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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Wisconsin – Dusting Off a Couple of Old Friends

Wisconsin was the type of game on which you don’t usually do offensive write ups.  305 total yards, 3.5 yards per carry, and a 39% completion rate don’t exactly rate high on the excitement meter.  That said, I’ve got to write about something, and while the Blackshirts would be the obvious choice because of their stellar performance, there simply weren’t enough All 22 shots to make that viable this week.

So off we go with the offense.  The Wisconsin game saw us bring back a friendly play from the Taylor Martinez Era (oh boy), and it also saw us continually work from Bunch and Tight formations to take advantage of natural rubs in the passing game.  In this post, we’ll take a look at the repackaging of Nebraska’s Inverted Veer play, along with the Mesh and Spacing concepts we used to give Tommy Armstrong (allegedly) easy throws on key downs.

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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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