Recap 2023: Minnesota

Well, if any of you read our preview, that game went basically exactly like we told you it would. And our worries about what we needed to stay away from to win decided to play a factor.

In our preview, we stated that we almost picked us to win this game, heck I thought we would actually have the better team. I just didn’t think Nebraska was ready to beat a team with an established culture and systems. I thought it would be a hard fought, low scoring game, but was all over Nebraska at +7.5 and the unders. That came to fruition with a 13-10 loss in Minneapolis. What’s worse, is it happened basically the way we thought it would and the two things we needed to stay away from came back around. We stated we couldn’t turn the ball over, and we needed to find a way to run the ball without using our QB. We were -3 in the turnover battle, and Sims ran the ball 19 freaking times. A recipe for disaster. Let’s break things down.


I am going to start with something I was excited about, and that is our defense. Nebraska held Minnesota to just 251 total yards of offense and only 55 yards on the ground for an unbelievable 2.2 yards per carry. The Blackshirts certainly earned their practice jerseys.

Though we told you in our preview we expected Minnesota to throw the ball much more than previous years, I had no idea that would mean 44 pass attempts last Thursday. That is more than double their average from a season ago. And Nebraska got to the QB at a much better clip this game as well. The Cornhuskers had 3 sacks from 3 different players (Gunnerson, Hutmacher, Reimer) and 2 of them were DL. Last year, Nebraska averaged only 1.7 sacks per game, nearly double the output from previous years.

But what I really liked about the pressure we got, was HOW we got that. The Polar Bears sack was with only bringing 4 guys, we didn’t have to bring more guys to get there:

On Blaise Gunnerson’s sack, we brought even less guys with only 3 where he swam back underneath the tackle and corralled a scrambling Kaliakmanis. Now, on Reimers sack we did bring 6, but at least we got home. That was great to see. We need to continue to get pressure without having to bring extra guys to get there, especially in Boulder.

We held up so great against the run as well. For the most part, we were just playing with our front guys and shutting down running lanes and gaps. This will be pivotal for Saturday’s game against the Buffaloes, as our DBs will need all of the help they can get. This gave me a ton of encouragement, because even with Minnesota losing some very good OL from last year, our new front line guys were able to stop things on their own without loading an extra defender in the box.

What I took from our pressure with minimal blitzes and our ability to stop the run, is that our 3-3-5 causes a lot of confusion for opposing offenses. While I suspect Sanders will be able to read the secondary, I don’t think his OL will do as well trying to figure out where everyone is coming from.

Our defense also did a great job shifting between man to man and zone coverage, something that really fooled the Gophers QB a number of times. That is something that is going to be needed against Colorado this coming week.

That’s enough on the defense, let’s get to our struggles.

The Offense:

Where do we begin? We threw 3 interceptions and fumbled the ball once. All 4 of our turnovers were while we were on THEIR SIDE OF THE FIELD! When you think about things like the turnover differential as well as where they happened, the 3 point loss stings that much more. Freaking 44% of our possessions ended in a turnover, yet on the road on a Thursday night we lost on a walk-off FG in a game where we were touchdown underdogs in year 1 of a coach.

But we also only had one touchdown, and that came on an almost botched trick play where the ball hit the ground. In fact, I wonder if Bullock would have even been open if not for Sims dropping the pass? As I think the Minnesota defenders came up to try and jump on the fumble (even the guy in the defensive backfield).

I can’t tell if I should be mad that that was our only touchdown, or think that we just missed a ton more opportunities due to the turnovers on their side of the field?

I also get a little frustrated with OC Satterfield, as I think he didn’t help us much with what we were trying to do. Besides the QB run game, our play-calling didn’t seem to have a lot of rhyme or rhythm to it. It seemed more like ok we’ve tried this now let’s try that, let’s go do this now. Quite frankly, many of the times where we had to punt or got behind the chains, it was because of things I believe he would want back if he could do them all over again. Remember in the 4th quarter when we had 3 pass plays in a row?

Let’s dive into that sequence of events a little bit. The series before, we get the ball first and goal on the 8 yard line. We call a pass play and get about 4 yards to our TE, fine. I wouldn’t have thrown, I would have ran it since we were running down their throats all day, but it worked so can’t complain. 2nd and goal from the 4 and for some reason we throw the ball AGAIN, netting an incompletion. So you’re behind the chains and now Satterfield goes back to QB power and gets stuffed forcing a FG. So he threw it twice and then on 3rd and medium/long we run it, I hated it. You then get to the 3 pass plays in a row, and I get what we were doing there… they were sneaking guys up in the box so we put Tommi Hill in at WR to try and run by the defense. Which he did, but the ball wasn’t close. We then run an RPO where Kemp is wide-open but it gets tipped, from there it’s 3rd and long and you have to throw it.

