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Husker Talk: ‘Feel good’ moments for Nebraska kids

November 1, 2018

If the game against Bethune-Cookman didn’t take you back to the time of those beautiful fall days when the Big Red was steamrolling overmatched opponents, I don’t know what will. Those margins of scoring were large enough that you could finish the game on the radio while doing yard work outside. Crisp air, colored leaves and all the nostalgia that you could handle.

That’s exactly the feeling I got while watching Nebraska dismantle the Wildcats. It was such an old-school feel, I really thought I was watching the first or second game of the season when these wins typically take place.

And all I kept asking was, “can we please just start the season over again?” There are a lot of tough games left on the schedule, but if this team — in its current state of the program — could play from Game 1 again? Wow, it could be really interesting. One thing we know is that there’d be more than two wins.

Saturday was definitely a feel-good moment for so many reasons, spanning the fan support, a blowout win and, most importantly, the chance to get so many deserving players game action. Just fun all around, and it was nice not to have to stress out like usual watching the game.

Still a passion

Having a blowout win enabled Nebraska to not only work on getting players in the game to utilize the four-game redshirt rule, but it allowed walk-on Nebraska natives like Matt Jarzynka to make a defensive play that he’ll remember for the rest of his life. The defensive lineman from Loup City has busted his butt for five years. Through all of the turmoil and coaching changes, he just kept going to work. After the game, he was flooded by media, and he talked about how he just about hung up the cleats before this year. But he wanted to finish the right way. With his crushing sack on the quarterback, he definitely got his shining moment as a Cornhusker. The jubilation coming from him, and his teammates, is really what sports are all about. So happy for that guy, because he “gets it.” He knows what it takes to keep that passion as a walk-on, and he fulfills his role. Nothing better to see a Nebraska kid tweet after the game, “It’s been a dream all my life…. Dream Accomplished.” All that for one big play in five years. Really cool.

Tunnel walk

Old-school Sirius tunnel walk: 2. Home wins with said tunnel walk: 2. Enough said.

Competition

Yeah, the Wildcats were not even close to Nebraska athletically. Just by seeing the two teams on TV, you could see the stark contrast in the size of players. It was worth a chuckle or two. But it was nice to see the Huskers completely dominate and not give Bethune-Cookman a chance to do anything. If you’re just looking at the score, well, don’t. Nebraska would’ve put 60 on the board had the starters played more than just a half.

No relation

With 1,656 passing yards on the season, “2 A.M.” has now set the Nebraska freshman record for single-season passing yards. In just a little more than half of the season, he broke “T-Magic’s” record of 1,632 in 2010. (And for those who might not know, or remember, nicknames, that’s Adrian Martinez and Taylor Martinez, respectively.)

Regardless of what you call him, Adrian Martinez is going to be incredibly special in his career at Nebraska. For the recruiting angle, what offensive player wouldn’t want to play with a quarterback like that?

Game action

Somewhere around 73 players got some form of game action on Saturday. As mentioned before, the new redshirt rule really helps to get young guys live reps to help in development or something similar to what Jarzynka experienced. Regardless, it was great to dig deep into the roster to see who was actually on the field. Players like Albion native and running back Wyatt Mazour, future star at tight end Katerian Legrone, nose tackle transfer Vaha Vainuku, Navy SEAL Damian Jackson, Central City native and linebacker Jordan Paup, pass rusher Guy Thomas, almost forgotten running back Mikale Wilbon, UCF transfer and Wahoo native Noah Vedral and defensive tackle Peyton Newell.

Newell was another guy I was really happy to see make a great play. The sprawling interception by the senior from Kansas sent the sideline into a frenzy. As a former four-star recruit, Newell has never really gotten much playing time in his career, except for this season. The amount of rotating on defensive line done by the new coaching staff really helps guys like Newell to see the field before the end of their careers.

Star at safety

Deontai Williams plays with an extremely high motor. He’s aggressive, and you can count on him making at least one splash play per game. Now, he can be a little reckless and loose in coverage, but Nebraska will be counting on him much more from here on out. The interception he had on Saturday was a thing of beauty. He tracked the pass to the back of the end zone and high-pointed the ball over the receiver.

Learning curve

All in all, the Blackshirts played really well against the Wildcats. But, as in every game, there are some broken plays that are not fun to look back on during film session. Two of the biggest plays that the Wildcats busted for long yardage were when a Nebraska freshman was lined up against a slot receiver. One play, freshman outside linebacker Caleb Tannor was completely lost in coverage off the line of scrimmage. And the next, it was freshman defensive back Cam Taylor who got spun around in coverage by the slot receiver.

Spin cycle

Maurice “Crazy Legs” Washington definitely has no fear when running the ball. Even though he could be categorized as “spindly” and “wiry,” he runs with reckless abandon. You can bet that each game, he’ll take a huge shot by a defender. No matter how many spins he makes, or “dead leg” jukes, he’s going to get popped. So far, though, he’s holding up — even with the ice packs on his legs and back in the second half last week.

Finally on the field

We’ve talked about uber-athlete JoJo Domann in previous weeks since he’s slowly getting playing time after battling injuries. One thing is for sure, though, is that he’s a natural ball hawk, and he got rave reviews by both Mike Riley’s and Scott Frost’s coaching staffs. He’s extremely active at safety and outside linebacker. On one play against Bethune-Cookman, he showed his tenacity by running down a defender toward the sideline and forcing a fumble.

No big deal

Wide receiver Bryan Reimers had possibly the most nonchalant circus catch you’ll ever see. Ever. My question is, did he even think he caught it? Usually when a receiver is pleading his case, he jumps up with authority and shows the ball. He barely smirked. It was an incredible play nonetheless as the ball caromed, bounced and was eventually snagged with one hand. Highlight-reel stuff, except for the celebration.

The Urban effect

Ohio State had a bye week after getting crushed by Purdue. The Buckeyes are extremely talented as usual but aren’t playing the best football with everything going on in the program. However, Urban Meyer’s teams have always come back in a big way after losses — not to mention the week off. The Buckeyes are going to come out hot. Will Nebraska be able to match it?