Charting Wisconsin – All Good Things Must End

We’ve talked about how the Nebraska offense has largely danced on razor’s edge the last few games, as injuries have played a substantial role in bringing a once formidable ground game to a crashing halt.  They found ways to survive those injuries against Northwestern, Illinois, Indiana and Purdue, but the Badgers brought a top 10 defense into the game (though nursing its own injuries) and it wasn’t meant to be.

What played out against Wisconsin was simply a more exacerbated version of what we’ve seen since the competition got a little better and we got less healthy.  Difficulty getting any consistency with the inside zone game, and an inability to get consistent pass protection or accuracy from the QB spot in the passing game.  Those two things, coupled with some excellent defense from Wisconsin, added up to a meager 305 total yards and 17 points.

The Nebraska offensive line was licking its wounds and somehow got even less healthy with the early loss of Tanner Farmer, so let’s take a look at what they tried to change against the Badgers to overcome those issues.

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Purdue – Let’s Talk Offensive Line and Terrell Newby

We’re going to switch up the format a bit this week.  Nebraska’s offense didn’t show more than a couple of new things against Purdue and what it did show was largely limited by the 1,500lb gorilla in the room: the Pipeline’s major struggles.  So rather than break down three plays as we usually do, we’re going to drill a bit deeper into where things are going wrong for Nebraska’s offensive line.

We’ll also take a quick look at the main man running behind them, Terrell Newby.  Despite the offensive line’s struggles, Newby has managed to put up two 100-yard games in his last three and a combined 324 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns.  How?  Mostly by making a lot out of nothing, and also by logging big runs when the line does open up holes.  Newby doesn’t have eye popping stats, with only 511 yards on 103 carries for the year (4.96 YPC).  But given the issues up front, he’s saved Nebraska’s offense from completely shutting down.  And with the line issues not going away anytime soon, he’ll need to have an efficient game against Wisconsin if the Huskers want to put up points.

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Nebraska’s Outside Zone and Variants – South Alabama

Because inside zone targets the interior DL and LBs, defenses will start to overreact to it after a few times of being gashed in the middle.  Once Riley and Langsdorf see this happening, they mix it up with outside zone (“OZ”).  OZ is also known as the “stretch” play.  Unlike the vertically hitting inside zone play, OZ is about horizontal displacement: move the defensive line and linebackers toward the sideline and make them maintain their gap integrity.  Once a hole opens up in their front, stick your foot in the ground and get vertical.  This type of blocking isn’t new to Nebraska; Osborne and Tenopir frequently blocked their option runs with it, and of course Bill Callahan loved that god damn stretch play against USC.

Nebraska runs a couple of different versions of OZ depending on the game plan for the week and the fronts they see from the defense.  In this post, let’s look at two of them: (1) standard OZ; and (2) the Pin and Pull.

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