Delayed Reaction:  Huskers Shine in Opener

Apologies for the delay.  The Labor Day weekend disrupted BRN in-season routine.  The Huskers amassed nearly 800 yards and held their opponent to 200 yards.  As the saying goes, things are never as good as they look in victory or as bad as they look in defeat.  Had Florida Atlantic made their 45-yard field goal to narrow the game at 17-10 and Jaquez Johnson survived the hit from Zaire Anderson, the game might have been more of a contest.  The Owls also missed a chance to fall on a fumble in the second quarter that could have given them a short field.  Their receivers dropped some passes as well.

 

Then again, the Huskers probably could have put more points on the board as well.  Tommy Armstrong missed some wide open receivers.  The clock management at the end of the first half also cost NU a chance to get some more points on the board.  While the early penalties didn't cost Nebraska on the scoreboard, they did slow the game down a bit.  The Huskers also had the chance to collect a turnover or two that didn't materialize.

Abdullah had a great day in rushing for 232 yards on 21 attempts, but they probably could have gotten him out of the game sooner.  Imani Cross should have had more than three carries on the day, assuming he's OK physically.  Likewise, Tommy Armstrong probably could have taken a seat sooner.  He lasted long enough to complete Jordan Westerkamp 7 passes for 125 yards and Kenny Bell 4 for 116 with a touchdown for Westerkamp and true freshman De'Mornay Pierson-El.  Terrell Newby mopped up with 107 yards on 16 carries, with Ryker Fyfe leading the Huskers to their last 10 points.  

The Randy Gregory injury gave pause, but it now sounds as though he could be available for the Fresno State game.  You'd prefer him not be hurt, but getting rest for a couple weeks could keep him fresher later.  Don't be surprised if McNeese State is able to provide more of a challenge than Florida Atlantic.  Not many games are ever this one sided.

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Comments 40 comments so far

“Not many games are ever this one sided.”

Except perhaps in ‘95, when about half the games were that one-sided, if not more so.

It was a nice flashback to years gone by. I’m a little curious too as to why Cross didn’t get more carries. But I loved it. Great game and exactly what it should have been - a place for youngsters to get experience and walkons to play.

I loved it. It’s just what this state needed…a good old fashion blow-out! Feels good. Lots of guys got looks. Tons now on film. Lots of guys had time to shine and shine they did. And that catch! Good God man!

I knew it about this DeMourne Pierson El guy. I remember watching his highlight films out of high school right aftyer he got recruited by Nebraska and thinking this kid could be real good, and I mean Real good.
I think coach Pelini is on to something with the new practice routines and the upbeat demeanor…it showed on the field; everyone seemed looser and more confident.

And it looks like we got us a QB. TA’s best game so far, by far. That nice pass motion of his is back and he actually did pretty good running with it too. Needs a little more consistency with his accuracy is all. Newby is our future at the RB position. That guy’s fast. The defense looks hellishly good, and the O line looked great at times too. Not a huge drop between 1’s and 2’s.
 
Fresno State didn’t look good at all in their game. We should kill ‘em. Same with Miami…their new QB took a huge plunge. He did horrible, not at all what they were hoping for. They lost handily to Louisville.  If we walk all over those 2 opponents, we’ll be looking great going into conference play. So our 2 tough teams in the non conference schedule look a little - well, a LOT less intimidating now. Plus, Wisconsin’s QB situation isn’t good at all, either is their team. That game seems a little different now too. Much more winnable. Which brings us to Michigan State. Last year we conceded nothing to them…we lost that game because we gave it to them. They didn’t run all over us, we ran all over them in fact. Even that game looks a little better now. I think we’ll have the top offense in the conference and one of the best defenses as well. Remember, we’ve got 2 players in the top 25 in college football right now, assuming Gregory returns to status.
Should be a fun year…we’re off to a good start anyway!

For a first game, NU did very well for itself.  Quite a change from recent first game results.  I assume NU threw the ball 38% of the time due to the scrimmage like atmosphere of the game.  Running the ball even more so as the season goes forward will be important for NU.  Ball control and keeping the D off the field as much as possible will be very important. 

