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Knee-Jerk Reactions: Illinois

Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire

Well, those who predicted that the 2017 version of the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team would go 2-10 are out of luck following Nebraska’s 28-6 domination of the Illinois Fighting Illini, but there’s always hope for 3-9, right?

Let’s get to it.

1.) Danny Langsdorf drew up a fantastic plan for Tanner Lee. Short, quick routes that allowed him enough time to set his feet, deliver accurate passes to his receivers more often than not, and allowing the wideout do the rest.

As a result, Lee went 17-of-24 for 246 yards and threw three touchdowns. The best stat: no interceptions.

2.) Two things stood out that show Lee is learning. First, we saw him throw the ball away when his receivers were covered downfield. Second, he took a sack rather than throwing the ball up for grabs. Tip of the cap to both Lee and Langsdorf for that, as well.

3.) Another week, another 100-yard game for Devine Ozigbo. Last week against Rutgers, he notched 101 yards on 24 carries. Against Illinois, he needed only 18 tries to tally 106 yards and a score — his first of the season.

4.) Mikale Wilbon was a fine compliment to Zig again rushing for 60 yards on 13 attempts. This combination of Big Red thunder and lightning looks potent enough to ride until Tre Bryant comes back. Even then, it would be foolish to dismiss it entirely.

5.) When your offensive line helps produce a 100-yard rusher and allows running backs to get 4.3 yards per carry, they’re doing something right. There were a few brain farts (See: Foster, Jerald and Farmer, Tanner), but overall, well played. Michael Decker and Brendan Jaimes have earned their starting roles. It was nice to see Boe Wilson finally get some time in at right guard when Farmer got yanked due to a little extracurricular activity.

6.) Pierson-El was a delight and helped Lee pick up his longest touchdown as a Husker (45 yards). Stanley Morgan is so frustrating sometimes. When he’s on, he will absolutely run roughshod over defenders, but he has the oddest case of the drops.

The guy I anticipated to be Mr. Stick’um when it comes to wideouts has disappointed in that regard. It seems like he’s looking to run just a second before he completes the catch. Hopefully, this will be resolved soon as — quick frankly — he’s above this problem.

7.) What do you say about a defense that holds the opposition to 199 total yards, 5-of-12 on third down and only gives up six points? How about “money well spent”?

The Blackshirts turned up big overall with Chris Weber having a fantastic evening which featured his first career interception. The evening’s team leader in tackles with nine (6 solo; 2 for loss), Weber also contributed a sack to the defensive effort. Khalil and Carlos Davis each notched three tackles and added a sack apiece to their stat sheets. Nebraska found its pass rush.

An interesting note: the six points allowed was the smallest number given up in the Mike Riley era and the least surrendered since Nebraska’s 24-3 win over Michigan State in 2011. Oh, and the Blackshirts haven’t allowed a touchdown in their last six quarters on the road.

8.) While the front seven looked high-quality — by the way, did you see Ashland-Greenwood’s own Ben Stille out there? — the cornerback position is still shaky. Lamar Jackson has been one of the team’s poorest tacklers and Eric Lee was picked on plenty by the Illini. It’ll be curious to see if DiCaprio Bootle doesn’t make an appearance versus Wisconsin.

9.) Did you notice Caleb Lightbourn? When you did, it was the first time in six quarters that you could’ve.  Unless you were looking for him on the sideline, that is. He added another kill inside the 20-yard line and Diaco’s work looks better with each passing week.

10.) I’m sure the University of Illinois is glad Nebraska fans travel well. Someone had to show up for the game.

To comment or keep up with the author, follow Brandon on Twitter at @eightlaces

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