Nebraska fans got their first look at the Scott Frost offense in Husker red yesterday during the 2018 Red-White Spring Game. Although Frost called the game “vanilla” from a scheme perspective, we got to see several of Frost’s running game concepts along with a nice mix of passing plays. We’ll take a look at individual schemes over the summer, but for now let’s focus on how Frost protects the back side of his running plays, a couple of which featured heavily in the Red-White Game. Continue reading “The Frost Effect: Protecting the Backside on Runs”
After a week off, I’m back in action with another Concept Wednesday. This week it’s Nebraska’s Mesh concept. Or as some like to call it and the name portends, those crossing routes. Mesh has been a Riley/Langsdorf passing game staple since they arrived in Lincoln. Oddly enough though, it hadn’t made many appearances in 2017.
With Tanner Lee struggling with his decision making early in the season, that changed against Illinois as the Husker coaches looked to get him easy, short throws. Mesh came through in the clutch when Nebraska needed it against Illinois, and they also featured it against Wisconsin twice for 21 yards. Continue reading “Concept Wednesday: Mesh”
The Ohio State game was such an ass beating that there really is no need for a recap because the short version is the defense sucked and the offense couldn’t run the ball. The end.
So with that, let’s get to something a little less macabre. Charting Checkup at the 7-game mark. Again, standard disclaimer. When you play two games being down 4 touchdowns a substantial majority of the second half, things are going to get distorted. With that, let’s go. Continue reading “Charting Checkup – Halfway Through +1”
For Concept Wednesday this week, we get our second guest post on Husker Chalk Talk. This is one is brought to you by an offensive line coach/offensive coordinator extraordinaire from the great state of Kansas. He’ll be talking Duo, the Huskers’ go to running concept when they need to pick up yards in the fourth quarter. It may be the single best post we’ve had up on Husker Chalk Talk and it’s got lots of stuff for you to digest, so I’ll let him take it away.
Well that blew. For almost three quarters, Nebraska looked like it belonged on the field with a top 10 team. And then for one quarter, it was a flashback to several beatings the Badgers have handed out since the Huskers have been in the Big 10. The teams have met 7 times in Big 10 play. Wisconsin has won 4 of them by 21 points or more.
Is it the coaching staffs? Tough to say. Pelini got housed 3 of those times, including one to a five-loss Wisconsin team in the conference title game. Riley ate that defeat pizza for the first time on Saturday. On the other side, Wisconsin has had three coaches dole out that domination: Bret Bielema, Gary Andersen, and now Paul Chryst. Despite changing faces, the results tend to stay the same. Wisconsin either destroys Nebraska or it ends up being a barn burner.
So what is it that allows Wisconsin to thump the Huskers most of the time? Institutional inertia, consistency of system, player development, take your pick. When you watch Wisconsin play, you see a ruthless efficiency on both sides of the ball forged over years of running similar systems on both sides of the ball. Paul Chryst has called his offense in Madison 10 out of the last 13 years. On the other side, they’ve been running the 3-4 since 2013, when Dave Aranda took over, and they had two elite defensive coordinators running 4-3s before that. Everything is meticulously recruited to fit both systems, and players know exactly how they’re supposed to do things on any given play. Add it up and you get a Wisconsin team that frequently punches above its recruiting weight. Very few missed steps and communication breakdowns, everyone working together to achieve the unit’s goal.
That’s what we saw on Saturday night, and unfortunately it’s all too common these days in the Huskers-Badgers match up. In any event, let’s take a quick recap of some things that stood out to me.
Perhaps no play is more divisive than the RB Draw series that Nebraska runs. Much of that is the play design itself. When it works, it results in a Nebraska back scampering into the open field with very little resistance. When it doesn’t, it tends to end up with a cavalcade of defenders in the Huskers’ backfield, guaranteeing a loss of yards and putting the offense behind the down-and-distance schedule.
What most miss is that the Huskers don’t just run Draw for the running game, but also package it with play action passes that are designed to create one on one match ups down the field for the Savage Professionals. It’s that passing element that makes Draw this week’s featured concept in Concept Wednesday.
On a week where the athletic director gets sacked on Thursday, leading to speculation as to when, not whether, the head coach is next, a win is a win is a win. Nobody is playing the national poll beauty queen contest in those circumstances.
Rutgers isn’t a good team, but they tested Nebraska in the first half. 11 play, 75-yard opening drive from Rutgers to go up 7-0. I imagine there were a few eye rolls in the stadium, and given the circumstances, you wouldn’t blame the fans if they folded it in. But they didn’t, nor did the team, and somehow the Huskers pulled a way for a 27-17 win that seemed closer than it was because of a clock killing 4th quarter featuring a monochromatic offense straight out of central casting for the Solich Era.
Here are some quick thoughts on the survival week win against Rutgers.
Our first Charting post of the year. If you weren’t around last year, Charting posts look at the big picture of the Huskers offense. What percentage of the time are we under center? Do we have a favorite personnel group? How often are we running motion with our plays? Any particularly explosive offensive concepts?
Last year it was weekly feature. This year, because I’ve already incorporated some of the numbers in regular posts, we’ll look at Charting Checkups every 3 games. So with that, let’s see what looks different this year.
After a few days of moping, at some point you have to turn the page. We’re doing that now as Concept Wednesday slips in just under the midnight buzzer. During Tim Beck’s four-year run as offensive coordinator, Nebraska WRs had a total of 32 carries, many of which came on reverses or other traditional WR run plays. Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf matched that in his first year, dialing up 32 carries for his WRs in 2015.
So this week, it’s the Jet Sweep, perhaps the most notable aspect of Mike Riley’s offense though he still tries to convince us it’s called the Fly Sweep. We’ll take a look not only at the sweep itself, but also how Nebraska uses the Jet motion through companion plays even when the WR doesn’t end up with the ball.
Continue reading “Concept Wednesday: The Jet Sweep”
I thought the unique nature of Nebraska’s opener, featuring two special teams touchdowns, two safeties, two onside kicks, a touchdown celebration that starts at the 40-yard line, and 100 combined passes in a game wouldn’t be topped this year. Sadly, I was wrong. Way wrong.
Somehow, in one game, Nebraska’s offense managed a fumbled exchange, two Pick 6s, 7 drops, consecutive penalties putting them in 1st and 24, 3 sacks, and two QB rushing touchdowns from a guy who hadn’t scored a rushing TD since he was a high school senior in 2012. It also featured three consecutive terrible punt return decisions from a senior who was once an All American in doing it. Because, with the defense finally figuring things out against a weak offense, why the *^#$ not, right?
Fair warning. If you’re expecting a post making you feel better about this season, it’s not coming so close the browser now. If you’re forging ahead, we’ll take a look at how the entire Nebraska offense has come off the rails.