Great rush defense. A limited offense.
That seems to be the equation for these 2023 Huskers. It was a winning formula against Louisiana Tech...but is it a winning formula in the Big Ten? Maybe not against the elite teams in the East division. Michigan comes to Lincoln next week and should be heavy favorites. But after that? Iowa’s offense is arguably even worse than it was last season. Purdue is rebuilding. Illinois looks awfully inconsistent. Northwestern is embroiled in scandal, as is Michigan State. Can this team muddle through to get to six or seven wins? It could be rough, but I wouldn’t count out them out either.
I walked away from Memorial Stadium not quite sure what I saw. Nebraska put up some big rushing numbers, but it was very much a feast or famine approach. For every long run, there were five runs that looked like Nebraska was overwhelmed. Louisiana Tech took a gambling approach to try and shut down the Huskers at the line of scrimmage, but that left themselves vulnerable if they reached the second level...which Heinrich Haarberg and Anthony Grant did.
Nebraska made adjustments in the second half, going with an old-school I-formation approach to seize control of the game until a spotty thunderstorm forced an hour-long delay. Afterwards, Louisiana Tech was much more aggressive than the Huskers and started moving the ball on Nebraska as time expired. A little bit of my post-traumatic syndrome started to flare up as I wondered if the Huskers were going to allow yet another game slip away from them late until Isaac Gifford sealed the win in the final minute.
So on with the report card...as always, your feedback is welcome in the comments section.
QB: Heinrich Haarberg had another mostly-clean game at quarterback; just one Corcoran-induced fumble that was recovered by Nate Boerkircher. Haarberg’s arm is still a bit erratic, but man, is that big guy fast. Watch the replays of his 72 yard fourth quarter run as he pulls away from the Louisiana Tech secondary. And he issues far more punishment than he is taking; note the hit he laid out on Tech’s Cecil Singleton on his first quarter 42 yard run. Grade: B
I-Back: I chuckle when commentators dismiss Anthony Grant as the “third string” I-back. Anybody who watched Grant last season knows that he’s a talented ball carrier, and he showed it this week. He’s doing a lot less dancing and being more patient in letting his blocks unfold. This week against Michigan will be the big test. In a game like this, we needed to see Emmitt Johnson get more than two carries. Grade: B+
WR: Thomas Fidone had a sweet acrobatic catch for a touchdown. He’s going to be really good. Other than Billy Kemp, the receiver room definitely needs many more youngsters to start showing up. Part of me wonders if we’re seeing a limited amount of offense with Haarberg running the offense, and that we might see something more when Jeff Sims is available. A downgrade because two penalties wiped out long house-call touchdown runs by Haarberg and Anthony Grant. Grade: D-
OL: This is one grade that I’ve been hashing around ever since the storm delay. Nebraska racked up some huge yardage totals, but way too often, running plays were bottled up by Tech’s aggressive defense. That’s not all on the offensive line, but Turner Corcoran getting spun like a top is. Hoping that Teddy Prochazka can be ready to take over for Corcoran soon. Grade: C-
DL: No sacks, thanks in part to Tech’s quick passing game to try and keep their backup starter healthy. But the defense did hold Tech’s running game 135 yards under their average. I wonder if Nash Hutmacher had a chance to thank DeColdest Crawford for the HVAC NIL deal? Grade: C
LB: Hoping that Luke Reimer’s injury isn’t long term and that he’s back in October. John Bullock was a capable replacement this week with eight tackles. Grade: C+
Secondary: The passing numbers were skewed by the post-delay drives by Louisiana Tech, but they did a great job swarming Smoke Harris. Malcom Hartzog had the highlight reel tackle of Harris for a two yard loss while Hartzog was being blocked. Grade: C+
Special Teams: The fake field goal was well run, but Tristan Alvano got the yips in the second half. Hopefully that’s a temporary thing and he just calms down after the game. Brian Buschini keeps doing Buschini things in the punting game. Grade: C
Overall: C It’s a win that looked a little closer than it probably was, thanks to the storm interruption. And considering what some other members of the Quadrangle of Hate (primarily along the I-35 corridor) endured Saturday night, it’s not the end of the world.
How would you grade the Huskers victory over Louisiana Tech?
This poll is closed
A - No Troy Edwards performances!
B - It’s a win and looked pretty good before the storm hit.
C - An OK performance, all things considered
D - Didn’t pull an Iowa or Minnesota, but still didn’t impress.
F - I’m an Iowa fan who needs to make others feel miserable.