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What's the story of the season so far to? And how would you like to see that change (or continue) going into the next six games? Here's what I see:
Some might say, defense, some might say Taylor Martinez. Mine is actually much simpler than that: TURNOVERS We need to get more and give up less. For those of you up in arms about how crappy the defense is all the time (Don't get me wrong, I'm not a huge fan myself) it isn't necessarily their struggles leading to all the points we are giving up. Take these statistics into consideration:
vs South Miss: Nebraska 49 Southern Miss 20Nebraska gave up 20 points... Nebraska won by 29 points. Yes the story of the game was Taylor's strong passing day (300+ yards 5 TDs no INTs) and Burkhead's injury. But what really made this a blowout was that Nebraska forced one turnover and gave up the ball ZERO times. Nebraska didn't even fumble once on the day and we all know Taylor threw nearly flawlessly (though was lucky a pick-six was dropped). As a result the defense stiffened and the offense soared. Opponent's points off TOs = 0
@ UCLA: Nebraska 30 UCLA 36 In the first half Nebraska shredded the UCLA defense with the run, scoring 24 points to go into the half tied at 24... Should have been a good omen and been able to move the ball in the second half. BUT Nebraska's 6 quarters of turnoverless play would come to an end on the first play of the second half when Abdullah fumbled... luckily UCLA made the subsequent field goal to take the lead and momentum. Coach Beck abandoned the run after that and opted not to trust his running backs in favor of his QB and WRs.... down 29-27 (due to a poor play call and badly executed zone read in the end zone leading to a safety) Taylor threw an interception which led to 7 points for UCLA and in the end the game. Those three (calling the safety a turnover) turnovers were the turning points in the game. Sure the Defense didn't do Nebraska any favors (giving up 650+ yards), BUT once again the offense spotted UCLA 12 points... don't do that, different ball game. Oppenent's points off TOs = 12
vs. Arkansas State: Nebraska 42 Arkansas State 13 Nebraska forced 2 turnovers in this game... capitalizing on both with points, but the Huskers also turned the ball over 4 times (all fumbles) including on the last offensive play of the game when the lead could have been extended to 49-13. Taylor Martinez was sacked twice, and fumbled twice... once in the end zone where Arkansas State recovered in the end zone. The other Martinez fumble occured when at least a field goal looked more than possible on another drive. 3 more points were added to the board on Ameer Abdullah's supposed "muffed" kick. Nebraska might have only given up 3 total points in this game defensively if the offense had stopped handing the opposing team the ball. Opponent's points off TOs = 10 Points lost because of Offensive TOs = 10
vs. Idaho State: Nebraska 73 Idaho State 7 Nebraska picked off Idaho State twice and forced one fumble in this game... Those led to 10 offensive points I believe. BUT Nebraska also threw an INT and fumbled the ball once. Though neither of those turnovers ended up hurting them in the points column and one was a back up QB's INT, you still can't do that for a team like Idaho State. Opponent's points off TOs = 0
vs. Wisconsin: Nebraska 30 Wisconsin 27Nebraska gave up 27 points to Wisconsin, all touchdowns (a missed x-tra point). I could point to SJB's roughing the kicker, but two plays before that Wisconsin missed Ball WIDE open for a TD anyway so I will chalk that up to the defense's fault anyway. That being said, of Wisconsin's 27 points they had two drives less than 20 yards because of fumbles by Rex Burkhead and Taylor Martinez. They scored on both drives. Without those drives Wisconsin scored 13 points (missed x-tra point was after the SJB play) offensively. Nebraska only forced one turnover, the last play of the game. Of Wisconsin's 295 , 111 yards came on their first and last drives of the game. Meaning NU's defense held them to 184 yards on all drives in between. Opponent's points off TOs = 14
@ Ohio State: Nebraska 38 Ohio State 63 The perfect storm happened in this game on both sides of the ball. But turnovers, more than any other statistic tell the story. In the first quarter plus, Nebraska gave up 7 points on a pick-six... what could have been a 17-0 (or even better?) game going into quarter number 2 was 17-7. Nebraska then proceeded to force two turnovers (could count the fake punt...) late in the game when it was no longer in doubt and only converted one into points. While Ohio State forced 3 INTs which all effected the scoring outcome of the game, and a fumble which did as well. Already covered the pick-six... but he also threw an INT on a badly executed curl route (also had Kyler Reed WIDE open over the middle for a gain of at least 5) that led to 7 points. Had a fumble inside the 20 that led to 7 points. Allowed a punt-return for a TD (counting that) and threw an INT on a play where the the ball was badly under thrown to a receiver that had beaten both the safety and the corner into the end zone. So, for those of you counting at home, those 63 points (I just want to say this was still an AWFUL game for the defense, not excusing them at all. But they started us off very well holding OSU to NO first downs in the first quarter) 28 were a direct result of turnovers. One of those TDs was also in garbage time where Meyer just ran up the score. Opponent's points off TOs = 28 Points lost because of TOs = 7
Sorry if this is way too long... just wanting to explain my position. So in conclusion the numbers are quite telling. Not only is Nebraska -6 in the turnover column right now but the points cost and off those TOs is huge.
