Date – September 2, 2006
Location – Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE
Final Score – Nebraska 49 – Louisiana Tech 10
Key Stats Check
|First Down (+4) Efficiency||26/42 (62%)||12/23 (52%)|
|Red Zone Efficiency||5/7 (71%)||1/1 (100%)|
|Rushing Explosive Plays (+12)||5||2|
|Passing Explosive Plays (+16)||8||4|
|3rd Down Efficiency||11/16 (69%)||5/14 (36%)|
|4th Down Efficiency||1/2 (50%)||0/0|
Nebraska did an excellent job of moving the ball on first down against Louisiana Tech. They gained 4+ yards on 62% on their first down plays. This goes a long ways toward keeping the team on schedule with regards to down and distance. The better success you have on first down the fewer 3rd and long situations you will face.
Speaking of 3rd down, Nebraska converted 11/16 third down opportunities against the Bulldogs. This was a vast improvement over 2005 when the Huskers converted just 33% of the their 3rd down chances. The Husker defense shut down La Tech on 3rd down holding them to a conversion rate under 40%.
The Huskers also did a great job in the red zone converting 5/7 opportunities. However, turnovers in the red zone prevented two more scoring opportunities. Louisiana Tech converted a field goal in its only visit to the red zone.
The Nebraska offense produced 13 explosive plays. In the passing game, the tight ends had a breakout performance and Mo Purify grabbed his first career pass gaining 28 yards on a first quarter completion. On the ground, Brandon Jackson showed a glimpse of what would become a great 2006 season with a 25 yard TD run. Overall, the Huskers outgained the Bulldogs 584 to 305 and quarterbacks Taylor and Ganz combined for an impressive passing efficiency mark of 175.24. The Huskers also won the turnover battle in the 2006 home opener, despite several fumbles and a Zac Taylor interception in the 1st quarter.
How Nebraska Scored
|Drive Starting Point||Drives||Points||Comments|
|-1 to -10||0||0|
|-11 to -34||7||28|
|-35 to +35||5||21|
|+34 to +11||1||0||Drive started on 15 yard line ended with INT on tipped pass|
|+10 to +1||0||0|
|Totals||13||49||13 Drives, 7 TDs, Avg. Scoring Drve = 8.43 Plays|
Nebraska got off to a slow start punting on their first two drives. The Huskers started their third drive at the Louisiana Tech 15-yard line following a muffed punt. Nebraska failed to capitalize, however, when Zac Taylor’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted.
The Nebraska offense then got rolling and scored on its next four possessions. First, Matt Herian caught a TD pass late in the first quarter to get the Huskers on the board. The second quarter then saw TD runs from Marlon Lucky and Cody Glenn. Tight ends J.B. Phillips and Josh Mueller then caught a pair of 6-yard tosses from Zac Taylor in the second half. Nebraska closed out its scoring with a tough 25-yard run by Brandon Jackson and a TD pass from Joe Ganz to Hunter Teafatiller. Teafatiller became the fourth Husker TE to catch a TD pass in the game.
Overall Nebraska scored TDs on 7/13 drives in the game. The average starting position for Nebraska drives was their own 38-yard line. Louisiana Tech’s average starting position was their own 24.
Nebraska entered the 2006 season hoping to “pound the rock” and re-energize a running attack that had floundered in 2005. To that tune Nebraska ran the ball 48 times against Louisiana Tech. That would be more carries than Nebraska would have in all but one game during 2006.
Because Nebraska ran an astounding 84 plays in the game, it also balanced its attack with 36 passes. The Huskers completed 24 of those passes and also threw 4 TDs in the game. The Louisiana Tech game would mark the first of five games in 2006 that the Huskers would average more than 5 yards per rushing attempt. The 9.22 yards per passing attempt was the sixth highest total for the Huskers in 2006.
Play Selection By Down and Distance
One of the reasons for Nebraska’s success on 1st down in the game was its ability to keep the defense guessing. Many coaches believe first down is the best down to keep an opponent off-balance, because the defense really has a difficult time knowing what is coming. By utilizing a 60/40 run/pass split on first down, Callahan and the Nebraska offense kept the Bulldogs guessing and set up several 2nd and 3rd and short situations.
On second down the Huskers ran 67% of the time. This is a number that would stay about that high throughout the season. When faced with a 2nd and short-to-medium, chances are Nebraska is going to run.
The most interesting item to note on third down is that the Huskers faced just three 3rd and long situations in the game. Interestingly Nebraska converted 2/3 of its 3rd and long opportunities against Louisiana Tech. One was the 28-yard completion to Purify and the other was a 13-yard completion to Hardy. The lone 3rd and long the Huskers failed to convert came on a drop by Hardy that would have gone for a first down.
One of the strengths of the WCO is the ability to utilize multiple formations and personnel groupings. Often a single play can be run from any number of these groupings creating a playbook that seems almost endless. In the 2006 opener, Nebraska highlighted the flexibility of its personnel groupings. We see these represented in the table above. You can click on the formation names to see a screen capture of the formation as it appears pre-snap.
The biggest thing that jumped out while charting the Louisiana Tech game was the use of the 4 TE set. I honestly had not noticed the regularity with which we used this grouping until now. I was aware that we often had three TEs on the field, but hadn’t always noticed the fourth. I wasn’t alone. Several times during the play-by-play Jim Rose told the listening audience that we were aligned in a 3 TE set, when really all four were on the field. I know because I stopped the tape numerous types and recounted. You also might notice the arrows in the picture of the 4 TE set, just to ensure I wasn’t hallucinating. My hunch was that Callahan devised this “jumbo” package to help jump start the running game. Given that we threw just one time out of this formation against the Bulldogs (a play-action toss to Herian for a 31-yard gain), my hunch seems correct.
The other grouping that sticks out is the 3 WR set. While we see this personnel grouping used a lot against LATech, what is interesting is how it was used. Of the 25 times we used this personnel grouping, all but seven came from a shotgun formation. In addition, of the 17 plays with 3 WR from the shotgun seven came while Nebraska was in its 2-minute offense late in the first half. That 14-play drive saw Nebraska complete 7/9 passes, pick up five first downs and overcome a Kurt Mann personal foul. Cody Glenn capped the drive with a 1-yard TD run.