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October 22, 2011

Nebraska vs. Minnesota report card

MINNEAPOLIS - Nebraska cruised to a 41-7 victory over Minnesota on Saturday to improve to 6-1 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten Conference.

Here's the complete report card grade out from Saturday's win over the Gophers.

Rushing offense: A

Nebraska rushed for 346 yards on 56 carries, as Rex Burkhead had a workman like day with 117 yards on 23 carries. NU's trio of freshmen running backs added 20 carries for 92 yards, while Taylor Martinez had 52 yards. The most impressive play on ground for NU came from wide receiver Kenny Bell though, as he took a reverse 82 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. The play itself wasn't blocked perfectly, but Bell let his speed do the talking and out ran several players who had an angle on him.

Pass offense: B-

There were a few too many drops by the Nebraska wide receivers today, but you still saw guys like Jamal Turner, Tim Marlowe and Khiry Cooper come up with some key receptions on third down to extend drives. Brandon Kinnie had the play of the day for the NU wide receivers, as he took a middle screen for 61 yards all the way down to the 2 yard line. As you start to look at this group as a whole, you can argue NU has the most speed at wide receiver of any team in the Big Ten.

Rushing defense: A

Going into the game NU knew Minnesota wanted to run the football with quarterback MarQueis Gray. I thought the front seven did a great job of limiting Gray. If you take away his 30 yard run, Gray had just 37 yards on his other 16 carries. Overall the Gophers rushed for just 132 yards on 39 carries. Austin Cassidy also came up with a big play when he scooped up a fumble for an 11 yard touchdown.

Passing defense B+

Minnesota had the one play over the top for 53 yards off a triple reverse, but other than that the Gophers had just 69 yards of passing offense on the day and rarely tested Nebraska down field. I was impressed with what Stanley Jean-Baptiste showed today in his first start and I thought Lance Thorell did a solid job in a hybrid peso role. You also saw NU's front four apply some solid pressure on Gray forcing him to make some tough decisions down the field.

Special teams: C

I guess we got a little spoiled the first six weeks with Brett Maher. Saturday was obviously not his best day, but luckily this wasn't a game where special teams was needed. Maher's first punt didn't come until midway through the third quarter and his long punt was only 28 yards, however he did pin one inside the 10. Minnesota also had a 48 yard kick return and at times I thought NU looked a little out of place on their kick coverage. The Gophers also kept the ball out of the hands of Ameer Abdullah, as he wasn't credited with a single return on the day.


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