Total Opponents' points off TOs = 64
Total Points cost off TOs = 17
NU's points off of TOs = 24
Turnovers have cost Nebraska approximately 81 points in 6 games (13.5 ppg) while Nebraska has gained only about 24 points off of turnovers (4 ppg). Truly the difference. If the defense doesn't improve, but our offense and special teams stops giving the ball away we don't lose many games. Just something to think about.
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by klein12 18 months ago
Very nice breakdown here. Interesting stuff, Klein.
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had to edit it... because I remember UCLA MADE that field goal in the second half.... meaning 64 points instead of 61. Wow...
by the way... if you subtract that 13.5 ppg from our average ppg allowed defensively the difference is noticable:
with the 13.5
without the 13.5
Wow. Great stuff. TO's will happen but I would like to think if the rest of the way we have fewer turnovers than our opponents we might have a chance at reasonable record.
Actually... that's not entirely accurate as I factored in the 17 points we cost ourselves... if you take the 64 points given up only it would look like this. 10.7 ppg
with 10.7 ppg
without 10.7 ppg
Turnovers are a glaring issue.
To go along with that, I think we are a team with anxiety disorder. Get too amped up and too nervous on the big stage. Team has got to gain some confidence and bring in an attitude that they can and will beat anybody they play. It is as if we are waiting for bad things to happen as opposed to going out and making plays.
I think the story is clearly the defense. It's pathetic and does not look good on Bo.
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Good call Klein. Giveaways can negate so many things. They are just deflating. We become our biggest opponent.
This post was edited by oldhuskerfan 18 months ago
yes the defense is an obvious weak spot but is it as bad as we think? How much could it be due to the offense giving the other team an average of 2 extra possessions a game? Bo's defenses have usually been the "bend but don't break" types that give up some yards but very few points. 650+ yards is inexcusable, yes, but can we hinge it all on the defense? I don't think so. If we are +6 in the turnover category we are 6-0. Our defense might still be kind of porous in sections but we're forcing turnovers and not turning the ball over.
Yes, i think it's as bad as advertised. They can't tackle, don't win at the line of scrimmage, don't force turnovers and can't stop mobile quarterbacks. It's x's and o's AND Jimmy's and Joe's.
I know our offense has not been perfect, but some turnovers can be put on our desperation to score points to keep up with the opponent.
I think that concept is overblown. It's an offense's goal to score on every possession... if it's not then why is the offense out there? Most of our turnovers have happened when we've either had the lead or the game is tied. And our defense was shutting down Ohio State when Taylor threw his pick-six. While there may be SOME of that (especially in the 3rd quarter of the Ohio State game) it's not all that prevalent to be honest.
Great post Klein, love all the info in it.
The real key wrt turnovers is not so much the turnovers but the turnover margin, and I think you have noted here.
The actual, real problem with this team is the D. In addition to being inept at the LOS, part of the D's job is to create turnovers. They are not doing that.
Braxton Miller is a turnover waiting to happen as much as Taylor is, but we did not win that battle and that was one of the keys to losing the game.
