Charting Illinois – Survive and Move On

When Cethan Carter left the game with just under 12 minutes left in the first quarter, Nebraska was missing the following offensive starters from the first day of fall camp: Alonzo Moore, Jerald Foster, Tanner Farmer, Cethan Carter.  As Huskers fans saw, they’d also lose Jordan Westerkamp and David Knevel to injuries later in the game as well.  With injured Knevel and his replacement Cole Conrad going up against a future 1st round draft pick and arguably the best defensive end in the Big 10, the mantra shifted from winning pretty to just winning.  Such is life when your offensive line depth is tenuous at best and you’re going up against a team with at least 3 NFL caliber defensive linemen.

Thankfully, offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf called another brilliant game, Tommy Armstrong overcame a couple of YOLO moments to deliver another solid performance, and a patchwork offensive line leaned on the undersized Illini front just long enough to open up some holes late.  And when they did, little Terrell Newby, at a generous 5’10” and 200lbs, came through big for the Huskers offense and ran like a much bigger man.

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Wyoming – One for the Record Books

I know some people have been bothered by fans griping about the Wyoming game, but I kind of like it.  It means bigger expectations are still around for a team that far too often settled into that 9-4 life the past few years.  Wyoming wasn’t a perfect game by any means, but when you can force 6 turnovers and put up 550 total yards to cover the spread, you’re doing something right.  It also saw Tommy Armstrong become Nebraska’s career passing TD leader, an outstanding accomplishment that perhaps throws a cold bucket of water on him not being named captain this year. 

Wyoming was content to stop the run by quickly dropping extra safety help to the box on any run action, so Nebraska and coordinator Danny Langsdorf did exactly what he should have done in that situation: RPO the hell out of them and put edge defenders in a bind while also taking advantage of those aggressive safeties dropping in run support.  We’ve talked about the running game quite a bit so far, so let’s change it up and look at Tommy Armstrong and his band of Gorilla Wideouts, two of whom broke through the 100-yard mark this game.   And since Run the Damn Ball guy was no doubt peeved seeing Armstrong chucking it all around the yard early in the game, I’ve also got a new formation in there for him at the end.

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Charting Wyoming – One Back Gun Makes Its Return

For the most part, Wyoming went just as we discussed last week.  The Cowboys hung around for a while, selling out to stop the run for as long as they could before Nebraska’s perimeter players and Tommy Armstrong took over.  Major hat tip to the Blackshirts as well, who came through with the first 5 turnover performance since Idaho in 2010.

Though the aggregate numbers were perfectly balanced against the Cowboys, Nebraska put it to Wyoming through the air early in the first half.  The Huskers hit four passes of at least 28 yards in the first half, with two of them going for 50+.  That’s what happens when you don’t have anyone more than 8 yards off the line of scrimmage for a substantial portion of the game.  Play both safeties down long enough and you can stuff the run, but you’re going to get burned through the air if you don’t have talent to match the other team’s receivers man to man.  You also better tackle well because there is no deep support.

Let’s take a look at what did and didn’t work for Nebraska this game.

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Southern Miss – Return of the Fullback

As we discussed in the last post, Southern Miss was the game where Nebraska fans (and coaches) really discovered what they had been missing the last three years with Andy Janovich.  Langsdorf featured Jano in all facets of the Southern Miss game, as a ball carrier, lead blocker and a receiver on play action.  When NFL Scouts cued up Andy Janovich’s game film before the draft, there is no doubt that the Southern Miss game played a large part in their evaluations.

Let’s take a look at two key plays featuring Jano, including a shout out to the old 34/36 Trap from TO’s day, as well one of Nebraska’s many special plays. Continue reading “Southern Miss – Return of the Fullback”

Nebraska Screen Game – BYU

Beyond Nebraska fans’ introduction to jet motion and the sweep, Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf’s robust screen package was also another major change from 2014 and Tim Beck’s offense.  By my count, Nebraska ran 6 different variations of the screen against BYU.  After learning early that inside zone wasn’t going to work against Travis Tuiloma, BYU’s monster nose tackle, Langsdorf began to heavily work the screen game to help remove defenders from the box and get Tommy Armstrong comfortable with easy throws.  Let’s take a look at a couple of his core concepts in the screen game.

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