The news that senior defensive tackle Jared Crick would be lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle was a huge blow for a Nebraska defense that looked like it was just turning the corner this year.
The Huskers will have to deal with the daunting task of filling Crick's shoes both on the defensive line and as a leader of the team, but today we decided to take a look back at his stellar NU career and rank his five greatest games as a Husker.
5. Sept. 17, 2011: Washington
Crick's senior year didn't exactly go as he had planned when he turned down a chance to declare for the NFL Draft following his junior campaign, but he was still able to make a play that will be remembered all season.
Nebraska led Washington 17-14 with 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter, but the Huskies had marched all the way down to the NU 22-yard line. On a big 3rd-and-15 play, Crick flushed UW quarterback Keith Price up and out of the pocket with a great rush up the middle. As Price moved to his left looking for an open receiver, Crick came back behind him and delivered arguably the hit of the season for a sack.
Price somehow held onto the ball, and the Huskies ended up kicking a field goal to tie the game. Still, that play was one of the few times Nebraska actually got a good shot in on Price, and it helped set the tone for a breakout third quarter that led to a Husker victory. Crick ended up with six tackles in the game, fourth best on the team for the day.
4. Nov. 13, 2010: Kansas
It was a pretty ugly game for both teams, but Crick and Nebraska's defense made the 20-3 win over Kansas last season feel like a blowout. Behind a season-high nine tackles and two sacks by Crick, the Huskers held the Jayhawks to just 87 yards of offense and only 15 passing yards.
Crick sacked quarterback Quinn Mecham in the second and third quarters, with both times coming on third down to force punts. That helped NU hold Kansas to a mere five first downs in the win. His nine tackles were also just one short of the team high for the game.
While the Huskers would go one to suffer a tough loss at Texas A&M the following week, the victory over the Jayhawks would play a big part in helping Nebraska win the Big 12 North Division and make their second consecutive Big 12 title game appearance.
3. Sept. 11, 2010: Idaho
In an all-around dominant performance by Nebraska's defense, this game was Crick's first real statement that his success as a sophomore in 2009 wasn't just a result of lining up next to the great Ndamukong Suh.
As the Blackshirts went on to score two touchdowns and hold the Vandals to 60 rushing yards in the 38-17 win, Crick broke out with six tackles, two and half sacks and four tackles for loss that resulted in 32 lost yards.
His two biggest plays in the game came on a pair of sacks on Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle in the first and fourth quarters. With Nebraska leading just 3-0 near the end of the first, Crick dropped Enderle as he rolled to his left on a 3rd-and-9 for an 11-yard loss that set up NU's first touchdown. He got to Enderle again in the fourth, this time tossing him for an 18-yard loss that led to an interception by Anthony West two plays later.
2. Dec. 4, 2010: Oklahoma
The final score of Nebraska's 23-20 loss to Oklahoma in last year's Big 12 Championship certainly wasn't a highlight, but Crick was exceptional in a game that could have taken the program to the next level.
While he finished with just three tackles, Crick posted his third multi-sack game of the season by getting to OU quarterback Landry Jones twice and also deflecting a pass at the line of scrimmage. The sacks bumped his season total up to 9.5, which led the team and ranked second in the Big 12 that year.
Crick ended the season with 70 total tackles, and his 5.0 stops per game were the most of any Big 12 defensive lineman. More importantly, his play throughout the year showed he was capable he could lead the way for the Huskers up front and that he was not just a product of teams devoting all of their attention to stopping Suh.
1. Oct. 31, 2009: at Baylor
On the heels of two straight frustrating losses, Nebraska's season was resurrected by a record performance from Crick against Baylor in Waco, Texas. The sophomore ended up with a school-record five sacks and tied the NU record with seven tackles for loss to go along with a team-high 13 total stops in a 20-10 win for the Huskers.
His five sacks that day were the most in a single game by any player in the country, even topping Suh's 4.5 against Texas in the Big 12 Championship later that season. Crick was named national and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for his performance, which will go down as one of the most dominant individual defensive efforts ever by a Husker.
Crick became a different player in that game, and for the rest of the year opponents suddenly had to account for two standout defensive tackles instead of one. It also let Nebraska fans rest a little easier knowing the defensive line would be in good hands when Suh finally moved on to the NFL.