Grading the Huskers: Defense gets perfect score, offense still needs some perfecting
Nebraska dominated Wyoming on Saturday afternoon in Memorial Stadium, 52-17. In most areas, the Huskers excelled.
In others, not so much. Here’s how we graded Nebraska’s performance.
Offense (4.5/5 stars)
When one gear isn’t working, switch to the other.
That’s exactly what the Huskers did on Saturday. Nebraska’s run-heavy attack against Fresno State disappeared into a Tommy Armstrong showcase against Wyoming. The senior quarterback threw 34 times for 377 yards and three touchdowns, plus one red-zone interception. As a whole, the Huskers took advantage of most opportunities. And it’s hard to discredit 52 points.
But a good chunk of Nebraska’s points came in the fourth quarter (28), when the Huskers defense picked of quarterback Josh Allen three times and put Nebraska in scoring position.
The run game wasn’t really there (3.2 yards-per-carry), sputtering in the second and third quarters, which gave Wyoming chances to tie the score in a game where that shouldn’t have happened.
Overall, a good performance that, for the second straight week, should have been better but was helped by a tremendous defensive effort.
Defense (5/5 stars)
In these first two games, Nebraska has been nothing short of stellar on defense.
The Blackshirts picked off Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen five times. Except for one big run from Austin Conway, the defensive unit kept the Cowboys to about 100 yards rushing.
One the line, Ross Dzuris is becoming a force, with half a sack and two tackles for loss on Saturday. The linebackers are the glue of the defense, with a six-man rotation that keeps the middle of the defense fresh. And the secondary is playing out of their minds, with seven interceptions now in two games.
All around, great showing by the Blackshirts.
Special teams (3/5 stars)
When your freshman punter decides to run on a whim at midfield instead of punt it, you’re not getting more than 3-stars. Especially considering last week a punt was blocked, Nebraska’s looses screw is definitely the punt game.
The return game is also nonexistent. The Huskers did not return a punt Saturday.
Coaching (4/5 stars)
At a certain point, the number of times Nebraska has been penalized has to fall on the coaching staff.
Personal fouls have been abundant this season. Nate Gerry received one on Saturday, along with Nick Gates and Carlos Davis. All were flagged for after-the-play penalties, which are preventable – and can’t happen later in the season.
Other than that, offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf called a great game plan on offense and Mike Riley controlled the game well. No complaints other than some lack of discipline on those flags.
Overall (4.5/5 stars)
For the second week in a row, it’s the same story. Good, not great.
Yes, Nebraska won big. Yes, they scored 28 points in the fourth quarter. But the small things that can kill drives, like penalties, the offense sputtering randomly and fake punts that go horribly wrong, can’t happen during the conference season. Nebraska still needs to get cleaner.
But 2-0 is 2-0. Next week will be a big tell as to whether these mistakes will catch up with the Huskers.