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Numbers, Statistics and Lies: South Alabama Edition

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The special teams section is all green - THIS IS NOT A DRILL! Plus, a look ahead to the Colorado Buffaloes

NCAA Football: South Alabama at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

For new readers, Numbers, Statistics and Lies is about basic stats and where the Huskers rank in the Big Ten and in FBS. I’m not an advanced stats guru but I will occasionally make graphs so it looks more impressive than it really is. If you have a question about one or more of the stats, let me know in the comments!

What can we learn from Nebraska’s national and Big Ten rankings in various categories after one week? Absolutely nothing, but that doesn’t stop me from churning out the color-coded content anyway.

  • If you watched that game and thought, “The offense had a bad day” the color-coded pile validates your observation.
  • If you watched the game and thought, “The defense had a decent day”, the color-coded pile also agrees with you.
  • AND LOOK AT SPECIAL TEAMS. Take a screenshot people. We may never see all green in that section again. (This might be the closest thing to a lie in this week’s edition as we all know the missed field goal and fumbled punt were also part of the special teams performance.)

Defense

During the course of 2018 and spring/fall football, it has become apparent to me that Coach Chinander’s philosophy is that a defense needs to wreak havoc to be successful. He isn’t aiming to allow the fewest yards, but he wants turnovers and to take the opposing offense out of their game.

If you look at the defensive section of the chart...mission accomplished. The green areas are the “havoc” statistics - sacks, tackles for loss, interceptions and fumbles recovered. The one exception to that is (for me) the red coloring on third down conversion defense.

I hope this trend continues. Chaos and mayhem are fun when it is the Blackshirts discombobulating the other team. The impressive thing to me was how many different defensive players registered havoc stats. This was not Ndamukong Suh dominating everything. There were 10 tackles for loss by eight different players; three interceptions by two different players; four sacks by four players; two fumbles forced by two players and recovered by two more players...this was a team effort. Lamar Jackson and Cam Taylor get special shoutouts for registering multiple havoc stats. Jackson had 3 solo tackles, one tackle for loss, one forced fumble and one quarterback hurry. Cam Taylor registered two solo and three assisted tackles, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and an interception.

Early in the game, I thought some of the holes in the middle of the defensive line/linebackers were pretty big. In the end, the rush defense held the Jaguars to 1.9 yards/carry and 83 yards net rushing. Not a bad day at the office.

Special Teams

The fumble by JD Spielman and missed (blocked) field goal by Dylan Jorgensen cast a pall over an otherwise surprising showing by the coverage units. We’ve gotten so used to overall terrible-ness in the special teams that it was good to see them largely hold the Jaguars in check.

Isaac Armstrong’s first punt was short, but he got-r-done after that with some really nice rolls and a backward bounce (to keep the punt from going into the end zone) for a solid 45.5 yards/punt net average.

Offense

It was a miserable day overall for Adrian Martinez and Co. The leading rusher one game into the season is Dedrick Mills with a whopping 44 yards (2.9 ypc). He did account for the two touchdowns the offense contributed on the day

On the bright side, Jack Stoll had a stellar day in the receiving (66 yards) as well as blocking departments. Maurice Washington averaged 6.5 yards/carry (but only got six carries for 39 yards in his half of work). Wan’Dale Robinson showed off some versatility as he led the Huskers in all-purpose yards with 131 (22 rush, 33 receiving and 77 kick return).

Opponent Color-Coded Chart

Here is where Colorado sits after their Week 1 victory over Colorado State.

Colorado’s offensive and defensive coloring is the opposite of the Huskers right now. The Buffaloes were able to move the ball pretty effectively against the Rams. The Husker secondary is likely to have their hands full with Laviska Shenault and Steven Montez. But, the Colorado defense gave up 505 yards to Colorado State. Let’s hope that trend continues when the ailing Husker offense heads to Boulder and Coach Frost can get his playmakers back on track.