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Three things we learned and three things we still don’t know about the Huskers coming out of Saturday's loss to Ohio State.
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Three things we learned
1. Nebraska is better up front.
The lines showed significant progress, especially early. The Huskers’ experienced offensive front pushed the Ohio State front four, giving Adrian Martinez and Luke McCaffrey time to make plays. On defense, the Huskers denied Ohio State big runs and made the Buckeyes work for short-yardage conversions. If those fronts can stay healthy, Nebraska will compete with Wisconsin and Iowa.
2. Scott Frost needs a playmaker outside.
The offense hummed in the first half, thanks mostly to the quarterbacks. But Nebraska’s weakness at wide receiver continues to glare. If Omar Manning can’t get on the field and keep safeties honest, who will?
3. McCaffrey didn’t do enough to threaten Martinez’s job, at least not yet.
The redshirt freshman is a great change-of-pace option, but he didn’t show enough Saturday to unseat a two-year starter. Martinez, meanwhile, looked sharp early before struggling in the second half. Both committed a turnover.
After each game this season, Sam McKewon will hand out his Husker Report Card, assessing Nebraska's performance in several areas. Here are the grades coming out of the Ohio State game.
Three things we still don't know
1. How badly will targeting penalties hurt Nebraska next week?
Cam Taylor-Britt and Deontai Williams both received ejections for targeting calls. Taylor-Britt looked like an easy call; Williams’ flag was very debatable. By rule, those two starters will miss the first half of next week’s clash with Wisconsin. That’s bad news considering Graham Mertz lit up Illinois Friday night.
2. Where were Dedrick Mills and Wan’Dale Robinson?
Mills carried 10 times for 33 yards. Robinson caught six passes for 49 yards. That was it from Nebraska’s two most explosive offensive threats. NU didn’t get enough snaps in the second half to establish a rhythm, but Mills and Robinson need to carry more responsibility.
3. Has Nebraska solved its special teams woes from 2019?
We didn’t get enough evidence Saturday to answer affirmatively. Connor Culp converted his lone field goal, a 22-yarder. Punter William Przystup averaged 44.6 yards on five punts. The return game, on both sides, didn’t stand out. The Huskers were so bad a year ago that no news is good news in special teams. But we need to see more.
A pair of Husker defensive backs were ejected for targeting on separate plays and will be suspended for the first half of next week's game against Wisconsin.