Sunday, September 04, 2016

Huskers Run the Dadgummed Ball, Honor Foltz, and Beat Fresno State Going Away

Probably the best way to describe the start of Nebraska's 2016 season was "wet".  When Sam Foltz's young nephews led the Huskers out of the locker room on the Tunnel Walk, tears were flowing throughout Memorial Stadium. I think this might be the first time I didn't clap along to Sirius; I couldn't.  Even the sky was crying.

And all of that emotion might explain Nebraska's uneven performance in the first half.  Nebraska looked OK at times running the ball, though it was inconsistent in the first half. And they ran the ball primarily. Last season, I argued that in losses, Nebraska didn't run the ball enough.  Against Fresno State, you could make an argument they ran the ball too much:  51 runs and 13 passes, a 80/20 ratio.  That's probably an overreaction too far the other direction, but considering that the Bulldogs were 116th in the nation in rush defense, it wasn't exactly a bad choice.

Especially when you consider that Nebraska went turnover free.

Defensively, there were quite a few things to like, especially up front. I liked the play of the defensive line, especially senior Ross Dzuris with three tackles for loss.  I suspect that if the officials had been interested, they could have called a half dozen or so holding penalties on Fresno.  The officials did throw the flag with targeting calls against Luke Gifford and Aaron Williams.  Of the two, I still believe Williams' hit was closer to targeting than Gifford's, though the official review apparently "confirmed" Gifford's penalty and overturned Williams'.  It wasn't until I saw a BTN replay after returning home that I see what Gifford got called for, but I still think it's a very questionable call.  Gifford led with his arms, hitting Fresno State quarterback Chason Virgil on the upper arm, with the helmets colliding as Virgil started to fall.  Is targeting now any helmet-to-helmet contact?  That seemed to be the decision of this crew.

It's a first game, so you have to expect some unevenness, especially when you consider the emotional impact of the loss of Sam Foltz.  The Huskers finished the game strong in the second half, and that really should be the takeaway. But let's put it in this perspective: I suspect that Fresno State will be the weakest opponent Nebraska will face in 2016.  I expect Wyoming and Maryland to be much improved in 2016, and Nebraska went 1-5 against the other schools in the Big Ten's west division.

I mean, Nebraska did beat South Alabama 48-9 last season.  This was definitely a better win than that, and hopefully something to build on.

1 comment:

Omababe said...

Slow start but a good game! Ozigbo really showed his stuff this season.

One of the guys we watched with was speculating that both teams were really playing for the spread and not for the win, thus the 2-point conversion and the "push" by Nebraska in the second half.