Shooting Point Blank

Introducing a new segment to the SPB lineup: Statistically Speaking. Each week, we'll take a look at the statistics from the last week's game, break them down and see where improvement needs to be made, in my opinion, of course. First up are the Division 1-AA Black Bears of Maine and while Nebraska struggled offensively at times, there were some bright spots overall.

Overall Statistics:

                                  MAINE       NU

FIRST DOWNS...................       10       17

RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............    37--6   42-121

PASSING YDS (NET).............      151      192

Passes Att-Comp-Int...........  36-16-1  36-15-2


TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....   73-145   78-313

Fumble Returns-Yards..........      1-3      0-0

Punt Returns-Yards............      0-0   10-198

Kickoff Returns-Yards.........     5-92     1-43

Interception Returns-Yards....      2-0     1-27

Punts (Number-Avg)............  13-39.8   4-46.8

Fumbles-Lost..................      3-1      5-3

Penalties-Yards...............     7-55      0-0

Possession Time...............    31:48    28:12

Third-Down Conversions........  7 of 21  5 of 17

Fourth-Down Conversions.......   0 of 1   1 of 3

Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      0-0      4-6

Sacks By: Number-Yards........      2-5    11-69


Looking at first downs, the numbers look alright for Nebraska as, personally, I feel any time you can reach close to or above 20 first downs, you're doing a solid job.  However, with Maine's offense, I feel they had about 2-3 first downs too many.


The rushing game stands out for both teams.  A dominant Blackshirt defense destroyed any semblance of rushing yardage Maine tried to attain.  When you end a game holding a team to 6 yards on 37 carries, you're doing a good job.  In looking at Nebraska's side, it makes you wonder a bit and I think we all understand the problem.  The offensive line played poorly overall and while there was an occasional bright spot, I think that the need for development is obvious.  Improvement must be made and can be made with repetition and the time to gel.


In looking at the passing numbers, Nebraska starting quarterback Zac Taylor went 15-36 with 192 yards to his credit but throwing 2 interceptions.  One was off of a bad decision, the other was more of a bad tip, but still, could have been avoided.  Taylor looks to improve against his former teammates.  We shall see if he does.


In total offense, the Black Bears were limited to 145 total yards overall giving much credit to Kevin Cosgrove's charges.  The defense held Maine to about 1.97 yards per play while they managed about 4.01 yards per play themselves.  Against weaker competition, this number needs to improve and the opportunity, much like with the O-line, is there.


The punt return game seems to have returned with a force to Nebraska as the Cornhuskers averaged 19.8 yards per return against Maine.  Kickoff returns in both columns were solid for Nebraska with the Cornhuskers holding Maine to 18.9 yards per return while Tierre Green's solitary return went for 43 yards and may have given him his current starting spot at the position.


Sam Koch continues the fine tradition of Nebraska punters with four boots for 46.8 yards on average including a 70 yarder and pinned the ball inside the 20 yard line twice.


Fumbles showing an area that definitely needs to be shored up and quickly with Nebraska putting 5 on the turf and leaving 3 there, some in part to Terrence Nunn and some in part to unusual carrying behavior by senior and Captain Cory Ross


Nebraska can hold their heads high as they escape the game with absolutely no penalties to their names while the Black Bears were charged 7 times including several delay of game and false start penalties. 


Third down conversion is an area of concern for both teams.  While the Blackshirts made life miserable for Maine, Nebraska's inability to hit passes with accuracy and open proper holes kept them at an abysmal 29% conversion percentage. 


Nebraska did well in the Red Zone converting chances into points four of the six times they reached the area. 


The sack column speaks for itself.  Nebraska confused and demolished the Maine offensive line slapping around not one, but two quarterbacks from the East Coast 11 times in total.


Individual Statistics (Offense):


Cory Ross: 20 rushes for 80 yards

Marlon Lucky: 13 for 44 yards

Brandon Jackson: 6 rushes for 18

Zac Taylor: 2 rushes for -5 yards


Comments: Cory Ross continues to provide the senior leadership, however needs to secure the ball and his feet far better than he did last week.  Marlon Lucky's debut was encouraging as he showed speed, physicality and the "overall back" image.  Brandon Jackson continues his workhouse mentality as Nebraska can easily say they have three I-backs with the ability to get the job done.


