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C O M M E N T A R Y
T A D  S T R Y K E R
November 13, 2010

Huskers stop Kansas cold

A stone cold defensive effort by the Blackshirts slammed the door on the historic Kansas-Nebraska football series.

The Cornhuskers allowed only 87 total yards and five first downs as they shut down the Jayhawks 20-3 Saturday night in Memorial Stadium.

The Husker offense? It was a case of, “Move along, ladies and gentlemen; no explosion to see here tonight.” Taylor Martinez played the entire game, but clearly was not at top speed. Martinez rushed 11 times for 71 yards and completed 14 for 26 passes for 167 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Nebraska scored on four methodical drives, each of which lasted at least nine plays.

crick (2K)
Crick
Coach Bo Pelini and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson clearly had Martinez on a short leash in the first half. Although they gave me more liberty in the second, it was more like watching a controlled situational scrimmage than a Big 12 football game. That’s because the NU defense made sure this game was never in doubt. Nebraska likely would have pitched a shutout except for a fumble by Martinez that KU recovered in Husker territory.

It was the lowest yardage total for a Husker opponent in a decade – since the 2000 Baylor game. NU allowed Kansas quarterback Quinn Mecham only three completions in 13 attempts for 15 yards. It was good to see Alfonzo Dennard back on the field, and Dennard’s third-quarter interception gave him a team-high four picks.

The Blackshirts appear to be gaining momentum, and none too soon. They’ll face a severe test at Texas A&M, a team that is on a roll offensively. The Aggies (7-3, 4-2) are heating up with four consecutive victories – the only Big 12 team besides Nebraska with a winning streak that long.

david_lavonte (2K)
David
Since a good defense usually beats a good offense, I like Nebraska’s chances. The pass defense has been good all year, and now the run defense may be coming around.

NU defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said earlier in the week that the Husker d-line was coming off its best three performances of the season. The improved play of Terrance Moore and redshirt freshman Thaddeus Randle at tackle and defensive ends Josh Williams and Jason Ankrah has allowed the first teamers to stay fresh in critical situations.

NU will need all the defensive muscle it can muster when it travels to College Station next Saturday night. A&M has piled up an average of 41 points and 488 total yards in its last four games.

Jared Crick set the tone for the evening with two sacks, and junior linebacker Lavonte David turned in another 10-tackle performance. David was all over the field, and his confidence continues to grow. Crick and David each had a pair of sacks.

Thanks to the play of Crick, David and a secondary that was really never tested on this night, NU got off the field so quickly on most drives. The Huskers had a 36-24 edge in time of possession and ran 75 plays from scrimmage to KU’s 47. Maybe the best news on the offensive front was that Niles Paul made seven catches, including several for first downs, and never came close to fumbling the ball. Nebraska needs a sharply focused Paul down the stretch.

The big news coming into this game was that Turner Gill finally returned to Memorial Stadium. Gill, the Jayhawks’ first-year coach, described it as “awkward” to come in using the visitors’ entry, There was plenty of love in the stands for the ex-Husker quarterback and assistant coach, but it clearly didn’t extend to the Jayhawks in general.

It was the end of 105 consecutive years of football between Kansas and Nebraska, and the Huskers ended it by giving the Jayhawks the cold shoulder.

Photos courtesy of Huskers.com


Formerly the sports editor at the North Platte Bulletin and a sportswriter/columnist for the North Platte Telegraph, Tad Stryker has covered University of Nebraska and state high school sports for more than 25 years. He started writing for this website in 2008. You can e-mail him at tad.stryker@gmail.com. | Archive