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Nebraska Football Numbers, Statistics & Lies: Offense

We present some graphs on the offensive rank, balance, and points per play

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

I decided to bring back NSL for a couple of offseason appearances. This one focuses on the offense. In other words, I decided to focus on the good news first...

Offensive Rank - FBS

This graph shows where the Huskers ranked nationally as the season progressed. Being at the bottom of this graph is better than the top.

The green line is scoring offense, red line is passing offense, blue line is rushing offense and yellow line is total offense (yards). You can see that post-Michigan, the yards started to come for the Husker offense, but not the points. It took until halfway through the season for Nebraska to start scoring enough points to really move the needle in terms of national ranking. Turnovers, missed field goals, and failed fourth downs were all a factor.

Offensive Balance

This graph shows the # of pass plays (red) run by the Huskers per game compared to rushes (blue). The Huskers averaged 73.1 offensive snaps/game with 33.7 of those being passes and 39.4 rushes for a 46:54 pass:run ratio. #RunTheDangBall purists would like that to be closer to 40:60 but with the growth we saw in Adrian Martinez and Spielman/Morgan on the receiving end of those passes, I won’t complain at all.

Points Per Play

The Huskers put up a lot of yards without a lot of points (graph at top) early in the season, but the trendline below (purple line) shows that improved as the season went on. Over the entire season, Nebraska ran 806 offensive plays and scored 360 points. That averages out to be .447 points per play. Thanks to our own Paul Dalen, I was able to get numbers for all FBS teams in 2018 (regular season only - no bowl games included). The average team scored .408 points per play in 2018.

For reference, Alabama scored .728 points and Clemson .626 points every time they snapped the ball. The average of Big Ten teams in 2018 was .394 points/play (.408 if you remove Rutgers.)

What does this mean?

I think it means that a freshman quarterback (who was injured early on), new coach, and new system resulted in a discombobulated unit in the first half of the season, especially when it came to turnovers and red zone execution. Replacing Ozigbo and Morgan, keeping Martinez healthy, and seeing continued growth (literally) by the o-line will all be key to taking this offense from talented-but-shoots-themselves-in-the-foot to wow-that-is-what-i-expected-when-we-hired-frost.

Coming next in offseason NSL - the defense. (You may want to read that one blindfolded.)