Before I get into the the answers, one quick observation. Holy moly was it a bad game to be a Nebraska kid or what? Sutton out 8 weeks after being cheap-shotted. Gangwish out 3 with an elbow injury. Foltz with a sprained ankle and day-to-day (I am surprised at the optimistic outlook after seeing how much pain he was in).Get well soon guys!
Now, did we get any answers to the questions posed last week?
Will we see some progress in the passing game? Specifically, I’m looking at accuracy, decision making and protection.
The good: I found myself analyzing Tommy in terms of ‘leading receivers’, ‘reading the field’,’pocket presence’, and ‘timing routes’. There was a concerted effort to not throw every ball 100 mph and to stay in the pocket rather than tuck and run if the first read was not there. He did a nice job of buying time by moving around when protection broke down (which was often). Oh - and SWEET block to spring Westerkamp for the touchdown. Nebraska quarterbacks do not register 300 yard/3 TD performances all that often, but that may be about to change.
The bad: TA2 still only completed 58% of his passes (although his line did him few favors). There were also 2 intentional grounding penalties, a bad handoff with Wilbon that resulted in a lost fumble, and a zone read play where he fed Terrell Newby to the wolves. I can forgive the INT because it was a helluva play by the DB.
Overall, I have some positive vibes of TA2 and feel like the pass protection of the o-line is ahead of the run blocking (although that is not saying much). Tommy and the wideouts (hmmm, I think I found the name of a new hip hop hogwash group) are going to be entertaining to watch.
Will the staff make adjustments?
It seemed like we could haz adjustments at times. At least until :01 was left on the clock and then someone forget to tell the DBs that “keeping everything in front of you” does not apply to a Hail Mary receiver IN the end zone. Yes Northwestern, we see you giggling over there..
The run game seemed to shift out of neutral in the second half. Not good enough, but better? Of course, it is hard to say if the improvement was adjustments or the team getting angry after Foltz went down. To my eyes, the d-line looked like it was getting a little more push in the second half (at least the third quarter).
BYU’s QBs combined for 379 yards, but only 100 of that was in the second half, until - say it with me - that last play. Taysom Hill going down was probably a big reason there, but it did appear that the line being a little more aggressive helped the secondary challenge the receivers more or vice versa - I am not sure I did a good enough job in my observations to know which one led to the other.
One adjustment that I really hope was made after the game?
Riley had Danny Langsdorf write “I will not call a jet sweep on third and short until DPE is back” 1000 times on his clipboard.
Will we like what we see from this new defense?
It was really a mixed bag, but this was also a very solid BYU offense to test a new scheme. I think the suspensions hurt. A lot. Rose-Ivey was missed and so was Rose.
The bad: You never like to see your defense give up 500 yards. (Of course, it was well under that until the.very.last.play. /Sobs in corner for a while). 2014 BYU averaged 460 yards and 37 points for what it’s worth.
As for the secondary, if the game plan was “play really far off the LOS then try to close fast enough to wrap up and bring them down more often than not when they catch it…” then it was a success. It wasn’t all bad - Gerry’s interception was awesome and WE CAN HAZ TACKLING FORM. Despite getting picked on for most of the game (at least it felt like it) Josh Kalu did register two tackles for loss (out of his team-leading 9 total tackles) and a QB hurry. I also felt like 2 of the 3 sacks Nebraska registered were a result of the secondary having good enough coverage to give the DEs time to chase down Hill.
The good: Did I mention noticeable improvement in tackling form?
Josh Banderas looks like a proper middle linebacker. I mean, just get him the neck roll and some oversized shoulder pads and he would fit right into a mid-80’s football calendar. I thought he generally played well and with discipline. I held my breath when he dropped into pass coverage, but that might be true of most linebackers not named Lavonte David. Dedrick Young also played well in his first college game (he was the second-leading tackler with 7 total; 4 unassisted and 3 assisted).
More good: Freedom!!
More bad: There is a raccoon messing up one of the apple trees in my backyard and Jack Gangwish only has one good arm with which to wield a crescent wrench.
So Corn Nation - did you get answers to some of your questions? Agree or disagree with my answers? Let me know in the comments.
Next up - this game obviously raised many more questions going into next week. The “Corn Nation’s Got Questions - Southern Alabama Part Q” will be coming your way Thursday.