The Nebraska defense was suffocating and the Husker offense didn’t give Minnesota much of a chance to breathe, either, Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
“We got beat at the line of scrimmage, period. Dominated at the line of scrimmage,” Gopher coach Jerry Kill said after Nebraska's 38-14 victory.
Kill singled out NU quarterback Taylor Martinez for praise.
“Our defense was asked to be on the field too much and Martinez did a great job throwing the football around,” he said. “He knows their offense inside and out. I think he’s doing a lot of things at the line of scrimmage on his own. There’s a trust factor as he’s grown into the offense.
“We know he has great athleticism, but I really think he has command of his offense.”
Minnesota’s offense had seven three-and-outs and punter Christian Eldred was called on 11 times.
“We went three-and-out a lot. We were putting the defense in a bad position,” wide receiver/quarterback MarQueis Gray said. “We have to move the ball, get first downs and put points on the board for our defense.
“Coach took the blame, but we’re the ones who practice every day and play the game. We have to go out there and play all four quarters.”
Freshman quarterback Philip Nelson, who is starting while Gray gets completely healthy, said what the Husker defense did wasn’t unexpected.
“We knew it (the pressure) was coming. We just couldn’t push through it all the way,” he said. “The gap for open receivers was smaller than any other game, that’s for sure. You have to give all credit to their defensive secondary.
“Plus, that’s a great defensive line. What it comes down to is they did a great job of holding off the running game.”
Nebraska limited the Gophers to 102 total yards through three quarters. Meanwhile, Martinez threw for 308 yards and the Huskers finished with 444 total yards.
“Those first couple of series were like a flash. Most of their rushing yards came in that first big burst when all those points went up on the board,” defensive back Brock Vereen said. “Third downs were one of the big issues. In each one, there was a guy in place to make the play, but when it came down to it, they made the play and we didn’t.”
Still, it was the Husker defense that Kill kept coming back to in his postgame comments.
“Nebraska is good up front. They make it tough on you. They play Southeastern Conference defense. They’re going to play cover-1 and get guys in the box and you’re going to have to beat them in one-on-one coverage.
“We had a lot of balls dropped. But it wasn’t like they weren’t on people. They made it tough for you to catch the ball.”