Illini Report Card: at Nebraska, Nov. 10, 2018

Illini Report Card: at Nebraska, Nov. 10, 2018

Player of the game
Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez
Dual threat quarterbacks have given Illinois fits all season, and Martinez was no different. The Cornhuskers’ freshman not only completed 24 of 34 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns, but he also rushed 13 times for 55 yards and another score. Nebraska’s explosive offense performance was built around its quarterback of the present — and future.

OFFENSE
Illinois:
C-
Nebraska: A
Think Illini quarterback AJ Bush Jr. had something to prove in his return to Lincoln? A new Illinois quarterback rushing record, 313 yards of total offense and three touchdowns was a good showing. Too bad dropped pass after dropped pass, some overall ball security issues and a couple poor decisions by Bush marred an otherwise solid performance.

DEFENSE
Illinois:
F
Nebraska: D-
Turns out Illinois’ defensive performance against Minnesota was the exception and not the start of a new trend (or at least said more about the Gophers than the Illini). All of the Illini’s same issues resurfaced against the Cornhuskers — from getting gouged by big play after big play to simply giving up more than 600 yards of offense for the fourth time this year.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Illinois:
F
Nebraska: A
Murphy’s Law was in full effect for the Illini’s special teams play. Both Carlos Sandy and Jordan Holmes muffed punts that led to Nebraska scores, and even though it didn’t end up costing anything Dre Brown even mishandled a kick return. Add in a blocked punt on Blake Hayes that turned into a safety, and if something could go wrong it did Saturday.

COACHING
Illinois:
F
Nebraska: B-
Poor execution can stymie even the best game plans. But the buck ultimately stops at the head coach — particularly one that’s pulling double duty by calling the defensive plays. There were some curious decisions, too, but none maybe more eyebrow raising than not trying an onside kick after getting within 47-28 with less than 8 minutes to play.

OVERALL
Illinois:
F
Nebraska: B+
If last week’s win against Minnesota was a step forward in Illinois’ rebuilding process, then Saturday’s loss at Nebraska was two steps back simply for how the Illini lost. The 19-point margin of defeat doesn’t tell a full, true story. Sloppy special teams and a once again porous defense didn’t paint a pretty picture in Lincoln.

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