MANHATTAN, Kan. — Nebraska had its running game in high gear Thursday night in its 48-13 victory over Kansas State.
The Nos. 6 and 7 Huskers piled up 451 yards on the ground on just 42 attempts. That comes out to 10.7 yards per carry.
The speed of players like freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez, who rushed for a Nebraska quarterback record 241 yards on 15 carries, and I-back Roy Helu, who had 110 yards on eight carries, may have caught the Wildcats a little off guard.
“Film speed is definitely different, because you always feel like you are faster than who you are watching,” Kansas State defensive end Antonio Felder said. “Once you get into the game and get moving, you start to get a feel for how fast the other team is. We were not able to adjust to their speed throughout the game.”
Martinez, Helu and Rex Burkhead (11 carries, 57 yards) took full advantage of some big holes up front.
“Those guys up front did a great job,” running backs coach Tim Beck said. “Everybody making the right reads, that’s part of it. Those were the two things we worked on over the past two weeks, just being better at what we do.
“We don’t necessarily have to be different, we just have to be better and more consistent at what we do because we can be tough to stop at times when we’re executing on all cylinders and tonight we were.”
Offensive line coach Barney Cotton said he saw some good things from his guys up front.
“We were OK,” Cotton said, in what came across as a huge understatement. “Last week we didn’t play well enough. I think the guys came out hungry (Thursday). They came out ready to execute and trying to be physical.”
Now Cotton is looking for more consistency from the offensive line. That’s something he didn’t see in NU’s 17-3 victory over South Dakota State on Sept. 25.
“What we’ve been talking to our kids about is being more consistent,” Cotton said. “I think for the most part it looks like they put together a much more consistent effort throughout a four-quarter football game and that’s what we were looking to do after our bye week and our performance against South Dakota State.”
Cotton said the Huskers took full advantage of the bye week after the SDSU game.
“I think the bye week came at a good time,” Cotton said. “We did a lot of good-on-good work in that previous week. I think that helped us get ready for the Big 12 season. I mean if you can’t get ready for your Big 12 opener, then something is wrong.”
The Huskers were ready for their Big 12 opener, and they gouged the K-State defense, which entered the night giving up 195 yards per game, for some huge rushing plays. Martinez had his second 80-yard TD run of the year, and Helu’s 68-yard touchdown run was the longest of his career.
Martinez also had touchdown runs of 14, 35 and 41 yards to go along with 54-yard run that put the Huskers in position to kick a field goal late in the first half.
Pelini said there is no way to judge how good the Husker running game can be down the road.
“You never put a ceiling on it,” Pelini said. “We’ve just got to keep raising the bar and raising our standards. I do know this: Even though we ran for a lot of yards, there were a lot of aspects — execution, technique — a lot of things that we can get better at and we’re going to need to as we keep going through Big 12 play because there are a lot of challenges ahead of us.”