couple of punts.

Play calling: Back to the basics (A)

Credit Tim Beck for sticking to some simple plays that were working and for not trying to get too cute. The toss sweeps were old-school effective. Loved the Maryland-I on the goal line, and it’s good to see the return of the diamond formation.

Management: When slowing it down makes sense (A)

What’s one way of keeping a quick-paced, no-huddle offense off the field? Keep the ball out of their hands. That also gives your defense, already maligned, some much-needed rest. So Nebraska ran the ball over and over, while also running the play clock to about five seconds. The TD drives of five minutes to end the first half and of 6:22 in the fourth quarter were things of beauty. (Side note: Arkansas State had 15 yards and no first downs in the third quarter … and scored 10 points).

Overall: Huskers weather "storm," take care of business (B)

What happened to Nebraska at UCLA wasn’t nearly as tough as what ensued. “The storm wasn’t last Saturday,” offensive line coach Barney Cotton said. “The storm’s been this week.” The Huskers weathered the loud criticism by regrouping, refocusing and overcoming many forms of adversity on Saturday — among them, the loss of their head coach. This team showed resolve, even if the foe wasn't as tough as some remaining on the schedule.