RUNNING GAME (B)
See game management for a grade that reflects turnovers. Here, let’s focus on the positives of Nebraska’s running game, namely the emergence of Dontrayevous Robinson. Yes, he fumbled. Who didn’t? For a true freshman debut, this was encouraging. Robinson averaged 5.1 yards per carry, and ran hard. Credit the offensive line for opening some big holes, too.
PASSING GAME (F)
Zac Lee’s confidence is shot. It’s sad to see, really, because Lee, I still believe, is capable of doing better, and the struggles in the passing game aren’t entirely Lee’s fault. What if that beautiful deep pass to Niles Paul turns into a touchdown, like it should have? Does Lee finally find a groove and a much-needed confidence boost? We’ll never know, and now Lee has run out of chances. It’s time to see if Cody Green can spark this team.
AGAINST THE RUN (B)
Iowa State played without its normal starters at quarterback and running back, and the Cyclones basically counted on two running plays throughout the game. Nebraska held the Big 12’s top rushing team to 137 yards, but Iowa State’s ground attack help the Cyclones run off 5 minutes, 5 seconds on a third-quarter drive, and 7:12 on a fourth-quarter drive. Those possessions started at the ISU 5- and 6-yard lines, respectively.
AGAINST THE PASS (B)
Backup quarterback Jerome Tiller completed nine passes. One was a back-breaker. The 47-yard pass that Jake Williams caught in the end zone was Iowa State’s winning score. Otherwise, the Blackshirts harassed Tiller into 10 incompletions, sacked him once and held Iowa State to 102 passing yards.
SPECIAL TEAMS (B)
Iowa State fooled everybody on the fake punt. Great call, and a crucial one in the game, as it led to the go-ahead touchdown. How about Ndamukong Suh? His two blocked kicks (one PAT, one field goal) are why the Huskers still had a chance to win with a field goal. Alex Henery had two outstanding punts that landed inside the 6-yard line.
Suh: We can still meet our goals
GAME MANAGEMENT (F)
Well, Nebraska had only three penalties. That’s a plus. Now, about those turnovers. You wondered in the first half if Nebraska was simply the victim of some bad football karma, what with the tipped interception near the goal line, and Jared Crick sliding over a loose ball that Iowa State somehow recovered. But then it became a mental game, one Nebraska lost miserably.
PLAY CALLING (B)
Let’s give the grousing a rest for a day. It’s hard to complain much about play calls when ball carriers fumble, receivers drop passes and quarterbacks throw over or behind their targets. That said, why can’t or won’t Nebraska attack the middle of the field anymore, particularly in the passing game? Why can’t these talented tight ends get more involved in the offense? No grousing. Just wondering.
Ever remember turning in an assignment that was so sloppy, so inconceivably and inexplicably bad that your teacher wrote “incomplete” and handed it back to you, asking for a re-do? Then you can understand this overall grade. Here’s guessing there’s some serious soul-searching with this team in the coming days. Who knew a crossroad to Nebraska’s season would come in Waco?