It's safe to say that the game against Kansas State is being viewed with cautious optimism. The cautious part comes from still not having a real solid handle on what's going to happen with our offense, while the defense, even after the defensive line disappeared against Kansas, should give Husker fans plenty of optimism no matter the opponent.
Statistics obviously don't tell the whole story about a team, but looking at them can give you a good idea about what they do well and don't do well. Most of that is after the jump. KSU went 2-2 in non-conference, then picked up wins against Iowa State, Texas A&M, Colorado, and a surprising rivalry win over Kansas, a team that's coming apart.
I don't feel bad about this game. There's nothing that says we shouldn't beat Kansas State by double digits. Their primary offensive strength, the running game, plays right into our primary defensive strength. Their defensive weakness doesn't necessarily align with our offensive strength, running, unless Zac Lee and Niles Paul can duplicate the big play display they put on against Kansas.
|National||Big 12||National||Big 12|
|3rd Down Conversions||60||8||96||12|
|Red Zone Conversions (Score %)||73||8||96||11|
|Tackles for Loss||27||3||87||11|
- Some good news! Nebraska's national ranking in red zone conversions rose from 97th to 73rd after the KU game!
- Kansas State's red zone conversion ranking looks awful, doesn't it, worse than Nebraska's. The news for Wildcat fans gets worse. In September and October, KSU was scoring touchdowns over 65% of their trips to the red zone. In November, that percentage has dropped to14.29%, while the field goal percentage has increased from 6.67, 17.39 and then to 42.86 in November.
- The Huskers had a horrible October regarding red zone conversions. Score percentage dropped from 94.12 in September to 57.14 in October. Part of that drop is understandable, having transitioned from non-conference to Big 12 play, but there was the downpour in Missouri, Iowa State and Texas Tech. November has seen the score percentage go back up to 88.89%, with equal parts touchdowns and field goals (44.44% each).
- If we can stop Brandon Banks from having good returns on kickoff returns, it'll go a long ways to a win. You're thinking I'm Captain Obvious, right? Well, yes, but trying to emphasize a point as well as Banks currently leads the NCAA in kickoff return touchdowns with four. He's currently ranked ninth in kickoff return average at 29.92 yards per return. The good news? Banks hasn't returned a touchdown yet in November and his average has dropped to 20.67 per return.
- If you're not thinking about Husker kicker Adi Kunalic here, you should be. Kunalic is third nationally in touchbacks with 23, and third in touchback percentage with 41.07. Can't score if you don't have the ball - there's your Captain Obvious for you!
- Niles Paul is showing he's no slouch. Nebraska's kickoff return ranking went from 74th to 46th after the Kansas game. Paul had two returns against Kansas for 72 yards, including a return for 44 yards that set up the go-ahead score.
- Take away (pun!) the eight turnovers against Iowa State, and Nebraska would be +9 on the season in turnover margin. That would be good enough for a 15-ranked spot. Ah, well.
- Looking at explosive plays from both quarterbacks: Zac Lee has completed 71 passes for first downs, with 35 of those going over 15 yards, and 19 going over 25 yards. Grant Gregory has only 43 passes for first downs, 22 of 15 plus, and eight of 25 yards or more. Lee has attempted 227 passes to Gregory's 144, so Gregory has had a third less opportunities for big plays. I find the eight for 25+ for Gregory a little surprising given Banks' existence.
- Explosive plays in the running game. Nebraska has had 344 rushes, 41 of which have gone for 10 yards or more, and 18 of 20 yards or more. 12 of those big plays are from Roy Helu Jr, two from Traye Robinson, one from Niles Paul, Zac Lee, Cody Green... and I'm missing one.
- KSU has 470 rushes with 71 going for 10 yards or more, and 19 going for 20 or more. Half of the 20-yard plus gains have come from running back Daniel Thomas, five from backup running back Keithen Valentine, two from Banks, one from Gregory and the guy we expected to start at quarterback, Carson Coffman.
- I'm going to change this format so that it's easier to read, incorporates both statistical articles for next week and start using that from now on. Any suggestions or items you'd like to see are encouraged. Or, if you like splitting the statistics stuff into two..... well, anything. I'm all ears. Ha!