Charting Checkup – Non-Conference Games

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.

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Concept Wednesday: The Jet Sweep

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.
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Tuesday Recap: Team Schizophrenia

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.

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Concept Wednesday: Slant Bubble RPO

Well, that sucked.  Nothing like going down four touchdowns at half, coming all the way back to within a touchdown in a two-minute situation, and then blowing a protection for your fourth interception of the day.  I’ve watched and watched and watched that game, and I’m still not sure how to characterize it.  So for this week, I may be taking a pass on a game recap post.

Instead, for Concept Wednesday, let’s take a look at something that kind of worked for the Huskers on Saturday: the Slant Bubble RPO.  This has been one of Nebraska’s core passing concepts the past two years, and it has produced some of Nebraska’s biggest plays.  Think De’Mornay Pierson-El’s 40-yard house call against Purdue last year, and you’ve got the Slant Bubble RPO.  Against Oregon, offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf dialed it up once early only to see Tanner Lee overthrow Pierson-El breaking open.  But Langsdorf was on it, and he came back to it immediately in the second half to get the rally started.  So Slant Bubble RPO it is today.
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Concept Wednesday: Counter Constraints

I don’t think it’s a secret anymore that I love pulling offensive linemen.  There may be nothing better in football than a guard coming down the line of scrimmage and burying a 185lb cornerback.  When done properly, pulling plays send a message to perimeter defenders that they’re going to have to man up for 60 minutes or simply be overwhelmed by force.

As I kind of hinted in the season opening piece, the Arkansas State game showed Nebraska is back to pulling linemen in 2017 after a short hiatus the year before.  One of Langsdorf and Riley’s “identity” runs (I hate it, but the coaches use it so we’ll go with it) has been Counter OH.  Corn Nation did a great job breaking down the core Counter play, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel.  Instead, today for Concept Wednesday I’ll take a look at a couple derivatives of Counter that Nebraska uses to protect its core Counter play.

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Let’s Talk “That” Defense

When Nebraska announced Bob Diaco as its new defensive coordinator, the first thing you thought was “Bet he’s going to give up 500 yards and 27 points in the opener” right?  Yeah, me neither.  Nebraska’s game against Arkansas State ranks up there with Louisiana Tech in 1998 and Wisconsin in the 2012 B1G Championship Game in the “What the f*@$ was that” category.

In a lot of ways, the game felt worse than it was.  If I told you the Red Wolves ranked 71st in the country in yards per play after Saturday, you’d probably call me a fool given the collective angst of Husker Nation right now.  And yet that’s exactly where they are heading into week 2.  Nebraska’s biggest problem was the inability to get off the field on third down in the first half.  After two 3 and outs early because of untimely penalties, Buster Faulkner’s unit ran off a stretch of converting 4 out of 5 third downs in the first half to end it with 17 offensive points.  The Blackshirts cleaned it up in the second half, but the psychological damage was already done.

Let’s take a look at some of what went wrong and what that portends–if anything–for Nebraska’s remaining schedule.

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Sunday Recap: Stranger Things Man

So that was an interesting start to 2017.  You get two special teams touchdowns, two safeties, two onside kicks, one recovered, a touchdown celebration that starts at the 40-yard line, and 100 combined passes in a game that doesn’t involve Texas Tech or Washington State.  Yeah, okay. 

Here are some quick thoughts on that bizarre opener.

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Talking Bob: What to Look For Early from the Blackshirts

In case you haven’t heard, Nebraska hired a new defensive coordinator.  They tell me he’s extremely handsome and some sort of football genius.  What he isn’t, apparently, is Kevin Steele, though I fail to see any relevance in that observation unless you’re a hopefully soon-to-be-retired local media scribe needing to drum up some material because you don’t have anything relevant to say once Tim Miles’s season is over.

Woooooosah.  In any event, Bob Diaco steps into an interesting position as the new coordinator of the Blackshirts.  On one hand, the Blackshirts were statistically a top 30 defense last year, so it’s apparent he’s got some toys to work with in the starting lineup.  On the other hand, Nebraska’s defense faltered down the stretch and at times looked completely overmatched, giving up 500+ yards twice in the last six games and allowing 6.86 yards per play in December and January.  

As always, expectations are high for the Huskers’ defensive coordinator, and he’ll try to meet them with his hybrid system blending 3-4 and 4-2-5 principles to create a variety of looks throughout the game.  Let’s take a look some things I’ll be focusing on against Arkansas State and Oregon.

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Concept Wednesday: Slot Fade

New feature for this year.  Every Wednesday, we’ll take a look at a core offensive concept that Nebraska uses to put points up on the board.  Sometimes it’ll be a running play, sometimes it’ll be a passing play.  It may even be a trick play depending on what the Huskers offense calls the previous weeks.

This week, it’s one of Danny Langsdorf’s favorite concepts: the Slot Fade.  And with J.D. Spieman finally coming online for the Huskers after a redshirt year, you can expect Nebraska to use this concept frequently in 2017. Continue reading “Concept Wednesday: Slot Fade”

Season Kickoff: Let’s Get This Thing Started

Exactly six days left before kickoff, so I suppose it’s time to fire the Husker hype engine back up.  We’re going to tweak things a bit this year to save me some time, hopefully resulting in more content.  First, the Charting posts will no longer be an every game thing.  Instead, though I’ll still keep the chart for every game, I’ll throw a post up every third game so we can get an idea of Nebraska’s offensive trends.  Second, I hope to get a Concepts post up every week where we’ll take an individual look at Nebraska’s favorite offensive concepts and how they work with current personnel.  Finally, I’m always open for guest posts.  We ran a couple last year, but I’d really like to focus on them more this year.  If you have something to offer, let me know and we’ll work it out.

With that out of the way, let’s focus on a couple things I’ll be looking for early in the season from the Husker offense.  I know, I know, handsome Bob Diaco is the real offseason story.  We’ll get to him soon enough, but I think people are selling the offense short this offseason when they shouldn’t be.

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