By Brian McKim
Well, I’m not sure about any of you, but I could not be more proud of our Nebraska Cornhuskers. A 4-8 finish for the second consecutive season and no bowl game to be rewarded with never felt so good. A season ago, under Coach Riley, we were a beaten team before we ever reached the field. Now this season, under the tutelage of Coach Frost and Staff we win four of the final six games and look like a team that is hungry to get back on top. I’m sure the team was disappointed with the loss on Friday, but what I saw was a team that was a double-digit underdog, on the road against a 7-4 team and we almost won.
Trailing by 15 points in the fourth quarter, the defense stepped up, Adrian Martinez engineered a couple of fantastic drives, and Coach Frost called a fake punt inside our own 10-yard line that gave life to the offense. Martinez made one mistake in the game, a costly interception in the fourth quarter. Other than that he looks more like a junior or senior than a freshman. Mark my words, if he stays healthy he will be a Heisman contender before he leaves the program.
Speaking of Heisman performances what about Maurice Washington. With J.D. Spielman out, the Huskers looked to use Washington more catching balls out of the backfield. Washington finished with seven grabs for 102 yards and a score. I think Coach Frost found someone to really utilize next season, not just as a runner but as a receiving threat. And speaking of receiving threats I have to mention Stanley Morgan Jr. Morgan set a couple of records on Friday as he became the Huskers all-time leading receiver and also became the first to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. He leaves the Huskers as the career leader in receptions with 189. Most career receiving yards with 2,747 and most consecutive games with a catch with 38. Morgan will truly be missed on the field and with his leadership on and off the field.
Also playing in his final game was Devine Ozigbo. Ozigbo went over the 1000 yard mark last week and added a solid 50 yards on ten carries in his final game on Friday. I’m sure it’s not quite how he wanted to go out, but what a senior season he had. I had him pegged at third or fourth on the depth chart entering the fall, but he not only surprised me but probably much of the fan base. It just goes to show what hard work and perseverance can do. I wish him well in the future.
Finally, I have to talk about the defense. The Blackshirts gave up 419 yards, which seems like a lot but they clamped down and played very well in the second half. A gutsy fourth-down call by Iowa gave them a chance to win the game, and that is what they did. Iowa knew if they punted with less than a minute to go that we had a great chance to move the ball and attempt a game-winning field goal. They respected our offense enough to go for it on fourth and eight. And what happened to all-everything Noah Fant. All I heard all week in the papers and on the radio was how great he was and how great of an NFL career he was going to have. Not to take anything away from him because he is genuinely talented, but Nebraska took him out of the equation. Fant finished with one catch for 12 yards, that’s it. Way to go Blackshirts.
After a season full of ups and downs, following a season of nothing but downs, my optimism runs high. The skies the limit for this team and this coaching staff. The Big Ten better be on notice because Nebraska won’t be kicked around anymore. Go Big Red!