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Nebraska 51, OSU 41: Thoughts and Observations

by John Helsley Published: October 23, 2010
Disappointing loss for Weeden and the Pokes
Disappointing loss for Weeden and the Pokes

by Brandon Chatmon
bchatmon@opubco.com
Follow me on Twitter @BChatmon

–Never thought this would happen. The Cornhuskers won a shootout with Oklahoma State. And Taylor Martinez finished with better passing numbers than Brandon Weeden.

–Have to admire the way Taylor Martinez bounced back from last week’s benching. He was the difference in the game. He repeatedly eluded OSU’s defensive ends and linebackers in key situations. A lot of his passing yards were a result of his great acceleration, quickness and speed. Sometimes a guy makes plays and beats you. That’s what happened to OSU on Saturday.

Taylor Martinez is a special talent
Taylor Martinez is a special talent

–Step back and think about it. If OSU had it all to do over again, what should they change? How would they defend Martinez differently? They wouldn’t change and they shouldn’t change. Running is his forte, not passing. So you load up to stop his run and he passes for over 300 yards. What options do you have then? Unless you have Ray Lewis on your defense and you can spy him with someone who matches his athleticism and speed… even then, he still would have to make one-on-one tackles with Martinez. Easier said then done, he made Orie Lemon miss a couple times and Orie is a very sure tackler. Martinez is just a special talent. And special talent win football games.

–On that note, I was surprised Brandon Weeden didn’t look Justin Blackmon‘s way more in the second half, especially when the Pokes really needed a play. True enough, the Huskers had bracket coverage on him throughout, but give him a chance, he catches 80 percent of the balls you throw his way.

–Don’t underestimate the Huskers fake punt to start the game. OSU’s defense started with a three-and-out and a lot of emotion and confidence. Then that happened.

–41 points against Nebraska’s defense is a good outing by the Cowboys’ offense. That should have been enough to win the game.

Doesn't matter who he's going against: No. 81 will make plays
Doesn't matter who he's going against: No. 81 will make plays

–I’m not sure what else can be done with kickoff coverage. Putting defensive starters on that unit is just not a option. But something has to change.

–We wondered if the Cowboys would have the speed to keep up, turns out they did. They just didn’t tackle well at all. Not only was Martinez making plays and breaking tackles (which was understandable), so was Roy Helu Jr. (which was not).

Kendall Hunter had 26 carries for 201 yards and two touchdowns. And I’m just now getting to mentioning that. It just goes to show you what a unusual game it was.

Great game by Kendall Hunter, again
Great game by Kendall Hunter, again

–Cowboys averaged 7.0 yards per play and scored 41 points. They struggled on third down and had just 75 yards in the fourth quarter but, again, they scored 41 points against a very good defense.

–OSU shot itself in the foot repeatedly. 8 penalties for 84 yards, that’s over 10 yards per penalty. That kills offensive drives and continues opponent’s drives.

–Only one forced turnover. Bill Young won’t be happy about that. OSU came into the game averaging 3 forced turnovers per game.

–I’m thinking Joseph Randle should have been returning kicks all season. What about you? Matter of fact, anything that gets him the ball more often, sounds like a good idea to me.

–I feel like I say it every game, but OSU’s offensive line is very solid. Along with Hunter’s 200-yard game, they allowed one sack and it was a coverage sack.

Josh Cooper quietly had a solid game. 9 catches for 103 yards. He was able to consistently win his one-on-one battles. He’s OSU’s No. 2 receiver until someone else proves otherwise.

Quinn Sharp AVERAGED 60.4 yards per punt. Five punts including a 78-yarder.

Dan Bailey is still perfect, hitting 2 of 2 field goals.

–OSU finished with four players with over 100 all-purpose yards (Hunter, Randle, Blackmon and Cooper).

Shaun Lewis is a playmaker, they need to find room for him on the field. 5 tackles including two for loss and one forced fumble.

Bottom line: Nebraska was better, and more physical, than OSU on Saturday.
Bottom line: Nebraska was better, and more physical, than OSU on Saturday.

–Nebraska’s scoring drive before the half was a critical and overlooked moment in this game. OSU gets a stop there, they go into the half with the lead and momentum. A personal foul penalty and 33-yard pass from Martinez to Mike McNeill allowed the Huskers to drive 66 yards in five plays to take a 31-27 halftime lead.

–OSU’s slow start in the third quarter was unusual and really changed the game. Nebraska got a field goal on their first second-half possession and the Pokes started with a three-and-out. Not the third quarter starts that Pokes’ fans have gotten used to. The Cowboys were playing catchup from that point on.

–Nebraska was 6-10 in the second half on third down. They made plays when they needed to. And OSU’s inability to get key stops, doomed them.

–Overall, a disappointing day for OSU. But the reality is the Pokes still have their goals within their own control. They can still win the Big 12 South, can still win a Big 12 championship. Their destiny will be decided in the future, it was not decided on Saturday. So will they learn and grow from this loss? Or let the disappointment linger?

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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