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.
Remember last week when I said something to the effect that the offense might need to lean on the defense until all the new pieces came together. About that...
It might still happen. Unfortunately, we know very little about the Husker edition of the 3-4 Diaco defense. Apparently that was the intent as the coaching staff didn’t want to show Oregon anything.
I get that, to a degree, but game reps are valuable. Isn’t it better for the nickel and dime defenses or other sub-packages to get some reps than it is to hide them from film? Remember, no one has asked me to coach their football team in exchange for money. My opinion is worth jack diddly squat ($0 for those who don’t have the conversion rate handy).
Color-Coded Pile of Numbers
Numbers - Statistics - Lies I
Lets get the big one out of the way first.
The Red Wolves gained 497 yards of total offense. They also scored 36 points, converted 54% of their 3rd downs, and scored 60% of the time in red zone.
Statistic: Sucks. As you notice from the color-coded table above, the Huskers rank 103rd out of 127 teams in total defense.
Truth or lies? The Diaco-version Blackshirts gave me flashbacks to 2015 until I began to pick up on the fact that our linebackers were getting burned by wide receivers and not tight ends or running backs (mostly). Since then, many words have been written in many outlets about the vanilla defensive scheme. Verdict: The witness is hostile and we’d like to bring him back to the stand next week.
Numbers - Statistics - Lies II
Statistic: 100%. The Husker offense was 4 for 4 in red zone scoring chances. As you can imagine, this currently ranks them #1 in FBS. Woohoo!
Of course, 65 other FBS teams (half of the upper division in college football) are all tied for a currently-perfect red zone record.
Truth or lies? For me, the eye test said the Huskers have a better offensive line and better QB mechanics than 2016 (at least). This won’t lead to a season-long 100% red zone conversion rate, but it is encouraging. I think that an increased playbook will help in many ways. It won’t fix a 62-3 talent imbalance, but it might be the difference in a close game.
Verdict - The 2016 offense converted on 45% of red zone trips (which was good for a respectable #29 in FBS). Given all the missing pieces in last year’s offense, I am interested to see if the 2017 offense can surpass the 2016 statistics, even with a more difficult schedule. Arky State’s defensive line is no joke and this was a good test to determine if the OL can do its job game-by-game.
Tre Bryant cannot possibly carry the ball 31 times and hold up, but the stable is deep and Tanner Lee looked serviceable. I am not ready to crown him a first-round early-entry NFL draft pick, but he showed me enough, after sitting out a year, to think he can make enough throws to allow Danny Langsdorf to open up the playbook a bit.
Sidebar - I saw all the complaints about the OL in the game thread comments and elsewhere. Really? There were mis-communications and no one will mistake this version for vintage Pipeline...but this group was solid and versatile. I refer you to Hoss’ breakdowns for further commentary.
Numbers - Statistics - Lies III
Number: I thought Bruce Read was fired.
Statistic: We are ‘fortunate’ that the Maryland-Texas game featured more special teams tomfoolery than Nebraska-Arkansas State, otherwise people would be pointing and laughing more.
Truth or lies? Outside of JD Spielman’s kick return touchdown and Caleb Lightbourn’s improvement, there is not much to celebrate in relation to special teams (disclaimer: Drew Brown is still a stud). The punt and kick return defenses rank among the worst in FBS after one week playing a Sun Belt team. The punt return unit couldn’t open any holes for Pierson-El (or his eventual replacement Stanley Morgan).
Verdict - Is anyone coaching special teams? Anyone? Bueller?
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?