Published Sunday, October 28, 2012 AT 1:09 AM / Updated at 1:09 AM
Nebraska-Michigan: Tracking the offense, defense
Jon Nyatawa Omaha World-Herald

World-Herald staff writer Jon Nyatawa takes a look at Nebraska’s effort on both sides of the ball during the Huskers’ 23-9 win over Michigan.

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TRACKING THE OFFENSE

NU star: Taylor Martinez. He was far from perfect. But after two turnovers and an undisclosed injury, the junior quarterback responded like a veteran should. He finished the night 14-of-24 passing, amassing 224 total yards.

Highlight: Kenny Bell was wide open. So wide open that a slightly underthrown football still didn’t allow for Michigan’s defenders to recover. Bell’s 32-yard touchdown put NU up 7-0 in the second quarter.

Busted play: On the fourth snap of the game, Ameer Abdullah was stuffed in the backfield by defensive end Craig Roh. No one blocked Roh. He turned the mistake into a drive-killing 5-yard loss.

Our take: Michigan’s defense was well-prepared for the matchup and did its best to keep the game close. But when the Huskers eliminated their unforced errors, they were tough to stop. It didn’t happen often, but NU didn’t need much Saturday. Nebraska’s quick tempo seemed to cause problems, but its inability to sustain drives made it difficult to establish that pace. The Huskers’ ground game got going in the second half, especially on the edge, which helped seal the win.

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TRACKING THE DEFENSE

NU stars: Will Compton, Sean Fisher, Alonzo Whaley and David Santos. Nebraska’s linebackers played well, firing through gaps, physically engaging blockers and pulling down ball carriers. They combined for 29 total tackles.

Highlight: On a diving catch attempt, Vincent Smith rolled on his back and lost control of the football. The ball popped in the air and P.J. Smith corralled it. He sprinted 53 yards to Michigan’s 4 for Nebraska’s first interception in a month.

Busted play: Not many to choose from, especially after a first-quarter deep ball completion was overturned by video review. But in the second quarter, Daimion Stafford got matched up one-on-one with Roy Roundree, unable to make a play on a 32-yard catch.

Our take: Incredible effort from the Blackshirts on Saturday, even before Denard Robinson left with an injury. The Huskers stuffed Michigan’s ground game from the start. And when the Wolverines looked to pass, their receivers had trouble finding open space to roam. The penalties were all costly and perhaps a bit concerning — but the Huskers want to play aggressively, never letting opposing offenses get confidence. They might want to tone it down just a tad, though.

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: jon.nyatawa@owh.com. He welcomes feedback.