Negativity - it's a big thing in football.
In this case we're talking about negative plays. Obviously you want to have very few of your own while you want your opponent to have as many as possible. As it turns out, Nebraska had only two negative yardage plays the entire game. Given that the Huskers have a new offense, have very young, inexperienced guys on the offensive line, and have developed a new penchant for the option, two negative plays is a pretty decent outcome to Saturday's game.
Dropped balls and penalties can be counted as negative plays, and in both of those areas Nebraska has improved significantly. For the first time this season, Nebraska's receivers did a good job of catching the ball.
You're probably going to be disappointed if you look at negative yardage plays as generated by the Blackshirt defense. Washington had four negative plays, two of which were self-inflicted. This does not take into account the number of plays in which Keith Price was forced to throw the ball away because of pressure from Nebraska's defense, however.
Nebraska's Negative Plays
2nd Quarter - Nebraska's only negative play occurred on a bad option pitch by Martinez. The play was a speed option to the left side. The option defender covered Martinez and he pitched the ball out in front of Burkhead who was forced to pick the ball up on a bounce close to the sideline and ended up running out of bounds.
Washington's Negative Plays
1st Quarter, 10:55 - Mishandled snap by Keith Price - he falls on it for a four-yard loss.
2nd Quarter, 10:03 - The big hit by Jared Crick. Price tries to scramble after finding no one open and Crick hits him so hard Price is lifted off the ground and smashed. This came one play after Crick narrowly missed him as Crick was coming straight up the middle an Price was forced to throw the ball away.
2nd Quarter, 3:20 - Pitch play to running back Jesse Callier to the left side. Callier takes the pitch, then inexplicably falls down when he goes to cut. He was untouched. The announcers said he slipped, but Callier got up holding his knee.
3rd Quarter, 2:33 - At this point, Nebraska is leading 37-17. Washington goes for it on 4th and 2 at the Nebraska 12 yard line. Washington lines up in an I-formation, two tight ends, and then fakes the dive to Chris Polk. Price goes to pass, but can't find anyone open, and while scrambling gets sacked by Cameron Meredith.
Nebraska finished with seven penalties on the day for 60 yards while Washington had nine for 90 yards. On offense, the Huskers had one illegal procedure call, two holding calls and a false start. The illegal procedure call eliminated a six-yard gain, putting Nebraska in a 2nd-and-14, effectively killing the drive.
One of the holding calls negated Brett Maher's punt that was downed at the Washington 12 yard line. On the redo, the punt was to the 30, with a 16-yard return to the 46, making the holding call a 34-yard penalty. The other holding call killed a Nebraska drive. The false start was by Marcel Jones, and did not kill a drive that ended with a Brett Maher field goal.
Another positive for the team - Nebraska is now ranked 25th nationally in penalty yardage per game. Again, the offense is showing quite an improvement from last season.