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Nebraska Football: Numbers, Statistics, and Lies, Week One

Welcome to the inaugural article reviewing the books for notable Husker football performances, knee-jerk analysis, and why you should not believe any of it. In other words, past results are not predictive of future value (I think that is the disclaimer Cobby's lawyer insisted I add here).

When I first joined Corn Nation, my weekly contribution involved articles that rhymed. Those were fun, but when season 2 rolled around, I was out of ideas and tried a Q&A article instead. (Now that I think about it, Mad Libs poetry might make an encore appearance sometime this season).

In the three years I’ve been with CN, I was fascinated with numbers and trends, and actually spent some time looking at sources and ways to capture and analyze data on a timely basis. I finally have figured out how to keep on top of some of the information I need to follow through on this "hobby". In other words, I can actually start to communicate about something I like to read about.

I am well aware that looking at stats and rankings this early in the season is an incomplete picture. The table at the bottom is something that will become more useful as the season continues. Until then you get varying emphasis on numbers, statistics, and lies. Enjoy.

Steve, I think I got the scroll bars right this time. Let me know if not.

Numbers - Statistics - Lies

Number: 51/13
This is the rush attempt (51) compared to pass attempts (13) by the Huskers in their first game against Fresno.
Stat: It works out to be an 80/20 run/pass ratio.
Lie: Riley has seen the light and is going to #RunTheDangBall.

Fresno State fielded a miserable run defense in 2015, so it is natural that the run-heavy game plan from the Foster Farms bowl against UCLA (another bad rush defense) got dusted off and reused. FWIW, Wyoming also had a really bad defense in 2015 against both the pass and run. Last week against Northern Illinois the Cowboy rush defense looked good but the secondary gave up a crap ton* of yards through the air. Look for a more balanced Husker offensive game plan this week vs Wyoming before going full-aerial assault in Week 3 vs the Ducks. The Oregon secondary was worse than the Huskers in 2015 and gave up 303 yards (.92 crap tons if you are keeping score) through the air in Week 1 to FCS opponent UC Davis.

*In this case, a "crap ton" is exactly 329 yards which was good for the 15th worst performance by an FBS defense in Week 1.

Number: 4/0
The Huskers notched four sacks while giving up none to Fresno State.
Stat: The Husker offense is currently tied for first in the nation (with 26 other FBS teams that did not give up a sack in Week 1). The defense’s four sacks puts them at 14th in FBS and 3rd in the B1G.
Lie: All that concern over the lines was for nothing. The big fellas are gonna be just fine.

Maybe. I will wait and see until both get tested a little more. Unlike Husker Mike, I liked what I saw from the O-line more than the D-line last Saturday. The people I was watching the game with remarked "Are our D-ends this slow or are the backups in?" I did a quick jersey check and had to break the bad news. Nope - those are the starters. It was a better performance than I expected, but I won’t get my hopes up until I see more.

Ross Dzuris’ mustache got an A+ from our peanut gallery though.

Obligatory Pile of Numbers

This table contains some baseline stats from 2015 and Week 1’s performance. It will get more useful as the season rolls along. I’ll add a few more data points (things like interceptions, tackles and such aren’t very useful until we get a few games under our belts) and there may even be graphs.

For now, enjoy the small signs of progress, such as our 86th ranked pass defense.