The Nebraska Cornhuskers went to Pasadena looking like a team on a mission, with the potential to do something special this year after a fantastic opening weekend victory against Southern Miss. However, the UCLA Bruins brought the Huskers, their fans, and the media hype right back down to earth.
Husker nation has already taken to social media outlets to voice their displeasure, specifically Facebook and Twitter.
Fans have been quick to go at Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez and his play. However, I cannot blame the struggles of the offense, especially in the second half, on Martinez.
Rather, I’m looking directly at offensive coordinator Tim Beck, offensive line coach Barney Cotton, and the offensive line.
Let’s start with the offensive line. I would need more than two hands to count the number of times UCLA rushed four guys, but got into the face of Taylor Martinez immediately after the snap.
Left tackle Brent Qvale had an absolutely horrible game. His fellow linemen on the right side of the line, Jeremiah Sirles and Andrew Rodriguez, were equally pathetic and disappointing. Datone Jones had a monster game for the Bruins, including his sack and safety of Taylor Martinez that put the Bruins up for good.
Barney Cotton has been a great coach for Nebraska, don’t get me wrong, but he has got to do a better job getting his guys to play more physical. Nebraska, in the first half, ran the ball with authority. In the second half, they lacked a passion and mean running game. The Bruins completely controlled the line of scrimmage.
If I had to pick one person to be most upset at, it definitely has to be Tim Beck. Beck struggled in the second half calling plays to neutralize the Bruins ferocity. I cannot recall a single screen called in the game by the Huskers. If the Bruins want to run up the field at Martinez all game long, then slip Abdullah out of the back field, or throw to Jamal Turner or Kenny Bell on a bubble screen.
Beck was a mastermind in the first half, for the most part, dialing up plays and keeping UCLA off-balance. The Bruins made adjustments at half, but Beck barely did in the second half. The Huskers had a handful of three and out drives that killed them in the second half. Sure, dropped passes had to do with that, but so did play calling.
Beck got a way from the running game in the second half because, as he said, the Huskers just were not running the ball very well.
Speaking of which, where in the world was Imani Cross? Nebraska tried to out-run UCLA to the corners, but the Bruins were every bit as fast as the Huskers. Nebraska needed to go back to their traditional football: Power I and run it up the throat with a big, bruising back. I don’t recall ever seeing Cross on the field.
Martinez was decent with what was given to him by his teammates. I’m not saying he should get off easy, but do not be quick to judge his performance. His 17 for 31 passing was a bit misleading, as the receivers had a number of drops. Now, Martinez also should have throw four interceptions to go along with those drops.
Martinez also ran the ball well, including a 92 yard touchdown run. A couple of poor decisions by Martinez also cost the Huskers first downs.
Let’s hope things go better next week for the boys in red.