1. In the first QTR at the 3:47 mark, Braxton fumbles the ball and our D has three or four guys in position to recover the fumble while tOSU has one. tOSU recovers the fumble.
2. At the :34 mark in the first QTR Miller throws the ball and we miss the PI. We came close, but we should have had that ball.
3. At the :53 second mark of the second QTR SJB has a PI if he just turns to see the ball. He had the advantage over the receiver.
4. At the 9:39 mark of the 3rd QTR SJB CLEARLY has the advantage if he just turns to see the ball. It should have been an easy INT.
When Nebraska had great D's at least 3 of those 4 TO opportunities would have been actual TO's.
Additionally, the second INT in the Ohio State game was not necessarily Taylor's fault. It looks like the play was designed to go inside the DB and when Taylor threw the ball Bell was in front of the DB. The DB pushed him toward the sideline and stepped in and made the INT, but Bell went over to the official immediately after the play and made a motion that indicated he had been grabbed and tossed to the side on the play, and after the game Taylor said the second INT was PI on Bell.
I don't disagree with a thing you said... as you can see I did say Taylor's second INT was a poorly run route by Bell (even if he was pushed he need's to push back. Better to have an offensive PI than an INT) And yes I also said that we need to take the ball away more. It was easier to analyze our turnovers as they actually exist, rather than the "almost" turnovers we didn't make.
But yes, our secondary and LBs need to gold onto picks. That fumble that Ohio State recovered was on the same drive Abdullah almost took the punt to the house. But yes, two INTs by SJB if he would have just turned his head! That's what ticks me off about our secondary right now, they don't track the ball. Always playing patty cake with their hands. Compton missed a give-me INT against Wisconsin, PJ Smith missed one against Wisconsin as did Daimion Stafford (twice). Yes the lack of taking advantage of Turnover opportunities is HUGE on this team. Not disputing that at all, just thought it was easier to look at the turnovers we're giving.
If we can go +6 the rest of the way, and even up the turnover differential. I have no reason to believe we couldn't be 10-2 by season's end. Good points El Camino.
Good, we are in violent agreement then.
Feed me to the wolves, and I will return leader of the pack. #FreeDA
So neither of you think the New D coaches are doing a good job.
I think if we continue to have Martinez run the ball hard (like he has in the last two games), we have a very good rushing attack. Probably capable of turning in 6 or 7 yards per carry over the next few games. (Assuming that Rex returns).
In the passing attack, I see us improving if we stick to vertical routes and rarely pass the ball inside our own thirty (we have a good enough running attack to have a chance of converting on third and <10). Taylor does not throw the ball well across the field, but he is effective on vertical routes, both deep to Bell, and, as we saw at the end of the Ohio St. game, short to Turner. The OL breaks down about ever fourth of fifth pass and allows a clean shot at Taylor, but that "should be "fixable".
From this point forward in the B1G schedule we will have to outscore Michigan and Northwestern. I don't think we can stop their O. In the other games, I think we will have a repeat of the Wisconsin game, where we can actually stop their O on occasion. It will be interesting. I do think we can win all the rest, but we will have to play almost flawlessly on O.
I would say i've been impressed by the physicality of our secondary... but not with their ball skills. Hoping Joseph will undo the damage done by Raymond by the end of the season. Stafford has to stop playing the receiver in the 2-deep and start playing the ball (a la Wisconsin).
As for Kaz, I think he's doing okay with what he has. The line seems to be getting better and looked very good against Ohio State in the first quarter before they got giddy because of Braxton's long run. For the most part I think they need to learn more how to forget the bad plays. If they can let go when a bad play happens they will be a good unit.
So far I wouldn't give any defensive coach above a C+, and I doubt they would either.
Your team. All the time.
I would agree in general about the secondary but I have been VERY disappointed in Stafford. He seems to spend most of his time yapping with opposing players. After all the off season talk I thought he would take a step up this year but I am not seeing it. Problem is that there doesn't seem to be any alternative to Stafford.
Corey Cooper is coming along... I wouldn't be surprised to see him get more and more playing time. He's better in coverage than Stafford on the back end and can make similar type hits.
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