It’s hard to find any big takeaways or get too excited about individual performances when the opponent is an FCS team, especially when that FCS team is playing its back-up quarterback. Anything but a dominant performance by the Huskers would have been disappointing on Saturday.
Fortunately, a dominant performance (for the most part) is what the Huskers produced against Bethune-Cookman. With that being the case, let’s get a little wacky and have a little fun with this week’s breakdown. We’re going to celebrate some of the more off-the-wall or memorable plays from some guys that don’t normally get a chance to share the spotlight.
Let’s start with every lineman’s dream.
— Derek Peterson (@DrPeteyHV) October 27, 2018
The Wildcats had put together an extended drive spanning the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second. After moving inside the Nebraska 25-yard line, Bethune-Cookman quarterback David Israel rolled out to his left looking to pass.
Defensive end Ben Stille was engaged with a blocker and moving down the line towards the sideline. Israel tried to hit a receiver (who was covered fairly well by Dedrick Young II anyway) but his line drive off a pass dunked off Stille’s helmet and popped up about 12 feet in the air.
Senior nose tackle Peyton Newell, whose career statistics included three assisted tackle, one solo tackle and nothing else, was in and pursued the play as Israel rolled out.
Newell saw the ball bounce up and traded it with his eyes, running under it and pulling it down, falling to the turf for the interception.
“It was the longest second of my life,” Newell said. “The ball was just up there. From day one my dad always told me, you can always control running to the ball so I just ran to the ball like I always try to do. Thanks to Stille’s head being right there, it was pretty exciting.”
Newell gets bonus points for the celebration on this one.
This next play was perhaps even more bizarre than a football off the helmet.
Bryan Reimers, the former walk-on out of Lincoln East who was put on scholarship this year, has seen his playing time fluctuate all season. He’s had a couple games where he did not play at all on offense, a couple where he’s only played a few snaps and a few games where he’s played between 25 and 30 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. Over the last few games, though it seems like he’s really carved out a role for himself.
On Saturday, the 6-foot-5 senior only made one catch but it sure was a memorable one.
— Jacob Padilla (@JacobPadilla_) October 28, 2018
Reimers started out on the left side of the formation then motioned across all the way to the right. Quarterback Adrian Martinez started with Maurice Washington to his right and JD Spielman to his left in the backfield but he motions Spielman out to the right flat.
Reimers ran a 10-yard in route, but the pass was just a bit too far inside. He sold out trying to get his hands on the ball, diving to the round. He got his hands on it, but couldn’t squeeze the thing. It popped up in the air as Reimers rolled over and dropped right on his stomach. Reimers grabbed it, stood up and casually tossed it back to the official so he could get ready for the next play.
The play only went for 9 yards, but it was so bizarre that it faked out the broadcast crew in the moment (and me as well).
The guys involved in this next play are far from unheralded, but I wanted to include this play regardless. It’s Maurice Washington’s 8-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, but Washington isn’t the one I’m focused on here.
Did he get in?
Of course, @Mo_is_blessed got in!
— Nebraska On BTN (@NebraskaOnBTN) October 27, 2018
On second-and-goal, Nebraska lined up with two receivers to the left and two tight ends on the line. Martinez handed the ball of to Washington as two lineman pulled over to the left to lead the way for the freshman running back. Meanwhile, Stanley Morgan Jr., who started in the slot, gets mixed up with the defender assigned to him while Reimers takes care of his assignment and buries the guy in the end zone.
Washington angled toward the pylon without a defender anywhere near him. It’s both well-designed and poorly-defended and looks to be an easy touchdown for Washington. However, at the last second, Morgan carries his block directly into Washington’s path and knocks the running back down, but not before he crossed the goal line.
Morgan blocked a guy a good 10 yards across the field and in the process did more to slow down Washington than anyone on the Bethune-Cookman defense.
Next up we have a touchdown a long time in the making. Wahoo Neumann product and Central Florida transfer Noah Vedral made his debut as a Husker on Saturday after getting a late waiver for immediate eligibility from the NCAA.
After a standout multi-sport high school career at Neumann, Vedral committed to Scott Frost and the Knights after not receiving a scholarship offer from Nebraska. He put together a very efficient freshman campaign as McKenzie Milton’s backup before Frost left Orlando to take over the helm for the Huskers, and at that point the dual-threat quarterback realized he had a chance to fulfill a childhood dream. He followed Frost to Lincoln, first paying his own way as a walk-on before getting his release and moving onto scholarship.
Vedral expected to spend the whole season as the scout team quarterback while he sat out in accordance with NCAA transfer rules, but with the lack of depth in the quarterback room and injury scare for Martinez, the Huskers appealed for a waiver and eventually got it.
Vedral certainly looked rusty, which is understandable considering he hadn’t played in a real game since Nov. 18, 2017 and had been spending most of his time studying Nebraska’s opponents’ offenses rather than working on the Huskers’ own stuff. That being said, all the struggles went away when he found the end zone early in the fourth quarter.
— Derek Peterson (@DrPeteyHV) October 27, 2018
With the ball on the Bethune-Cookman 20-yard line, Nebraska ran a zone read to the short side of the field. The Wildcats brought someone unblocked off the edge, but he was keyed in on the running back so Vedral pulled the ball and took off himself.
A second Wildcat defender rushed off the opposite side and was running hard trying to track down Vedral, but tight end Kurt Rafdal blocked another defender in pursuit directly into the first one, taking them both out.
From that point there was just one man left to beat and no free blockers. Vedral tried a slight hesitation move, but the Bethune-Cookman defender didn’t bite, so Vedra turned on the jets and tried to run by him instead. The defender’s angle was ever so slightly off and Vedra took advantage, planting his foot at the 4-yard line and diving for the pylon. Touchdown.
“I loved it,” said redshirt freshman tight end Austin Allen, an Aurora native. “I’ve been buddies with Noah for a long time. We played basketball back in middle school together and seeing him do that, on the same stage over here at Nebraska, it was just a cool feeling that we’re both here and we’re both trying to make plays for this great state.”
Finally, let’s wrap things up with the play that fired up the team more than any other. You know the one.
— Chaz in SoCal ❄️ (@Chaz_in_Socal) October 28, 2018
To be honest, there isn’t a whole lot to break down here. Walk-on senior Matt Jarzynka out of Loup City lined up at end with redshirt freshman walk-on Jordan Paup at outside linebacker. The left tackle took on Paup while the left guard, well, I’m not quite sure what he was doing. He left Jarzynka untouched to go block a linebacker.
Jarzynka took advantage of the situation to record a sack on his first career play from scrimmage.
“It was awesome; home grown, I love seeing a Nebraska guy get in there and get a sack,” Allen said. “Jarzynka is one of those guys that works his tail off and he really deserved to get that sack.”
The intensity ratchets up significantly next weekend with a trip to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes on deck, but this week was about having some fun and getting as many guys on the field as they could. With 74 names on the participation report and a handful of plays like the ones above, I’d say Nebraska did just that.