Has reality hit yet? Those of us that secretly harbored hopes of an instant turnaround had our dreams smashed when Troy manhandled our offensive line and took advantage of our pass defense. Yes, Nebraska was starting its backup walk-on quarterback - third string if Gebbia hadn’t transferred - fourth string if Noah Vedral had been ruled eligible this season...
I tried to paint myself as a realist. I wasn’t going to set unrealistic expectations. My public statements were all about tempering expectations and patience. And yet, I succumbed to the secret idea that Nebraska would turn this around quickly. I never expressed it out loud prior to this article. You now have my confession and I will go say however many “Hail Devaney’s” are required to make penance.
Color Coded Pile of Numbers
If you look below, you can see that the defense is largely holding their own, outside of a few hiccups in the pass defense.
How many of you expected the defense to be the strong suit of this team in the non-conference portion of the schedule? Raise your hand.
Put it down. No, you didn’t.
Things can, and will, change. Early season results, especially with a new coaching staff, are rarely indicative of true performance. The signal vs noise around this team right now is difficult to sort.
There are a few alarm bells that seem to be sounding loud and clear....special teams (wooooooof), turnover margin (sigh), and penalty yards. Disciplined teams don’t make those mistakes. Time will tell if Frost and Co. are having trouble establishing a disciplined culture or if they are experiencing the same buy-in issues we’ve seen with other coaching changes here at Dear Old NU.
For the record, I still think that Scott Frost is the right coach at the right time. I’m just facing an earlier-than-expected readjustment of my own secret Husker hopes.
Numbers - Statistics - Lies I
Numbers: 112 and 42
Statistics: The Husker offense ranks a dreadful 112th in FBS in first downs, yet is a solid 42nd in FBS in total yards.
Lie: I know exactly what this means.
[truth] I have no idea which set of numbers (the red or the green) reveals the nature of Nebraska’s offensive identity. How can this team produce yards and yet not produce first downs?
Given the dismal red zone stats, my guess (and it is only that because I have not examined explosive play data) is that the Huskers are currently a feast-or-famine offense. They are able to gain chunks of yards but also put up a lot of plays that are, ummm, less than optimum. They are also losing an unacceptable amount of yardage due to penalties.
Numbers - Statistics - Lies II
Numbers: 89 and 39
Statistics: The defense ranks 89 in scoring defense and 39 in total defense (yards/game). The Blackshirts are giving up points without giving up ground.
Lie: I know exactly what this means.
I suspect the dreadful special teams play coupled with the offense’s tendency to give the ball to the other team may have something to do with this. If the defense has a short field to defend, they can give up points without giving up many yards. I’ll try to take a look at Nebraska’s average starting field position compared to opponents for the next edition of NSL.
16 – Senior receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. caught a 9-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter for his 16th career touchdown catch. The touchdown moved Morgan into a tie for fifth on the NU career receiving touchdowns list.
28 - Morgan has caught at least one pass in 28 straight games, tying for the fourth-longest streak in Nebraska history.
Fastest to 1000 ? - Sophomore receiver JD Spielman caught a game-high six passes for 45 yards in the game. Spielman increased his career receiving yardage total to 942 yards in 13 career games. Spielman is 58 yards from becoming the fastest Husker to reach 1,000 receiving yards, bettering Heisman winner Johnny Rodgers who reached that yardage plateau in 16 career games.