The fact that the Huskers were able to beat coach Pat Fitzgerald’s squad was not jaw-dropping as the game was played in front of yet another sellout crowd in Memorial Stadium in Lincoln Nebraska. The Wildcats have been wildly disappointing this season and this contest did not have a clear-cut favorite. What was so spectacular was the manner in which the victory was produced.
The story of the game was the fact that the Huskers won the game on 80-plus yard drive with less than two minutes to play and no timeouts. The drive resulted in a touchdown pass from Nebraska’s third-string quarterback to their no. 4 wide receiver. Redshirt senior Ron Kellogg III heaved the ball down field and a tipped ball was caught by redshirt freshman Jordan Westerkamp.
Beyond the exciting final two minutes of the game and the exhilarating final play, there was a lot more for the Huskers to reflect upon. This was a game that saw the Husker once again missing senior quarterback Taylor Martinez as well as top wide receiver Kenny Bell, who left the game early. His counterpart, wide receiver Jamal Turner, was also unable to contribute to the Huskers’ winning effort.
The Big Red were also without brothers Spencer Long and Jake Long. The Huskers were charged with the task of stepping up across the board and when the bell rang, they answered.
The coaching staff, Pelini in particular, have received much criticism this season and most boisterously following last week’s disappointing loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers. What did the staff do in response? They came out and coached the game masterfully. Fans were screaming when Nebraska took their first timeout of the second half on a fourth-down attempt by the Wildcats that never materialized. What those fans were unaware of was the lack of a Huskers defender on the play.
The staff burnt an early timeout that many were afraid would burn the team in the end; it nearly did, but it may have saved the Huskers from playing the down with only 10 defenders.
Also, the defensive scheme was very well planned and executed. Wildcats quarterbacks Kain Colter or Trevor Seimian were unable to find much success against the Huskers through the air as the Nebraska combined outstanding coverage and well-timed blitzes from the linebackers and the secondary to apply pressure in key situations.
It seems the staff has accepted the necessity of bringing some the athletic safeties up to the line to pressure the quarterback. The success that the Wildcats were able to find was on the ground by running back Treyvon Green.
The staff also made the masterful decision to swallow their pride and insert the senior third-string quarterback for the final drive of the game. The coaches really showed confidence in Kellogg by giving him the ball. They also seem to have a freshman quarterback in Armstrong who was not at all sulking on the sidelines, but was instead elated for Kellogg. This was a much-needed confidence boost for the Huskers all around.