RUNNING GAME (D)
The reason it’s not an F is because Nebraska ran the ball when it mattered — in the fourth quarter to milk the clock for a victory. Before that, it looked like Nebraska’s running game was sick — and not just flu-like sick. Would like to see a little more of Tyler Legate blocking for either Rex Burkhead or Roy Helu.
PASSING GAME (C)
Credit Zac Lee for hanging in there — even when Cody Green was seen warming up on the sideline. His passes to Niles Paul for two quick touchdowns overshadowed what had been another miserable road performance. Bad passes. Dropped passes. Passes beyond the line of scrimmage. Wet footballs. Sloppy.
AGAINST THE RUN (A)
Derrick Washington doesn’t look as fast as a year ago, but credit Nebraska for closing quickly when it looked as if Washington had some room to run. Tackling overall was sound.
AGAINST THE PASS (A)
Nebraska applied great pressure on Blaine Gabbert, who was injured on a first-quarter sack and looked gimpy throughout the game. Prince Amukumara slipped on the wet turf in covering Jared Perry on his 38-yard reception late in the first half, but coverage was otherwise excellent. After a bunch of near-misses on interceptions, Nebraska finally came up huge and turned the game around with two fourth-quarter turnovers.
SPECIAL TEAMS (F)
Why not go after a couple of those punts? Nebraska couldn’t field the punt or gain anything on a return as it was. Paul couldn’t handle a punt and was replaced by Burkhead, who fielded one before muffing (and recovering) another. Another punt went off the leg of Mathew May and was recovered by Missouri. One high snap might be understandable, but true freshman P.J. Mangieri was consistently off on his punt snaps — one of which Alex Henery couldn’t handle in the end zone, leading to a safety. In the end, Nebraska’s inability to field punts and cover punts led to Missouri’s points.
GAME MANAGEMENT (D)
Again, penalties on the road killed drives. Most costly was the chop block after Nebraska had first-and-10 at the Missouri 30-yard line in the first quarter. There was confusion on the first punt, with Menelik Holt running on the field late. The play looked rushed, and Henery’s running punt went 22 yards.
PLAY CALLING (D)
Did Bill Callahan return to call that game? Run the stinkin’ football. They could do it in the fourth quarter when it mattered, but you’d think Nebraska was down 21-0 the way Shawn Watson had Lee tossing the football in the first half. We’ll hear how Missouri was loading the box, etc., but the fact is, Nebraska needed to show more commitment to running the ball, especially given the weather conditions. Two of Nebraska’s most successful run plays — the 13-yard run out of the pistol and Burkhead’s 5-yard burst behind a fullback — weren’t seen again until late.
Exactly how far over was Nebraska supposed to slide to make room for Missouri after the Tigers’ impressive win against juggernaut Illinois? Guess Missouri isn’t quite the premier program in the North after all. But before Husker fans get too giddy, keep in mind a performance this sloppy won’t do in Lawrence — or many other stadiums, for that matter. Still, credit this team for finding a way. A huge momentum builder.