Morning Musings: Western Michigan

What stuck out? What didn't? What was good and bad? Who needs to improve? Who is doing good? Well, in this morning musings following the Husker home-opener we tell you what we think. We even add a final grade to the contest which was the Broncos vs the Huskers as the 2008 campaign begins.


They couldn't run the ball, because Western Michigan didn't want them to. There's something to be said for imposing your will, but this isn't the sisters of the poor they were playing. Yes, Western Michigan was undersized on the line, but not dead, and many of the tackles made were done so by Western Michigan players who simply couldn't be picked up, unless we think the offensive linemen should now be blocking both defensive linemen and linebackers.�

My concern about the run game was simply from its ineffectiveness. Lucky's one solid run in the first half was started by a Niles Paul block, sealing off a backer to theinside, followed by Lucky moving between a great back reach block by Mike Smith to maintain the running lane and then following Matt Slauson through to the zone.�

I'm just resigned to the thought or basically, the same thought I have had of Lucky in that i think he's a super perimeter threat, an obviously great receiver coming out of the backfield, but he's still not physical on the inside. He got better later in the game, but look at what sophomore Roy Helu did with very limited reps. I would imagine we'll see that change come next week.


Husker D-Line showed well against Broncos

Yes, Western Michigan's O-line wasn't anything to write home about, but when you saw them double down on junior nose tackle Ndamukong Suh early, senior defensive tackle Ty Steinkuhler was taking advantage of one on one situations and blowing the play up the middle. When they had to adjust for Stein., Suh's was dominant in so many ways. I can't tell you how many times I saw him one-arm his guy straight out of the play and make plays with his open arm. The strength to do that consistently is more than most people can imagine.�

The sack senior defensive end Barry Turner had actually came from the up position, Turner shooting the gap between the end and the DT. It was an interesting play where Turner actually looked a little lost, like he was going to to the three point stance, but didn't. Then when the play snapped, he wasn't his freshman quick self, but it was certainly the best explosion I have seen from him in years as he bolted his way for his first sack of the year.�

The fact that redshirt Terrence Moore ended with more sacks (2) than anyone in the game was a plain shock to me, but it also speaks to the potential depth this group might have, but I still prefer to be cautious about presuming much here, because this is Western Michigan and stemming from the Nevada game last year, we know how deceptive some things can often look.�

Senior Cody Glenn obviously has a great day, but it's just as obvious to me that he's surviving almost completely on athleticism. I say completely, but there were a couple pass break ups he had which flat out surprised me he was in position to make. Speed kills and when that kid gets on the field I honestly think he gets faster. There was the late hit out of bounds he got called for and the tackle around the head he probably should have gotten called for. But with 12 tackles to finish the day, just think what Glenn will be doing when he knows exactly what he’s supposed to do.�

Props to senior safety Matt O'Hanlon who basically had to play the entire game after Rickey Thenarse went down almost right away with a shoulder injury. A young man who certainly expected to play, was asked to take over and basically never come off the field. He did a nice job. He has a good motor, plays physical, but they will need to shore up the safety position, because he simply doesn't have a lot of speed, and I am less sold on Larry Asante as a consistent tackler than I figured I would be.�

Larry consistently puts up good tackle numbers, which is even more sad, because I have seen him miss just as many as he makes. Leading with his shoulder, going for the hit instead of the takedown and I think he was out of position more than a few times throughout the game. That could be said of most any player and you would have to understand. But this young man could be such a playmaker. He just has to get some of his technique straight.�

Give it up to sophomore Eric Hagg, another surprise to me, this young man coming out and not just showing that he could be physical, which you would expect of someone his size, but he has pretty darn good explosiveness as well. I will be the first to say that by his size I have stereotyped him into one role and he's cemented himself at another. With the loss of Armando Murillo early in the game Hagg had to step up and he did.

Junior cornerback Anthony West had a fairly up and down experience. He got that “excuse me” interception toward the end of the game, halting a potential touchdown drive. But he almost gave Western Michigan points by himself with two consecutive 15-yard penalties, one a pretty obvious pass interference where O’Hanlon actually intercepted the ball and returned it for around 40 yards. And the other a dead ball personal foul which put Western Michigan on the doorstep of the Husker end zone.

Combine that with issues in regard to his tackling, despite finishing as one of the top tacklers and players with pass break ups, it’s obvious he still has to either get some rust off or get back into the film room to figure some things out.


Even with a number of mistakes
Cody Glenn was brilliant

Glenn is going to get a lot of pub, but redshirt freshman Jared Crick should get s little of his own as he did fine in a reserve role and showed himself to be not just quick off the ball, but very good in backside pursuit. Seeing him chase down a receiver from behind as he did during the course of the game, at his size that’s not impressive, that’s insane.

