It is Purdue week. Oh wow - where do I begin? The Huskers will be starting QB2, still have no Michael Rose-Ivey, will be down a starting safety and wide receiver. They are playing a one-win team that seems capable of playing pretty good football in fits and spurts (and Northwestern won by playing in fits and spurts). This team has been called out by former players (or at least one loudmouth former player) at every turn and played with a very lackluster amount of energy against the Wildcats. They need to pull themselves up off the mat to preserve their flickering bowl hopes.
How quickly will Ryker Fyfe settle in and show us how he clawed his way up the depth chart?
Another Nebraska native gets his chance to shine (one of the silver linings in this crappy season). When Fyfe walked on at Nebraska, he was considered a great catch and eschewed scholarship offers at smaller schools. For the past two seasons he has put in his work and impressed two different coaching staffs enough to be the head clipboard holder. He does not have Tommy's ability to scramble and improvise, but he might be a better pure passer (of course, that is really difficult to judge in his limited action).
Not only will Ryker have to settle in quickly, but so will the rest of the offense. Every QB is different; has a different cadence, different velocity and spin on the ball, and different throwing speed. The other playmakers will need to be ready for those small differences.
How much will we complain about the playcalling this week?
A true fact - 100% of college football fans think their team's offensive coordinator is a giant doody-head who has no clue what he is doing. (Really, I looked it up).
Purdue has the 98th ranked total defense in FBS. They also have the 98th ranked rushing defense, giving up 198 yards per game. (Have I mentioned lately how important it is for Nebraska to get 200 yards rushing to win the game?).
Therefore, we will ignore that and talk about the important stuff. Purdue's 72nd ranked pass defense is yielding 229 yards per game (the Huskers 30-something pass offense is getting 250 yards). It looks to be a cold, rainy and slightly windy (14mph) day in West Lafayette; perfect for throwing interceptions and incomplete passes.
The game plan will lull the Boilermakers into a false sense of security with all of those said incompletions and then WHAM - that is when Langsdorf calls "Tommy* has a defender in his face almost immediately, scrambles out of the tackle, rolls to his left, sort-of sets, throws it off his back foot toward Westerkamp/Reilly/Carter/Pierson-El all the way across the field, they make the grab for 24 yards and the first down!". The obligatory 3 incomplete passes and field goal follow.
If you have not already figured it out, I think the answer to this question will be that we are going to complain no matter what. (I am pointing the finger at myself as much as anyone here.)
*Will Langsdorf call the same play with Ryker? Hmmmmm.....the Boilermakers will never see it coming....
Is this the week we are treated to a DPE punt return TD?
The next four games provide some opportunities for De'Mornay Pierson-El to get the Huskers punt return game back on track. Purdue has the 91st ranked punt return defense, allowing slightly over 10 yards per return.
Michigan St ranks 113th with 13.7 yards allowed per return.
Rutgers is the best of the remaining schedule at 79th and 9.1 ypr (they have not yet allowed a TD while the other three have allowed one). Our final opponent, Iowa is 97th at 11.1 yards per return.
Predictions! Tell me in the comments if you take the over/under (and how terrible my set points are!)
Byerson Cockrell will miss this game with a family emergency (we wish your family the best Byerson) and freshman Aaron Williams will start in his place. Cockrell is the team leader in pass breakups and tackles (although to be fair on the tackles, if you add Weber + Banderas they would easily lead the the team from the MLB spot). How many tackles will A.W. log?
Passing yards for Fyfe?
Rushing yards for Newby?
What are your questions? Did I miss something? Tell me in the comments!