Good first game, NU!!!  Improved coaching was not put to the test yet.  We shall see in that regard.

That injury to Gregory better be minor or that FAU game was very, very costly. 

That said, thank God Westerkamp plays CFB.  Definition of a gamer and a guy who does whatever it takes.  Love that guy!

My biggest takeaways from this game is ZERO turnovers and they got the penalty bug under control early. 
Gregory just needed a scope procedure and should be available for Fresno State.  Good chance for the 2’s to step up.
They won a game they should have won albeit in very convincing fashion.  Saturday should be another opportunity for the 2’s and 3’s to get their fare share of playing time. 
Go Big Red!

Greatest B1G Ten offensive output ever.  Nuff said.

However, time to move on.  Let’s see how we do against better competition and the McNeese State game will probably be not as one-sided. 

GBR!!!

B1GRedFootballFan
http://www.b1gredfootball.com

“Greatest B1G Ten offensive output ever”
As noted elsewhere, not “ever” but “in the modern era”.
Minnesota v Northwestern, 1905, over 800 yards.

35 1st. downs.
That’s just as impressive as the biggest total offensive output since ‘91.
35 1st. downs has got to be to most in the last ten years or so. Stats Pro, would you look that up?
Biggest thing, to me, is the offense didn’t have any of the quirky, herky jerky, start stop, turnover any second, tenseness that has colored a Nebraska offense since these kids were, well, kids.
They seem to know how to string along some 1st. downs.

Thank you BallField78 for the correction.

Anyway, NU is a sleeping giant.  The BCS was not kind to them but the traditional college football powers will show their true metal this year in the inaugural college football playoff.

GBR!!!

B1GRedFootballFan
http://www.b1gredfootball.com

Greg,
2014 Game Stats – Huskers National Rankings (according to ESPN Sports)
Game 1 - 2nd in total yds(784); 6th in first downs(35); 2nd in rushing yds(498); 39th in passing yds(286); 108th in defense

108th in defense? Based on what? They only scored once!

Ask ESPN. It’s their stat.

NE
12th ttl D
10th(tie) scoring D

Not same source, but:
http://espn.go.com/college-football/

FBS (I-A) Team Defense Statistics - 2014
    TACKLES   SACKS   INTERCEPTIONS   FUMBLES
RK   TEAM   SOLO
AST
TOTAL
SACK
YDSL
PD
INT
YDS
LONG
TD
REC


106   Penn State
29   26   55   2.0   17   5   0   0   0   0   1
107   Tennessee
39   16   55   1.0   5   2   2   23   23   0   1
108   Virginia Tech
26   28   54   4.0   36   4   0   0   0   0   2
109   Nebraska
27   26   53   1.0   9   5   0   0   0   0   0
    TACKLES   SACKS   INTERCEPTIONS   FUMBLES
RK   TEAM   SOLO
AST
TOTAL
SACK
YDSL
PD
INT
YDS
LONG
TD
REC

    Northern Illinois
45   8   53   3.0   16   0   1   10   10   0   2
112   Memphis
32   20   52   2.0   24   2   1   29   29   0   1

Sorry, This was a neat little table when I downloaded it. Everything aligned across the page. Got this jumbled mess when copied it to the Comment box.

NU will likely stay under the radar screen in the rankings until after the Miami game.  Assuming NU is 5-0 after Illinois going into MS game, NU should be ranked just outside of top 10 at that time.  If they defeat MS in Spartyville, they will be top-10.  NU has two Saturdays off which is good during regular season.  With ball control and minimal turnovers, NU has a decent chance at winning tough road games ahead.

My guess why Imani didn’t get more carries is we know what he can do and no reason to run the big guy at a team we are handling easily.  Save his legs for bigger games and lets see what are next scat back can do.  As far as Gregory’s injury, it wouldn’t have mattered if we were playing Alabama.  When he started to limp there was no contact, just thinking his knee decided it was time to flare up.  We did what we did on offense because we need to go at full speed to see where we are at.  I think the first drive by FAU was just that we weren’t use to going at full speed so a few steps behind until they settled in.  It was a very good opening game and I like the comments by the players as we still have a lot of improvement that needs to be done.  GBR!!!

