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Numbers, Statistics and Lies: Minnesota Edition

Do you want the bad news first? Or the bad news?

Nebraska v Minnesota Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Golden Gophers piled up 322 yards on the ground against Nebraska last Saturday to the tune of 6.6 yards/carry. An obscene amount of those yards came after contact. Not just a Husker getting a hand on the ball carrier, no. This was several Huskers being there to make the stop and still getting shoved backwards until the pile either tripped the ball carrier or it let him go.

In 2018, we saw a team regroup and get its crap together in the second half of the season. Scott Frost has a bye week at the right time - or the wrong one, depending on how the team responds to the message Minnesota sent. It sounds like we could see rejiggering in playing time with younger players getting more chances to show what they have. Or we might not. It is hard to tell what will shake out as Frost and Co. challenge their players.

Color-Coded Pile of Numbers

The green has all but disappeared but for a few holdouts. This is no longer a mediocre team, but one that is playing bad football and appears to have lost any sense of self and confidence. Players aren’t trusting each other to do their jobs.

This team does have an identity, but it is not a good one. The 2019 Huskers turn the ball over too much, are penalized too much, cannot sustain drives (time of possession) and have issues on third down and in the red zone on both sides of the ball. In other words, this is not a Big Ten football team yet.

The Huskers ran 10 more plays on offense than the Gophers (72 to 62) but only reached the red zone once. The Gophers reached the red zone six times and scored on five of them.

Third down was not kind to Nebraska as the offense was six of 16 in conversions (37.5%). To be a top 25 offense in this metric, a team should be at 45% conversion. The defense fared worse in giving up eight of 13 to the Gophers (61.5%). To be a top 25 defense, a team should hold opponents to converting less than one-third of their third down chances.

Next week (bye week), I’ll take time to make some of the graphs to show how the Huskers performed on a game by game basis.