Husker season in review

 It seems like only yesterday that all of us were dealing with a lightning delay against Akron, but now that the season is over, it’s time to give out my 2018 awards for Nebraska’s top plays and top players.
Once again I’ve been fortunate to experience Big Red as both a fan and as a member of the media.
Cindy and myself nearly passed out in our north stadium, row 12 seats in the heat and humidity against Troy, while also attending Scott Frost’s emotional post-game press conference against Purdue when the Huskers self-imploded with no where to go but up.
All in all the season has been less than a success record-wise, but the program couldn’t be in better hands moving forward. Simply put, 2019 can’t come soon enough.
Here’s my list.
Best hit of the season: Antonio Reed in the snow and cold against Michigan State. He was the goat against Colorado for making a late personal foul that basically cost the Huskers the game. He was also the hero against Sparty for that ferocious fourth quarter hit on quarterback Rocky Lombardi, knocking the ball loose for a fumble recovery by Damien Daniels. Memorial Stadium simply came unglued.
Best player: JD Spielman. No offense to Stanley Morgan, but this fearless little slot receiver is one tough dude, taking big hits time and time again over the middle. The best thing about JD is he can get even better and more dangerous to opposing defenses. He’s becoming a one man matchup nightmare for defensive coordinators. Could have made a difference against Iowa.
Team MVP: Adrian Martinez. No doubt in my mind the freshman quarterback is this year’s most valuable player. Without him Big Red couldn’t even beat Troy. With him this offense improved dramatically with big play potential. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be an all-time Husker great.
Most exciting moment: Undoubtedly the final seconds against Michigan State, Devine Ozigbo picking up that last first down to seal it. That was just a feel good, goose bump frozen moment in time. Honorable mention goes to the tunnel walk against Akron.
Most exciting home game: Colorado. That may come as a surprise, but given what happened the previous week against Akron, this game couldn’t come soon enough. The scoring went back and fourth and the ending was a bummer, but even early on this team showed signs of awakening from their coma. And it was Frost’s first official game in Lincoln.
Most disappointing moment: There were plenty of them, especially early on, but for me, the most disappointing moment was when the announcement came down that the Akron game was postponed. I was ready to stay at the stadium until they kicked off in the wee hours of the morning, but Mother Nature eventually got her way.
Best defensive player: Luke Gifford. Hands down he was the most steady, the best leader and showed what a Blackshirt stands for.
Most improved player: Mo Barry. The junior linebacker from Georgia had a breakout season, bringing a physical presence to the defense. Never took a play off.
Best pass of the season: Adrian’s 57-yard precision missle to JD Spielman against Colorado in the third quarter for a touchdown, putting the ball just over two Buff defenders. Two inches shorter and the ball is tipped away. A little longer and it’s overthrown.
Best run of the season: Adrian’s 41-yard first quarter touchdown scamper versus Colorado when he flipped into the end zone. His pure talent and athleticism was on display in just one play. Just an awesome, thrilling Husker moment.
Best call of the season: Frost taking the wind in the fourth quarter against Michigan State. At first I questioned that second half decision but soon realized his strategy. Boy did that one ever pay off big time.
Best clutch game-winning play: freshman kicker Barret Pickering’s 47-yard field goal with just over five minutes remaining to win it against the Spartans. Moisture swirling. Wind howling. Limbs freezing. Big time clutch snow globe moment.
And finally, the best “wow did that just happen” moment: Aurora’s Austin Allen when he swung off the line of scrimmage against Ohio State to snag the pass from Martinez, down the left sideline for a big 41-yard reception. Urban Meyer’s reaction immediately following the tackle was simply priceless.
DAVE BRADLEY can be reached at advertising@hamilton.net

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