NU 12th in total defense according to
http://www.ncaa.com/stats/football/fbs/current/team/22

NU will need to keep marginal turnover rate down to a decent level this year to play for conference championship.  If that happens, and they run the ball 70% of the time on average, NU will be very successful this year.  Very, very successful!

NU

You can forget the 70% run. With the receiving weapons we have this year we need to pass it at least 40% of the time to win. The ability to pass opens up the run. And Armstrong never even threw one pass (that I remember) to a tightend last Sat. We have a good passing game and it needs to be used to open up the run game.

1st series I think he thru to Cotton for about 20.

huskerinkorea,
Hey, thanks!
I was actually more curious about when the last time was, that Nebraska had rung up that many first downs.
I think it’s been a while.
(This week, I’m too lazy to research it.)

Throwing the ball (51% pass completion rate!) against teams like FAU is fun to watch despite the lousy completion rate.  Doing so as 40% of your game plan against much better teams, like MS, means opponent will have ball possession more so than if NU ran the ball to keep D off the field, and to keep ball away from such better teams.  Better teams will more likely score TDs than FAU was in a position to do.  Passing to set up the run is an insane game plan for NU to implement, especially with the ground game weapons we have and an O-line that will only get better as each game passes (no pun intended!).

NU

As Jay Foreman says—The Huskers have teams on their schedule that will be able to stop the Husker run game. If they don’t pass they will lose to those teams. I for one don’t wish to return to times when the Huskers had no passing game.

What did you do with the REAL NU Realista?
Your actually positive for a change? Cool.
What do you mean “passing to set up the run is an insane game plan”...do you not think that is a valid approach?

Gage ~ as usual, you create an extreme interpretation in an attempt to make a point.  I never suggested NU return to a time when it had “no passing game.”  The advantage one has by having a dominant running offense outweighs the reverse.  Teams play to limit the running game by the opponent.  Why is that?

Here is NU running percentage since 1999:
1999     77.5% running plays   12-1
2000     78.7% running plays   10-2
2001     77.2% running plays   11-2
2002     75.5% running plays   7-7
2003     78.9% running plays   10-3
2004     56.1% running plays   5-6
2005     48.6% running plays   8-4
2006     57.4% running plays   9-5
2007     46.4% running plays   5-7
2008     52.9% running plays   9-4
2009     70.9% running plays   10-4
2010     69.2% running plays   10-4
2011     67.6% running plays   9-4
2012     64.0% running plays   10-4
2013     60.7% running plays   9-4

NU

If we don’t pass it more than 30% of the time my guess is that we will lose the ability to recruit the quality receivers we have recently secured. It’s a moot point anyways because the coaches don’t pay any attention to us. And your stats are meaningless because every one knows you win with defense.

They will pass more when someone can limit them on the ground.  Until then, you win the surest way = running.

Lou Holtz always says you are never as good or bad as you think you are.  But it’s always good to stomp an FAU than to let them hang around.  They did what you would hope they do.  Good start.

Glad to hear Gregory will be back.

Gage, the best defense is the one that spends the least amount of time on the field during the course of the game.  That means, ball control, which means a solid running game and strategic passing.  Running to set up the play action pass is still a solid game plan. 

WIN OSU, you are correct.  I could have gone back further than 1999 to show that the years with a higher percentage of run plays produced, with few exceptions, a higher winning percentage rate.  I realize there are other variables in W - L records, but stats seems to suggest higher run % means more wins over time.

Again, I do not advocate no passing, just using it as a better compliment to the run game.  Again, why has NU placed such emphasis on stopping opponents run game, rather than stopping the passing game over the years?  Because you generally win games with low ground gain production out of opposing team.

Realista,

We get it, move on.

TDogg ~ you get it, but apparently others don’t, thus my need to pound home the point in hopes that others will.

Realista,

Why is it so important for you that other bloggers know that you think the Huskers should run the ball 75-80% of plays?  The coaches don’t read your posts, so what do you gain?

