Charting Purdue – Slogging Through It

I mentioned way back in the Wyoming write up that I had pretty substantial concerns about the interior OL.  Unfortunately, with Nick Gates now working on one leg and David Knevel dealing with his own injuries, those concerns have now spread to the entire offensive line.  Not exactly what you want in October staring down the barrel at two straight games against top 15 teams.

There was no escaping that it was a complete s*^&show against Purdue for much of the game.  With 484 yards and 27 points, the overall numbers weren’t horrible.  But it’s how Nebraska reached those totals that is increasingly becoming the problem.  Nebraska’s inside zone series, the base of its entire run game, has started to go off the rails.  A bunch of plays going for 2 yards or less before finally popping one for big yards.  That makes the box score look good, but it also means a lot of punts until you bust one of those big runs.  Such is life with the state of Nebraska’s offensive line right now.

Let’s take a look at how Nebraska squeezed as much as it could out of its offense on Saturday against Purdue.

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Illinois – Tricking the Beast With Four Heads

That Illinois defensive line.  Whoa.  When you see future All Big 10 offensive tackle Nick Gates hook a guy on the first play and hope he doesn’t get called for a hold, you know it’s going to be a long day.  Gates has been an absolute animal this year, but he had his hands full all day with Illini end Carroll Phillips.  And as Husker fans witnessed all too frequently, the other side fared even worse, with Dawuane Smoot living in the Nebraska backfield for a large portion of the game.

Nevertheless, offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf and his patchwork offensive line found just enough cards in the deck to play a few tricks on that impressive Illini line.  In this write up, we’ll take a look at a new play designed to put Gates in motion, and we’ll touch base with another concept that the Huskers have cleaned up and modified substantially since the beginning of last year.  Without these types of plays, Nebraska probably doesn’t beat the Illini by more than a handful of points.  With them, they pour on 21 points in the 4th quarter to win going away.  

We’ll also get some bonus footage on the defensive side of the ball, taking a look at one of the Blackshirts’ man coverage blitzes as well as the progression of Chris Jones, whose rapidly rising coverage skills makes blitzes like that one work.

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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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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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