15 observations: Nebraska vs Michigan

Come inside as Big Red Report publisher Josh Harvey takes a look at 15 observations from Saturday night's contest between Nebraska and Michigan.

Eric Martin sported a Blackshirt after the game
1.) It's time to put them on – Blackshirts are here! The question now becomes how many will be handed out? I'm guessing 15, but that is for debate on Monday. Let's get back to what really matters. Did you ever imagine Nebraska holding Michigan to just three field goals? I for one didn't. Even if I would have known Denard Robinson was going to go down in the first half, I still would have predicted Michigan would find a touchdown somewhere.

After all this debate last week on the Big Red Report message boards that they Blackshirts should be handed out, it was actually the players holding back from getting them.

"They said they didn't think they'd earned them yet, so that's how I feel about it. It shows the character of our kids and the type of standards that they have," said Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini after the game. "They didn't want them last week. They said they hadn't earned them and we'll revisit it after the Michigan game. I think they earned them."

2.) It was fun to watch Sean Fisher. The senior linebacker had seven tackles, including a big one for a loss on Robinson in the first quarter on third down. Fisher had only 15 total tackles in the first seven games coming into Saturday.

"Everybody likes to go out to play. As a product of the circumstances sometimes this year, it's been a little light on the playing time," said Fisher after the win. "That's not anything you can control. You can't get mad about it. If you play as a team, that's just how it is. Games like the Wisconsin game have been fun for me because I did get to go out there and get some consistent playing time. It's hard when you go out for one series or a play or two and then you don't go out there for another quarter and that hasn't been the case in past games. It's just kind of fun to get a feel for the game. You kind of feel how it's flowing and you get into it a little bit more."

I wouldn't be surprised to see Fish get more major PT down the road, as Nebraska ends the season with three-out-of-four opponent quarterbacks who aren't necessarily mobile.

3.) Coach K has Denard's number. During his four year career with Michigan, Robinson was 0-4 against Coach Kaczenski. If I'm playing Michigan in a bowl game, I'm probably trying to make Coach K my honorary defensive coordinator for the week.

4.) You have to feel bad for Taariq Allen. After being one of the heroes in Evanston, catching his first career touchdown, Allen was hurt on the very first play of the game on Saturday. He was very slow to get up and eventually carted off the sidelines. It looked bad (knee) and doesn't sound good either. News probably won't come out until Monday, but I don't expect to see him back this season (I'm not a doctor by the way).

5.) 86,160 fans were in attendance. It was the second largest crowd on hand at Memorial Stadium for a home game.

6.) Did you know? This was the first time in 2012 Big Ten play Nebraska never trailed in the game? Sometimes it's nice to win without having major fourth quarter heroics.

Stanley Jean Baptiste (Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE)
7.) The secondary was doing pushups this week. After missing on some interceptions last week, the Nebraska players and COACHES did pushups for every dropped interception in practice this week. It paid off, as Nebraska caused three turnovers in the air.

"Our guys went up and made some plays on the ball. For a while there, I was thinking we didn't have anyone on the defense who could catch after last week with the five drops," said Pelini. "I thought our guys had some opportunities and made a couple plays and it was big for us. I thought P.J. (Smith) was at the right place at the right time, made a good play. Stanley's (Jean-Baptiste) and Damion's (Stafford) were big plays also."

I'm probably doing pushups every week in practice if I'm the coaching staff.

8.) Taylor managed the game really well. He didn't try to do too much and was once again pretty efficient through the air. He did have a small rough patch I believe early in the second half, but rebounded nicely from it.

"I thought he did a great job. I thought we used it well. We used a number of different tempos; we looked to the sidelines. We used some fast tempo. We changed it up a decent amount, kept them off-balance and made them line up quick," said Pelini. "I thought we really used our tempos to our advantage, and that's on Taylor to manage that all. We changed that a lot through the series and in series play-to-play. I thought it helped us, and you can't do that if the quarterback's not able to handle it and manage it the right way."

Just a side note, his brother Drake did make it in to town.

9.) Abdullah keeps the ball rolling. It was his fourth 100 yard game of the season, as he pushed his season total to 716 yards. Once again, I'm not a doctor, but I wouldn't push Rex Burkhead back too early this week. Abdullah is doing fine and it's clear the running back position is in good hands for the next couple of years.

"We love seeing 100 yards by a back," said offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles. "I think this may be our lowest rushing game of the year, which takes a shot to my pride personally as an offensive lineman. We always want to try and have as much rushing as we can, even more than passing. That's what we live for type of thing, but props to Michigan's front seven. They did a real good job holding us in check for the most part. Ameer (Abdullah) came out and played a heck of a game and we're really proud of him."

10.) Santos might be the Huskers best linebacker. That is no slight to Will Compton, but as the kid gets more experience, it's easy to understand why he was the best defensive player in Houston a few years ago. Santos had a loud 10 tackles on Saturday night, most on the team. It's hard to believe he really didn't register much playing time during the non-conference portion of the action.

"He's kind of a guy that, during camp, you could tell he was right on the edge of really understanding and really having things quick, but there are still some concepts that are foggy," said fellow linebacker Sean Fisher. "I think you'll really start to see him come along and really grasp those things and I think it showed up on the field."

11.) Bowl reps were in the house. I saw reps from both the Gator and Capital One Bowl, while I believe I was told the Outback was also in attendance.

Denard Robinson left late in the 2nd quarter with a nerve injury
12.) It's taken me a while... But I thought Nebraska had a good plan for Denard Robinson even before he left with a nerve injury (which affected his grip on the ball). Obviously you never know what the game outcome would have been with him in there, but I'm guessing it would have been closer.

"I checked with the trainers a couple times, but he couldn't grip the ball real well, and he didn't feel like he could throw the ball well enough," said Michigan head coach Brady Hoke.

13.) Maher deserves more praise. Last week I applauded his efforts, but he did it again this week. A 51-yard field goal was nice (it would have been good from way longer). The rugby style punts were fun to see. He once again averaged over 42 yards a punt on Saturday and had two downed inside the 20 yard line. The preseason All-American might have started off the year a little suspect, but he's been nothing but solid the last few weeks.

14.) Kenny Bell isn't a fan of targeting calls. His words best describe how he feels.

"It's just sad to see. Obviously I don't want to be hit like that, but it's said to see football dying in a sense," said Bell shaking his head. "I understand they are trying to protect players, but a targeting call is tough. The one we got where Daimion (Stafford) hit the kid when he's falling, how else do you make that tackle? I respect they are trying to protect the players, but in another sense they are just killing our sport."

15.) Nebraska is rewarded for the win. For you farmers out there with no cable (I'm mocking ESPN2 for constantly showing corn on the broadcast), ABC is now picking up the game next week in Lansing at 2:30 p.m. CT on a regional level. Otherwise, it might be on ESPN for you out-of-towners.

This video is courtesy of Huskers.com, for more like it: CLICK HERE

Josh Harvey has covered college football and recruiting for Fox Sports & Scout.com since 2008. He is now the Publisher of Big Red Report, covering Nebraska athletics.
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