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Nebraska Football: Numbers, Statistics and Lies Week 11

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Our weekly dive into the Husker books focuses on turnovers and sacks.

Minnesota v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Nebraska got back to its winning ways with a hard-fought victory over a good Minnesota team. Tommy Armstrong had one of his finest games as a Husker despite an ankle and then hamstring injury.

19 –– Nebraska won for the 19th straight time in a home night game, dating back to a loss to Missouri in 2008.

4–– Nebraska trailed at the half for the fourth consecutive home game, and has rallied to win each of those games. Nebraska trailed 17-10 at the half tonight after trailing Oregon by six points, Illinois by three and Purdue by four before rallying to win each of those games.

90 –– Senior quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw two touchdown passes in tonight’s game and rushed for a 13-yard TD in the fourth quarter. He increased his career touchdown total to 90, tying Eric Crouch for a Nebraska school record.

Numbers - Statistics - Lies

Numbers: 12 and 4

Statistic: The Cornhuskers have fumbled the ball 12 times this season, losing four. In 2015, they fumbled 11 times (the entire season) and lost five of those.

Lie: Oh no! The turnovers are likely to be worse than 2015.

The Huskers are fumbling more but losing a lower % of those fumbles than 2015. As a matter of fact, Nebraska ranks #17 in FBS for fumbles lost. Interceptions are also way down (21 in all of 2015 compared to 9 so far this season).

Opponents have fumbled four times with Nebraska recovering two of those. This is the more worrisome stat for me as the Huskers rank #122 in FBS in fumbles recovered. The defensive line has been better than expected in terms of keeping opponents ground games in check, but the lack of playmakers really shows. They are not getting a lot of heat on opposing quarterbacks or forcing fumbles. Hopefully that will come as some of the youngsters find their stride.

Numbers - Statistics - Lies II

Number: 0.7

Statistic: The Huskers are allowing 0.7 sacks per game which is good for #2 in FBS and #1 in the Big Ten.

Lie: Tommy and Ryker should be completing more passes with all that time to throw.

We have beaten the drum about the struggles of the offensive line (outside of some fourth quarter heroics) all season long. They have not been consistently giving their QB much time to read the field. The low sack rate is likely a combination of Nebraska’s talented receivers and Tommy’s otherworldy ability to escape pressure. Even a one-legged Tommy has enough scrambling ability to escape. Unfortunately, launching passes under pressure does not help a quarterback whose accuracy is iffy under the best of conditions.

Obligatory Pile of Numbers

The offense continues its slide as the defense continues to hold steady. Despite continuing to drop in productivity (points and yards) on offense, the Huskers still remain one of the best in the nation at time of possession. Part of that is due to the excellent performance on third down. I have not looked up any stats on three-and-outs but I suspect those are WAY down over last year.

Non-Husker Numbers

This week’s opponent, Maryland started the season hot but has stumbled once they got into the meat of conference play. They are in a similar boat as Nebraska in that their starting quarterback is injured and no one is sure if he will play or not.

Their defense is struggling, to put it mildly which bodes well for a Husker team, especially if Ryker Fyfe is pressed into service. I don’t expect a points explosion from Nebraska but a safe, ball-control offensive game plan, and a good dose of Drew Brown, will hopefully be enough.

Below are some of Maryland’s stats. You can see they are heavily dependent on running the ball and have a tendency to turn it over. Let’s hope Nebraska’s rejuvinated rush defense and ball-hawking backfield help set up the offense with some short fields.

Stat Rank Value
Total Offense 82 393.3
Rushing Offense 31 213.7
Passing Offense 104 179.6
Team Passing Efficiency 70 127.49
Scoring Offense T-80 26.7
Total Defense 96 445.3
Rushing Defense 113 228.7
Passing Yards Allowed 48 216.6
Team Passing Efficiency Defense 65 132.12
Scoring Defense 80 30.7
Turnover Margin T-109 -0.60

Go Big Red!