Nebraska: The Husker Tale of the Tape

Nebraska had a season similar to Michigan's in that they struggled with offensive line injuries and finished 7-4. And the Cornhuskers run almost mirror-image offenses and defenses to the Wolverines. Here is the Nebraska "Tale of the Tape:" Offense, Defense, Special Teams

In 2004, Head Coach Bill Callahan's first season, Nebraska finished 5-6, getting shut out of a bowl for the first time in 40 years. In 2005, starting left tackle Cornealius Fuamatu-Thomas went out for the season due to shoulder surgery and starting right tackle Seppo Evwaraye struggled to play with a stress fracture in his foot. In addition, All-conferencce TE Matt Herina missed the whole season due to shoulder surgery. Consequently, the Nebraska offense suffered as well -- and it was late the the season when Nebraska shuffled the O-Line, inserting two new tackles (6-7 FS Frosh Lyndon Murtha and 340-lb. Fr. Matt Slauson) and a new guard and the Husters rebounded.

The Nebraska season went as follows:

They opened the season 4-0, beating Maine 25-7, Wake Forest 31-3, Pitt 7-6 and Iowa State 27-20 (2 overtimes). But in October the Husker-wheels came off: there was a home loss to Texas Tech (34-31), and after a 23-14 win over hapless Baylor, three more consecutive losses at Missouri (41-24), at home to Oklahoma (31-24) and at Kansas 40-15. After 9 games the Cornhusters were only averaging 20.2 points a game. However, the Huskers revamped their offensive line -- and they rebounded to finish the regular season with two wins, 27-25 over Kansas State, and, most importantly, a season-ending 30-3 victory at Big 12 North champ Colorado.

The Nebraska Offense:

On offense Nebraska runs a 'west coast' offense similar to Michigan, with a similar 6-2, 210-drop-back quarterback -- and both teams passed more than ran in '05 perhaps more due to necessity than design. At quarterback, 6-2, 210-lb. junior Zac Taylor had a steady/consistent first season as a starter, passing for 2,486 yards (a school record) and 16 touchdowns (2,087 yards and 15 TD's in conference play ... finishing 2nd in the conference at 260.9 ypg). His favorite target is 6-2, 200-lb. RS Fr. Nate Swift (6th in conference play with 5.25 catches per game for a 5th place 76.2 yards per game). At running back, 5-6, 200-lb. fifth-year senior Cory Ross, had a combined 1,105 rushing and receiving yards (including a school-RB-record 40 receptions). Freshman RB Marlon Lucky (6-0, 210-lbs.) also got significant carries late in the season.

For the season (conference games only) Nebraska finished:
(significant stats in ITALLICS)
-- 7th in scoring at 25.1 ppg (1st: Texas at 50.6)
-- 8th in total offense at 339.0 ypg (Texas 1st at 519.9)
-- 2nd in passing offense at 265.8 ypg
-- 5th in passing efficiency at 123.9
-- 12th in rushing offense at 73.1 ypg
-- 5th in 1st downs at 20.0 per game
-- 4th in red zone offense at 86.2%
-- 5th in 3rd down conversions at 36.4%
-- 8th in sacks allowed at 3.25 per game
-- 5th in time of possession at 30:37

The Nebraska Defense:

On defense, Nebraska also looks similar to Michigan in its 4-3 set. The Huskers lost two of their three starting linebackers to injury early in the season, Steve Octavien and Stewart Bradley. But in his first season as a starter, 6-1, 225-lb. MIKE LB Corey McKeon earned second team All-Big 12 honors and was the team leader in tackles with 86. The Cornhusker defensive line is the strength of the unit, leading the Big 12 in sacks for the whole season with 46; 6-6, 280-lb. junior Adam Carriker tied for the league lead with 9.5, and Fr. DE Barry Turner was a first-team freshman All-American. In the secondary, 6-2, 210-lb, junior strong safety Daniel Bullocks was second-team All-Big 12.

For the season (conference games only) Nebraska finished:
-- 6th in scoring defense at 26.0 ppg (1st: Texas at 17.1)
-- 7th in tital defense at 361.2 ypg
-- 6th in pass defense at 220.9 ypg
-- 5th in pass defense efficiency at 123.9
-- 6th in rushing defense at 140.4 ypg
-- 4th in opponents 1st downs at 18.9
-- 2nd in sacks (conf. play): 3.25 per game
-- 1st in red zone defense at 69.7%
-- 4th in 3rd down opp. conversions at32.5% (Texas 1st at 29%)

Nebraska Special Teams:

Nebraska has excellent kickers. Senior punter Sam Koch set a school record with 45.9 average yards per punt, ranking third in the country. Freshman place kicker Jordan Congdon was a freshman All-American and tied the Nebraska school record of 18 field goals and a league-leading 13 of 15 in conference play. Soph. Courtney Grixby finished 2nd in the league in punt returns, averaging 12.1 yards.

For the season (conference games only) Nebraska finished:
-- 8th in kickoff returns at 18.6 ypg
-- 1st in punting at 45.3 yds avg., 39.2 net yards (both 1st)
-- 4th in punt returns at 11.6 ypg
-- 1st in field goals at 86.7%
-- 4th in kickoff coverage at 42.6 net yards (opp. avg. start at 27.4 yard line)
-- 9th in turnover margin at -.38
-- 3rd best in penalties, 55.0 yards per game

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