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Slater's Report Card

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In a wild game that featured big plays and star performances, the Nebraska Cornhuskers delivered Oklahoma State its first loss of the season, 51-41. In a game that was back and forth, some costly mistakes were the downfall of the Cowboys. Here is how they graded out:

 

Quarterback

Against the nations' top rated pass defense, the Cowboys moved the ball with some effectiveness. However, the inaccuracy and indecisiveness of Brandon Weeden stalled potential drives on numerous occasions. Weeden was protected well by the offensive line, but he missed a few open receivers and seemed flustered at times. This game was a good learning experience for Weeden, but the Cowboys need him to play more poised as the season moves forward. Grade: C-

 

Running Backs

Kendall Hunter exposed the interior of the Cornhuskers defense, consistently ripping off nice gains on his way to another 200-yard game on the ground. His agility and toughness make him invaluable to this spread offense. Through only seven games, Hunter has run for an astounding 1,031 yards and 12 touchdowns. It is safe to say that he has returned to full health after an injury riddled 2009 season. Grade: A-

 

Wide Receivers

It may have been billed as a showdown between two of the best in college football, but it was not much of a match-up. Justin Blackmon had his way with Prince Amukamara, burning him deep on multiple occasions. Blackmon's incredible ability was on full display during his 80-yard touchdown, snatching an underthrown ball over the top of Amukamara before jetting right by him for the score. Blackmon should expect constant double coverage the rest of the season because he has made it clear that no defensive back can contain him. Grade: B+

 

Front Seven

Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez deserves credit for his amazing performance. Martinez was elusive in the pocket and showed quickness the Cowboys have not seen this year. However, the front seven must use better form and wrap up on their tackles. Martinez continuously shook off defenders and made crucial third down conversions. If the Cowboys made a few of those stops it would have been a completely different game. Grade: D+

 

Secondary

The unit that has been under the most scrutiny this season for the Cowboys let them down again. Martinez, who is not known for his passing, led an aerial assault that included five touchdown passes. The defensive backs seemed like they were playing soft coverage and Nebraska wide receivers always had a nice cushion to work with. This secondary must fix these leaks and play with more consistency if the Cowboys have any thoughts of challenging for the Big 12 South. Grade: D

 

Special Teams

There were two plays in the first half that killed any momentum the Cowboys had gained. The first was a fake punt conversion by Nebraska that was filled with blown assignments by the special teams. The second came right after a Cowboy score, as the Huskers took back the kick-off for a touchdown and silenced the crowd. The coverage team has been dreadful this season, ranking dead last in the nation. It's never good when special teams can swing a game, but that was just the case on Saturday. Grade: D+

 

Coaching

To beat a very talented Nebraska team, the Cowboys had to play clean, fundamental football. Instead, they made mental mistakes and had penalties at the most inopportune times. Some of the responsibility for that falls on the coaching staff. On the bright side, Dana Holgorsen's offense played well enough to win, even against a tough defense. Nebraska had not given up more than 21 points in the last calendar year. The Cowboys scored 41. Grade: C

 

Overall

It was unreasonable to expect this Cowboys team to pull off an undefeated season. In the middle of a rough schedule, they were bound to run into a tough opponent playing at the top of their game. Martinez was unstoppable and the Cowboys had no answer. They did not play a sound game and it showed on the scoreboard. It is important for them to put this game behind them and focus on a tough Kansas State team next weekend. This season still has the potential to be special. Grade: C