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Jones fills in admirably for injured Burkes at right tackle

Marcel Jones (Huskers.com)

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Nebraska didn’t stub its toe Saturday, but Jaivorio Burkes did Friday.

Husker coach Bo Pelini said the sophomore offensive lineman stubbed his toe the day before Nebraska’s 56-28 win against Kansas State.

Burkes tried to play Saturday, starting at right tackle, but couldn’t make it through the first series because of the injury. So in came Marcel Jones to play for Burkes, who was playing for Lydon Murtha, out with injury.

With the offensive line down to basically five guys, the Huskers didn’t miss a beat, rolling up 340 yards rushing.

“I watched him an awful lot, then I kind of quit watching him because he was holding up there,” Husker offensive line coach Barney Cotton said of the redshirt freshman Jones. “We had my eyes and a couple other eyes on him. He played all but five snaps there at right tackle. I’m really impressed with the young guy.”

Jones took the humble route and said he did OK, but smiled and added: “If coach stopped watching me, that’s a pretty good compliment.”

Worthy of Blackshirts?

Four days after 11 Huskers got Blackshirts, people wanted to know if Pelini thought it was a performance worthy of wearing the black practice jerseys.

Pelini wasn’t much into discussing that topic, but junior safety Rickey Thenarse thought guys “played like Blackshirts.”

“We stepped up today and played great. Every week, I just see us getting better,” Thenarse said. The Husker defense gave up just 247 total yards. “Coach Pelini just keeps saying our best football is yet to come and we’re really taking that to heart. Some guys didn’t get Blackshirts and everyone is just trying to step up and become a Blackshirt.”

Thenarse is one player who didn’t get a Blackshirt and he said that motivates him.

“I’m taking it personal,” he said. “This is just an opportunity to show what I can do.”

Fun for everyone

Nebraska’s top four running backs all had moments to shine.

Just check out the rushing yardage: Roy Helu had 72 yards, Marcus Mendoza 58, Quentin Castille 51 and Marlon Lucky 47. The four combined for four touchdowns.

“We had heard their secondary is pretty fast, so in order for us to break the big runs we had to get downhill running,” Castille said. “Going into the game, we were like, ‘Man, we think we can dominate them up front.’ And that’s what we did.”

Castille’s highlight run was a 37-yard touchdown scamper on  fourth-and-1 where he bounced off a tackle, then stiff-armed a guy at the 25 to free himself for the TD.

“I just pulled a stiff arm out of the blue today,” Castille said. “It worked good for the Huskers, so I’m happy too.”

Suh the fullback

For the third straight week, junior nose tackle Ndamukong Suh saw snaps at fullback on short-yardage situations. He had five snaps on offense Saturday, helping lead the way for Helu to NU’s first touchdown.

On his last snap at fullback late in the third quarter, Suh ran a pass pattern, but Joe Ganz threw to Dreu Young for a 23-yard gain.

Bye time

The Huskers now have a bye week. Is that a good thing?

“I’d like to just play straight through, but it doesn’t work out that way,” Pelini said. “I think it comes at a good time for us because we are nicked up a little bit, nothing serious, but we could use a couple days off. It gives us some extra preparation time and it can give us a good jump on recruiting going into December.”

Tripping on penalties

Pelini said his team played sloppy at times in the second half and he wasn’t happy with some of the penalties.

Nebraska was penalized seven times for 56 yards. Husker senior offensive guard Matt Slauson took the blame for two of them. On the first drive of the third quarter, he was called for tripping, a 15-yard penalty that helped stall that drive.

“I got a couple unnecessary penalties and that was bad. I’m embarrassed about that,” Slauson said. “It was a little bit of a leg whip. I missed on a cut and I stuck my leg out. I didn’t even know that it was a real call. But I learn something new every day.”

This and that

The win ensured Nebraska a winning season for the 44th time in 47 seasons. … The 340 rushing yards were the most for NU this season, surpassing the 330 gained against New Mexico State. … NU scored 30 points for the ninth time this season. … Nebraska’s defense has produced nine sacks the past two weeks, for 91 yards in losses. 

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