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Nebraska vs. Oregon: Numbers, Statistics & Lies

A dive into the Husker books, knee jerk analysis and reasons why you shouldn’t believe some of it. Also, haiku.

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tanner farmer hugging a teammate nebraska huskers David McGee

The non-conference slate is complete and the Huskers escaped unscathed. We are 25% of the way through the season and already 60% of the way to last year’s regular season win total (statistic alert)! Of course, the goal is to win more games than last year, but this is still a good start.

Numbers - Statistics - Lies

Number: 47. Both Nebraska and Oregon had 47 rush attempts during Saturday’s game.

Statistic: While both teams had the same number of attempts, Oregon gained 336 yards on the ground to Nebraska’s 228 for averages of 7.9 and 4.9 yards per carry respectively. The Ducks racked up that average largely without Royce Freeman.

Lie: OH NO’S! Our rush defense stinks!

This rush defense is not going to be like it was last year, but it will probably be OK. The improvements in the secondary are going to force opponents to run a little more than they tried in 2015. Also, the Blackshirts are not going to see another team with this much speed until, gulp, Ohio State. Most teams on the Husker schedule don’t appear to be capable of doing what the Ducks did. If the Huskers give that much ground to Northwestern this week, then we can panic.

As a matter of fact, here is what Pro Football Focus wrote about the Huskers:

The offense through three weeks owns the eighth-highest grade in the country, and is tops in the Big Ten. Despite the struggles against the Ducks, the defense has actually graded out even better, and currently stands at sixth-best in the country (third in the Big Ten). Senior DE Ross Dzuris is having a breakout season, as he has 12 total pressures (four sacks) and 10 total stops through three games, but the rest of the defensive line has posted just one sack and three hits. The secondary has been outstanding so far with just two TDs yielded to seven INTs (five against Wyoming in week two) and four pass break-ups forced thus far.

I’m not buying that the Husker defense has reached “top 10” in the country, but it is nice to see that a well-respected advanced stats site sees something solid.

Number: 16.5

Statistic: The Husker offense is averaging 16.5 yards per pass completion. This puts them at #9 in FBS and #1 in the B1G.

Lie: Why are we talking about this? Let’s keep Running The Dang Ball!

Tommy is not completing an exceptional % of his passes (54.5%) but he is completing them to great effect. Danny Langsdorf has been masterful so far this season in deploying his toys. All levels of this offense can threaten any defense they face. Devine Ozigbo is a punishing runner (and Tommy is no slouch there either). Add in Cethan Carter and Jordan Westerkamp and their abilities in the middle of the field AND then imagine Brandon Reilly and Alonzo Moore going deep (and Tommy’s nice touch on the long ball). Throw in the improved offensive line play we’ve seen and defensive coordinators are, understandably, willing to bet on “bad” Tommy showing up in the passing game. This opens up big play potential and Nebraska has taken advantage.

Number: 102

Statistic: Bill Glassford died this week at 102 years of age. He was a former Husker coach and the oldest living former professional football player.

Lie: No lies here. Husker Nation wishes you Godspeed Coach. Rest in peace.

Obligatory Pile of Numbers

This is the last week that the 2015 numbers will be part of this table. As expected, the Husker offense looks to be a force in the Big Ten. The improved defense, even if it doesn’t reach our lofty Husker expectations, will definitely make this team a contender if these trends continue.

This week, a few basic graphs about the offense. This first graph shows passing yards (red) and rushing yards (blue). When they are stacked they show the total offensive output for the Huskers. The first bar is the average across the entire 2015 season and the next three bars represent each of the non-conference games this season.

It is easy to see that Nebraska played it close to the vest against Fresno and then had to go to the air when Wyoming stacked the box and dared Tommy to beat them. The Oregon game plan was a thing of beauty. It was almost (almost) enough to make me forget the Illinois game last year.

a comparison of rush yards + pass yards for the 2015 season and the first three games of 2016 for Husker football

The second graph (below) list the number of plays that were passes (red) and rushes (blue). Stacking them on top of each other gives you an idea of the total number of offensive plays the Huskers have run.

We out-Oregon’d Oregon in game 3 as Nebraska ran 82 plays to 70 for the Ducks.

Number of rush + pass attempts for the 2015 season compared to the first three games of 2016 husker football

Non-Husker Statistic of the Week

Number: 3

Statistic: Three teams have not yet turned the ball over this season, obviously tying them all for #1 in FBS. Those teams are Army (West Point), Maryland, and current Big Ten West leader, Western Michigan. (Western Michigan has beaten Northwestern and Illinois).

If P.J. Fleck’s crew keeps “rowing the boat” he might lose the sweepstakes to coach Purdue next year.

If you are wondering, Nebraska’s two turnovers this season have them tied (with a bunch of other teams) for #8 in FBS. If this team continues to protect the ball like they have in the first three games, this offense will only become more deadly.

Husker Haiku

Purple cats wounded

Watch out, always dangerous

Hiding in the grass