Phillip Dillard’s debut wasn’t really a debut, of course, but was as he was a full-time starter for the first time and a whole lot thinner than he has been in years. Where West had gotten beaten and outrun by a receiver who seem headed for the end zone, it was Dillard who actually caught him from behind so that they at least had to work to get the ball into the end zone.

He’s the bonafide QB of the defense, and I’d consider his debut a solid success.

Another non-debut, but it might as well have been, because he’s considered the next Maurice Purify, sophomore Menelik Holt came to the game and came out with almost half the receptions he had all of last year. If there was one particular highlight, I wasn’t necessarily a great catch, but it was definitely a brutal hit, Holt already going to the ground a bit with the ball in hand, which was then followed by a sledgehammer hit, taking a subtle fall to the ground and turning it into a major collision.

But he held onto the ball.

Holt had a great game, from catching to blocking, routes to just how explosive he would get off the line. I never pegged him for a kid that if he did indeed put on the weight to become physically more like Purify, he would be even somewhat quick off the line.

Kudos to James Dobson, the strength coach, because Holt is quick, and with his intelligence, I don’t know that anyone will be saying “Purify who?” anytime soon, but the chasm he left in his absence when it came to having a real playmaker, may not seem more like just a little hole.


After three quarters of almost pure brilliance the senior QB had to go and force one ball, and he caught perhaps a bad break on another, a pass which may have been catchable by sophomore wideout Will Henry. Up to that point what you saw in Ganz, and some of the plays he made, were things that neither former Husker QBs Sam Keller or Zac Taylor could have dreamt of doing, simply from mobility.

A boot out to the left to avoid a sack, and Ganz completes a ball 20 yards down the field. We would also be remiss not to pay homage to the option attack as Ganz looked almost nostalgic in his keeper off the left side where he took it down the sidelines for 32 yards before being shoved out of bounds.

To be honest I think some of Joe’s mistakes come out of complacency. When he had those little hiccups, the game was well in hand and there wasn’t a lot of pressure to be THE man to make THE play to save the game. Maybe you

Ganz continues to blaze trail for
slightly new-look offense
do things you otherwise wouldn’t do. It’s hard to say, but this young man has averaged around 430 yards per game passing in his four starts as a Husker. No, he’s not Texas Tech's Graham Harrell, but he doesn’t have to be. Nebraska’s defense is better than the one down in Lubbock.


If it wasn’t that block that helped Lucky jaunt to the end zone or the impressive stiff arm and explosion on a 25-yard kick return Paul looks every bit like� playmaker waiting to happen. I think he’s found a home in so many areas right now, it won’t be IF he can do something, but what do you want to relegate him to so he doesn’t get wore out throughout the course of a game. I have no doubt that wherever you put this kid, he’s going to give you something good. Plus , he’s tough, just tough and with 100-meter track speed to boot.


I am not sure who gets the most credit on one of Alex Henery’s four field goals against WMU, Henery or Jake Wesch. I have never in my life seen a holder seemingly stand up while trying to place the ball for a kicker who was already in his motion toward the ball. But that’s just what Wesch had to do with a snap well off to his right. But he did it, Henery pounded, and the perfection continues as four more consecutive kicks is getting this young kicker closer to legendary status.

You think Kunalic would have came to Nebraska had he knows how this might all turn out? Yes, Adi is the best in the country at kicking off and getting touchbacks, but is that what all real kickers want to do? I doubt it, but for the time being, someone else’s potential frustration is Nebraska’s gain as this aspect of special teams is legit.


What do ya know, a tight end caught a pass for a touchdown, and it didn’t come from a punter. The gimmick play seems to have had more to do with tight ends making it in for scores over the last few years than someone actually looking seriously at what they could do. Maybe that’s simply due to injury as Michael McNeill is healthy for the first time in his two years with the program.

Add him to Dreu Young, who has McNeill’s frame, but not his size, it would seem that the tight end is relevant once again.

The catch by Young will have plenty of replays as it already has. So, we don’t need to relive it. But seriously, that was just ridiculous.


You certainly can’t give Nebraska an A or in my opinion even a B on the positive side. I thought that they had this game from the outset, compensated quite well for what Western Michigan was doing, and the pass defensive in the flats and across the middle helped the Broncos find life throughout the game.

There were just too many breakdowns and yes, I do attribute some of that to the absence of Armando Murillos and perhaps with Thenarse not being in there as well. But safeties weren’t in position all the time, tackling in that area seems to be an issue as well, and WMU was in the red zone five times on the Husker defense, coming out with four scores to show for it.

Of course, all of this is basically a wash, as far as I am concerned. The first game, such a young defense overall, and schemes sometimes need to be tried out for real before players really start to feel it sink in. So, call this the debut for some, baptism by fire for other and on the offensive side, just another day at the office.

This team has great potential for the rest of the year, because while this is an assumption, I think it’s a solid assumption to have: Yeah, they weren’t perfect, but the defensive line played well, the coaches will see the mistakes and this time, unlike perhaps other times, much of this will be fixed by the following game.


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