Published Sunday, September 9, 2012 AT 12:23 AM / Updated at 12:36 AM
Nebraska-UCLA: Tracking NU’s offense, defense
Jon Nyatawa Omaha World-Herald


NU star: Ameer Abdullah. The sophomore had to carry the load with Rex Burkhead out, and he did a nice job. Abdullah finished with 16 carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns.

Highlight: Take your pick. Lots to choose from, especially in the first half. The most exhilarating came in the first quarter, when quarterback Taylor Martinez went 92 yards on a zone-read keeper for a touchdown.

Busted plays: NU’s first three snaps from scrimmage were disastrous. That was a wasted drive for NU. There were also two key drops on third down, one by Jamal Turner and another by Kyler Reed.

Our take: Nebraska moved the ball with relative ease in the first half, but after halftime, it was a different story. UCLA’s adjustments were negligible, the Huskers said afterward. Yet NU never found its groove again. The offensive line struggled at times to create running lanes and keep the UCLA pass rush under control. Martinez was rattled because of it. In the end, too many penalties, a couple of ill-timed turnovers and several mental mistakes doomed NU.

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NU star: Daimion Stafford. The senior safety seemed to get more comfortable as the game went on. He finished with eight tackles and two pass breakups, helping keep the Huskers in it.

Highlight: As he pulled down running back Jordon James, defensive end Jason Ankrah found the football and ripped it out. Stafford recovered the loose ball at the NU 13-yard line, spoiling a UCLA scoring chance.

Busted play: Lots of miscommunication. Lots of poor fundamentals. All night long. But on the 49-yard pass from Brett Hundley to Steven Manfro, the Huskers let UCLA’s slot receiver run right through their defense without any resistance.

Our take: Without consistent pressure from the defensive line, Hundley sat back and torched the NU secondary. Well-designed crossing routes and an occasional swing pass seemed to be the most effective play calls for UCLA. Nebraska blitzed at times, but the results were hit and miss. But beyond the strategic decisions and the occasional mismatches (like a speedy running back on a linebacker), what hurt the Huskers most was their inability to tackle. Several little-to-no gains turned into big plays, especially in the second half.

About Jon Nyatawa

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008. He and his laptop, cell phone, tape recorder, pen and notebook all live in Lincoln. Follow him on Twitter: @JonNyatawa. Email him here: He welcomes feedback.


  1. BleedingRed says:

    Can’t argue with that assessment Jon. I would like to mention that in our great teams of past, we seemed to thrive on shutting the poseurs and smack talkers up. The more a team talked and over-celebrated the more our teams would focus on beating them down. This team though (with a couple of notable exceptions) seemed to wilt with every successful UCLA play (and subsequent over-celebration). Instead of becoming more determined, we seemed to believe their taunting and posturing. It reminds me of an old Romanowski quote after the Broncos SB victory over defending champion GreenBay. I am paraphrasing here “all week we had to talk about how good they were and how we were just going to do our best…Made me want to f#@%*ng puke!” That was the attitude of our best Husker teams, vomiting with rage at the insinuation that anybody, any team is better than us. We need that righteous indignation back. We need to believe that the other team has no right being on the field with us and we are going to make sure they as well as the rest of the world know it. That’s Husker football!

  2. Waskel Wabbit says:

    Come on. Where are you D bags who thought we’d win by 30? Its time for Bo to hit the road! They aren’t the Blackshirts, they’re the Blackskirts!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Homestyle Husker says:

      It’s time for Bo to go. He was outcoached by a pro. Doncha know!

  3. wrangler9 says:

    I’d still like someone.. anyone to explain why Beck was calling pass after pass the last 6 mins of the game and 2 points down? Does he simply panic? Does he suffer seizures and become unable to call a running play? If ANYTHING we needed to keep the ball AWAY from UCLA with our defense! We were at least doing some damage on the ground! UCLA was daring us to throw. There were 7 dropping into coverage when T-mart got picked…. out coached once again? It reminded me of Wisky all over again! Even with the epic meltdown on D we still had a good chance to win the game had Beck not had brain freeze! It’s discouraging to watch us shoot ourselves in the foot time and again.

    Bo has been out coached by almost every single name brand coach! He only beat Stoops because we had the greatest D lineman in our history or perhaps the game! Mora was ready and had his team not only ready but believing in themselves. We looked unsure and tentative the 2nd half… as we’ve seen to many times before.

    Bo makes 3 million a year and he best figure it out. Callyhoots got himself fired by hiring his buddies and Bo is well down that same road imo. We needed to hire a experienced OC and DC and did neither! Is Nebraska the NEW OJT place for those jobs? With just a tiny bit of creativity on offense we could have still won that game. Watson was run out of town but is doing well at Louisville… so was he really the problem? We have many more questions then answers right now but if things don’t GREATLY improve we’re in for a very long season…….

  4. Terry Darnall says:

    Pathetic! We have talent even on defense, but they are very poorly coached and poorly motivated! Where is Charlie McBride when we need him. Please Charlie come out of retirement!
    Blackshirts means a defense that is aggressive and blowing up the offensive plays. This defense is just the opposite! Tentative, passive, lazy, confused, thinking instead of playing with instincts, all of that is coaching! I was hoping Coach K and Coach Joseph were going to change things. Nope, Pelini’s bullheaded ways, is determined to play a passive, wait and see defense. Nebraska is in trouble. If they don’t make a bowl game, because Pelini is not willing to change, then he needs as Donald Trump says, You’re fired!

    1. Skytown J says:

      If NU has talent on defense, they must be hiding it somewhere. So far, after two games, we’re seeing the same problems from last year. And it all starts with almost zero push from the front four. But not from lack of effort, so what does that tell you? As last year, when an opposing QB sits in the pocket for longer than 4-5+ seconds, with guys chasing receivers all over the field having their backs to the line of scrimmage, the QB can run at will. My recommendation is, if you can’t get any push with four, they might as well put another LB out there, and not get any push with the three up front. At least you have another tackler to stop the QB runs. Better tackling would help too. Duh.