It was a day for overcoming adversity in Lincoln, as Nebraska recovered from its big stumble in Pasadena to beat Arkansas State 42-13 Saturday at Memorial Stadium, holding a very good Red Wolves offense to no touchdowns. Bo Pelini left the stadium in an ambulance at halftime, but reports indicate he'll be back in action soon.
Here's my 1-2-3 observations for this week:
1. Rex Burkhead, the player, is fretting that he had to sit out another game while his knee injury heals. Burkhead, the leader, should be proud of the way his understudies played, rushing for a cumulative 287 yards on 47 attempts.
Ameer Abdullah is looking more like an every-down back; he is running tougher than he ever did last year, and piled up a career-high 187 yards on 30 carries.
Braylon Heard looked solid, and Imani Cross looked like the power back of the future. But don't get too excited; the Arkansas State defense is pretty weak.
2. The Cornhusker defense responded well with Zaire Anderson and David Santos at linebacker and Mo Seisay at cornerback; the Blackshirts got two takeaways and several sacks. It was a big day for Eric Martin, who is the Huskers' only consistent pass-rushing threat.
3. In his 28th start, junior quarterback Taylor Martinez can still best be described the same way he looked as a redshirt freshman – explosive but erratic. Martinez completed 13 of 14 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns, but he hit a speed bump in the third quarter when he lost two fumbles, one resulting in a Red Wolf touchdown.
Martinez is a much better technician as a passer when he doesn't have to worry about a pass rush. When he keeps his composure, he looks great. He'll have a rugged five-game stretch to start the Big Ten season, so he must work on keeping his composure.
Tad Stryker is the former sports editor of the North Platte Bulletin and provides analysis after each Husker football game for Bulletin readers. Stryker also writes for HuskerMax. (http://www.huskermax.com).