Nebraska improved to 7-1 on Saturday with their 31-17 win over Missouri. Here is a complete report card breakdown of the win.
Next week the Huskers travel to Iowa State to take on a 5-4 Cyclone squad that's won the last weeks in a row.
Before redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez went down with a foot injury, he was having a pretty solid performance against Missouri. Martinez was 6-of-9 passing for 115 yards, but wasn't as effective as a runner as we've seen earlier this season. Martinez still helped engineer NU's quick start, as you can tell Missouri was paying a lot of attention to him and his running ability. I thought Zac Lee came in for Martinez in the second half and did an excellent job in a game manager role and did exactly what NU wanted him to do. Lee only threw three passes, but his third-and-short completion in the fourth quarter was huge in helping run off the clock to close out the game.
Running back: A+
It was a record breaking performance senior running back Roy Helu on Saturday. Helu finished with 307 yards rushing to lead the Husker offense. He carried the load for NU and they needed him to do that when Martinez went down with his injury. A year ago the offense didn't have that luxury with Helu, as he was banged up and couldn't shoulder a 28 carry type performance this late in the season. That just shows you how far this offense has come since last season.
Wide receiver/Tight end: A
The receivers didn't have a big role on Saturday, but they still did a good job of making some plays early on in the game. The blocking from tight end Ben Cotton and the wide receivers on the edge played a big factor in Helu breaking his touchdown runs. Tight end Kyler Reed also continues to be a touchdown scoring machine.
Offensive line: A
Nebraska's offensive line may have played their best game of the season. The Huskers rushed for 364 yards on the ground and made the Tigers pay for their aggressive style of defense. I thought particularly Ricky Henry had some big time blocks on a few of Helu's touchdown runs.
Defensive line: A
I think Carl Pelini was tired of people questioning NU's ability to rush the passer. Pelini decided to turn his guys loose and they forced six sacks and seven quarterback hurries. On the season the Tigers had given up just seven sacks before tonight. Nebraska's front four completely dominated Missouri in this game.
This is pretty much the LaVonte David grade, but NU's linebackers did a solid job against Missouri. David finished with a team-high eight tackles, including one sack and two tackles for loss. The only area they had problems in where in run support on stopping Mizzou quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
NU's secondary flustered Gabbert, as for most of the day nobody was open. You could tell Gabbert was used to getting rid of the ball much quicker than he did on Saturday, but Nebraska's corners stifled the Tiger receivers. I thought Ciante Evans did a great job off the bench for the injured Alfonzo Dennard and handled everything Missouri threw at him. I also thought NU did a good job in shutting down Missouri's inside slot receivers where they typically make a living as an offense. The only area they had problems in was containment on Gabbert in run support.
Special teams: A-
Adi Kunalic put all seven of his kicks through the end zone on Saturday for touchbacks, and NU did a solid job of fielding Missouri's rugby style punts for the most part. Alex Henery made his school record 18th consecutive field goal on Saturday, but had a 51 yard attempt blocked in the second half. Both Niles Paul and Tim Marlowe each had a nice kick return.