Nebraska played an overmatched Louisiana Tech Bulldog team this past Saturday, and while I never really thought we were in danger of losing, it sure never felt like we were manhandling them. It was a very windy day in Lincoln, so as I mentioned in my tweet, I was a little worried about the overs with a QB starting his second game trying to throw in the wind. Let’s just get into it…
While we talked about the wind, the first quarter had Nebraska with the ball and a stiff breeze to their back. Initially I thought this would be great to build a 7 or 14 point cushion on the Bulldogs, but at the end of the first quarter the game was still tied 0-0. Nebraska was 2-6 throwing the football with the wind and had no points to show for it.
Not that throwing it should have mattered, as LA Tech is so bad at rush defense we should be able to do whatever we wanted. But they were also terrible at giving up deep passes, so Marcus Satterfield made the decision to try and get one early while the wind was at our back to make Michigan see first play we can hit stuff deep and not load the box. But it backfired, as we actually showed that our weakness is pass blocking:
Nebraska has 7 guys in for protection while Louisiana Tech only has 6 and somehow the MLB comes in untouched for a sack. Fidone stays in up top so it’s 3 on 2 up there, and our center, LG, and LT had 2 guys to block as well. Grant and/or Scott should have been able to pick up the blitzing middle backer. Those are the things that you lose with Johnson and Ervin Jr gone, as Grant has struggled in pass protection. Some people may say that Scott should have stayed on the MIKE but either way, that shouldn’t have happened.
Nebraska really couldn’t do anything the first quarter, Billy Kemp IV was nice but other than that and the QB run we don’t have much. And when you have Marcus Washington dropping third down passes that hit him in the chest, it doesn’t instill a ton of confidence heading into this week.
Louisiana Tech was really up there challenging our WRs as I believe they were of the opinion that our outside guys couldn’t beat them. Haarberg finished the game 8/17 for 107 yards and 1 touchdown. He actually had more yards on the ground than he did through the air. I’d love to blame some of that on the wind, but I think we are starting to see that we just aren’t very formidable putting the ball in the air. Receiving-wise Billy Kemp IV seems to be the only guy that can get open. However, I will get Fidone credit as when there are plays called for him he does a great job with the ball in his hands.
And I’m sorry but these guys get paid through NIL now so they aren’t off limits, but our LT had another awful day going against a defensive line that is nothing to be scared of. I’m really worried what’s going to happen when the Wolverines come to town. He allowed 3 hurries and a QB sack, I just don’t think Prochazka is quite ready and four games in you have to figure out a way to preserve Gottula’s redshirt.
With our pass protection leaky at best, we decided to try and run at LA Tech. We amassed over 300 yards rushing and with many RBs out even put the ball in Kemp’s hands multiple times. But as I typically do, even with positives I see some issues. For the 3rd time in 4 games, our QB needed to lead our team in rushes and yards for us to get where we needed to get to. When you watch really good rushing offenses, they are typically getting it done with their OL and RBs. That’s something we are going to have to watch against Michigan. I’ll give Satterfield credit though, LA Tech started stuffing us up the middle, so he countered quite nicely with a Billy Kemp jet sweep for the first score of the game.
Louisiana Tech also played a lot of “single high” safeties basically telling us they don’t think we are good enough to beat them with our WRs. Here’s a good pic of what i’m talking about. It’s 3rd and long and every single Bulldog defender is up close to our offense. The deepest guy is 6 yards off up top. See here:
I will go into this in my Michigan write-up, but what will the Wolverines learn from this film we gave them? We really can only run on teams as our passing offense is very limited. Will they go one-high and trust that their DBs are better than our WRs? They could certainly do that. Or… do they think that their front 7 is just that much better than our OL to stop the run without bringing another player into the box and keep safeties back to avoid the big play? They got options, and I don’t like it.
For example, what will they think when they see what this LA Tech guy did to our center to disrupt the play?
Now, do I think our center just had a bad rep there? Yes. Do I think Michigan will make us have a lot of bad reps this week? Yes. I’m just really concerned that our defense will keep us in it, but our offense will take us out of it in a few days.
Let’s start with the fact that the Blackshirts came in as the #2 rushing defense in the country and moved up to #1 after their showing against LA Tech this past weekend. Nebraska held the Bulldogs to 46 yards rushing and only 2.2 ypc. Our defense is going to have us in most games this year just based on the fact that teams are going to have trouble scoring on us.
While last Saturday wasn’t our best tackling day, our secondary will really come up and hit you and plays extremely physical. There was a play that I don’t think many people appreciate just how great it was early in the game. A bubble screen is thrown, and Newsome does a great job “setting the edge” making the WR turn it up field. But the really good job is Singleton running THROUGH the blocker and basically making it so the LA Tech WR had nowhere to go:
It’s things like this where teams will see that and not try those types of plays on us. That’s a damn good job by those two.
The defense wasn’t without some issues. We mentioned our tackling in space looked a little worse this game, and there were definitely some times where a walk-on QB just missed a throw to a wide open WR that could have caused us some trouble. I don’t imagine Michigan will be having the same types of mistakes which could lead to some trouble.
The good news is we forced Louisiana Tech to throw and held our own for the most part in that regard.
I just wanted to hit on this being pretty rough. If not for the fake FG to set up our first touchdown, this was an abortion across the board. We kicked the ball off out of bounds which I believe has happened before this year. We missed a FG. We allowed a kick return for a touchdown which was thankfully called back due to holding.
I was really high on this unit early in the year but it appears they are taking a step backwards. When our offense is struggling and our defense is doing well, the deciding factor can be this group and we need to get it figured out in a hurry.
For me, this was a bit disappointing. Louisiana Tech wasn’t as good as Northern Illinois in my opinion, but we seemed to struggle a bit more with them. Whether that was because of the weather delay, a windier day, i’m not sure. The bottom line is, with Michigan coming to town I was hoping to feel a lot better about where we were and have some confidence, but i’m left quite a bit worried.
We did rush for over 300 yards, but as mentioned, our QB led the team in attempts and yards for 3 out of 4 games so far this season. To me this is indicative that we just can’t get a push on the OL and we have to insert HH or Sims for a +1 to get some help to move the ball. Further, a Go5 school like Louisiana Tech had no respect for our WRs and were playing everyone within 6-7 yards of the line of scrimmage even on third and long. If they could get away with that, Michigan certainly will be able to.
We saw some chinks in the armor for our defense finally. A few more missed tackles than I was used to seeing from them, and Louisiana Tech had some success through the air. In fact, if their QB isn’t terrible they probably would have thrown for over 300 yards. But that is all hypothetical and they did enough to win the game for us. A massive test comes in on Saturday.
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