Nebraska moved to 2-0 in Big Ten play Saturday with a 44-7 win over Purdue in West Lafayette. Here are our updated grades as the Huskers head into their second bye week of the season.
QUARTERBACKS — 7 (Change: -0.5)
Rough day for freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong, who threw three interceptions and was just 6-of-18 passing for 43 yards on the day. And Nebraska still won 44-7. Part of that was due to some pretty good play out of Ron Kellogg III, but the story here is Armstrong. He looked like a freshman making his first road start, and there’s no shame in that, but it should only grease the wheels for Taylor Martinez’s return.
RUNNING BACKS — 8 (Change: None)
We knew Nebraska could “name its total” on the ground in this game and Ameer Abdullah turned in what’s becoming a shockingly standard game (126 yards, one touchdown). Imani Cross added two touchdowns, bringing his season total to eight and Terrell Newby averaged more than six yards per carry. Nothing to see here (except for three very good backs).
WIDE RECEIVERS — 8 (Change: None)
Sort of a rough day for a very good group of wide outs. When Armstrong wasn’t missing them, the Huskers had a few big drops that could’ve cost Nebraska points in a closer game. That’s not enough to undo five games worth of good work, however.
OFFENSIVE LINE — 6 (Change: -0.5)
The full extent of Spencer Long’s knee injury is unknown at this point, but Bo Pelini appeared to be fearing the worst in his post game press conference. That alone knocks this group down a notch. Beyond that, the offensive line played pretty well though Mike Moudy, filling in for Long, had a few rough spots.
OFFENSIVE — 7 (Change: None)
This was a strange game offensively. The margin probably could’ve been larger if Nebraska simply wanted to stick with what was working (the run). Instead, the Huskers opted to work on some things but slightly more consistency would’ve been welcome.
DEFENSIVE LINE — 5 (Change: +0.5)
It was a happy homecoming for Randy Gregory (two sacks, one safety, one forced fumble and one recovered) and Aaron Curry and Greg McMullen also got to Purdue quarterback Danny Etling once each. Purdue’s offensive line isn’t anything to write home about, but Nebraska’s defensive line is getting better.
LINEBACKERS — 4 (Change: None)
Little worth noticing here. No glaring mistakes, no particularly huge plays, which may represent progress but I’m keeping the linebackers level for this week. David Santos led the Huskers with five tackles, which tells you how effective Purdue was offensively today.
DEFENSIVE BACKS — 7 (Change: None)
Stanley Jean Baptiste’s ejection for a targeting penalty in the first half, didn’t seem to have much effect on the Huskers overall. It’s tough to argue with the secondary play when Etling was 14-of-35.
DEFENSE — 5 (Change: +0.5)
The Huskers lost the shutout on the Boilermakers’ late touchdown, but Nebraska’s making the necessary improvements against the, shall we say, easy part of the schedule. Will it be enough in November? I don’t know, but I do know that, against the bottom teams in the Big Ten, Nebraska’s not going backwards.
SPECIAL TEAMS — 5.5 (Change: None)
Pretty good day for the special teams. Sam Foltz punted well, the kickoff coverage was good, but the punt return game is still lifeless.