Ameer Abdullah - Registering 167 yards on 30 carries, Ameer Abdullah showed once again he can be a feature back in the Nebraska offense. How much will his carries drop off once All-Big Ten running back Rex Burkhead returns? Even more impressive than his running ability might be how complete Abdulla has become. The sophomore was solid catching the ball out of the backfield and did a great job in pass protection. The least touted of the three freshman backs last year, Abdullah has played with a chip on his shoulder this season.
Brett Maher - After struggling at times against Southern Miss and UCLA, Maher was solid on Saturday and looked to be back on track to have a great season. Maher averaged 57.5 yards a punt and four of his six kickoffs went for touchbacks.
“He hit the ball pretty well,” said Nebraska special teams coordinator Ross Els. “He wasn’t happy with the way things started. He’s kicked the ball well after the first couple kicks in each game, but the starts have been horrible. We changed a few things in his pregame routine and he’s back on, which is good to see.”
P.J. Smith - If nine tackles weren’t enough for the senior safety, he also recorded his fifth career interception early in the first quarter. Smith showed great awareness the entire day with a gimmicky offense and also recorded two tackles for loss. Smith might have helped separate himself from sophomore Harvey Jackson on Saturday. The Louisiana native has been starting all season, but Jackson has been nipping at his ankles for a spot on the first-team.
P.J. Smith Saturday Press Conference
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Eric Martin - The senior defensive end might have only registered one official tackle,
but there was no denying his impact on Saturday afternoon. Martin helped the defensive front finally apply pressure to an offense, something the Huskers struggled with in their first two contests.
Eric Martin celebrates a sack (Stewart Photography)
“He’s a spark and the defense fed off of him,” Nebraska defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski said. “I was really proud of the way he responded. He played a lot of plays, but just kept up a great energy for us.”
Martin’s biggest play in the fourth quarter, when he sacked Arkansas State quarterback Ryan Aplin, forcing a fumble and recovering it.
“It felt like any other play I made,” Martin said. “You just go out there and you don’t expect it. An opportunity will present itself and you just take it. It was just surprising to me as it was surprising to any of you all.”
Taylor Martinez - A week after Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck said Martinez made some bad reads against UCLA, the junior responded with a 13-for-14 passing day against the Red Wolves. Martinez also rushed for 54 yards on 11 carries, becoming the second quarterback in Nebraska history to throw for 4,000-career passing yards and run for 2,000-career rushing yards.
Chase Rome - The sophomore defensive end left the team midway through last week and isn’t expected back.
Jamal Turner - The sophomore wide receiver was only targeted once in the offense and didn’t factor into the kick return game. Defenses will look to take Turner away from week-to-week, but it will be a situation where coordinators will have to pick their poison. Expect a bigger game against Idaho State this Saturday.