LINCOLN — Minnesota coach Jerry Kill had two simple explanations for the Gophers' struggles in their 38-14 loss to Nebraska on Saturday.
“We got beat at the line of scrimmage, period,” Kill said. “We got dominated at the line of scrimmage. I have seen Wisconsin and Nebraska on film and in the game, and they are playing as good (of) football as any team in the Big Ten.”
Kill's other answer for what went wrong? A guy named Taylor Martinez.
Nebraska's junior quarterback completed 21 of 29 passes for 308 yards and two touchdowns. The Huskers finished with 444 yards of total offense while limiting the Gophers to 177 yards in 57 plays.
“Our defense was asked to be on the field too much, and Martinez did a great job of throwing the football around,” Kill said. “He's really worked on his game, and I'll compliment him. He really played well.”
Kill said there was a noticeable difference in the way Martinez ran Nebraska's offense from the last time the teams played — a 41-14 NU victory in Minneapolis last season.
“I think that he knows their offense inside and out,” Kill said. “I have coached the game for 30 years and I watched him last year, and I think the coaches had a lot to do with it. I think there is probably a trust factor with him and the coaches.
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“He has a tremendous amount of confidence while throwing the football, which is built with his years. We certainly know he has tremendous athleticism, but I think he has command of the offense and has good people around him.”
Gophers middle linebacker Mike Rallis said he and his mates played good defense at times, but not nearly enough of the time.
“I think they had too many big plays,” Rallis said. “We didn't do a good job on third down. If you get them in third-and-long, you have to win more of those than you lose, and we didn't do that today.”
The Gophers did score twice late in the fourth quarter on a pair of short touchdown runs by MarQueis Gray to avoid their first shutout in almost a year. Maybe the lack of sustained drives wore the Minnesota defense down, but Rallis wasn't going to use it as an excuse.
“I signed up for defense to get stops,” Rallis said. “My job isn't to dictate what the offense does or doesn't do. Every time I step on the field, my job is to execute and get stops and not worry about what the offense does.”
Kill said that inability to sustain drives did make things difficult through the first three quarters.
“It's a team game,” Kill said. “You've got to help each other out. You can't go three-and-out and make your defense (go out there again), certainly against a team that's averaging over 500 yards of offense, it's a pretty tall task to ask them to do.”
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>> Video: Jon Nyatawa's postgame analysis:
>> Video: NU coach Bo Pelini after the Minnesota game:
>> Video: NU's Taylor Martinez after the Minnesota game:
>> Video: NU senior P.J. Smith after the Minnesota game:
>> Video: NU's Kenny Bell after the Minnesota game:
>> Video: Tom Osborne leads NU onto the field:
>> Video: The Husker seniors are honored:
>> Video: A tribute to Tom Osborne:
>> Video: Nebraska-Minnesota game highlights: