Here are World-Herald sports columnist Tom Shatel’s takes on Nebraska’s 36-30 loss to UCLA on Saturday.
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Carried by Abdullah: Ameer Abdullah was a shining star in this lost night off Sunset Boulevard. You don’t replace Rex Burkhead, but Abdullah came close. He carried himself like a starting running back and carried the offense at times. He’s got great vision and feet, and he makes you miss with a wiggle. And he’s an able blocker in pass protection, too, which is a big reason he’s playing. Yes, there was that fumble. But this kid’s on his way.
What Blackshirts?: Whatever happened to the Blackshirts? Things are to the point where nobody’s even asking about handing out the Blackshirts anymore. Say what you want about personnel and no Ndamukong Suh. But the lack of fundamentals — basic tackling — is puzzling. Put it on John Papuchis if you want, but Bo Pelini is ultimately in charge of the defense. If things were great, he would get the credit. They aren’t. And worse, Bo doesn’t offer up any answers. Is it time to play the freshmen up front?
Maher back at it: Brett Maher is present and accounted for. That was a big boost to an otherwise bad night. He had a couple of brutal punts early. He looked like he had the shanks. But Maher has a short memory, which is a handy thing for a kicker. He bounced back when his team needed him with that 54-yard field goal at the end of the first half. UCLA called two timeouts to ice him, and you wondered what Jim Mora was doing. Maybe that settled Maher. Whatever happened, he’s back. Good to see him back.