World-Herald staff writer Jon Nyatawa takes a look at key players, plays and more on both sides of the ball.
* * *
TRACKING THE OFFENSE
NU star: Rex Burkhead. He looks like his old self again. Maybe even better. The senior amassed 144 total yards on just nine touches, scoring two touchdowns.
Highlight: Was it a pass or a run? Kenny Bell’s 68-yard touchdown sort of resembled a wide receiver sweep. But watch the replay closely and you’ll see that Taylor Martinez shoveled the football forward to Bell, who then turned the corner and outran everyone.
Busted play: The Huskers were caught with 12 players on the field early in the first quarter. Mike Marrow got an earful from the NU coaches after the officials enforced a 5-yard penalty. One of few miscues Saturday.
Our take: Burkhead’s back, which adds a helping of stability to Nebraska’s already dangerous offense. The Huskers were productive without their star workhorse the past three weeks, but just in case you forgot, Burkhead provided an emphatic reminder of his importance with nine productive touches. If Taylor Martinez is in a funk — like he was a bit to start Saturday — Burkhead will carry the load.
* * *
TRACKING THE DEFENSE
NU star: Eric Martin. Idaho State couldn’t contain the senior defensive end in passing situations. He caused all sorts of havoc, finishing with 2½ sacks. All five of his tackles came behind the line of scrimmage.
Highlight: Ciante Evans jumped in front of an Idaho State receiver on a second-down play and hauled in the football for his first career interception. He capped the play by returning it 29 yards for a touchdown.
Busted play: There must have been some miscommunication on the second play of the third quarter because Nebraska’s secondary left a slot receiver uncovered. Had Luke Austin not tripped, he would have gained much more than 18 yards on the catch.
Our take: The Huskers were sharp early in Saturday’s game, capitalizing on their athleticism advantage from the start. Idaho State looked overwhelmed and overmatched. And Nebraska did a good job of never letting the Bengals get comfortable in their pass-happy offense. NU covered receivers long enough for its pass rush to crush the pocket. Idaho State never had a chance.