LINCOLN — As an Iowa assistant coach last season, Rick Kaczenski took part in the Hawkeyes’ defensive preparations for Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez.
A year later, and seeing Martinez a year further along, Kaczenski is glad he doesn’t have to do it again.
“He’s scary,” said Kaczenski, hired last December to coach NU’s defensive line.
Martinez in recent weeks has become the Huskers’ all-time leader in total offense and passing yards. Kaczenski said the Iowa coaches were impressed last fall after studying Nebraska during a bye week.
“We came out of that staff meeting saying, ‘This guy can throw a lot better than people think,’ ” he said.
“He just continues to grow week-in and week-out. And I’m glad I don’t have to defend him anymore, that’s for sure. He’d be a nightmare. Glad he’s on our team.”
Huskers pressured Gopher QB Nelson
Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson completed his first five passes Saturday against Nebraska, a promising start for the true freshman considering the Huskers were leading the nation by allowing opponents to complete just 46.4 percent of their throws.
Nelson and Max Shortell then combined to go just 5 for 23 the rest of the way — and NU somehow lowered that season figure to 45.5 percent.
NU secondary coach Terry Joseph said it wasn’t so much an adjustment after a few series as Husker defenders simply becoming more aggressive.
“I think the guys knew it was coming but we were like a half-step slow on it,” Joseph said. “Then we just kind of settled down a little bit and kind of got in the flow of the game.”
Junior nickel and cornerback Ciante Evans said the 5-for-5 start would have felt different if the Gophers were completing balls downfield.
“He was throwing little swing routes that he should complete,” Evans said. “But we decided we needed to get some pressure on him, rattle him up and make him realize that we’re here and we’re here to play.”
The Huskers’ defensive work impressed MarQueis Gray, the Gopher receiver who started this season at quarterback.
“All those guys are fast,” Gray said. “They’re quick and athletic. All of them are in the right spot at the right time. They know their jobs like the back of their hands.”
Pelini scores fifth straigth nine-win season
The 38-14 win over Minnesota secured the fifth straight nine-win season for Bo Pelini since becoming Nebraska head coach.
At 9-2 overall (6-1 Big Ten), the Huskers also have the 47th nine-win season in school history and 40th in the past 44 seasons. Also, NU is one of only four schools to have secured a fifth straight nine-win season in 2012, joining Oregon, Alabama and Boise State.
Short week means extra work for Huskers
How Nebraska handles the short week will ultimately be determined by its effort at Iowa Friday. But the Huskers were predicting Saturday that the last 24 hours would be key.
The NU coaches said after the 38-14 win over Minnesota that they’d be left with little time to construct a game plan Sunday morning — because installation had to start in practice later that day.
And the players had to rest their bodies Saturday night — “Get off your feet, just relax,” Ameer Abdullah advised after the game. Then they have to recover quickly Sunday. Extra work in the film room will be beneficial this week as well, according to defensive end Cameron Meredith.
“Every individual on this team has to go in on their own time to watch film,” he said. “It’s just extra preparation especially because you miss an extra day. It’s really important to just do stuff on your own by yourself.”
High field goal went Maher’s way
There have been a few times in Brett Maher’s career when officials have ruled, perhaps controversially, that he missed a field goal as the football sailed high above the uprights.
His 39-yard field goal in the first quarter nearly flew outside of the left post. The officials said it was good. The play can’t be reviewed when the football is above the upright.
“It was close. I thought I hit it well,” Maher said. “Sometimes into the wind, it just takes it a little more than others. Thank God it didn’t take it a couple more feet.”
Maher has now made 11 of his last 12 field goal attempts. He’s 16 for 22 this year.