UCLA – Living that Two-Back Lifestyle

If, like many other Husker fans, you like to see two backs behind the Nebraska quarterback, the UCLA game was for you.  Of Nebraska’s 80 plays, 35 of them (44%) involved some version of a two-back formation paired with Tommy Armstrong’s own run threat.   There was also no surprise on Langsdorf’s part, as he sent the message early on with extra backs that he didn’t think UCLA could stop his rushing attack.

A large part of that was the personnel mismatch between UCLA’s front 7 defenders and Andy Janovich as both a runner and a blocker.  UCLA didn’t have an answer for Jano in either respect.  Another part of that was the ability to create motion out of the backfield while freeing up Tommy Armstrong to do his thing on the Read play.

In this post, let’s take a look at three very different ways that Nebraska employed their two-back personnel, as well as a passing concept they continually went to against UCLA.

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Charting UCLA – We’ll Do What We Want

Nebraska-UCLA was an offensive beat down.  No other way about it.  Nebraska had 5 first half drives with time on the clock.  They scored a touchdown on 3 of them.  One ended with a red zone fumble (after an uncalled defensive face mask) and the last was a punt.  6 second half drives.  2 touchdowns, 1 field goal, 2 late punts and 1 ended by the final whistle.

It really didn’t matter what Nebraska ran because UCLA couldn’t stop it.  Inside Zone, Outside Zone, QB Draw/Counter, Power/Counter, Lead Draw, Jet Sweep, Fullback Dive all got play.  And they came out of a large dose of 2 back sets, with 32 of 62 carries coming from 21, 22 and 23 personnel.  Some of these came from Split Back shotgun formations, while others came from various iterations of the I Formation.  Let’s take a deeper look.

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QB Run Game – BYU

Coming into the year, the largest question on offense was how Riley and Langsdorf would use Tommy Armstrong’s legs.  At Oregon State, they never had the luxury of a QB who could get into open space and make plays with his feet.  In Lincoln, that’s exactly what they had in spades with Armstrong, AJ Bush and Zack Darlington.  With the offensive coaches talking in the spring about incorporating the QB run game, the BYU game featured a handful of designed QB runs outside of the standard zone read variety.  Here are a few of them:

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