RUNNING GAME (B)
Nebraska’s best running threat in this game was Tommy Armstrong, yet you can’t blame the coaches for not calling his number more often. He’s too valuable. Either Terrell Newby didn’t hit holes as hard this week, or they closed quicker. Either way, he didn’t burst through like he did against South Alabama, which isn’t all surprising given the step up in competition. Not much out of the jet sweep.
AGAINST THE RUN (C)
Miami rushed for 152 yards, and although it wasn’t the defense’s biggest problem, one play was. The 41-yard touchdown run by Joe Yearby to start the second half was the result of a mistake up front by Nebraska, and cost the Huskers dearly. “Our movements right now, we’re not in sync on,” defensive coordinator Mark Banker said, talking about that play specifically. “All it takes is one guy, and they pop it. That was discouraging.”
PASSING GAME (B)
You had to feel for Armstrong’s underthrown pass in overtime after all the poise and determination the junior quarterback had shown in leading Nebraska’s comeback. Armstrong still has a bad moment here and there, but looks much improved from last season, a credit to him and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf. The biggest problems were dropped passes — at least six in the first three quarters, and three that cost NU first downs. A couple came after big hits, but still should’ve been secured.
AGAINST THE PASS (D)
Miami QB Brad Kaaya, as many predicted, went after Daniel Davie immediately, and with so much success the senior was pulled in the first half. That should make it clear that Nebraska’s problems in the secondary go far beyond Davie, evidenced by the success Kaaya continued to have all day. “It’s not an intermediate play or a short play, it’s a big play that’s been bothering us right now,” Banker said. “We need to eliminate that, the big play.”
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SPECIAL TEAMS (B)
You wondered early if Sam Foltz was either having problems with his ankle or having nightmares of some shanks last season. Whatever the case, the NU punter seemed to even out his play after a couple of poor early punts, including one that went 10 yards. Drew Brown has regained confidence with his career-long 49-yard field goal that was long, strong and straight through. It looked, from our close angle, that Boaz Joseph had a line on a blocked punt in the third quarter. It turned into a 50-yard punt and ensuing goofy interception.
PLAY CALLING (C)
Yes, there was more social media grumbling this week than in past games about play calling by Langsdorf. Most perplexing, in my opinion, were a couple of third-and-short calls in the first half, particularly the play-action on third-and-1. Not just there, but I expected to see more Imani Cross up the middle, at least before the deficit grew too large.
GAME MANAGEMENT/PENALTIES (D)
Last week’s cleanliness now seems like an aberration, doesn’t it? Saturday was just more inexplicable mess. Penalties on linemen — senior tackle Alex Lewis, in particular — cost Nebraska first downs, including a long reception by Jordan Westerkamp in the first half, and field position in overtime. The five men in the backfield, when the tackle is cheating just a tad in protection, must be a point of emphasis for the officials this season. The worst part about Armstrong's late first-half interception, intended for Stanley Morgan, where there was clear miscommunication, was that it came out of a timeout.
I was telling colleague Brian Christopherson at the motel Friday night that I couldn’t see any potential blowouts on Nebraska’s schedule this season. Yes, I thought of that when it was 27-3. Noticed which team kept its composure and which team lost it down the stretch. That’s a positive sign. Of course, we’ve seen this emotional roller-coaster before. No excuse for the lethargic start, but it didn’t turn into Wisconsin, either.