Padding the Stats: Tracking Nebraska's Participation on Defense
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

A Loss Is a Loss, but Nebraska Players See Something Different This Year

September 09, 2018

Jerald Foster didn't want to compare. The senior offensive lineman has seen his fair share of ups and downs in his time at Nebraska, but he didn't want to talk about that tonight.

After the Huskers' 33-28 loss to Colorado, Foster wanted to be positive. From his perspective, there's something about this team that's different.

"This team, if you know football, you can see that this team has a lot," Foster said. "A lot that we can do better, a lot that we have in store and we have a whole lot of hope that's going to show up in the next game. It's going to show up throughout this season.

So if you're a team that doesn't want to count us in it or you're thinking off of this one game it's going to be how this season's going, you're going to be wrong because this team … There's something special about us."

Foster talked about the defense. He was happy with how they performed. The Nebraska defense had seven sacks against Colorado, including two by defensive end Khalil Davis. Seniors Luke Gifford and Freedom Akinmoladun had 1.5 each, and Ben Stille and Tyrin Ferguson each added one respectively. It was the most sacks by Nebraska in one day since Michigan in 2013, Idaho State in 2012 and Idaho in 2010.

Gifford was especially pleased with Nebraska responding to its initial 14-0 deficit early in the first quarter. While the Huskers didn't ultimately hang on to the lead late in the game, he felt a lot of good can be taken from what the team did do. That's something that struck him as different from his previous years at Nebraska.

And once that team got into the locker room? There was something different about that, too.

"Obviously we felt like we should have won this game and we didn't, but there was a lot of good we felt we could take from it and I think the offense have 600 total yards or whatever they had, and us having seven sacks on defense, those are encouraging numbers," Gifford said. "Offense, we're not worried about them and they're going to keep plugging along. We're really confident in those guys and we're extremely confident on defense too. We know what kind of team we can be."

Gifford was quick to point out that there are no "moral victory" in this loss. The Huskers' expect to win every game, but that doesn't mean Gifford didn't see improvement on both sides of the ball.

Nebraska's offense ultimately hit 565 yards of total offense against Colorado. It was the first 500-yard game for the Huskers since 556 yards against Northwestern on Sept. 24, 2016. Nebraska's season high in 2017 was 471 against Purdue.

Quarterback Adrian Martinez accounted for 304 total yards on offense, which included 117 rushing yard on 15 carries and 187 passing yards on 15-of-20 passes.

All of that comibed with the defense's performance, it was enough for someone like Foster to feel good about the potential of his team.

"I felt great about what our defense did," Foster said. "They were really showcasing themselves well, trying to obtain their Blackshirts. The offense, we had 600 yards or something like that of total offense?

"When you're counting that in, I think you know when a good football team is playing in front of you and I feel like Colorado would respect what I'm saying that we played a good game."

Defensive end Carlos Davis agreed. And while his teammates were a little less hesitant to compare this team to years past, he wasn't afraid to put it in context.

"I feel like last year when we were in close games, we just handed it to them," Davis said. "There wasn't a fight out there. I'm sure you guys saw it. I saw it. I just love the way we fought, [even if] it didn't end the way we wanted it to."

With one canceled game and one loss behind them, Nebraska's team is ready to move forward. Whether they wish to compare or not, the Huskers feels this team is different. For better or worse, they're figuring it all out.

And they feel good about what's still out there for them.

"Sky's the limit for us," Davis said. "Our goal of making the Big Ten Championship is still in the window, so that's our goal.

"We'll learn from our mistakes and keep moving."

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