Nebraska Football vs. Northwestern Wildcats Major Takeaways

Nov 7, 2020; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers linebacker JoJo Domann (13) tries to tackle Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Peyton Ramsey (12) during the second half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 7, 2020; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers linebacker JoJo Domann (13) tries to tackle Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Peyton Ramsey (12) during the second half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

There were many things to take away from this Nebraska Football game,

A close and rough game of football was played in Evanston this weekend that ended with Nebraska Football on the short side of the scoreline. Like every game of football, there are some major takeaways and some of them are in fact positive.

The first takeaway I noticed in this weekend’s game is the return of The Blackshirts. Though Nebraska Football fell in defeat, The Blackshirts put in a solid performance. Two of the highlights were Getting two turnovers and limiting the Wildcats to 21 points.

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They also made several key stops following stalled offensive drives thanks to turnovers and penalties (I’ll get to the offense soon enough) to keep the Huskers in the game. The defense was stout up front limiting the Northwestern ground game after conceding a 40 yard rush on the first drive of the game.

I was impressed by the secondary as well. After being picked apart by the surgical precision of Justin Fields in the Ohio State game, I wasn’t sure who the secondary core was. Where they the group highly rated before the season or the group that was handily second-best vs Ohio State? I believe more of the former. They created two turnovers and like the run defense did their part to keep the Cornhuskers in the game.

The one sour note in regards to the defense is the tackling. There were several occasions when Northwestern was able to gain additional yards thanks to the first man not making the stop. This is a simple issue, but not a small one. It is in fact one I believe the team can clean up and was not in fact detrimental to the result. All things considered, in regards to The Blackshirts it was a solid performance and one that can hopefully serve as a building block for more stellar performances in the future.

Now we have discussed the positives on defense, we can now turn our focus to the offense. How can we discuss Nebraska’s offense without discussing the quarterback situation? We can’t, so let’s get right to it. According to ESPN Adrian Martinez had a QBR 65.7 against Northwestern while Luke McCaffery sported a QBR of 73.2. Neither is where we or the coaching staff would like them to be; However McCaffery’s is higher.

Similar to QBR, McCaffery unlike Martinez passed the eye test, or at least he did for me. I will give Martinez credit for looking dangerous running.  however the straw that broke the camel’s back for me (and the staff apparently) was the end zone interception in triple coverage. After that the young McCaffery came off the bench and injected something new and exciting into the Nebraska Football offense.

Though he failed to break the goal line on either drive, the offense moved well with him and if not for a misfortunate deflection he would not have had a turnover. I for one was impressed with McCaffery and would like to see him over four quarters.

A few other points I would like to address are in regards to penalties, play calling and lack of involvement of certain players. Nebraska was heavily penalized in the Week 1 loss to Ohio State, however part of me chalked that up to Big 10 officials having a bone to pick with Nebraska following their comments in regards to playing in the fall.

In Evanston on Saturday it was simply sloppy play. This sloppy play killed the opening drive of the game and proceeded to hamstrung the Huskers all game. The next two points I believe go hand in hand: conservative play calling and the lack of involvement of Wan’Dale Robinson and Omar Manning. Marcus Fleming had a good game with receptions and 75 yards. However he cannot go at it alone.

The always exciting Robinson only had four receptions good for 32 yards and Omar Manning didn’t touch the ball. Nebraska has been starved for big plays and plays downfield passes, the speed of Robinson may be the answer. Nebraska has also been anemic in the red zone and the 6- foot-4 frame of Manning (HUSKERS) could offer the much needed mismatch to make the red zone not the dead zone.

Next. Three players who stood out on Saturday. dark

While a road loss to Northwestern is not what anyone wanted and few would have expected we can learn a good deal from this game. So, let’s hope Nebraska Football continue to perform, the penalties stop, the offense can involve more talent and the Cornhusker return to winning ways against Penn State.