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NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Top Five Things We Saw Versus Washington

By Huskerlocker @huskerlocker

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By Erin Sorensen
Nebraska and Washington had their final meeting for a good, long while last Saturday afternoon. Fans were unsure of the potential outcome, ranging from a blowout to a potential Cornhusker loss. Regardless, the atmosphere was tense and the game’s importance was obvious to all. By the last snap, Nebraska held off Washington and improved to 3-0. Let’s review what Husker fans were looking for this past weekend.
1.) A Convincing Win
Nebraska may have won 51-38, but the win felt very similar to both UTC and Fresno State. Stellar moments were shadowed by a slow fourth quarter when the Cornhuskers appeared to give up on the game. By the time Washington had added another 21 points to their total, Nebraska realized it wasn’t time to let up. Thanks to another touchdown from quarterback Taylor Martinez and an interception by safety Austin Cassidy, Nebraska was able to seal the victory.
While a big win for the team, it still lacked the luster fans have been searching for. A solid offensive showing was weighed down by a less than ideal defensive performance. The Huskers are undefeated through three games, but the lack of a convincing triumph does leave fans unsettled. Once again, Nebraska fans will be looking to next week for the big win they are longing for.
2.) Blackshirt Dominance
The concerns from Fresno State were solidified against Washington. The defense allowed the Huskies to create too many opportunities that led to touchdowns. Nebraska safeties and corners were often left in the dust as Washington receivers flew by. Cornerback Andrew Green was also poor on tackling and rarely read plays correctly. It was a surreal experience for fans that are used to a suffocating defense from Bo and Carl Pelini.
While work is clearly needed, big hits did shine light on the defense’s talent. That ability will need to be used more efficiently by October 1, or else Wisconsin will take full advantage of the openings they can create. Ultimately, the defense’s issues are not created by lack of talent, but instead by a lack of identity. They need to rediscover their swagger if they want to compete in the Big Ten.
3.) Offensive Line
Offensive tackle Yoshi Hardrick had his cast removed last Friday after dislocating his thumb against Fresno State. While Hardrick claimed his thumb was hurt, it never stopped him or the offensive line from making their presence known. They created a solid pocket for Martinez while also throwing their weight around on running plays. The young bunch no longer appeared inexperienced which is a very positive sign for Nebraska fans.
Even more surprising, junior Seung Hoon Choi made his first collegiate start for Nebraska and dominated. Choi immediately showed why was made a starter as he added fierceness to his unit. While last Saturday’s showing may not have reminded fans of past Pipelines, it was a step in the right direction. Husker fans can now relax as the offensive line has found their groove and it doesn’t look like they’ll be slowing down anytime soon.
4.) Brandon Kinnie
Senior wide receiver Brandon Kinnie didn’t receive much of an opportunity on Saturday to turn his fortunes around. He was often passed over for young receivers Kenny Bell, Jamal Turner and Quincy Enunwa. He also didn’t receive nearly as many on-field chances as in previous games. It’s easy to assume that Kinnie would be down on himself at this point. In reality, that's not true at all.
“I love my team!” he tweeted Saturday night.
For Kinnie, it’s about leadership and that hasn’t changed. The veteran receiver still made blocks that advanced the plays and created room to run, while cheering on the younger players. After one of Rex Burkhead’s big plays, Kinnie was one of the first Cornhuskers on the field congratulating him. The first three games of his senior year may not have been what he was hoping for, but the “Twitter King” is making the most of it by displaying the meaning of true teamwork and unity.
5.) Offensive Drives
Martinez looked more comfortable than ever against Washington. Confidence gushed from the previously timid quarterback and the once typical scrambler appeared more calm and collected. He set the stage early by throwing a long completion to Kenny Bell on the second down of Nebraska’s first drive. He went on to throw for two touchdowns, as well as running one in. The Nebraska offense played a more up tempo game, and it paid off.
The Huskers also took full advantage of Rex Burkhead. He ended the game with 22 carries for 120 yards, pushing through the Huskies’ defenders play after play. It was a bright moment for the offense who has clearly found a groove. Nebraska fans saw that not only is the offense reliable, but it is also Big Ten-ready.
Last Saturday was a day of redemption for those that left Memorial Stadium. While Nebraska still has Wyoming to think about this week, Big Ten play is just around the corner and fans are ready to see what the Huskers are capable of in their new conference. If Nebraska can continue to build upon each game, October 1 may not end up being the mismatch many think it will be.
Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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