The wild and crazy tilt-a-whirl of a Husker football season has settled a bit. All feels a little more right with the world when the Huskers convincingly beat the Gophers. It certainly was not perfect, but it was good to be watching the Huskers widen a lead in the fourth quarter. Click the link for the "Questions" half of this article.
Will the broken chair trophy show up?
Yes! Not only is it in Lincoln, but you can take your picture with it before the Northwestern game!
Will the offense find their groove again?
It was not perfect but it was balanced and this team showed it can attack from anywhere. On Saturday, if it wasn't Alonzo Moore (4 for 84 yards and one TD scooped mere inches above the turf), it was Terrell Newby (13 carries for 116 yards and 2 TDs PLUS 2 receptions for 20), or Jordan Westerkamp (6 for 76 and some clutch 3rd down catches), or Tommy Armstrong (18 of 26 passing for 261 and 3 TDs and 8 carries for 38), or De'Mornay Pierson-El (3 for 31 and one tip drill TD plus a 40+ yard punt return), or Brandon Reilly (2 for 40) or Cethan Carter (a 10 yard TD grab - see the picture at the top of the article for how awesome that was).
The Huskers racked up 464 yards of total offense against a defense that previously allowed 306 yards per game and scored 48 points when the stingy Gophers had only been allowing 19.
The big guys up front again deserve some props as they allowed only one sack and opened some holes; even one hole big enough for Janovich to run, fumble, recover his own fumble in stride, and still pick up the first down. As a side note, someone needs to send that video of Janovich dribbling past the Minnesota d-line to Coach Miles. Tommy also had all day to throw a couple of his TD passes.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the penalties. Only two (YES, TWO) Husker penalties this entire game. This team can move the chains when they get out of their own way.
Playcalling - That 99 ½ yard, 10-play drive in the 3rd quarter was a thing of beauty. NINE different Huskers ran or caught the ball on that series (although Reilly's catch was called back on a holding call). In the fourth quarter, much of Husker nation was ready to go into a collective meltdown when the Gophers closed within 16 in the 4th quarter (almost 12 minutes remaining). After a Terrell Newby run for 16 yards, Langsdorf called 3 pass plays in a row (all incomplete). The Huskers punted back to Minnesota (they drove for a field goal to close within 13). To his credit, the Husker OC completely owned the decision and explained it as Minnesota having nine men in the box. He did not feel that three runs into a bad situation would take enough time off the clock to be a difference maker at that point. The Huskers answered with a field goal on the next drive and never looked back.
Will the feature match-up be the Husker rush defense vs the Gopher rush offense?
I think it did make the difference although after the first Gopher drive, I was very, very nervous. When Minnesota passed their way down the field for an easy touchdown, I was really afraid that the Gophers would be able to make it about their pass offense versus the Husker pass defense.
The Gophers did not go FULL STAVE, only attempting 40 passes (when their average coming in was 31 attempts). It was a career day for Leidner (most QBs facing the 2015 Huskers have new career passing marks) with 300+ yards on 26 completions.
The Gophers also rushed 26 times for 83 yards (2.5 average). That is even better than the average for the stingy Husker rush defense (which had been allowing 95 yards per game up to this point).
The Husker rush defense effectively made the Gophers one-dimensional and the secondary dug in and found enough plays to bring the game home. It had to be a good confidence builder for them.
Bonus Question: Will we see Jordan Stevenson on an offensive snap?
No and it does not sound like it will happen in the near future. He is expected to continue taking reps as kick returner only.
Predictions - (In the "questions" half of this article, I asked if you wanted the over/under and most of you smartly picked the Over)
# of fullback run plays called by Langsdorf - 2.5 WAY Over. Janovich carried 7 times. Ozigbo and Cross only had 6 between them, but that is to complain about another day.
Mitch Leidner passing yards - (he is averaging 168/game) - 225 yards - WAY over. I thought giving him 50 yards over his average was generous, but I was wrong. He went for 301 on 26 completions.
Longest pass play given up by the Husker secondary - 30 yards - Over, but barely. Eric Carter caught a 31 yarder from Leidner.
Looks like I am going to have to work on my predictions before heading to Vegas...
What are your thoughts? Did I miss something? Did you have different thoughts? Tell me in the comments!