MANHATTAN, Kan. - It felt like old times for the Nebraska football team in Manhattan on Thursday night against Kansas State. The Huskers absolutely dismantled the Wildcats 48-13 and silenced a capacity crowd at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Here is the final report card grade out of Thursday's night's win over Kansas State. Next week the Huskers (5-0, 1-0) will take on Texas (3-2, 1-1) in Lincoln.
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If there were any questions about the ability of quarterback Taylor Martinez, the redshirt freshman from California answered them on Thursday night against Kansas State. Martinez played lights out, finishing the game with 241 yards rushing and four touchdowns, to go along with 128 yards passing and one touchdown. Martinez got the much needed bounce back game he needed and he showed the entire nation he's for real. Martinez's ability to go for 80 yard spurts makes him arguably the most dangerous threat in the Big 12 Conference right now.
Running back: A
Senior running backRoy Helu finished with 110 yards rushing, including a career-long 68 yard touchdown that followed Martinez's 80 yard run in the third quarter that blew the game open at 31-3. Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said you are finally starting to see what type of back Helu is when he's healthy and they don't have to rely on him to carry the load by himself. Sophomore Rex Burkheadalso added 57 yards on 11 carries. I kind of chuckle though that his 5.2 yards per carry average looks nowhere near as impressive as Helu's 13.8 and Martinez's 16.1 yards per carry averages on Thursday. However, Burkhead's hard nose running and consistency is something this offense needs to go along with Martinez.
Wide receiver/tight end: A
Nebraska didn't go to the passing game very much on Thursday night, but when they did it was very effective. Mike McNeill caught two early passes for 25 yards, whileNiles Paul added an impressive 17 yard catch on a third down that kept a drive alive. The play of the day for the receivers though came from tight end Kyler Reed who hauled in a 79 yard pass from Martinez. Man can he fly. He outran KSU's entire secondary.
Offensive line: A
Martinez only took one sack on Saturday, but it was more his fault than the offensive line's. I thought the line did a nice job of opening things up and they paved the way for the Huskers to rush for 451 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Most importantly, there were really no drive killing penalties from this group on Thursday.
Defensive line: A-
Nebraska's defensive line did a solid job of clogging up space and not giving Daniel Thomas very much room to run. I thought both Cameron Meredith and Baker Steinkuhler made some nice plays, and even Thaddeus Randle showed up a little bit a times in the second half.
It was an interesting scheme the way the Huskers almost played Dejon Gomes, P.J. Smith and Rickey Thenarse like linebackers in the box on Thursday night to go along with Lavonte David. This group played outstanding on Thursday and really took Kansas State out of their game. I thought the fourth-and-1 stop by David was huge in the first quarter and showed Kansas State that NU's defensive scheme was ready for what they were going to throw at them.
Carson Coffman was efficient at times on Thursday, but really never made that back breaking mistake that hurt the Wildcats. Maybe the most impressive thing the Husker secondary did on Thursday was they stayed disciplined on the play action and never made that costly mistake KSU needed them to make for a big play. Kansas State's longest pass of the day was just 17 yards on 27 attempts.
Special teams: C-
This was the one area where Nebraska struggled on Thursday night and Bo Pelini was not happy with his football team. I thought the kickoff coverage was very poor and that was the only area where Kansas State made some big plays in. I also thought Niles Paul made a bad decision to run it out of the end zone where he got tackled inside the 15 yard line. KSU's William Powell had a 186 yards of return yardage and he gave the Wildcats pretty decent starting field position for most of the game.