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Numbers, Statistics, and Lies: Minnesota Edition

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Are the Huskers running more plays than their opponents? Who has a chance at a 1000 yard season?

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

That was fun, wasn’t it? We got a glimpse of the offense most of us expected Scott Frost to bring with him to Lincoln. I’m not sure I expected this much talent to be emerging this quickly, but I’ll take it.

Color Coded Pile of Numbers

We can haz green! (At least on offense.)

Special teams and defense are still a work in progress, but if the offense continues firing on all cylinders, the Huskers can at least be competitive in most games they play this season.

Lie: Nebraska finally evened out the starting field position battle and look at what they can do!

Against Minnesota, the Huskers started (on average) at their own 21 yard line while the Gophers started on their own 38. This is the worst starting position the Huskers have had all season (tied with the Michigan game.) Of course, gaining 9 yards every time the ball is snapped tends to dig an offense out of holes like that.

Graphs!

One of the things most of us expected to see in a Frost offense was tempo. Lots and lots of plays by the offense. This is year one and things have started off a bit...ummm...slow, but are we seeing the Husker offense snap the ball more often than our opponents?

Outside of the Troy game (sigh), the Huskers haven’t generally run many more plays than their opponents. Against Minnesota, it felt like the Husker offense was in full Blitzkrieg mode and they only ran one more play than the Gophers.

When you sort out the graph below, the Huskers are averaging 75 plays/game. Husker opponents are averaging 75 plays/game. If you check the color-coded pile, the Huskers possess the ball under 28 minutes of each game while opponents hold on to it over 32 minutes. So, the Huskers are snapping the ball 2.7 times for every minute of clock in which they possess the ball. Our opponents are snapping the ball 2.3 times each minute they possess the ball.

The verdict? I think we are seeing some tempo and that might be a fun offseason data dive.

Significant Digits

  • Nebraska’s 53 points vs Minnesota are the most points it has scored in a conference game since joining the Big Ten. (The last time NU scored more than 53 points against a Big Ten team was the 2000 Alamo Bowl with 66 points against Northwestern.)
  • For the fifth time in school history the Huskers featured a trio of 100-yard rushers with Devine Ozigbo (152), Adrian Martinez (125) and Maurice Washington (109).
  • Ozigbo topped 150 yards for the third time in the past four games, including his previous career-high of 170 yards vs. Purdue and 159 at Northwestern. In conference games only, Ozigbo is averaging 8.3 yards per carry and has six rushing touchdowns.
  • Nebraska senior receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. caught a career-high 10 passes for two touchdowns. It was the sixth 100-yard receiving game in his career, which ranks fourth overall in Nebraska history. His career total of 156 receptions makes him the fourth Husker to reach 150. He is now 25 receptions from Kenny Bell’s school record of 181 career catches.
  • Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez accounted for 401 yards of total offense against Minnesota, including 276 passing yards and a career-high 125 yards on the ground. It marked Martinez’s fourth game with at least 300 yards of total offense this season, giving him four of the six 300-yard total offense games by freshmen in school history. With his 125 rushing yards in the game, Martinez increased his season rushing total to 415 to surpass Tommie Frazier for the most rushing yards by a true freshman quarterback. Frazier rushed for 399 yards as a true freshman in 1992.
  • Sophomore receiver JD Spielman caught eight passes for 77 yards in the game, including his 7th touchdown catch of the season. He is one shy of the top 10 on the NU season touchdown receptions chart. Spielman increased his career total to 103 receptions to become the 12th Husker with more than 100 career receptions. Spielman is the first Husker to reach the milestone before his senior season and his 103 catches ranks are tied with Niles Paul for 10th in school history.

1000 Yard Alert

  • Devine Ozigbo has 600 yards rushing through seven games. He needs to average 80 yards/game for the next five game to reach 1000 yards.
  • Adrian Martinez’ 415 yards rushing means he will need to average 117 yards/game the rest of the way to reach 1000 yards on the ground.
  • JD Spielman’s sits at 614 yards receiving. He needs to average just over 77 yards/game to become the first 1000 yard receiver in Husker history.
  • Stanley Morgan, Jr. climbed to 556 yards receiving. He needs to average 89 yards/game to reach 1000.