Each week during the 2012 season at HailVarsity.com we’re sitting down with a long-time college football coach to break down the Huskers game film from the previous Saturday. This week we talked a little Southern Miss, both offense and defense, and got some quick impressions on UCLA. Here’s a YouTube video of the big plays from last Saturday. Where available, we will provide the time stamp for the highlight video below so you can see the plays as they’re described.
1st QUARTER – 13:42 (YT: 0:00) – Burkhead 57-yard TD run
Offensively, the Huskers got of the gates quickly with one of the best running plays in football. Nebraska ran an old-fashioned counter sweep out of a single back set with the guard, tackle and H-back (Ben Cotton) all pulling. Cotton doesn’t make his block but it doesn’t matter because safety Jacorious Cotton didn’t really even try to tackle Burkhead for some reason. Strange play for the Southern Miss secondary and a sign of things to come.
1st QUARTER – 7:07 (YT: 0:28) – Bell 26-yard TD pass from Martinez
Nebraska should have been flagged here. The Huskers were in shotgun split (two backs in the backfield), trips right. Jamal Turner, the middle receiver in the trips formation, was a yard off the line scrimmage meaning Nebraska had only six men on the LOS. The officials missed it.
Martinez checked into this flag route for Bell. Enunwa and Turner stayed motionless at the snap – Enunwa was eligible – creating confusion for the Southern Miss secondary. Southern Miss safety Alex Smith should have been providing coverage help over the top, but he hesitated at the snap which was enough time for Bell to run by him.
1st QUARTER – 6:10 – Martinez 17-yard pass to Enunwa
Tim Beck broke out the option pass and the play-side Southern Miss cornerback and safety bit hard on the run fake. Martinez drilled a pass in to Enunwa, but Tyler Wullenwaber had beaten the Eagles’ defense deep.
1st QUARTER – 4:45 – Martinez sacked by Jamie Collins
Nebraska has become quite fond of running wheel routes out of the backfield and they had a sure touchdown here if they had executed better. Out of the shotgun split set, Martinez faked the handoff to Braylon Heard running off-tackle, while Ameer Abdullah slipped out left and was uncovered. Spencer Long, pulling from the right side, was supposed to get a chip block on defensive end Jamie Collins, but didn’t get enough of him to prevent the sack. The play call was right, the execution was not.
At this point, our coach says: “The secondary is as poorly coached as I’ve seen. They have no idea what they’re doing.”
Let’s move on to some quick observations of the Blackshirts.
Nebraska was almost exclusively in nickel against the Eagles spread offense, but the Huskers used a lot of different personnel groups. Against a group of inexperienced quarterbacks, Nebraska blitzed frequently. On at least seven plays, the Huskers used a middle cross blitz with Alonzo Whaley and Will Compton crossing and coming through the A-gaps. Cameron Meredith peeled off on these blitzes to offer quarterback contain. Nebraska was close on a number of occasions, but only tallied one sack.
2ND QUARTER – 8:31 (YT: 1:58) – Compton sacks Collins
Meredith slid down from defensive end and stayed in a two-point stance about a yard from the line of scrimmage in Nebraska’s man free blitz package. At the snap, left end Jason Ankrah rushed inside and took the tackle with him, giving Compton a straight shot at the quarterback. The result was Nebraska’s first three-and-out, and only sack, of the day.
–TE Joseph Fauria (No. 8) is a big target at 6-7 and UCLA likes to use him in a bunch of different spots. Defensive coordinator John Papuchis said Nebraska is likely to use a lot of nickel and dime packages again if UCLA goes three and four wide but Sean Fisher could have more of a role on Saturday specifically to counter Fauria.
–Coach was impressed with redshirt freshman QB Brett Hundley. He’s big and athletic, sort of like ex-Husker Cody Green, but doesn’t have the speed of a guy like Southern Miss QB Anthony Alford. Expect Nebraska to blitz early to test Hundley’s decision making.
–The Bruins will start three freshmen on the offensive line. Two of them, left tackle Torian White (No. 77) and right tackle Simon Goines (No. 70), looked particularly good on film. Nebraska’s d-line will be challenged to provide pressure.
–Junior ROLB Anthony Barr (No. 11) is the one to watch. He has a little bit of Lavonte David in him in that he’s everywhere. He racked up six unassisted tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack against Rice.
–Against Rice, the Bruins blitzed a bunch and you can expect to see the same this weekend. UCLA looks more athletic than Nebraska on defense. The offensive line, particularly the tackles, and Taylor Martinez are going to have a much bigger task at hand this week in pass protection.
–UCLA will occasionally use a three-man front, meaning the running game, with or without Burkhead, could be more prominent for the Huskers in week two.
–The most glaring thing on tape with UCLA was that they didn’t do a very good job disguising coverages against Rice. Watch where the safety lines up. It was plain to see when the Bruins were in man free coverage because the safety dropped way back from the line of scrimmage.
The Owls ran almost exclusively against this formation and Nebraska could do the same. If the Huskers do pass here, expect to see a lot of crossing routes.