It’s been a weird last 72 hours, Nebraska lost a game to a team that it paid 1.4 million to come play here. What was looked at as a sure win when we made the contract, ended up costing us way more in the end. The loss to the eagles ended up accelerating the timeline for letting our head coach go, and costing us an additional 7.5 million dollars letting him go before October 1st.
Nebraska finally eeked out winning time of possession against a team as well as winning the turnover battle. But we had more penalties, and somehow had 0 sacks while Georgia Southern got 2 on us.
Nebraska has so many problems right now, mainly on the defensive side of things, so we will start there…
Nebraska on defense:
Nebraska has a huge problem right now with the Blackshirts. If you remember from our season preview:
We talked about how our DL is going to put us in a bind as we are thin and not great. Losing Domann who could play along the line for run teams or in coverage against the pass was going to be tough to overcome, and an inexperienced secondary was going to take time to get up and running for what we wanted to do defensively.
Chinander has problems right now that we can’t figure out. First, our DL forces us to be in certain fronts and doesn’t offer us flexibility to do other things. If you remember last year we had a ton of depth, so we were able to be creative there. So we are forced into using specific fronts for a majority of the time due to the fact we just don’t have the bodies to do multiple things. While this isn’t great, it’s at least manageable… until you have to start layering your backend coverage with it. Our secondary is also only good at certain coverages, and it does not mirror the front we use correctly. To say it another way, what our secondary is good at for coverage, our DL isn’t good at or is too thin to run the front needed for it. The result you get are massive holes for the offense to run through with gaps unaccounted for, or safeties needing to fill a gap from 12 yards off the line of scrimmage which is so tough to do.
Here’s what i’m talking about… and I hate to bring back bad memories for you guys, but do you remember when we played Wisconsin in 2012 in the conference title? I brought this up on my old message board, but Bo had our safeties responsible for edge contain from 12 yards deep. That is a nearly impossible task, take a look:
Go out in the backyard and stand 12 yards apart form someone and see if you can even get your hands on them if you are of similar athletic ability, you aren’t going to be able to. We are asking guys to tackle them in that situation. Chinander is doing something similar now a decade later, but it’s a slightly different problem. You see, our safeties are being asked to be responsible for a gap from 12 yards deep now (not set the edge) while they also have some pass coverage responsibilities. So here let’s see what it looks like:
That’s a really tough play to make for our safety, the back essentially has what we call a “2 way go” which means the gap is so big he can go left or right and our guy from 12 yards back has to make a play. It’s just not good. That’s essentially why all of this is happening. Here’s another look at our safety needing to cover a gap:
And remember what we talked about in the season preview, that it’s absolutely better to keep DL like Rogers and Riley around who are familiar with your scheme rather than get excited about transfers coming in due to them needing to learn the scheme? Here’s a play that perfectly illustrates that. If you watch our top DL (interior, top of center), he is responsible for A gap. You watch him stand his guy up and throw him across his body, only one problem here, he threw him the wrong way and he is now in the same gap as our LB. It leaves the ‘A’ gap wide open for the RB to head through as he vacated his responsibility:
So we’ve got guys learning the system or doing their own thing. Also, feel free to look at that clip at our bottom ILB… I mentioned this in my write-ups, but Mauga-Clements absolutely killed it in JUCO blitzing and rushing the passer. He just is not a read and react type of kid, you almost have to just have him in for pass rushing situations. And that play isn’t on that kid, but you see how slow he is to discern what’s going on and that lineman is on him in a hurry.
It also is happening with some newer guys learning on the fly a bit. With Henrich out, we have a true freshman at ILB trying to learn the system. Here you see him dropping into the same zone that Reimer is in, and the receiver is wide open. This is just part of the learning curve, and it’s tough to be mad at true freshmen here, but it is part of the problem inserting kids too early:
And with all of those problems I just detailed, we still can’t make tackles in the open field:
The defense is just a mess. We lost too many pieces, our players we inserted have too many deficiencies, and teams are exploiting it all over the field. We gave up 8 yards per carry to a team that wants to throw it all over the field (self-proclaimed Air Raid offense) and 642 total yards. Our secondary couldn’t win a 50-50 ball against their receivers to save their life.
To use a Coach Frost reference, “it’s bad.” We have a scheme that puts our players in awful spots because that’s what we have to run due to our personnel, we have new players trying to learn the scheme that have some hiccups, we have guys doing their own thing that create massive gaps, and on top of all of that North Dakota and Georgia Southern were the two worst lines we were going to see all year. The rest of the lines (minus maybe Indiana) are going to be like Northwestern. That’s a shit show recipe waiting to happen.
Nebraska on offense:
While defense is a train wreck, this offense is a different story. We scored 42 points against a team that we shoulds core 42 points against, our running back had another 100 yard rushing day, and our backup true freshman RB averaged close to 10 yards per carry. Trey Palmer was once again all over the field, and Marcus Washington had a heck of a day as well. That is what we should do against a team that was really bad on defense last year.
What was good to see is Thompson making Oklahoma think a little bit in regards to him running the football. We all know he can throw, but if they do not have to respect him running the ball this will be a long game against the Sooners.
There are some things that concern me moving forward. First, Prochazka is out, let’s see what comes from his injury as he was already limping around while he was playing. But we are about to see the best defense we’ve faced this year on Saturday, and we gave up 2 sacks to Georgia Southern who is nothing compared to what Oklahoma will throw at us. This won’t work Saturday (watch our RT):
And we also need Travis Vokolek back… as much as I like the stories with Brewington and Boerkircher we need TV against the Sooners.
It was pretty in depth for the defense, and quick for the offense, but our whole issue is our defense right now. Many people asked what was going on, and that’s it. Chinander has to figure out if he wants to put our DL or DBs in alignments or coverages that don’t suit their skillset, and that could spell disaster with our upcoming games. With that said, can that side of the ball really get much worse?
Chinanders options against Georgia Southern, North Dakota, and Northwestern was to get out of his 2 high shell defense and get a safety in the box to stop the run, and play more man to man on the outside. We didn’t do that. Now with the teams coming in the next 9 games, they have skill players that will make our DBs look silly. So we can’t shift away from that. We also can’t sit in 2 high safety because Oklahoma will run all over us.
TUNE IN TOMORROW FOR OUR OKLAHOMA PREVIEW! FRIDAY WE WILL HAVE 2 ARTICLES OUT, OUR NORMAL TOILET READING AND MY QUICK THOUGHTS ON THE MOVE ALBERTS MADE.
ShortSideOption Blog (Georgia Southern Recap)
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