Well, that demolition of Maryland was fun, wasn’t it?
Pick a number, any number, and it is likely to make Husker fans smile.
The Huskers racked up 531 yards of total offense to Maryland’s 206 (with 58 of those yards coming on that final touchdown run for the Terps). The Blackshirts got six sacks, recovered four fumbles.
Best of all, Nebraska made all of its field goals! Unfortunately...
None of Nebraska’s six kickers were finalists for the Lou Groza Award, which was announced today.— Michael Bruntz (@michaelbruntz) November 25, 2019
I guess that means Matt Waldoch is out of the running for the Heisman too.
The leading rushers on the game for Nebraska were Adrian Martinez (94 yards; 9.4/carry) and Luke McCaffrey (83 yards; 8.3/carry). Given that Dedrick Mills was, umm, indisposed and according to his coach “had stuff coming out both sides”, he can be forgiven for only amassing 65 yards (5.4/carry). Rahmir Johnson got the most carries (18) and he managed 55 yards (3.1/carry). Despite the low yardage, I think Husker fans liked what they saw from Johnson in what is likely to be his final appearance for the season (that was his fourth game). He looks like he will be a good replacement for Maurice Washington and a compliment to Dedrick Mills next season.
Color-Coded Pile of Numbers
This game helped Nebraska wipe a lot of red off the slate. The Huskers now look almost like a middling football team instead of a bad one. Going in to a game the Huskers must win if they want to keep playing football, it’s something.
Another item to note, the Husker offense’s dreadful third down conversion % has moved up quite a ways. They are going to need to maintain that to have a chance against Iowa (a good third down defense).
Numbers to Watch
Nebraska is not likely to have a 1000 yard rusher this season. The closest is Dedrick Mills with 651 yards. A 350 yard day against the Hawkeyes seems unlikely unless Barry Alvarez returned the Blackshirt voodoo doll the Badgers have used against Nebraska and Scott Frost sneaks it into the coaching box.
If Nebraska can get a “W” against the Hawkeyes (and that is a big “IF”) behind a good day from Mills and play in a bowl game, the chance for Mills to get close to 1000 is there, but still a longshot.
A 1000 yard receiver is more likely as JD Spielman needs 136 yards to become the second Husker to ever reach that mark after Stanley Morgan Jr. did it in 2018. Right now JD is the only receiver in Husker history to have 3 seasons with over 800 yards receiving.
Adrian Martinez is averaging 276.4 yards of total offense, including 211.8 passing yards per game and 64.7 rushing yards per game. Martinez leads the Big Ten and ranks 28th nationally in total offense. Martinez is the only Big Ten player and one of seven FBS quarterbacks to average 200 passing yards and 50 rushing yards per game. Martinez and Louisiana-Monroe’s Caleb Evans are the only two quarterbacks in the FBS ranks to average 200 passing and 50 rushing yards the past two years.
Looking Ahead to Iowa
Iowa’s offense is a study in contrasts. they do not rack up the yards or points, but they control the ball (time of possession). When they do reach the red zone, they are going to score points. Given Nebraska’s defensive woes in the red zone, I would hope the game plan includes something like “Keep Iowa from getting to the 20”, but perhaps that is easier for an armchair statistician to type than it is for the Blackshirts to do?
Look for the Hawkeyes to attack the Husker linebackers with the short passing game. This doesn’t come from any special insight, I’m just assuming the Iowa coaches have watched game film this season.