The long-promised graphs are here! The first few are how the Huskers have fared through the first seven games (eight weeks) of the season. The final color-coded pile is a comparison of 2018 and 2019 through seven games (eight weeks).
The Husker offense was starting to find a little bit of footing before running into the Buckeye buzzsaw and two good defenses in Northwestern and Minnesota. These numbers don’t tell the whole story, but their is nothing fluky or weird - Nebraska’s offense is having to work hard for every first down. They can be explosive at times, which makes these numbers look a little better than most Husker fans feel, but the struggles are real.
In the graph below, the blue portion of the bar represents the yards rushing and the red portion are the yards passing. The Huskers have topped 400 yards in only three games and been held below 300 in three more.
Those three interceptions versus the Buckeyes really made that red bar even uglier than it should have been.
In the graph below, it is better to be near the bottom of the graph (ranked higher in the nation) than at the top. The blue line is the rush offense, which is still fairly respectable. The red line is the pass offense - which isn’t putting up many yards per game but is getting chunks of yards when they do complete a pass. The yellow line is total offense (yards). The green line is scoring offense.
Bottom line: Field position has been killing the Huskers and they are fighting for yards, but those yards aren’t getting them into scoring position. The lack of kicking game is hurting here too as zero points in a the precious few red zone trips Nebraska gets are ending with 0 more often than they would if Barret Pickering were healthy.
This is a game by game look at the Blackshirts performance. The blue bar is yards/rush allowed. The red bar is yards/pass completion allowed and the yellow bar is yards/play allowed. That performance against Ohio State is expected, but those numbers against Minnesota. Ouch.
Overall, the pass defense seems to be better than what this graph tells you, and the rush defense is struggling a bit more than this graph would say. The really good rush defense performances came against two bad offenses (USA and Northwestern) and a team that relies on its NFL caliber QB and WR to put up yards (Colorado).
Just like the national ranking graph for the offense, this is one where it is better to be at the bottom than the top.
In this, the rush defense is the blue line. They looked solid early on, but offensive coordinators have figured out how to take advantage of the Husker linebackers by now. The red line is passing yards allowed. Even though we saw in the graph above that the pass defense is giving up more yards/completion than we’d like to see, overall they aren’t giving up much yardage. They’ve been solid even with the injuries and depth issues we’ve seen at the safety position. The yellow line is the total defense (yards) and green line is scoring defense (points).
The Huskers are about in the middle of the FBS pack for total and scoring defense.
Field position was a bugaboo in 2018 and it isn’t quite as bad in 2019, but the Huskers are finding themselves (red line) with longer fields than their opponents (blue line) more often than not. With an offense that is struggling in 2019, that has spelled disaster. In 2018, the offense could overcome that deficit more readily than they can in 2019.
Comparing to 2018
The color coded pile on the left is seven games into 2018 and the one on the right is seven games into 2019. No surprise, the offense has regressed after losing the career and season receiving yards school record holder in Stanley Morgan, Jr, the first 1000 yard rusher (Devine Ozigbo) since Ameer Abdullah, two starting offensive linemen, and the only scholarship field goal kicker (the injury to Pickering). The talented trio of Adrian Martinez, Maurice Washington and JD Spielman is now down to a duo and both are fighting injuries, as is Wan’dale Robinson. (In other words, buckle up - this ride is probably only getting bumpier)
The defense and special teams have improved but neither is really an outstanding unit overall. The “team” category shows that the Huskers have cleaned up the penalties somewhat, but still continue to turn the ball over too much.
What do you see in the numbers that I missed? Let me know in the comments!