Nebraska 2011

Nebraska 2010 Statistics

(Big Ten) The Cornhuskers play on an artificial field (FieldTurf) at Memorial Stadium (seats 81,091)

  • Bo Pelini is in his 4th year as head coach at Nebraska. In that time, Nebraska has gone 9-4 (’08), 10-4 (’09) and 10-4 (‘10).  Immediately prior to this  job, Pelini was the defensive coordinator for LSU and his 3rd ranked defense in the nation led the Tigers to a national championship in 2007. Since Pelini took over the Cornhuskers’ defense went from bad to great. Just a few years ago watching Nebraska play meant seeing a lot of passing on both sides for both the Cornhuskers and their opponents.   Now their passing defense is their biggest strength… but their passing offense is one of the worst in the nation.
  • Nebraska moves to the Big Ten this year.  For the first time since 1907 they move to an entirely new conference.  Without getting into the detailed history of the Big 12 and how it started, Nebraska had essentially been affiliated with the same conference (whether the Big 6, Big 7, Big 8 or the current Big 12) more or less since 1907.
  • Their new Big Ten schedule officially begins on October 1st at Wisconsin.  Their first home Big Ten conference game will be the following week against Ohio State.  And Nebraska should fit in immediately in the Big Ten with their strengths being their rushing game and their defense.
  • But last year when Nebraska couldn’t run, they couldn’t win, and this year they will be facing much more difficult rushing defenses in the Big Ten than they did in the Big 12.   In the games where the Cornhuskers rushed for less than 150 yards in 2010, they were 0-4.  Those four games weren’t even against incredible rushing defenses (Texas, texas A&M, Oklahoma and Washington).
  • As mentioned above, this offense relied on the rushing game last year and ranked 9th in the country, putting up almost 250 yards rushing per game (compared to just 150 yards per game passing). And where the ground game had taken a dip in 2009, last year they improved their rushing game by over 100 yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry.  However, that was in large part due to the running of Roy Helu Jr.in combination with quarterback Taylor Martinez who functioned as the #2 runner on the team.  This year Helu is gone to the NFL.  Rex Burkhead will be the top running back and almost had 1000 yards rushing himself in 2010.  Cody Green will be his partner-in-crime and while they have great talent here, they may struggle replacing Helu’s production.
  • One of the biggest concerns for this offense is that it loses six starters, with the main hit being the offensive line, where they must replace three starters.  Last year the line did a great job paving the way for the rushing game, but with an inexperienced quarterback, they couldn’t protect him from being sacked.  This year the quarterback Martinez will be able to help himself more.
  • Quarterback Taylor Martinez was a redshirt freshman starter and while he wowed us with his running game, he will need to improve at passing.  In the Big Ten it is not essential to have a dynamic passing offense, but it is essential to be consistent and accurate.  In his second year as a starter it is expected that he will improve his completion percentage to over 60% and his touchdown-interception ratio should definitely improve from 10-7.
  • Question on offense–with new offensive coordinator Tim Beck stepping in (Running Backs coach ’08-’10) will he try to prove he can coach more than just the ground game and try to use Martinez as a quarterback as opposed to mainly treating him as a running back? Perhaps a boost to the passing game will be the addition of freshman receiver Jamal Turner, who starred in the spring game and finished with 228 all-purpose yards.
  • The defense was a notch down in 2010, especially in sacks, tackles for loss (one of the worst teams in the country) and rushing defense. This probably had to do with the loss of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who is playing in the NFL for Detroit and earned Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2010.  Nebraska had a top ten rushing defense two years ago and should be able to get back to that this year with a highly experienced defensive line.
  • On the positive side, the passing defense has improved significantly.  In just a few years the passing defense has gone from 89th to 5th in the nation because this unit has as its primary goal preventing pass completions.  It achieves this by typically keeps only about 6 men in the Box (to stop the run) and drops the rest back into coverage.
  • And passing Efficiency Defense was 3rd in the nation in 2010 (1st in 2009).  One of the best ways to measure how well a team is defending against the passing game is to look at the passing efficiency defense (as opposed to just the passing defense which measures the total number of passing yards a team has allowed their opponents to achieve).  This statistic takes into account everything the opposing team’s passing game is able to accomplish against a defense, including total yards, touchdowns, interceptions, attempts and completions.  Many don’t pay attention to what it is comprised of, but if you want to memorize it:  Passing Efficiency = (8.4 x yards) + (330 x Touchdowns) + (200 x completions) – (100 x interceptions), all divided by the number of attempts.

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