Nebraska Football: Poor tackling tells the statistical tale vs Purdue

Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Aidan O'Connell runs for a first down (Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports)
Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Aidan O'Connell runs for a first down (Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports) /

Earlier this season, the Nebraska football team won a game that stood out because it showed that the Husker defense had one of its best performances in years because they were able to tackle. On Saturday night, against the Purdue Boilermakers, some very bad habits seemed to have returned and it became quite obvious that the Cornhuskers ended up losing yet another one-score game because they simply couldn’t tackle.

The numbers are now out and PFF shows that the Nebraska football team had one of its worst defensive performances of the last few years, thanks in large part to an inability by almost anyone to make a tackle, especially when a big tackle was needed.

The bottom line is that according to the advanced metrics from PFF, the Huskers missed a whopping 18 tackles. It should come as no surprise that number equals the last time NU allowed more than 40 points. They also had 18 missed tackles against Oklahoma in that 49-14 loss.

The missed tackles don’t even tell the whole story. The number of Husker players who graded out poorly when it came to their tackle grades shows that the team simply didn’t lock in on Saturday night. Just why is a question that Bill Busch is going to have to answer over the course of the next two weeks.

810. 43. 848. Final. 37

Freshman Malcolm Hartzog, who actually graded out quite well in coverage, posted a 48.1 tackling grade. Isaac Gifford had a 51.8 on the night. Garrett Nelson, who had a dominant night against Rutgers last week, finished the Purdue contest with a measly 39.

Ochaun Mathis, who came into the season with quite a bit of hype as someone who could help turn the front four into a fearsome group, posted a 35.1 tackling grade.

Then there was Ty Robinson, who’s inability to get to Aidan O’Connell when he had an unabated line to him for the Nebraska football team graded out unsurprisingly poorly at 28.

The Huskers now have a couple of weeks to take all of this in. They have a bye week next weekend to work once again on tackling. Because after that, the Nebraska football team is going to take on what appears to be the best team in the Big Ten West in Illinois and they’re going to need to figure out how to tackle better.