Report Card: Nebraska

Minneapolis, MN - Minnesota was going up against No. 24 Nebraska Cornhuskers with many odds makers predicting the Gophers to get ran out of their stadium. The Gophers didn't let Nebraska push them around and outmuscled them in a 34-23 victory.

Offense- Last week against Northwestern, the Gopher offense was fairly decent by producing 20 points, but still at times were not steadily moving the ball. However, against Nebraska, the Gopher offense put up 34 points and 430 total yards. On the ground, they grinded out 271 yards on 54 rushing attempts averaging 5 yards per carry. They were just as effective through the air by passing for 159 yards. Running back David Cobb was a beast all day being that workhorse back the Gophers are looking for by carrying the ball 31 times for 138 yards. The quarterback position was split throughout the game by Mitch Leidner and Philip Nelson both seeing game action. Nelson was 7-15 passing for 152 yards and he ran it 8 times for 55 yards for 2 scores as well. One of the keys in this game was not turning the ball over and giving the Cornhusker offense good field position. That didn't happen as Minnesota didn't turnover the ball once and held the ball about 12 minutes more than Nebraska. Wide receiver Derrick Engel showed he can go up and get the ball when he made a incredible leaping over the shoulder catch on a crucial 4th down play in the first half that really shifted momentum. Overall, this was the most complete performance by this unit all year and showed if you want to stop them, then that means you have to beat them up in the trenches.

Grade: A

Defense- Nebraska stud quarterback Taylor Martinez played and even started the game. They had playmakers in their offense with Kenny Bell and Ameer Abdullah, so it looked like the Gophers were going to find a hard time stopping the Cornhusker offense. They finished with 328 total yards and I liked the Minnesota gameplan to make Nebraska a one dimensional type of offense and they did that by only having Martinez go 16-30 passing for 139 yards with a touchdown and a interception. Abdullah had a good game on the ground though by running for 165 yards on 19 carries. The Cornhusker offensive line was banged up and the Gophers got hurries, knockdowns, pressures and sacks on Martinez. The breakout player had to be Rashede Hageman, who literally ran over a offensive lineman to take down Martinez, but was flagged for grabbing his facemask. What did he do next play? Well, he ran over the lineman again and got the sack with no flag this time. Nebraska was 4-12 on 3rd downs and really could never get anything going in the game.

Grade: B

Special Teams- Nebraska has playmakers on their kickoff return and punt return, but Minnesota had good coverage all game to not allow a big play. Kicker Chris Hawthorne had a very solid game by connecting on both his field goal attempts and all four of his extra points. In big games like this one, all you want your special teams to do is not cost you the game by a big play allowed or missed extra point, but they did their job.

Grade: A

Coaching- Defensive Coordinator Tracy Claeys led Minnesota with Coach Jerry Kill being out due to his situation. He showed that they are trying to win and not playing to lose. That is a big difference and didn't get conservative in the game. This veteran coaching staff has really stepped up the last few weeks and got this team prepared, ready and focused. Now, the Gophers are bowl eligible for a second year in a row and snapped a 16 game losing streak to Nebraska that went for 53 years.

Grade: A


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