Huskers Top Chattanooga, 40-7
Martinez, Maher, Meredith star for Huskers in opener
Taylor Martinez rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns and added 116 yards passing to help lead Nebraska past FCS division foe Chattanooga, 40-7. First-time starter Brett Maher booted four field goals and defensive end Cameron Meredith had two sacks and an interception to power the Huskers past the Mocs.
Nebraska jumped out on Chattanooga 10-0 in the first quarter on a 7-yard Martinez rushing touchdown and a 50-yard Maher field goal. The lead expanded to 23-0 at the half on another Martinez option run - this time from 43 yards - and two more Maher field goals from 48 yards and 34 yards. Chattenooga's only score came to open the third quarter. Nebraska would score three times in the third, a Maher 21-yard kick, a three yard touchdown run by I-back Rex Burkhead (set up by an interception) and another long run by Martinez. Neither team scored in the fourth quarter, as substitute players filled in many key positions.
Analysis and Observations
- The much-speculated Husker offense looked...well, pretty much like last year's offense...at least to open the game, when they sputtered on a 3-and-out series and had to punt.
- Once they settled in, it became obvious that the traditional down-the-line option will be a staple of the new Husker offense. While we are yet to see the true triple option involving the fullback, there was a steady dose of speed option from Martinez. He executed it well at times and was able to break big runs.
- Well HELLO Brett Maher. Nothing like a 50-yard field goal to help people get over their Alex Henery hangover.
- None of the schemes matter if the offensive line can't move people around. Early in the game, Chattanooga had their linebackers standing in the gaps, and the Husker lineman struggled to adjust and create space for the backs.
- On the outside, sophomore Quincy Enunwa (4 catches 58 yards) out shined the more experienced Brandon Kinnie. Enunwa made some nice catches in space and leveled a defensive back with a crack back block. Kinnie, on the other hand, was thrown to a handful of times and had two dropped balls and one he completely short-armed. Kinnie will need to step up against better competition.
- Mid-way through the first half, Nebraska increased its offensive tempo significantly, and the Husker players - Martinez in particular - seemed to respond. They were in a better rhythm and performed with more precision.
- Defensively, Cameron Meredith was a stud for NU. The Husker defensive end created consistent pressure, recorded two sacks and had an interception on a ball initially tipped by Jared Crick. Meredith got nicked up a bit in the first half, and it was good to see him return to the field full speed.
- As always, Crick was hard to block and Lavonte David was all over the field. Table stakes.
- The Mocs picked on Andrew Green, first-time starter at cornerback. On their only score, Green got his feet crossed up and tripped. It will be reassuring for NU to get Alfonzo Dennard back at that spot.
- Another emerging star on defense: Damion Stafford. The backup safety saw significant time in the second half and made a handful of highlight worthy tackles. The talent is undeniable. It will be interesting to see how the NU coaches develop and use the Juco transfer this year.
- Maher showed his ability to be a "complete" kicker for Nebraska by booming not only field goals but also doing a nice job with his kickoffs and launching a long punt in the second half.
- Freshman Jamal Turner made the most of his one opportunity with the ball. He took a simple short throw and made a 19-yard highlight-reel run. He will be fun to watch.
- In his fourth quarter action, Brion Carnes looked very much like a freshman, misplaying several option runs and fumbling a pitch. It will take time for him to get game ready. It's good to see the coaching staff using this chance for him to see the speed of the college game.
- Just in case anyone was wondering, Martinez has his wheels back. When he gets loose, he's gone.