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Steven M. Sipple weighs in with his report card from the Huskers' loss to Minnesota.


Nebraska had an ominous start as quarterback Adrian Martinez's lateral bounded off the hands of Wan'Dale Robinson, who recovered the ball for a 9-yard loss. Robinson's 47-yard run in the second quarter was a needed burst of energy, setting up NU's first touchdown of the day. Martinez finished with 15 carries for 96 yards (6.4 yards per carry) as NU ended with 197 rushing yards (5.5 ypc).


With Martinez on the sideline temporarily nursing an injury, Luke McCaffrey's pass intended for Austin Allen was picked off by Tyler Nubin, setting up Minnesota's first touchdown. Martinez was hit from behind in the pocket while trying to pass late in the third quarter and lost a fumble. He was 16-for-27 for 111 yards and a touchdown, but at least twice misfired downfield to open receivers. Too much inconsistency in this area. 



Mohamed Ibrahim found daylight on fourth-and-1 and rumbled 26 yards for a touchdown to open the scoring. But the bigger blow in the first half came on Cam Wiley's 61-yard burst up the sideline. Nebraska appeared on verge of holding Minnesota to a field goal before Cam Taylor-Britt's targeting penalty gave the Gophers a first down and led to an eventual TD. Late in the game, desperately needing a stop, NU's run defense got leaky as P.J. Fleck's crew nailed down the win. 


Defensive lineman Casey Rogers batted down a pass on fourth-and-8 deep in Huskers' territory midway through the second quarter, igniting the Husker sideline. Rogers batted down another pass on a third-down play in the third quarter. Then, Pheldarius Payne got into the act, getting a hand on Morgan's fourth-and-3 pass from NU's 36 late in the third quarter. JoJo Domann had excellent coverage on a deep ball early in the second half. Morgan finished 17-for-30 for 181 yards and a TD.

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Freshman Tyler Crawford, filling in for William Przystup, had some early issues as his second punt traveled only 8 yards, setting up Minnesota at Nebraska's 49. Connor Culp missed wide right on a 32-yard field goal in the third quarter, just his second miss of the season in 14 attempts. On the bright side, Marquel Dismuke made a big hit in punt coverage in the game's early stages, and Crawford gained redemption with a 44-yard punt into the wind late in the third quarter. He followed with a 61-yarder with the wind in the fourth period. 


Ethan Piper's holding penalty (a very questionable call) erased Martinez's 8-yard touchdown run as Nebraska tried to come back in the fourth quarter. The Huskers settled for a field goal. Taylor-Britt's hands-to-the-face flag moved Minnesota into Nebraska territory on the Gophers' opening possession, but the Blackshirts stiffened. His targeting penalty late in the first half obviously was a critical part of the game, in part because it sent arguably NU's best defender to the bench. 

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Seemed odd to have McCaffrey throw twice right after entering the game in relief of Martinez in the first quarter. His second pass was picked off. We do like the plays that motion Robinson into the backfield and then employ a fake handoff to him. Martinez made one of those plays work for a 24-yard run. But the offense struggled mightily to sustain rhythm.  


Minnesota, down 30-plus players, found a way to win. Meanwhile, Nebraska is left to wonder why it can't execute at a high enough level when it matters most — on Saturdays.