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October 12, 2012As Nebraska sits in their bye week, HuskerOnline.com has decided to recap the some of the highlights of the first six games, as well as hand out our awards for the Huskers' top performers and performances thus far.
Here are the different players and highlights we've decided to honor after the first six games of 2012. NU travels to Northwestern to start the second half of the season next Saturday.
Offensive MVP: Taylor Martinez, QB/Kenny Bell, WR
I know people are going to look at the three interceptions thrown by quarterback Taylor Martinez against Ohio State, but you can't deny his improvements. Martinez has completed 66.4 percent of his passes, thrown for 12 touchdowns to just four interceptions for a total of 1,273 yards. Martinez has also rushed for another 338 yards and five touchdowns. Right now he's my mid-season offensive MVP for Nebraska, along with sophomore wide receiver Kenny Bell who's been nothing short of spectacular through six games. Bell has a team-high 20 catches for 463 yards and four touchdowns. He's currently on a pace to have more receiving yards than Nate Swift did in 2008. Bell is averaging over 77 yards per game, while Swift averaged 72 yards per game four years ago.
Defensive MVP: Eric Martin, DE
This one was pretty easy for me. Senior defensive end Eric Martin has been Nebraska's most consistent player through six games. Martin has a team-high 5.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss and seven quarterback hurries. Even last week at Ohio State Martin was one of the lone bright spots in the Huskers loss in Columbus finishing with two quarterback sacks on Braxton Miller. Martin gives NU a true pass rusher off the edge, something they haven't had in a while.
Offensive surprise: Ameer Abdullah, RB
Going into the year I think we all knew sophomore running back Ameer Abdullah was good, but with Rex Burkhead out for a few games we really got to see his skill set. Abdullah is averaging a Big Ten best 183.4 all-purpose yards per game, including a team-high 514 yards rushing and nine total touchdowns. Abdullah has gotten it done as a running back, kick and punt returner and has been one of the major reasons this offense has excelled, even without Burkhead for a few games.
Defensive surprise: Josh Mitchell, CB
Going into the year and even coming out of the spring there was very little attention paid to sophomore cornerback Josh Mitchell. Most thought he was either too small or just not in the mix because of his falloff a year ago after the Washington game. Heck, Mitchell didn't even travel with Nebraska to the bowl game and looked like he might be on his way out of the program. Not only has he gotten it back together, he's become one of Nebraska's more consistent cover corners with one interception and three pass break-ups through six games. Coming out of high school head coach Bo Pelini thought Mitchell covered as well as any corner on film, and you are seeing that ability right now from him. He's far from the finished product, but he's definitely been the surprise of the defense thus far.
Best offensive play: Martinez's 38-yard TD vs. Wisconsin
There have been a lot of big plays by the offense through six games, but Martinez's 38 yard touchdown run in the third quarter against Wisconsin was the play that really sparked Nebraska's 17-point second half comeback. The previous possession Martinez fumbled the ball on a blindside sack which led to a touchdown. He made up for his fumble by marching the offense right back down the field and scoring a much needed touchdown with Nebraska trailing 27-10.
Best defensive moment: Holding Wisconsin to 56 rushing yards
There have obviously been some bad defensive moments with 654 yards given up at UCLA and 63 points allowed at Ohio State, but there have also been some good moments as well. For me the best play or moment was holding Wisconsin to just 56 yards rushing, but what was even more impressive is Nebraska stuffed the Badgers on several short yardage situations you would typically see them automatically convert.