Old habits die hard.
And Nebraska’s bad habit of fourth quarter failures came back to haunt Husker fans yet again. And waste a valiant defensive effort for much of the game. Nebraska’s offense didn’t give the Blackshirts much room for error, and defensive perfection isn’t realistic to expect.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a 13-10 football game that only featured FIVE punts. That’s what happens in a game that also featured eight turnovers combined by both teams. Give the Blackshirts credit for the three turnovers they forced, but the five Nebraska turnovers is something that requires a lot of introspection by this coaching staff.
Last week, I speculated that Heinrich Haarberg was injured; he was slow and rather indecisive without the advantage that his speed had given him in September and October. Today it was confirmed; Haarberg left the game early in the second quarter after struggling to complete one of five passes with an interception.
In came Jeff Sims. In our quarterback roundtable last week, the consensus opinion was that Sims should get another shot to prove that he’s a better quarterback and not a turnover machine. Sims got that chance, and instead solidified his reputation as a turnover machine. (If not cemented it.) Sims now sits at 10 turnovers on the season in under three games of actual playing time. It’s time to admit that he is what he is as a quarterback...and move on.
Chubba Purdy was the next man up at quarterback, and engineered a fairly impressive 90 yard drive in the fourth quarter. When Nebraska got it down to the Maryland five yard line, I declared to those around me in the north stadium that, no matter what, the Huskers needed to run the ball from there on. It made no sense to risk a potential game-winning field goal attempt in that situation, but the coaching staff apparently disagreed. First down incompletion, second down stuffed run, and third down disaster. They did what they absolutely could not do and Nebraska threw their fourth interception of the game.
The Blackshirts finally broke in the closing two minutes, like they did late in the game against Colorado. A third down pass interference penalty, and finally breaking in stopping the run was the final blow. Or perhaps it was because once Maryland made it into field goal range, the defense focused on trying to force another turnover instead of stopping the play.
That’s going to have to be reflected in the report card, which is a shame, because the Blackshirts did nearly everything they could do to keep NU in this game. But giving up 384 yards does have to be noted. As always, your feedback is welcome in the comments.
QB: In fairness to Purdy, the third string quarterback doesn’t get the reps in practice the top two get. So I’m more willing to forgive his first turnover of the season than I am Jeff Sims’ tenth, and because of that, I think it’s clear that Chubba Purdy should have the next opportunity to start against Wisconsin. (Especially when I don’t think he should have been asked to throw the ball in on that 3rd and goal anyway.) Unless that groin injury earlier this season is still an issue, give him the first team reps this week, and let’s see what he can do. Until Heinrich Haarberg’s ankle improves greatly, he’s not a candidate. As for a grade this week...well, it shouldn’t need much explanation: F
I-Back: Emmitt Johnson got a steadier workload in this game - 17 carries plus three catches - but probably could have and arguably should have carried the ball more. Joshua Fleeks seemed to see more snaps than Anthony Grant, who’s biggest contribution was a nice tackle on the first interception of the game. Grade: B
Receivers: Sometimes the blame for an awful looking interception actually belongs to a receiver, and I wonder if this was the case on the final interception where it appears that Malachi Coleman wasn’t where Purdy expected him to be. The coaching staff knows. In any event, there weren’t a lot of open receivers this day, and that compounded the quarterback issues. Grade: F
Offensive Line: Truth be told, I thought the line did a decent job blocking, even when Maryland stuffed the box with ten defenders early on. Only five tackles for loss on a day when the offense sputtered is a positive. Grade: B
Defensive Line: If Nebraska had somehow pulled this game out, Ty Robinson might have been one of a couple of candidates to be Big Ten defensive player of the week. Seven tackles with two pass breakups and a quarterback hurry, he was Taulia Tagovailoa worst nightmare this week. Nash Hutmacher had a huge fourth down stop as well. Grade: A
Linebackers: Robinson, though, would have been second fiddle to Javin Wright in conference honors this week, who had a “SportsCenter Top Ten” interception, though let’s also give Robinson credit for flushing Tagovailoa out of the pocket and making it difficult to throw the ball away. Wright led with eight tackles and kept Nebraska in the game by forcing a fumble inside the five yard line. Grade: A
Secondary: Well, there was few weak points on the defense, as Malcolm Hartzog got burned twice in the second quarter. Omar Brown did force a turnover just after halftime to set the tone, and Marques Buford had a huge sack. And Maryland’s final drive is one that the Blackshirts will want back. Grade: B-
Overall: D+ The defense more than played well enough to win, but the offense simply wasn’t up to the task.
How would you grade the Huskers 13-10 loss to Maryland?
This poll is closed
A - Actually, I’m a Jaysker who decided to go to their hoops game instead.
B - Actually, I’m a Jaysker who went to the their hoops game but watched the Huskers on my phone. For a 2/3rd empty arena, the wifi wasn’t working very well at all for some reason.
C - Championship defense; Ferentzian offense
D - Defense was fine, offense was non-existant.
F - ‘Eff this. Find another quarterback or two in the portal next month.