Adrian Martinez

Adrian Martinez finished with 327 yards passing and 118 on the ground.

World-Herald staff writer Chris Heady takes a look at Nebraska's effort on both sides of the ball during the Huskers' victory against Illinois.

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Tracking the offense

The game plan

Find a way to beat Illinois through the air. It didn’t work all that well. The Illini were able to get pressure on Adrian Martinez, which led to four turnovers and a 21-7 deficit. Martinez missed high early on. And when he did complete passes, the receivers were crushed.

The adjustments

Speed. Nebraska started to let Maurice Washington run around everyone, and it worked quite well. He had 10 carries for 89 yards, until he was taken out with an apparent head injury. When that didn’t work, NU tried to run with Dedrick Mills, which helped little, so they went to speed again with Wan’Dale Robinson, who had 19 carries for 89 yards. He was special. As was Martinez on the ground, with 118 rushing yards.

NU star

Robinson. He was asked to do everything. He took handoffs up the middle, sweeps off the tackle and bubble screens, and beat corners deep. He was the answer for Nebraska, with 168 total yards.

Rave review

A tip of the hat to Martinez. He struggled in the first half, but ended up with 327 yards passing and three touchdowns. And he finally started becoming more decisive in the run game. He decided to hit that pylon on the 2-point conversion, and did. He decided to scramble on the game-winning touchdown drive late, and ran for 25 yards to put the ball at the 1. He’s not been the same as he was as a freshman, not for a full game. But he has made sure Nebraska’s been in every game.

Final word

The numbers speak for themselves. Almost 700 yards of total offense. But four turnovers can’t happen. This team cannot take care of the football, and it has killed drives and killed momentum. Ohio State comes to town next week, and four turnovers against them? Good luck staying within four scores.

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Tracking the defense

The game plan

Keep track of Reggie Corbin. Off the bat, that didn’t happen. Corbin took off for a 66-yard score on the second play of the game.

The adjustments

Nebraska’s offense put the defense in some bad spots. Four times the Illini took over on Nebraska’s side of the 50.

NU star

Marquel Dismuke led the team with seven tackles and also had three pass breakups. He also had the final breakup of the game to seal the win.

Rave review

JoJo Domann yet again had himself a game deserving of a Blackshirt. He ended up with five tackles, including one sack, and 1.5 tackles for loss.

Final word

Against Colorado, Nebraska didn’t close. The Huskers allowed the Buffs to score at the end of regulation and force overtime. When the special teams opened the door for Illinois to win it, NU forced a fumble (that was reversed) but still broke up a pass on fourth down to seal the win.

Chris Heady covers Husker football and is the Nebraska men's basketball beat writer. He started at The World-Herald in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @heady_chris. Email: chris.heady@owh.com.

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