To me it just seemed that Satterfield put us in situations that were tough to come back from. And we have a QB that really is struggling with going through progressions and reads. For example, in the 4th quarter there’s a little over one minute left on the clock, we are on their side of the field, we have one timeout left, the game is tied so at worst think overtime, and Satterfield goes with a straight dropback no play-fake or run option pass where Sims just stares down the WR:

Go up and watch that again and watch the lone safety in the middle of the field, he basically just baits Sims into throwing where he was looking the whole time. Not once did he move off of his outside WR. However, it’s not like Sims isn’t capable of things that show he’s a competent passer. Let’s take a look at the back angle of Sims understanding he needs to “move the safety” a bit. Watch Sims’ head start left and move that safety away from Washington where he wanted to throw it all along:

It is a quick glance left but at least gets the safety starting to shuffle that way. But far too many times he locks onto who he is throwing to as the ball is snapped. And he showed poor decision making before the half as well. I talked about how I didn’t mind the timeout on a dead ball… remind Sims that you need to throw the ball away or put it where only our guy can catch it. But for some reason he locks on again going through his progressions:

Satterfield is on the field during games to help Sims not make those types of plays. So that he can go through things with him during timeouts and while the defense is on the field. If those are the types of results we are going to get, i’m really worried. That has to change in a hurry.

And now let’s talk offensive line. I actually wasn’t too mad at 4 of our offensive linemen. But there was one that had an awful day. Since they are getting paid now I don’t have a problem calling Corcoran out. He gave up all 3 of the sacks on the day to a team that literally was awful getting to the QB last year, and had a tough time run blocking. Even on our longest run of the day, his guy he was responsible for hit our RB in the backfield:

He’s just not a tackle. He can’t play there for us, or it’s going to be a long season. The rest of the guys I was actually ok with. Tomorrow we are going to go over our rushing attempts, because we had a 0 yard gain and a -1 yard gain for our RBs in the first two carries of the season and our OC basically abandoned it and went QB run game. We have to get our RBs involved against Colorado.

Special Teams:

This was a pleasant surprise. We looked competent on the coverage units, our punter averaged almost 48 yards per punt, we were 1/1 on fieldgoals, and our return units looked great. People were a bit concerned when they heard this from Rhule:

It was a little tough at first, and then Rahmir Johnson broke this off to set us up for our only touchdown of the year:

We are going to need that to be a rock for us this upcoming week.


I really like our defense and specials teams one game in, our offense just has a ton of questions. Here’s things to keep an eye on moving forward:

  1. How does Sims do in the passing game moving forward?
  2. Does Satterfield call plays to help with is decision making?
  3. Can our RBs get more involved in the run game to take pressure off of Sims?
  4. Can our DL continue to get pressure without bringing extra defenders that we will need to cover the Colorado skill players?

Should we be worried with how our offense performed and in particular our QB in Minneapolis? Can a leopard change his spots? I don’t really care what happened before he was a Cornhusker, so i’ll leave you with this:

Tomorrow we will go over the Nebraska run game against Minnesota and the new clock rule that makes things even more vulnerable in regards to turnovers. Friday will be the Colorado preview!

ShortSideOption Blog

Nothing is required just helps with site fees


20 thoughts on “Recap 2023: Minnesota

  1. I’m not going jumping off the coaching wagon in game 1, and I’m not the 1st person to point this out, but when Grant fumbled, all I could think was “oh you mean the guy who was 3rd string bc he had ball security issues?”

    I know Rhule said it was Satterfield who put him in, but that 3rd string label feels really hollow when you have 2 more carries through the game than your so called starter.

    That was really the hard pill gor me to swallow personally.

    Our QB, I’ve said before I’ve always preferred a worse runner and better passer given the tradeoffs, but it is what it is at this point that is the direction in the short term. I hope something is coachable with him because that INT in the end zone was BAD.

    1. Ya, i’m going to let the Grant thing slide a bit. To your point, I get the frustration with it. I’m going to see how that plays out through the season.

      In regards to the QB thing, I prefer a runner like Sims over just a thrower like Thompson. But if your OC doesn’t put him in situations he’s good at, then you are completely screwed.

