Once the first quarter passed us by on Saturday, there was much less wailing and gnashing of teeth by Husker fans. That is, until Illinois lost to UTSA, but I digress.
We’ll take a look at a few numbers this week, but with the caveat - it was against Fordham. Frankly, the numbers should look pretty good and the play calling should be about working on some things Nebraska needs to improve. Do you remember that sequence (I believe in the third quarter) where the Huskers ran about three swing passes in a row with the blocking getting better on each?
And, let’s not forget that slow start to the game in which the offensive line forgot how to block, Adrian’s accuracy was questionable and the defense was a step late all over the field (Deontai Williams being an exception there). Twitter was calling for Scott Frost’s job mid-game and lists of potential replacements were being written by bloggers everywhere.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the gallows...
Here are some of the most interesting numbers from the game (to me at least):
Nebraska has not just one but two kickoff specialists! Brendan Franke handled kickoffs early in the game and put five into the end zone for touchbacks. Kelen Meyer came in to relieve him in the second half and added four touchbacks on his four kickoffs.
I’m guessing only one will get to travel to away games, but it is nice to know there are options should the dreaded injury bug arise.
Fordham only rushed for 129 yards, but they averaged 4.6 yards/carry, which is a healthier average than one would like to see for an FCS team. However, most of that was from the second quarter when the Rams averaged 7.9 ypc behind a 22 yard gain from Zach Davis. Otherwise, the Huskers allowed 2.5/ypc, 4 ypc, and 4.2 ypc in the 1st, 3rd and 4th quarters respectively. I’m less concerned knowing that it was essentially one good quarter (mostly one good run) but I would have liked to see the Blackshirts in the backfield making tackles for losses a bit more (Fordham only lost eight yards rushing the entire game).
74% Completion Rate
Getting Adrian Martinez going in the pass game was clearly a part of the game plan and 2AM went 6-9, 6-7 and 5-7 in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarters respectively. Was it perfect? No, but he is clearly developing downfield chemistry with Samori Toure and is working on accuracy. The main problem I saw was that he seems to be thinking too hard about accuracy and it takes him some time to throw the ball. He’s going to have to get faster on that release, and soon.
In the game recap, I referred often to Nebraska playing running back roulette. It seemed like the coaches were getting as many guys in there in as many different situations as possible to see their particular strengths and weaknesses. Look at the rush stats from the game:
Markese Stepp clearly emerged as a guy ready to seize the #1 job but we saw some hard running from a lot of backs. Mostly, it is nice to NOT see Adrian Martinez’ name on the top of this chart. Five rushing touchdowns is a pretty good day at the office too.
This has been mentioned in multiple articles on this site, but hats off to Fordham linebacker Ryan Greenhagen who was originally credited with 30 tackles on Saturday. After further review, he actually had 31, which is a opposition record for Nebraska and an NCAA record.
Mad props to #47. I hope that ice bath alleviated some of the aches and pains that surely came with that many collisions.
Buffalo’s head coach departed for Kansas at the end of spring ball, taking some assistant coaches and players with him. So, much like Illinois, it is difficult to say what Buffalo will try to do or what their team identity will be. FWIW, here is the color-coded pile from 2020.
To learn more about Buffalo, read Husker Mike’s preview...