Recap 2023: Louisiana Tech

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.

Special Teams:
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.

Join us Thursday where we go over the Michigan preview!

ShortSideOption Blog

Nothing is required, just helps with site fees


28 thoughts on “Recap 2023: Louisiana Tech

  1. As you mentioned we’ve talked about TC before. Hes going to get out QB hurt if we dont get him out of there or at least roll right when we pass.
    I just cant believe after 4 games they havent attempted to solve this issue. Hes been doing this for 3 years now

      1. Is Teddy P not really healthy, not in shape, or just not up to snuff? If the current LT situation is “snuff” then . . . yikes. If health or conditioning is the issue, then is there any ETA? He did still look like a mauler when he was in on those jumbo packages last week.

        It seems like the line can get rolling occasionally, but, boy, they can also really struggle with (a) guy(s) either getting whipped or totally missing passing off blitzers. Maybe a solid anchor on the edge really changes a lot of those things.

  2. I don’t like our QB’s with this many rush attempts as well but La Tech was asking for it. Darn near every option play we ran HH had no one assigned to him. They had someone take the RB/Pitch guy every time but not one defender took HH, at least not at the LOS.

    Our D seemed very vanilla this game, to me. Try to keep every one in front and make the QB make the throws type of deal. Not my favorite but La Tech got the ball out quick so blitzing seemed mute.

    As always, great stuff. Keep it up.

    1. Ya it worries me that we couldn’t just push someone and get our RB going. I don’t think LA Tech was ready for the speed option we were running which won’t take Michigan by surprise at all. That accounted for about 150 yards on the ground or more for us. So I am really worried.

  3. Great write up like always. I was also disappointed with the performance on Sat, i think the defense is good, but not great, but the Offense is bad. I think the starting WE’s were Coleman and Tommy, but have they done much this year? Also how much longer can they keep running #69 out there? If I’m Mich I’m playing press coverage with 1 high safety and a spy on the QB. I think it will be a close game through the first half but I’m not sure the defense has the depth to keep us in the game.

    1. I think they had Malachi and Hill out there because it was a deep ball, I think I saw Kemp too. But our WRs are badddd. Kemp is leading the team with 33 yards receiving per game.

  4. Any thoughts on playing both quarterbacks and just planning on them taking 20-25 rushes per game between the two of them? I think HH isn’t necessarily “the answer” but his emergence as serviceable has to take out the stops on the QB run game. If it’s the only offense we have, then it’s the only offense we have, and I don’t think either one of them is good enough that we can afford to handle either with kid gloves. Seeing that HH is dinged up though, maybe we won’t be able to make it through the season with either one of them really staying healthy.

    1. I think they are really going to evaluate Haarberg against Michigan here. He looked great against two teams that weren’t as good as what Sims faced (though Colorado is no good defensively). I do think they’ll start trying to limit the hits. And we have a short week against Illinois coming up. Yikes.

  5. Not sure I ever expected the game with Michigan to be a close game. I am hoping for a miracle that it’s close. But I have some questions for you? Let’s say M stays with run 1st and 2nd down and we get 3rd and 6. Does the defense have the ability to get off the field? If they can, then I think it will be close. The other question, how much of what we’ve been seeing on offense is Satterfield trying to figure out what he has versus developing an identity?

    1. I think it’s going to come down to that. Michigan will be fine getting 2 or 3 yards at a time and hoping our defense gives something up. I’ll be curious if we can get any sort of pressure. I expect the dam to finally break on our rush defense.

  6. SSO
    Do you have any insight on M Coleman and where hes at right now?
    With all the injuries and Betts and just the lack of any real depth at WR, I except more from him?

    1. I know the staff was frustrated with how much he was sitting out this summer and in fall camp. Basically made himself available during B1G being there and when lots of people were around. He’s gotten better but now it’s about becoming consistent which a lot of true freshman struggle with. I too was hoping for more but as of now it seems the only one that was really ready to play in fall camp broke his hand. We finally get him back.

  7. Do you still think we make a bowl game now that we’re 1/3 into the season? FWIW, I never did and am not remotely panicking with what I’ve seen so far. The biggest thing I wanted to see was progress. Both year over year and as the season progressed. As ugly as it’s been, I do believe we are seeing progress outside the pass game and special teams. The defense is certainly better than last year’s unit and doing so largely with players who were already here so it is coaching. The stats will weaken as the competition strengthens but the growth is clear on that side.

    I am a bit concerned with some of the things I’m seeing though that are outside of pure talent. We had 2 straight plays where an interior lineman was given a free rush that shut down a 1st half drive. Corcoran is not close even as Benhardt appears to have made very real progress on the right side yet the staff doesn’t feel comfortable pulling him for any of our other options. Our receivers aren’t getting any separation with a QB who doesn’t see the field well and I don’t see any solutions to that minus hitting the portal hard this offseason. The special teams issue is maybe the biggest concern. We finally got a dedicated coach here and one whose been around yet special teams is still an issue.
    Do you see any solutions to this stuff this year or are we looking at offseason fixes?

    1. I think we have to steal one from Illinois to get there (I had us losing to them before the season but they don’t look as good now). I’m concerned we end up at 5-7, though like you I don’t think it’s catastrophic I just thought we could do it.

      I don’t know what’s going on offensively, we look like we only have one thing that works and that’s QB run.

  8. I think HH can become a really good QB if the staff works with him improving his passing ability next Spring and Summer. Unfortunately the rest of this season may be a nightmare with the passing game.

  9. I see Fleeks has moved to RB. I suspect that means they have no confidence in Johnson or Ives. I hope Grant can stay healthy because if he gets hurt NU is in bigggggg trouble.

  10. Losing two-thirds of your RB room and one-third of your QB room by the end of the first home game makes it hard to gauge progress. I guess I am an outlier but I am care a lot about getting a bowl berth. More than just the extra practices, we need to stop the narrative that Nebraska has the longest bowl draught of all Power 5 schools. It also kind of puts an end to the previous era of NE football and will help turn the page.

    1. I’m there with you. WR room lacking, RBs hurt, starting QB hurt… but our defense looks good. Can we build on that? I would go after a transfer portal QB personally. If we get to a bowl game that’s a masterful job by Rhule year 1.

  11. Seems like we caught Michigan misplaying gaps on unbalanced big formations two years ago (wasn’t that the first game that Prochazka kinda popped as a 6th lineman?). I think they were confused on the long TE touchdown as well. Think we might see a bit of that on Saturday? Seems like we need a few of those types of mistakes from Michigan to make it even close.

    1. Unbalanced and multiple TE sets I expect to see a lot of on Saturday. The problem is Michigan is so much better defensively than we are offensively they may be able to line up wrong and still beat us.

      1. Not sure if I should laugh or cry about lining up wrong and still beating us. Probably both!

Leave a Reply