Monday Recap: Domination v 4.0

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.

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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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Charting Southern Miss – Hello Jano!

Former Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck once said that fullbacks were dead in modern football.  In a year where Wisconsin rushed for 581 yards against Nebraska and finished 15 spots ahead of Beck’s unit on the yearly rushing list.  Oddly enough, Andy Janovich was also on Tim Beck’s roster that year.  True to Beck’s words, Jano didn’t get a single carry.

Thankfully for Janovich, Beck was off ruining Ohio State’s MNC run in 2016 and new coaches Riley and Langsdorf were exhuming the fullback much to the delight of Nebraska fans.  In the Southern Miss game, Jano was featured heavily in both the running and passing game.

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Miami – Power/Counter, a Fullback Sighting, and 2-Point Conversions

Despite the Miami game being a general cluster the point that the offensive game plan was out the window by the second quarter, Nebraska did show a few new looks that were successful.  In this write up, we’ll take a look at Nebraska’s Counter OH Read play, the appearance of the Cross/Janovich combination in a Wing T on short yardage, and a dip into Nebraska’s bag of two-point conversion plays. Continue reading “Miami – Power/Counter, a Fullback Sighting, and 2-Point Conversions”

Charting Miami – A Game of Ugly

The Miami game was not Nebraska’s finest, either from an efficiency standpoint or in terms of offensive balance.  A porous defense coupled with early penalties and untimely drops put Nebraska well behind at the half, and an early Miami TD in the third quarter forced Nebraska to rely too much on passing the ball in the second half to catch up.

Even in the early going, though, Nebraska had relatively little success running their base run plays.  Let’s take a look at what did and did not work for Nebraska.

(Editor’s Note: For those of you who like to slow down the GIFs or play them frame-by-frame, I’ve now added hot links before each GIF that take you to a separate page where you can pause or play them frame-by-frame and also expand them to full screen mode.)

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