With the help of an FCS opponent with 20 less scholarships, Nebraska snapped a 7 game losing streak and was able to get into the win column moving to 1-1 this year. Despite a second half surge, ESPN’s FPI dropped our estimated win total to 5.8-6.2, predicting 6-6 for our season finish.
I’m not sure i’ve seen a head coach start his halftime interview with “it’s just bad” like Frost did, but that’s kind of where we are at this point. This past Saturday provided plenty of ammunition for negatives that only has one more game to get things figured out before Oklahoma comes to town and then the conference stretch begins. But there also proved some positives as well. Let’s dive into them.
I will get into this with our defense as well, but a massive trend happening in college football is unbalanced formations to try and confuse the defense with who can go out or make the gaps uneven from one side or the other. Nebraska really could get no push just lining straight up and trying to go right at North Dakota. It was a tough watch in the first half. In fact, Nebraska only rushed 14 times for 60 yards in that first half, and while that’s 4 ypc, it’s tough to ignore that the first drive and the first half looked like more of the same for our offense trying to throw it everywhere.
Against Northwestern, Nebraska threw the ball all over the yard on the first drive leading to a passing touchdown. Like Deja Vu, Nebraska threw the ball 6 times on the opening drive while only running twice. It’s tough to get mad when the results are a touchdown. But for all of us that got mad at Narduzzi for what he said about Whipple trying to throw more than he should, it’s tough to not see it unfolding in front of our eyes. I’ve mentioned it before, but Frost has stated publicly he used to run the ball to see what defender they put into the box so he could exploit through the passing game. He said we are now throwing the ball to try and set up the run, and 2 games in we are seeing that. My concern moving forward is that going to work against teams like Oklahoma, Iowa, and Michigan? If you can’t line up and beat North Dakota running the ball, things could get dicey in a hurry.
A bright spot that did come out of the game is we seem to have found our RB, Anthony Grant is off to a hell of a start 2 games into his career at Nebraska:
That is going to help have a guy to lean on with Oklahoma and conference play coming up quickly. What is interesting to me though is the fact that he really got nothing going until the second half. Nebraska struggled to get any rushing attack in the first half, as Grant was held to under 50 yards, though he ended with 189 yards. To me it easily looked like Northwestern with equal scholarships wore down Nebraska in game 1, and now against North Dakota with 20 less scholarships the Cornhuskers were able to wear down the opposition.
One thing we talked about already is our unbalanced sets to try and get something going since we can’t do it straight up is a major concern, the other for me is Prochazka and how his knee is holding up. Here, we run an unbalanced line and move Prochazaka to the right side and it just does not go well at all:
To my untrained eye, he doesn’t look ready. And here’s another issue, Benhart had a rough day as well. PFF (even though not a massive fan of PFF but I get the concept) graded Benhart the worst out of our starting five linemen. Take a look at our RT this play and pay attention to what the announcer says:
Just like Grant’s longest TD against Northwestern, the play is basically all him. What is going to happen when our line blocks like that against Oklahoma, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, etc.? That will be a longgggg day and a tackle for a loss, Grant isn’t making those dudes miss.
Let’s go to the first touchdown of the second half as we have to get back to a bright spot. As we discussed teams are using a ton of unbalanced to get defenses confused. If you watch on this play, the TE and 2 WRs are to the bottom. The bottom WR is actually covering up the TE so he can’t go out for a pass… UNTIL the motion happens and you see him move back and tell the ref he is now off the line (watch his hand movement and look at the ref at the very beginning). That’s just too much before the snap for a defense and you see a touchdown:
And on top of all that we have discussed, the time of possession stat somehow got worse as North Dakota had the ball for 36 minutes and Nebraska for only 23. That is going to be a really bad deal when we play better teams. We scored first possession with our script, then our first possession of the second half with what I would deem a trick play. Judas.
Also, pretty apparent our go to guy is Trey Palmer which makes all the sense in the world. But where were some of the guys we used first game? Sipple had a decent article where he said it takes time for new people to gel, but time is running short with only Georgia Southern before the big boys come to town. That’s what worries me.
Nebraska was put in a tough spot defensively this past Saturday. I believe it was Bo Pelini that said the strength of your defense needs to be up the middle, because if you can’t stop anything there, there is no need for the offense to do anything else. We are struggling mightily there. Our DTs/NGs are in trouble, we had one ILB out with a broken hand so he will be trying to tackle people with one hand. And our safeties are brand new trying to learn things, and we’ve seen some issues failing to stop Northwestern and North Dakota.
There are some good things out there, however. For example, if you remember my preseason article, I talked about if we could use a guy like Mathis or Tannor in our spinner package to get them coming at the offense from more looks. Looks like Chins reads this, cause here it is first series:
On this play you had Mathis up top at DE, Nelson down low at DE, and Tannor coming in from the ILB spot, just like we talked about. Now, we did force the ball out quick, but something that has plagued us this season happens and we miss a tackle in the open field. Further, I think if teams like Oklahoma see us come out in this it could be them just running inside zone right at us for 10 yards as it’s our smaller lineup. But I can’t be mad at Chinander for doing that on third and long.
