Wyoming by the Numbers - Lousy Defense Edition

Eric Francis

The Wyoming game falls in line with a disturbing trend of schizophrenic defensive performances.

Since 2007 (the earliest season for which I have detailed stats) Nebraska has given up 600+ yards of total offense 5 times. Those games include:

Date

Opp

W/L

PF

PA

Opp Rush Yards

Opp Pass Yards

Opp Plays

Opp Total Yards

Opp Yards / Play

9/8/2012 @ UCLA L 30 36 344 309 94 653 6.9
12/1/2012 Wisconsin L 31 70 539 101 60 640 10.7
9/22/2007 Ball St. W 41 40 188 422 79 610 7.7
10/6/2007 @ 4 Missouri L 6 41 195 411 85 606 7.1
8/31/2013 Wyoming W 37 34 219 383 74 602 8.1

The Husker defense has given up 498+ yards seven times:

Date Opp Surface Result PF PA Rush Yards Pass Yards Plays Total Yards Yards/Play
1/1/2013 5 Georgia Grass L 31 45 162 427 71 589 8.3
11/3/2007 @ 7 Kansas Turf L 39 76 218 354 90 572 6.4
10/13/2007 Oklahoma St. Turf L 14 45 317 234 71 551 7.8
10/27/2007 @ 10 Texas Grass L 25 28 364 181 77 545 7.1
11/23/2007 @ Colorado Grass L 51 65 277 241 81 518 6.4
11/1/2008 @ 5 Oklahoma Grass L 28 62 193 315 70 508 7.3
10/6/2012 @ 3 Ohio St. Turf L 38 63 371 127 62 498 8.0

Other than the 2008 Oklahoma game against a team that had one of the most prolific offenses in modern college football history and played Florida for the National Championship, all of these games have something in common. They happened in 2007, or within the last year. Perhaps most distressing is the fact that the last three games Nebraska has played are on these charts.

I'm at a complete loss to explain what is happening, but every part of my being screams that Nebraska is heading for a disappointing, if not losing, season in 2013.

After the game I tweeted:

I'm not sure about that this morning.

Consider this chart of Nebraska's average total defense since 2007.

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Things are getting worse, not better, in Lincoln.

The next chart shows every game since the beginning of the 2007 season (you may want to click to expand it). Three things jump out at me: (1) 2007 is still the standard by which bad defenses are measured, (2) Pelini's defenses are far more unpredictable and inconsistent than Callahan's were, and (3) prior to the last three games Nebraska has played, there was never a three-game stretch in which the the defense was as consistently awful as they have been. Not even the 2007 team had a three-game stretch in which the defense stunk it up as badly has this last stretch has been.

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600 yards of offense is an extremely rare event. Since 2007, only 3% of games have resulted in more than 600 yards of offense. For Nebraska, the extremely rare has essentially become common place. In 2012 and 2013 the Huskers have given up more than 600 yards of total offense 3 times, or 20% of the time. Nebraska is giving away 600 yard games at almost 7x the NCAA average rate!

Something has to give here. I don't believe Nebraska can continue to outscore it's crappy play on defense. The Huskers are in serious danger of losing to UCLA, Northwestern, and Michigan simply because those teams have the offensive firepower to hang 600+ yards on Nebraska.

The implication of all of this is clear, if hard to accept: Pelini MUST fix this or he will not be the head coach at Nebraska for much longer. Pelini was Osborne's guy. If TO were still the Athletic Director I would feel differently, but he's not. Eichorst doesn't have the personal investment in Pelini that TO did. I can't believe that he will allow this to continue.

I like Bo. I like his work ethic and I really like seeing Nebraska manhandle teams for 360+ yards of rushing. But I also think that the offense's performance is due to Tim Beck, and the smart money is on him not coaching at Nebraska next year. Where will Pelini be then?

The answer to that is probably "by 2015? ..not in Lincoln".

GBR.

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