BTW, none of your list shows an undefeated team, which is the goal, right?.  I suggest, to fill your spare time, to research the run / pass ratio for all undefeated BCS teams the past 20 years.

For all you overly sensitive chaps in life, let’s pay closer attention.  My earlier comment was specifically addressed to “Gage”, not to TDogg, or to anyone else.  The fact some of you tend to pile on after the tackle is made seems unnecessary, but predictable.

To Barffield ~ Really!!! OMG, the coaches don’t read these posts!!!  I am shocked and dismayed.  Here, all this time I thought we, the football slugs of life, were paid attention to by Beck and BOP.  What a letdown.  Guess I will have to lower expectations and realize I am posting blog comments for football slugs only.  Barf, don’t take your perceived self-importance as a common sense guy too far.  Makes me want to Barf!!!  Ha!

NU

I doubt Seattle ran it 70% of the time last night and they won. I think a passing game that is broader than play-action is wise. The Huskers in the ‘90’s would have won with either Switzer’s wish bone or Leache’s pass happy attack because the defense won all those games.  If Taylor had been better in the passing game he wouldn’t have had to suffer all those sacks and some of the fumbles. I think you have to do it to get better at it and if it’s only a last ditch strategy when the run game has been stopped you’re in trouble.

Gee Gage, no personal attacks?  Much appreciated.  You make some good points.  However, the NFL seems historically to play a different offensive game, plus there are so many college teams out there by comparison, it is perhaps hard to compare.  All I can suggest is, NU seems to always stress the need to stop the opponents run game as a defensive priority, and for the opponent to pass in order to move the ball.  Play action mixed with some drop back passing is fine.  Keeping a defense dominant means keeping the D players rested as much as possible.  To do that, especially in competitive games, ball control is essential even if you don’t score all the time. 

College ball is so different from pro ball.  Strategies are completely different.  Notice that Heisman Trophy winners sometimes can’t even compete in the NFL.  Crouch and Tebo come to mind illustrating to me the difference between College v. NFL styles of play.

NU

I loved the run game as much as anybody back in the 80’s & 90’s and I’m not a pass happy guy that wants a Mike Leach style offense because realistically each year we have 1-2 games in very cold windy conditions where a pass only team would be at a severe disadvantage.  But in the early 00’s it became painfully obvious that our passing game was severly lacking because defenses like our own 90’s defenses could stop it. I just hate to see the gains we made in the passing game under Callie get lost if we revert back to our 80’s & 90’s style of play. We may be able to win the B1G with a 70-75% run game plan but to win it all after that in a warm weather bowl - I just think we need a comlicated pass attack to compliment our run game and the only way to have it is to do it so that we can lure more talented wide receivers. OU beat Bama with a passing game not a running game last winter. I think you need both. Tough on O-lineman for sure to be able to do both.

Gage, your points are well taken; however, NU is not equipped to have such a passing game with any reliability.  Running the ball is what NU does have on the plate at the moment.  NU, for reasons I am unaware of, does not seem to have a short passing game to speak of.  Beck seems to be caught up in the WR downfield pass play.  What ever happened to TE over the middle passes?  We don’t have TEs, apparently!!!  We used to have TEs catching the ball.  Not any more.

NU

The Huskers don’t appear to have a running game either—since when can an FCS foe can come into Lincoln and completely stop (limiting a brilliant running back to less than 60 yards on 17 carries) the Husker running game.  Should we abandon the run because we couldn’t run it Sat? I don’t think so. I don’t see evidence to support the notion the Huskers have a running attack with any reliability though.

Gage ~ we may not have the ability to break it open on the running game side because Beck isn’t calling plays to open up opposing D when they stack the line of scrimmage against NU’s offense.  I also believe McNeese State was and is a better team than the press led on.  It was their first game for them and no one knew what they really had. Obviously, speed is something they did have.  They had transfers from LSU, KState and other FBS schools.  They were deceptively good.

Still, that is no excuse for Beck and crew to call the game they did.  4 and 1 failure was a big boost to McNeese State.  Such risks early in the game are unnecessary to take, in my opinion.  Much better to punt and pin them in their own territory deep.  No way they would have scored against a fresh NU D early in the game.

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