Speaking of our ILB play… with Henrich out, it forced true freshman Ernest Hausmann into the starting lineup. Also, if you remember from last week, we talked about how poor Kolarevic did in the open field from the nickel spot. With Henrich out, we saw them move #31 back to ILB. Is that permanent due to him in the open field? Or is that temporary with the Henrich injury?
Along our DL, they had a pretty average day again. That just can not happen against a North Dakota team from FCS. Ty Robinson is struggling and we can’t have that happen, Hutmacher and Feist played just ok which again can’t happen for our starters against an FCS team. With that said, I did see a noticeable improvement with Stephon Wynn, he was a guy that really looked a step above who we were playing out there. Take a look at this play:
But we are going to have to be so much better against Oklahoma and the rest of our schedule. Hopefully we get that figured out in a hurry.
ILBs played poorly, but I really like our edge guys. They also looked like they were on a different level than the North Dakota team they were playing. It’s important to at least show you should be out there.
The back end is where I worry (along with DL and if ILB remains thin). It looks like we’ve settled on Buford, Farmer, Newsome, and Hill, but they had a rough day against what I would call mediocre at best passing attack. While North Dakota schemed us up from time to time, they flat out just got beat many other times.
It’s just so concerning to me that we couldn’t do much of anything in the first half, we couldn’t run the ball so had to insert the QB for +1 running, and gave up a double digit second half lead to an FCS team making it 17-17 late in the 3rd quarter. We scored on the very first drive, didn’t score again until the second half on a trick “unbalanced” formation… It just doesn’t give a lot of confidence for true games that we will be playing.
We lost TOP, we lost the turnover battle, we lost the penalty battle, I mean us struggling with those things against an FCS team is just so much concern for me. we got out of it with a win but sheesh.
Tune in tomorrow when we get our Georgia Southern preview out!
ShortSideOption Blog (North Dakota Recap)
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17 thoughts on “North Dakota Full Game Recap 2022”
Why is the D-line and db’s so bad? I understand we lost a lot from last year but thought Dawson and Fisher were better coaches? I know there is talent there but what’s the deal?
On DL we just lost way too much. Stille graduated, Thomas and Daniels hung it up with eligibility, Rogers and Riley transferred to Oregon. We just can’t have that many people leave and try to replace them.
DB I think we are just young. We have talent but lost 4 of 5 starters if you count the nickel. That’s tough to get right right away.
That Benhart play is unfortunately hilarious. I’m already mentally preparing myself for how mad I am going to be sitting in that stadium for the Oklahoma game. I will be cheering against Carolina every Sunday hoping for HCMR next year.
He’s had a rough couple games IMO.
Another bad game against Georgia Southern will be a trend. If he has problems again what’s it going to look like against OU and the BIG. Would it hurt to give Hunter Anthony or Kevin Williams a shot at RT.
So I saw Hunter Anthony wearing a number in the 90s. I don’t think they are comfortable with him at tackle right now. In regard to Williams, i’m surprised we haven’t seen more of him, especially since he is a senior and our guys in front of him are struggling so much. With that said, I have no idea if he is just more of what Anthony would give us. With BB and TP out there it almost seems like our coaches think that’s our only shot.
What I really find interesting is the fact that Brant Banks who is apparently our swiss army knife along the OL playing tackle and guard, hasn’t really played ever here. Feel like he would be a decent option on top of Williams.
Didn’t see this game as I stayed in Europe after the Ireland game so appreciate a thorough review. We sat by a lot of the players families and I got to talk to some. The Prochazka’s are nice folks and when I asked how Teddy was doing they said he’s doing great with his dad saying he watched film of practice the other day and “he’s kicking ass and taking names”. He also grew an inch per his parents to 6’10”. Then the game happened and I really wonder what the disconnect is here. Frost says they are doing all the right things. The players seem confident and we have new faces looking at things this year. The games come and the optimism is gone.
This is easily the worst Husker team I’ve seen in the trenches. We actually got ST fixed (that punter is real good) and we have some legit talent at the skill spots but the lines are so pathetic it doesn’t matter. I could see it playing out in the first half against NW that both their lines were just better and we needed to find a way to build a lead and not let them lean on us. Move forward a week and a middle of the pack FCS team is pushing us. For me the key to the season was if we could find a way to get the lines to gel enough to pick up some wins early then more or less hang with the tougher part of the schedule. Right now its hard to see better than 2-10 happening.
I think it’s real tough for a parent to say “he’s not quite ready”. They want to think that their kid is doing well. That said, our DL isn’t that good either so maybe he was kicking ass in practice.
