Prior to the start of the 2019 Husker season, the Hail Varsity staff offered our takes on projected over/under lines for a handful of statistical categories. The bye weeks seems like a good time to revisit those as a way to gauge where the team is at compared to what fans and media expected.
Let’s dive in.
Over/Under 34.5 Total Touchdowns for Adrian Martinez
The results of the fan vote showed 75% in favor of the over.
Derek Peterson, Greg Smith and Brandon Vogel all took the over.
DP: expected high-30s with 10-12 of them coming on the ground.
GS: same as Peterson; “The offense should be a good deal better this season and Martinez powers that.” (whoops)
BV: called his shot with 37, though he did say an injury would make reaching that mark impossible.
Erin Sorensen and Jacob Padilla took the under, though both said it wouldn’t be by much.
Through six games (since he missed game seven against Minnesota), the under is looking like a lock. Martinez has 10 touchdowns (seven passing, three rushing), which is 1.67 touchdowns per game. If Martinez continues at that pace and doesn’t miss another game, he’d finish with 18 touchdowns (rounding down) in the regular season and 20 factoring in a bowl game. Martinez projects to finish under his totals from last year both through the air (17) and on the ground (eight).
Score a point for Sorensen and Padilla, although in this case, nobody really wins. The full number is tracking to be well below the line.
Over/Under 13.5 Interceptions by Defensive Backs
The fan vote went 80% over.
Petersen, Smith and Sorensen took the over.
GS: called his shot with Lamar Jackson accounting for eight by himself with a handful going to Dicaprio Bootle
ES: “Over, over, over.”
Padilla and Vogel both expected he Huskers to hit close tot he number but still fall short.
Through seven games, Nebraska’s defensive backs have seven interceptions, which obviously projects to either 12 or 13 depending on how many games Nebraska plays. Jackson, Cam Taylor-Britt and Eric Lee Jr. each have two picks while Braxton Clark has one. Bootle still hasn’t recorded an interception.
Once again, Nebraska is trending towards the under, only this time, it might actually be somewhat close like Vogel and Padilla said in their answers.
Over/Under 925 Yards for Nebraska’s Leading Receiver
The fans took the over a a 73% clip in the Hail Varsity poll.
Padilla and Vogel went over on this one. Vogel expected Nebraska’s offensive output to increase this season and for JD Spielman’s production to rise along with it. Padilla expected Spielman to put up pretty similar numbers to what he did in 2018 only with a full season.
Peterson, Smith and Sorensen took the under. Peterson expected Spielman to end up in the 800s while Smith expected the increased attention paid to Spielman without Stanley Morgan to keep his number down. Sorensen pegged Spielman as Nebraska’s leading receiver but figured the targets would be more spread out this season.
Through seven games, Spielman is indeed leading Nebraska in receiving yardage, though freshman Wan’Dale Robinson has him edged out in receptions. Spielman is averaging 67 yards per game, which equals out to 804 yards in 12 games or 871 in 13. Spielman still has a chance to get there if he manages to have a couple of big games down the stretch, but with how Nebraska’s offense has looked so far it’d be tough to bank on that happening.
Over/Under 850 Yards for Nebraska’s Leading Rusher
You can probably guess this at this point, but the fans took the over here, this time with a 77% vote.
Smith and Vogel both took the over.
Smith: big Dedrick Mills guy, projected 1,050 yards for him at 6 yards per carry.
Vogel: gave the same reasoning he did for taking the over for the receiving question.
Peterson, Padilla and Sorensen all went with the under.
DP: expected the carries to be spread out and expected at least eight different runners to log at least 14 carries: Mills, Maurice Washington, Rhamir Johnson, Robinson, Miles Jones, Spielman, Martinez and Noah Vedral.
JP: hesitant to go all in on Mills after the Greg Bell experience, and expected both Robinson and Johnson to be involved.
ES: expected a by-committee approach.
Through the first seven games, Mills narrowly leads Nebraska with 76 carries for 350 yards, which averages out to 50 yards per game. If he keeps that up, he’ll finish the season with 600 yards (in 12 games) or 650 (in 13 games). However, Mills has an extra game on Martinez, who is leading the Huskers in yards per game at 56.8 (he’s only 9 yards back of Mills as it is). If Martinez plays the rest of the way, he projects to finish with either 625 yards in 11 games or 703 yards with a bowl game. Either way, the under looks like a pretty sure bet barring a massive performance by somebody.
As for Peterson’s prediction, five players (Mills, Martinez, Washington, Robinson and Vedral) have carried the ball at least 14 times already. Johnson has only carried the ball three times in three appearances this season and Nebraska plans to redshirt him. Jones hasn't logged a single catch or carry this season. Spielman has run the ball one time this season.
Both Peterson and Padilla get a point here, although both had some misses in their answers. Sorensen gave less detail and therefore gave herself less opportunity to get something wrong.
There’s still a lot of football to be played and things can obviously change, but here’s where our staff stacks up on their projections at this point in the season.
Padilla and Sorensen lead the way with three of their predictions looking good at this point. Peterson is on the right side of two of the four. Smith and Vogel bring up the rear with one apiece.