Nebraska earned its first victory on the season Saturday with a 53-28 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Huskers pushed their record to 1-6 on the year, while Minnesota dropped its mark to 3-4, extending a four-game losing streak.
Here are three takeaways from today’s action:
Nebraska’s offensive play
Offensively, Nebraska played its most well-rounded game of the year. Nebraska compiled 659 yards of offense and scored 53 points, both season highs.
One place where Nebraska impressed was on the ground. The Huskers had three rushers over 100 yards with running backs Devine Ozigbo and Maurice Washington and quarterback Adrian Martinez running for 152, 109 and 125 yards respectively. The last time three Nebraska players ran for 100 yards in the same game was in 2010 when Taylor Martinez, Roy Helu Jr. and Rex Burkhead did it against Washington.
The passing game also performed well, with the Huskers gaining 276 yards through the air, although they were not called on as much since the running game performed so well.
So far this year, the offense put up gaudy yardage numbers, but it hasn’t correlated to points on the scoreboard. Today was an example of what this offense can look like when everything is clicking. Head coach Scott Frost’s offense has taken some time to be implemented correctly, but today is a sign everything is starting to come together.
Adrian Martinez’s best performance to date
True freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez had some great games this year, but today was his best. Martinez threw for 276 yards on 25-29 passes with three passing touchdowns and no interceptions. He added 125 yards on the ground on 15 carries with another touchdown, although he did fumble once.
Opposing head coach P.J. Fleck had high praise for Martinez.
“I think he’s one of the better players in the country already,” Fleck said. “He’s a running back that’s an incredible quarterback. He’s so fast, he’s so quick, he’s bigger than you think and he can hurt you.”
Frost was similarly impressed.
“I had no idea he was 25 of 29. Those are senior numbers, those aren’t 18-year-old numbers. I’m glad he’s here.”
Martinez has flashed his potential over the season, but consistency has been an issue. He is improving every week as he gains more game experience, but today was a different performance altogether as he rarely made a wrong decision all afternoon.
If Martinez is able to build on today’s performance and improve, he can carry this offense and make Nebraska a dangerous team the rest of the way.
Small details were finally done correctly
One of the constant storylines of this season is the failure of doing the small things correctly. Nebraska ranks near the bottom of the country in penalties, penalty yards, turnover differential and third-down conversion rates, showing its failures so far this season
Today, Nebraska did well in all three categories and uncoincidentally won the game.
In the penalty department, the Huskers had six penalties for 43 yards, a season low in both categories. Nebraska was even in turnover margin with both teams turning the ball over once each. On third down, the Huskers went 8-12, their best mark of the year, and much better than their season average of 34 percent.
During practice this week, Frost talked at length about how this team was preparing better and and focusing on the small parts of the game. It appears the added focus paid off today with their performance. While doing it in one game is great, the next step for this team will be doing it on a week-to-week basis.