Frantz Hardy: 7 catches for 152 yards

Clayton Sievers: 2 catches for 12 yards

J.B. Phillips: 2 catches for 7 yards

Grant Mulkey: 1 catch for 12 yards

Terrence Nunn: 1 catch for 8 yards

Dane Todd: 1 catch for 1 yard

Cory Ross: 1 catch for 0 yards


Comments: Hardy was obviously the go-to guy against Maine which was almost expected as the Butler College Connection continues at UNL from Taylor to Frantz.  Hardy dropped several passes that either needed to be caught or needed to be delivered more accurately.  I expect the BCC to be a little more precise against Wake Forest


Grant Mulkey's lone catch was through traffic and, much like Mulkey himself, was clutch.  I enjoy seeing Dane and Cory's name on the sheet as it shows the desire to get the backs into the passing game.


Bo Ruud had a single interception returned 27 yards for a touchdown and whenever that happens, there's not much more you can say but, "Good job, Big XII Defensive Player of the Week."


Individual Statistics (Defense):



Stewart Bradley: 2-0

Adam Carriker 2-0

Le Kevin Smith 2-0

Wali Muhammad 1-0

Jay Moore 0-1

Blake Tiedtke 1-0

Barry Turner 1-0

Corey McKeon 1-0

Bo Ruud 0-1


Comments:  Well, when you manage 11 sacks, whether it's against, Maine, Oklahoma or Southeast Alabama Baptist State, you've got to feel good about yourself and if nothing else, the performance breeds confidence in the defensive unit.  Confidence is good and will serve the Cornhuskers well as they go up against slightly more stout competition against Wake Forest.




Corey McKeon: 8-2

Stewart Bradley: 3-3

Bo Ruud: 2-3

Adam Carriker: 4-0

Cortney Grixby: 4-0

Steve Octavien: 3-1

Wali Muhammad: 2-2

Tierre Green: 2-2

Blake Tiedtke: 2-2

Le Kevin Smith: 2-1

Brandon Rigoni: 1-2

Jay Moore: 1-2

Phil Dillard: 2-0

Barry Turner 2-0

Ola Dagunduro: 1-1

Adam Ickes: 1-1

Titus Adams: 1-1

Andrew Shanle: 0-2

Joey Robison: 0-2

Dan Bullocks: 1-0

Zack Bowman: 1-0

Zac Taylor: 1-0

Ben Eisenhart: 0-1


Comments: As I scan this list, what stands out most to me is the majority of tackles are made by defensive linemen and linebackers rather than defensive backs, or more specifically, safeties.  Corey McKeon shows why many consider him the most improved player on the team and I hope you enjoyed seeing Steve Octavien's name on that list because, as many know by now, he is pretty much done for the year.  Take solace, however, that a medical redshirt seems very probable.


Individual Statistics (Special Teams):


Kicking: Jordan Congdon proved to have some excellent poise for a true freshman starter in his first game nailing field goals from lengths of 23, 23, 33 and 38 yards.  He did shank a PAT, however, knowing Congdon's perfectionist attitude, I doubt this becomes a habit and let's be honest, without Jordan, Nebraska loses the game.


Kick/Punt Return: Terrence Nunn and Cortney Grixby allowed the punt return team to return to Nebraska as the efforts on special teams last year cost Nebraska dearly.  Nunn put up four returns for 135 yards with a 62 yard long that almost resulted in scoring a touchdown himself.  Grixby was no slouch notching 5 returns for 61 yards and a long return of 15. 


As mentioned before, Tierre Green showed his blazing speed notching a 43 yard kickoff return and was named #1 kickoff returner this week against Wake Forest.


Maine Report Card:

Quarterbacks: C-

Runningbacks: C

Wide Receivers: B-

Offensive Linemen: D-

Defensive Linemen: A

Linebackers: A

Defensive Backs: B

Special Teams: A+


Overall, statistically, it appears that there are obvious areas of concern for the Cornhuskers and we will find out tomorrow against Wake Forest if first game jitters played into the performance at all or perhaps lack of game time experience, play-calling or other areas did.  In any even, I, and no doubt Cornhusker fans everywhere, expect improvement from game to game as that's really how the game simply is.


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