For those of you new to this series, N,S,&L is about basic stats and where the Huskers rank relative to other FBS teams and Big Ten teams and whether the “eye test” tells us if the numbers are lying or not.
Color-Coded Pile of Numbers
The mostly-green offensive showing of last week has skewed decidedly yellow and red after the trip out west. The defense went from yellow and red to really red. Even with the abysmal pass defense we saw in 2015, the run defense still looked great. The 2017 Blackshirts are clearly working through some major hiccups in the scheme change.
Numbers - Statistics - Lies I
Yuck. Blech. Ouch.
That about sums up the first six quarters of the Diaco defensive experiment thus far. Remember last week when I said I was getting flashbacks to 2015? Those flashbacks came back in spades during the first half of the game. I don’t want to go back to 2015 and I suspect none of you do either.
The Blackshirts have allowed an average of 532 yards per game in their first two contests. Now, total defense is not a perfect stat at all, but when you pair it with an average of 39 points per game surrendered...well you get the idea.
Statistic: The Huskers rank 122nd out of 130 FBS teams in terms of total defense. They rank 129th in pass defense (yards per game). I’m sure you are aware of this by now, but guess who is the only team below the Huskers? Ohio State. The Buckeyes play Army next weekend, so you know they are not going to give up many passing yards - even if they wanted to. Even the rush defense is a below-average unit ranking 69th in FBS.
Truth or lies? Right now, the eye test says we are in for a bumpy ride. The only glimmer of hope is the fact that halftime adjustments (especially during the Oregon game) were fairly successful. Halftime adjustments are good.
In-game adjustments would be better. I’m not sure I can watch a whole season of this roller coaster.
The joke I saw on Twitter (no, I’m not going to look it up to give credit)...The 3-4 defense apparently means giving up 3 or 4 touchdowns a quarter.
I’m not going to write any haiku about our defensive coordinator. Take that Bob.
Numbers - Statistics - Lies II
After tossing zero interceptions in Week 1, Tanner Lee sailed a few at the defense. He didn’t have much of a pocket to work with, but it was still a disappointing outing. With only 2 or even 3 interceptions, does Nebraska complete the comeback?
As mentioned previously, it was not all his fault as he didn’t get great pass protection and the Huskers were in a sling-it-to-win-it mode which brings out the gambler in most QBs. The first interception was a tip-drill that didn’t go the Huskers way. The playcalling was somewhat baffling at times (I’m trusting Hoss on this one as I am not a good enough analyst to plant my flag on this statement) as Tanner got no help in mitigating the rush via rollouts (or any real threat of play action).
Statistic: The Huskers went from tied for #1 in FBS all the way down to #117 in number of interceptions thrown.
Truth or lies? The Tulane version of Tanner Lee was not overly impressive but some QB whispering by our OC and better weapons around him were supposed to make a difference. I think the jury is still out on this one as I’m willing to cut Lee a break given how long it has been since he was in live game action and asked to win a game. I think we can put to rest those “will he bolt for the NFL?” thoughts for now and just cheer on the improvements he makes from here on out.
Numbers - Statistics - Lies III
Number: 7 and 103
Junior wideout Stanley Morgan Jr. had seven receptions for 103 yards, including touchdown catches of 18 and 28 yards in the third quarter. He set career highs in receptions and receiving yards for the second straight game, while posting his second consecutive 100-yard receiving game and the second 100-yard receiving effort of his career. (Why yes, I copied and pasted that from the Husker AD postgame notes, how did you know?)
Statistic: Nebraska has never had a 1000 yard/season receiver
Truth or lies? Am I jinxing Stanley by mentioning this? Maybe. Yes. He might be the most under-the-radar candidate we’ve had in a while. Each of the past few years, we’ve kept our eyes on Bell and Westerkamp et al. I’m not sure I saw #8 as the deep threat for this offense or as its leading receiver at this point of the season.
Opposing defenses are sure to adjust and force other wideouts to step up, but I wanted to highlight this accomplishment. I enjoy watching Morgan play and it will be great to see him add to his season totals.
- Safety Aaron Williams had a career-high 12 tackles, bettering his 11 tackles against Minnesota in 2016 in Lincoln.
- Drew Brown connected on five PAT attempts, pushing his career scoring total to 298, moving him within two points of becoming the sixth 300-point scorer in NU history.
- Tre Bryant is the first Husker to post back-to-back 100-yard rushing games to open a season since Ameer Abdullah topped 100 yards in the first two games in 2013.
So, tell me Corn Nation....what did your eyes tell you in relation to the numbers? What did I see right and what did I miss?