  2. I think youre a lil rough on Sat and a lil easy on our QB
    The one series was rough but the rest of the game Sat called a decent game. Most of the game the run game was no holes.
    Sat can call a better game but sims is just aweful
    Corcarahn has been playing bad for 4 yrs with a pass from fans cuz he was highly rated.
    He might be better at guard
    But i doubt it.
    I personally think it needs to be time to give young guys a chance at a handfull of positions…..ready or not

    1. I’m with ya… I have a friend from South Carolina that was just telling me all offseason how bad Satt is. I think he could have helped Sims out more, but at the end of the day Sims has to be better on his own for sure. I still am holding out hope that Sims can be better.

      Corcoran, I just don’t get it.

      1. Agree. On ERvins run that you showed TC getting burned, I had watched the replay of the game and we had 2 runs back to back earlier in the game for no yards and both plays TC got burned and the guy stuffed our run. Its not just a few plays he made a mistake, as you pointed out it was all game and in the run and pass play. He really should be benched

      2. I don’t think there was much imagination by any means. I agree about the straight pass plays end of game when we could’ve ran clock down. If we hit one though then probably looks like a stroke of genius.

        Agree a really good coordinator can find better ways to fit his personnel. I don’t think Satterfield is great, I’m hoping he turns out to be competent.

        The number one gripe I seem to hear after games over the past 15 years from all over seems to be we throw it too much. I think it’s hard to know sometimes where the line is between coordinator blame and players. I know there’s things you can do to help a QB succeed, but I guess for me at the end of the day, you have to throw at some point during the game, so you better be able to coach them or figure out plays you know the QB will succeed in, or live with the mistakes your QB will make. But then I hear people complain it’s too vanilla when there’s no shots down field, etc.

        I just hope we figure something out on offense.

  3. Sat’s play calling is SUS as the kids say, abandoning what was working in the run game and trying to mix it up to seem “balanced”. Shades of the last regime. If something is working and we have them back on their heels, keep freaking pushing – till they can stop us. You have to play to the teams strengths and what we have, not what you wanna be. Frustrating loss, but flashes by the D, that they’re much improved, leaves room for some optimism. I felt like I saw bodies swarming to the ball and much better timing in tackles then in past years when they were whiffing on everything.

    1. Ya I was pretty frustrated, but I also understand your D1 scholarship QB needing to make plays or understand situations.

      What’s going to be really interesting in Boulder is if Satterfield can stay the course even when we may not have success right away running the ball.

      1. You’re right SSO, another game like this and Corcoran will probably be benched; I don’t think HCMR will stay indefinitely with a non-performer. In the PFF grades for the game, Corcoran scored 44.1, the other linemen’s grades were in the 60’s.

      2. Woof. That’s really bad. I thought it was maybe just the pass protection but I just posted a video of 3 plays for him on runs that were equally as bad as giving up a sack.

  4. For me the turning point was the three and out pass plays. My first thought about the deep ball was what the heck, only because it appeared to me Simms was not setting feet well on throws prior to that. Then you are asking this dude to launch a deep one off his back foot. Then a follow up pass on 2nd that got tipped, it happens. The problem I had was the statements early on that suggested we will lean on the run in the 4th and wear teams down. But it is what it is. This group of coaches will need to learn the bigten as well.

    Okay my favorite thing that happened in the game. 18 players played on defense. Rhule did say he was going to do that. I think that is HUGE. Can’t wait to see it on offense as well.

    1. Ya, I got the thinking on all three of those pass plays for sure. Hill deep to loosen the box, RPO so Sims didn’t have to read anything, now it’s 3rd and 10 and have to throw. Just literally can’t have that happen Saturday.

      The substitutions on defense were great to see. Unfortunately I don’t think we have the depth to do that on offense.

  5. A lot can be over analyzed in game 1. The eye test would say NU is in big trouble against CU. However it’s easy to overreact. I have major concerns that the offense will score more than 21 against CU. Will that be enough? Probably not. I think the defense/ special teams will have to score at least 1 TD for NU to have a chance.

    1. I’d agree there. I think we will have a defense or special teams situation. Though I also think we may have a few things figured out offensively as well. Maybe 3 touchdowns and a special teams/defensive touchdown. As you said, overanalyzing things would make me think we aren’t scoring at all. But I think this defense we are getting ready to play may “get us right” offensively.

  6. Being here in enemy territory, I can tell u CU coaches and players are as Cocky and Mouthy as I have seen since the early to mid 1990’s. Also this respect thing is being way overblown. I hope they are so full of themselves when the game arrives they make many mental mistakes during the game. There are times when u can be too jacked up and over confident which can help the other team. Let’s hope that’s the case on Saturday.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: