RUNNING GAME (A)
For the fourth time in five games, Rex Burkhead rushed for more than 100 yards. He had 77 in the first half, as NU established the run early. "I thought our guys did a nice job early of coming off the ball, and the backs ran hard," NU offensive coordinator Tim Beck said. "Early on, we were executing pretty good." Braylon Heard, seeing his first action since the Wyoming game, certainly didn't look rusty.
PASSING GAME (C)
Nebraska and Taylor Martinez did a nice job of getting production out of the screen and slant passes. Martinez's completion percentage could've been higher (he was 13-of-22) had his receivers been able to haul in some of the deeper balls. "We've got to step up as a receiving corps and make those catches," said Kenny Bell, who had four receptions, but could've had two or three more. "We had some drops today, and that's just unacceptable. That will cost us later in the year."
AGAINST THE RUN (B)
The Blackshirts allowed quarterback MarQueis Gray loose only one time, on a 30-yard run. Otherwise, Nebraska didn't allow Gray to make plays with his feet. "They didn't pass the ball a lot, but when he did try to scramble, I thought we really got in our rush lanes," defensive end Cameron Meredith said. "We did what we were coached to do."
AGAINST THE PASS (A)
Minnesota's only success through the air came on a flea flicker off a double reverse. Aside from that, Gray wasn't effective throwing the ball. Meredith said the Huskers made it a point of emphasis this week to get off the field on third down. Nebraska held Minnesota to 3-of-11 on third downs before the Gophers were 4-for-4 on their final drive of 16 plays. That was the only drive in which Minnesota gained more than one first down.
SPECIAL TEAMS (B)
Nebraska won this battle, mostly because Minnesota was absolutely miserable on special teams. The Huskers weren't necessarily flashy, what with a partially blocked punt and a 51-yard field goal that was very short. But the Huskers were OK in coverage and didn't have the debilitating errors that Minnesota did.
PLAY CALLING (A)
Beck figured Minnesota would be a good opponent to pull out that reverse against because the Gophers were very aggressive on defense. "They play hard and they run to the ball," he said. "I felt like there could be a chance for it." The passing plays in the second half with the big lead were partly because Minnesota played man coverage and was daring NU to throw.
GAME MANAGEMENT (B)
Nebraska could still use some work on the option pitches, although the one off Aaron Green's hands might be the Huskers' most fortuitous fumble of the season. Nebraska had a couple of big plays, but it also had its two longest time-consuming drives of the season -- 5:35 and 6:06. Chase Rome admits he had a late hit, saying he locked down on his guy while not knowing Austin Cassidy had already crossed the goal line.
Good to see Nebraska come out from the get-go and not leave any doubt against a lesser opponent. And make no mistake, Minnesota is a lesser opponent. Coaches would've like to see the Huskers finish better, but the overall outcome -- after a bye week, on the road, against a 1-5 team -- is surely satisfying.