Turn The Page Tuesday – Washington to SDSU

The Huskers come out a winner in Seattle (Wash.) after beating Washington 56-21 and are finally getting some national respect in the polls that some feel that they deserve; even picked up one first place vote. Let's talk about the Washington game one last time and a first glimpse at South Dakota State in Turn The Page Tuesday.

I will admit it, I am stealing this idea a bit from a radio show down here in Dallas that they do on Mondays when they talk about the game the day before. In Dallas, with the Cowboys, there has been a lot of talk after the season has started on Mondays and not a lot of it is good.

That is where the idea needed modification. If Dallas is in the dumps then Nebraska is on cloud nine. If Wade Phillips is Tokyo then Bo Pelini is London. You get it. They are polar opposites. Still, I wanted to couple the week before with a few last thoughts before we started looking at the upcoming opponent(s) and with Washington there is a lot of late chatter still being talked about.

Final Washington thoughts:

- There has been a lot of talk about the size and push that our OLine got on Saturday against Washington. You hope that a game like this isn't one of those "get up for that game" and then you see a decline against another, less stellar opponent. The Nebraska OLine needs to start putting it together week after week.
- There are two trends that I am watching with Taylor Martinez. The first is the number of rushing attempts has steadily risen each week and that causes some concern from me. He has gone from nine attempts against Western Kentucky to 12 attempts against Idaho and 19 attempts against Washington.
- There is another trend when it comes to passing though that is getting better. The completion percentage has risen, 60% against WKU with the highest at Idaho with a 71% day and last week was 64%, but I am looking at the yards per attempt average. Martinez is getting more and more comfortable throwing the ball down the field going from 9.1 yards per attempt against WKU to 6.24 yards per attempt against Idaho to 13.63 yards per attempt against Washington.
- Where you want to see Martinez continue to improve is in his decision to tuck and run it. To be honest, there hasn't been a lot of times where Martinez has hit his drop and taken off running, unlike the way that he performed for the most part in the spring game. You still want Martinez to develop that internal clock and take off when the alarm goes off.
- I am not sure that I would have guessed Brandon Kinnie would be the leading receiver this season, but it's a welcome sight. Kinnie has 14 receptions to Niles Paul who has 10. Paul and Mike McNeill are still the only two receivers to catch TD passes, but Kinnie has been key in third down conversions and sustaining drives.
- The offense seems to have moved from hitting on six cylinders against WKU and Idaho to hitting on seven against Washington. Again, you wonder how much of that was being up for that game. And speaking of up…
- I have been a little surprised to hear about how much talk was apparently taking place on the field on Saturday. It seems like Coach Sarkisian is upset about something too saying that Nebraska left the field in a disrespectful manner. Either way, the second and third hand stories that are going around about staff jawing back and forth to opposing staff, player at opposing player and even staff at opposing player is definitely enough smoke to say there was a fire on Saturday.
- I found the media's need to get Sarkisian to comment on Nebraska's comment on Saturday about scouting Washington's WRs and knowing which plays were pass and which weren't because of how hard they ran to be laughable. Coach Sarkisian's reply about the touchdown pass by Locker was almost as laughable. Locker completed only four of 20 passes so Nebraska didn't read one well. I guess that's something to pound your chest over if you're Washington.
- Personally I like how Nebraska went up there to unfriendly confines, literally, and just lined up and tore up their opponent. Enough of the cardiac kids and maybe from this Nebraska will realize you don't need to be pissed or threatened to put up 56 points on any given Saturday.
- Nebraska's defense and offense seem to look good for about 98% of the game, but just have those little breakdowns. Like the sacks that Martinez takes or the forced pass that gets picked off. On defense it's either late calls by the linebackers, a blown call in the secondary or bad push from the line up front. Those little things, a few times a game, is the difference between this team being good and being great.

First South Dakota State thoughts:

- You hope to see Nebraska get up early enough to start to work on some things. I would hope though that Nebraska is mindful enough to keep an eye on margin of victory. I mean does anyone else find it funny that Texas continues to rise in the polls and they have had pretty bad showings? I mean, up by 20 against Wyoming with three minutes left in the game and Texas has their starters in throwing it to the endzone. They win by 27 and move up two spots in the polls (and have one first place vote).
- You hope that this becomes a "ones versus the world" scenario like Nebraska had under the previous head coach where things just got out of hand. You'd like to see some refinement on some things when it comes to future opponents.
- The first thing that I would like to see is Nebraska really stop the run. Nebraska opponents are actually averaging two yards more rushing against Nebraska than they are passing (138 yards per game rushing and 136.6 yards per game passing). Nebraska has a tough test to get ready for in a couple of weeks with Daniel Thomas from Kansas State.
- Thomas is a north-south guy. The Huskers need to plug gaps, get penetration and make him turn his shoulders before the line of scrimmage. You want Thomas to be parallel to the line of scrimmage on every play.
- The other thing you hope to see on Saturday is some more polishing going on with the passing game. The chemistry seems to be there with Kinnie, so work on it with Paul and McNeill. Nebraska could have a very nice three-headed monster at receiver if there was some more time between Martinez and his receivers (one of the downfalls of having a competition all the way up to the last practice before the first game).
- You would also like to see Nebraska get Quincy Enunwa and Tim Marlowe into the rotations, get the ball in their hands and allow them to make plays.
- You need to get Green some time, but pick your spot a little more wisely than inside your own 10 yard line. I mean, c'mon, even I could see that one coming when you saw Green jog out from the sideline and the ball was where it was at. Why not give Green the series after Kinnie returned the kickoff to the 50 yard line.
- And why just hop into the read-option with new personnel in the backfield? What is wrong with a casual handoff to break the ice. Crawl before you walk or run.
- I would like to see Helu and Burkhead get some rest this game and get some reps to Austen Jones, Dontrayevous Robinson and guys like Lester Ward and Collins Okafor. Then again, I saw coming into Washington that Helu only had 15 carries on the year. I thought that was a pretty crazy statistic. Both Burkhead and Helu are still at less than 30 for the season a piece.
- The shutout would be nice to put up there, but remember as much as you would like to get better at things you are not good at you need to do the things that you are good at to get in a position to basically practice. Don't go out there and shelf the offense that got you that one first place vote because time was needed doing things outside of the comfort zone.
- Get some more time to some lower unit guys like Alonzo Whaley, Matthew May, Thomas Grove, Josh Williams, Jason Ankrah, Terrence Moore, Thaddeus Randle, Ciante Evans and others. Develop depth on that side of the ball because Nebraska replaces an entire secondary next year because of graduation.

These are the things that are running through my mind on this Turn The Page Tuesday.

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