Along the lines this is the worst i’ve seen us. Quite honestly I think we’ve progressively got worse, losing the Davis twins, losing guys like Farmer and Foster and Farniok and Jaimes. It’s just not good.
Agreed and didn’t mean above as a knock on a parent. He said it proudly to multiple people and I have no doubt its based on what his kid told him. Its just the disconnect between what comes from the team and what shows up on game day that gets me.
One other call out I’ll have here is OL related and I will remove names but 3 of our OL whose names we would all recognize walked far away from the rest of the team and stood the whole game with each other. None of them looked like they believed they would have their names called that day and I can say at least 2 of these 3 have had their names mentioned in other comments or your post as someone we expected more of. I’m not sure what’s up here but you previously alluded to some guys not happy with Austin’s departure and expected attrition in this room. I kinda wonder if Raiola has a buy-in issue with some of these guys. I think the DL is fighting but they are just in a really bad spot in regards to talent and experience. And its also pretty clear our S&C is not helping either of our lines. These guys still look massive and struggle moving laterally. Both lines.
I didn’t take it as a knock on the parent, more just was pointing that out. It’s like when people are mad that all fall camp we heard how great our OL was doing only to see them not very good and people say “what were our coaches talking about all camp?!” I mean, what are they supposed to say, we suck?
In regard to OL… the lack of rotation is kind of stunning, especially with our struggles. Our tackle spot is getting destroyed but we really haven’t seen any change there. I’m pretty sure Kevin Williams didn’t transfer here so he could just back people up, and when he doesn’t play when thigns are going bad it can create an issue.
To your point about S/C… As I pointed out before, just creating a bunch of guys that squat a ton defies physics in what the game of football is today, and us doing that the past 4 years applauding it as what we needed is starting to show. Our worst record in 50 years happened in year 4 doing that. Spare me the “we were close though” argument.
Yeah, def some concerns coming out of that one. My positive for the week is that we have not one, but two legit RB’s for the first time since Ziggy. Out of all the hires Applewhite has really shown his value in short order. Really wonder how bad of a coach Held was. Yikes.
Obviously some major concerns. A few big ones for me:
1. Turnovers – were trending in the wrong direction again. Not good.
2. Defense – steep drop off from last season and yeah that D line is weak.
3. 3rd down conversions – this has been a problem for years. Teams seem to find a way to convert on third downs and then the D gets gassed. I think this is the Achilles heel of Chins bend but don’t break defense. They need to find a way to get off the field but this is another huge red flag.
4. TOP – two games in a row where our D is on the field too long and the O is sitting. I don’t recall seeing that in prior years to this degree and several factors seem to be feeding this including all of the above.
5. O line – yikes. Raiola needs to earn his paycheck in a hurry. It still looks ugly.
I am hoping as Whipple says, they are still putting this whole thing together and some of this gets ironed out quickly but if we hit the meat of the schedule looking like this and those trends stay in place its going to get ugly real quick.
I think all of those concerns are valid. To your point though, I really like what i’ve seen from Grant and Allen.
Time of possession is the craziest thing to me though, that stat should be better this week.
The comment in the write-up about the 1st touchdown being the scripted series rang a bell. I feel like the past several years we’ve done a decent job early in games, even against pretty good teams. Probably were some posts on the other site about this.
Seems like Frost has had success early in games when he has some scripted series. Maybe he should just script the whole game?! (kidding)
I would guess that comes back to my opinion of him struggling with adjustments theory. Although now that Whipple is OC, does that fall more on him? Either way, it seems very familiar.
I’d agree. Scripted touchdown. Scripted out of half touchdown. Then it’s 17-17 deep in the third quarter. We are just all out of sorts and kind of tough to figure out besides not being very good. We haven’t even played a good team yet.
Although special teams has been generally favorable with kicking and punting, the return game hasn’t improved. Palmer was a decent return guy at LSU if I’m not mistaken. Our they concerned he may get injured if they have him returning kicks. Allen and Grant did well against North Dakota, however, it will be interesting to see how things go when NU plays OU and the other teams in the BIG. Like everyone else I have major concerns going forward. Getting to 6 winds may be difficult since Frost hasn’t beaten more than 3 teams in the BIG each season he has been here.
Ya it’s interesting, special teams everyone is happy with because our punter was doing well and we were making field goals. But the returns have been average at best. I don’t think they are scared of getting anyone hurt because all cards are on the table right now with how the season has started. But if we don’t turn this around in a hurry, we are going to get killed against the Sooners and be 2-2 heading into conference play where people expected 3-1 minimum.
Specific Question about Benhart. I watched the video you put in your write up with him seemingly like he had no passion to block. If you look at the 2nd half touchdown you uploaded, Benhart doesn’t even move for the 1st second of the snap. Thankfully it didn’t matter, but in general he seems very disinterested.
I see this very concerning, but then again Benhart goes back out and plays the next series. What’s going on?