Rushing three guys against Missouri didn't work, did it? It reminded me of the defenses I've seen here in Minnesota for the past 20 years - drop back and hope you can slow down the other offense instead of constantly giving up the big play.
On nearly every one of Missouri’s offensive snaps Saturday, Nebraska was content rushing quarterback Chase Daniel with a three-man front. The Huskers consistently dropped eight defenders into coverage, daring Daniel to thread passes between their zones.
Neither end of the strategy worked. Daniel wasn’t sacked on 47 pass attempts and recalled just one time he was hit. He completed 33 of those attempts for 401 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Two days later, Huskers defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove’s strategy still puzzled the Tigers.
"I was a little bit surprised that they went just about the entire game getting pressure on us with a three-man rush," Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen said. "Obviously, it didn’t work very well. I don’t foresee Oklahoma doing that or at least making a living doing that."
Daniel was less subtle in his reaction to Nebraska’s game plan.
"They’re very stubborn," Daniel said. "Cosgrove’s a very stubborn guy. It’s always been that way. ... That’s just how he is, that’s how they are. They’re a bunch of confident guys in what they do, and they felt they had the best chance doing that, so they stuck with it."
"You can’t just play one defense the whole entire game," Daniel added. "That’s like high school stuff that I faced in high school, so it’s nothing new for me."
We already knew our defense sucked going into the Missouri game. The idea behind the defensive game plan wasn't that we were going to stop Missouri's offense, but hoped to slow them down somewhat and it did work on some occasions where we stopped them and forced a punt. It isn't like the Husker defense was magically going to a pull a massive pass rush out of their butts when none has existed yet in the season.
What we didn't know was that our offense was going to lay down and die, failing to get into the end zone. If your offense can't run the ball against a defense that was previously ranked 93rd against the run, you're pretty much screwed regardless of what your defense is going to do.
The idea was that these two teams would trade scoring, with the Husker defense getting more stops than the Missouri defense.
Given that information, is it really that shocking that we used a 3-3-5 for the entire game?