FIRST DOWNS................... 19 13
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 130 120
PASSING YDS (NET)............. 117 114
Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 12-28-3 14-33-1
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 80-247 63-234
Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0-0 1-30-1
Punt Returns-Yards............ 3-23-0 5-1-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 6-68-0 0-0
Interception Returns-Yards.... 1-41-0 3-109-2
Punts (Number-Avg)............ 8-46.9 8-42.5
Fumbles-Lost.................. 3-1 2-0
Penalties-Yards............... 5-48 10-86
Possession Time............... 35:20 24:40
Third-Down Conversions........ 3 of 16 5 of 16
Fourth-Down Conversions....... 1 of 3 1 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 0-2 2-3
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 1-6 5-46
In looking at the first downs achieved by Nebraska, you already get a sense of the offense's struggles against a scrappy, but outmanned and poorly played Wake Forest defense. As I stated last week, I look for something a little closer to 20 on average when it comes to first downs.
Total yardage concerns me as 234 yards isn't going to get it done all year long and, let's give the defense credit, they've pulled Nebraska's backsides out of the fire twice thus far, but as noted, off days happen. There has to be a clicking point for the offense and the sooner, the better.
The "fumble" return by Daniel Bullocks was a thing of beauty. If you didn't get a chance to see it, Josh basically helped hold up Chris Barclay, stripped the ball and ran the other way. This elicited a "Can you even do that?" by some folks around me. Apparently, you can.
Punt returns took a bit of a nose dive and hopefully this can be attributed to taking on one of the finest punters in the ACC (and possibly the country) along with some very heavy winds.
Zac Taylor found himself throwing yet another interception, however Wake Forest Quarterback Ben Mauk ended up throwing three and scoring 12 points for Nebraska himself.
The stats on punts can be a bit misleading as I felt Sam Koch had an off night, but an 76 yarder towards the end of the game helps the ol' average. No lost fumbles was a definite step in the right direction. The next step, logically, would be to have none even present on this sheet.
After going 0-0 on penalties last week, Nebraska ended up with ten this time around and that will kill you. One in particular I found absolutely sloppy and downright silly made by a certain tight end that shall remain nameless.
Third down conversions: Another area in which Nebraska must improve and should they, their chances for winning will increase as a result, but again, this goes in sync with offensive production and once that starts happening, we should see these numbers even out a little.
A 66% scoring rate in the red zone isn't bad, necessarily, but it could be better depending on how many trips you were taking and with only three, I personally felt perfection could've been attained in that category.
The sacks weren't as plentiful for Nebraska this week, but five will do especially against a quarterback who has no trouble using his legs to gain yardage.
Individual Statistics (Offense):
Cory Ross: 20 rushes for 123 yards with a long of 57 and a 6.2 per carry average
Brandon Jackson: 4 rushes for 3 yards
Marlon Lucky: 2 rushes for 3 yards
Comments: Aside from getting sprung by Cornelius Fuamatu-Thomas for his 57-yard gain, Cory again had difficulty finding holes. I don't so much credit Ross himself for this but again an ineffective line which is now starting to take some hits. Head Coach Bill Callahan has suggested that Cody Glenn may see time against Pitt. At this point, I'd almost put money on it.
Terrence Nunn: 4 catches for 38 yards
Frantz Hardy: 4 catches for 29 yards and a touchdown
Grant Mulkey: 2 catches for 28 yards
Cory Ross: 2 catches for 7 yards
Clayton Sievers: 1 catch for 7 yards
Brandon Jackson: 1 catch for 5 yards
Comments: I only really need a few words to describe the above statistics: drops, poor passing and lack of trust. Let me expand, however. We're still at a point where receivers apparently don't trust Zac to get them the ball even when he can. Zac himself can throw a pretty ball at times but there are other times where it appears he makes snap judgments that end up in a ball being five yards over a receiver's head. This horse is already starting to rot, but yes, offensive improvement needs to be made as soon as possible.
Hardy showed some quality hands with his touchdown snag, however and Clayton Sievers still strikes me as a guy who can at least be serviceable. Grant Mulkey's just the type of guy you need to make a clutch possession catch and Nunn can stretch the field along with Hardy. Why haven't they? See above.
Individual Statistics (Defense):
Corey McKeon: 2-0
Titus Adams: 1-0
Wali Muhammad: 1-0
Adam Carriker: 1-0
Comments: So, as was mentioned earlier, the sack column isn't quiet as large as before, however, Corey McKeon did take a touchdown to the house in addition to his two sacks and we haven't even discussed tackles yet. With Maine, you had a two-headed quarterback that appeared to have the decision-making skills of a rock but with Wake Forest, you had a guy with some speed, so what doesn't show up here are the constant hurries that lead to interceptions and thusly, touchdowns.
Daniel Bullocks: 7-6
Corey McKeon: 6-4
Bo Ruud: 3-5
Ola Dagunduro: 4-3
Titus Adams: 3-2
Joey Robison: 2-3
Wali Muhammad: 3-1
Adam Ickes: 2-2
Blake Tiedtke: 2-1
Le Kevin Smith: 2-1
Ty Steinkuhler: 1-2
Cortney Grixby 0-3
Zach Bowman: 2-0
Tyler Fisher 2-0
Phillip Dillard: 1-1
Barry Cryer: 1-1
Adam Carriker: 1-1
Stewart Bradley 0-2
Ben Eisenhart: 0-2
Dontrell Moore: 1-0
Barry Turner: 1-0
Kurt Mann: 1-0
Ndamukong Suh: 0-1
Andrew Shanle: 0-1
Tierre Green: 0-1
Brandon Rigoni: 0-1
Zach Potter: 0-1
Mike Stuntz: 0-1
Comments: Okay, first thing? When you see an offensive lineman's name on the tackle list? Something went awry. That said, choosing the defensive MVP ALMOST came down to a coin flip between Daniel Bullocks and Corey McKeon. It came down to total tackles and I just like the way Danny said "Gimme the ball!" and ran the other way for score. Not to diminish Corey's accomplishment (and by the way, Nebraska needs to work him into EVERY press conference).
Bullocks' work was not strictly from the secondary either as both he and McKeon were all over the field. Bo Ruud continues to play solid and Ola Dagunduro earned a Blackshirt for his efforts these past few weeks. You see a few more defensive backs and safeties in there this week due to facing a bit better passing attack and coverage is still a little shaky in areas, but I think covering someone with the ability of Greg Lee will be a nice trial by fire and the bye week should help work out a few kinks.
Individual Statistics (Special Teams):
Kicking: Well, aside from an errant PAT, Jordan Congdon is 5/5 during his career as a starting kicker as a Cornhusker and you can't ask for much more than perfection from Jordan. While his 21 yarder wasn't exactly stunning as far as distance goes, it's points on the board and that's the bottom line. Apparently his kickoffs resemble some manner of wolverine as the Demon Deacons had trouble snagging them in the first place.
Punting: As mentioned earlier, I felt Sam Koch had a bit of an off day shanking a few punts and of course, kicking into the wind never helps you either. That said, Sam did nail a 76 yard punt which brought his average to 42.5 yards per kick on 8 attempts with four inside the 20. Not bad, could get better and knowing Sam, probably will.
Kick Return/Punt Return: Yeesh. Shades of 2004, only in 2004, Santino Panico actually CAUGHT the ball. Both Cortney Grixby and Terrence Nunn had difficulty snagging the pigskin from the air due to the conditions mentioned above and after seeing what they could do against Maine, I personally find it hard to believe that their talent in the area would just drop especially when it comes to simply catching the ball. We'll see if things improve versus Pitt.
Wake Forest Report Card:
Wide Receivers: D-
Offensive Linemen: F
Defensive Linemen: A
Defensive Backs: B
Special Teams: C
Now, as promised, I've decided to expand Statistically Speaking this week and throw out some numbers that you statistical gurus can munch on until game time.
- Pittsburgh is currently ranked 95th, 75th and 94th in yardage overall, yardage rushing and yardage passing respectively in the country. On defense, they rank 90th against the run, 70th against the pass and 62nd overall in the country.
- Nebraska currently ranks 101st in total overall yardage, 77th in the country in rushing and 102nd in passing. However, they rank 3rd in the nation in scoring defense, 6th in the nation in overall defense, 17th in the country against the run and 5th in the country versus the pass.
- Pittsburgh's Quarterback, Tyler Palko, is ranked 87th in total offense in the country with 167 yards per game along with being 95th in pass efficiency with a 94.80 passing rating.
- Pittsburgh's Runningback, Raymond Kirkley, is ranked 94th in the country in rushing with 65 yards per game.
- Pittsburgh has 15 Academic All-Americans dating back to 1952
- Pittsburgh claims four national championships from 1916, 1918, 1937 and 1976.
- The last time Pittsburgh faced a Big XII team was in 2002 when they lost at home to Texas A&M 14-12 under former coach Walt Harris.
- Saturday Weather Forecast: A high of 85 degrees with a low of 62 and a 24% chance of thunderstorms
Okay, so the offense is still a work in progress and who can say for sure that it will ever really get going? Still, the chance to improve remains and if Nebraska can simply put Pittsburgh away and start the season 3-0 going into a bye week, I'm hopeful that things can get ratcheted up in a hurry. If not? Well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Questions and comments can be sent to Blankman71@cox.net