Photo Credit: Eric Francis

The Good, Bad and Unexpected: Nebraska Versus Michigan

November 13, 2022

Nebraska fell to Michigan, 34-3, at The Big House. It wasn’t the best day for the Huskers in Ann Arbor but we’re here to review what we saw after having some time to sit with it.

Here are the good, the bad and the unexpected from Saturday.

The Good

Ernest Hausmann: Let’s give it up for linebacker Ernest Hausmann. He certainly deserves the credit.

By the end of the loss to Michigan, Hausmann was tied with linebacker Luke Reimer for the most total tackles on the team with 10, and led on solo tackles with eight. He also added one of Nebraska’s two sacks on the night (the other went to edge Garrett Nelson).

That sack by Hausmann earned him “Play of the Week” honors, in part because of the promise it showed for the freshman from Columbus, Nebraska. However, he’s been building to this all season long. Despite Nebraska’s results, Hausmann has continued to improve on an individual level, appearing in every game for Nebraska to date.

For someone like Nelson, he is happy to see Hausmann flourish.

“Oh, he did a phenomenal job (against Michigan),” Nelson said post-game. “It’s awesome seeing how much he’s grown from the beginning to the end of the season.”

Points: Someone is going to be upset that this is included here, but every little bit of good must be included. Timmy Bleekrode’s 37-yard field goal in the second quarter ensured Nebraska wouldn’t be shut out, as well as ensured the Huskers would score points for the 337th consecutive game. That is now the fifth-longest active FBS streak. It is also the seventh longest in all of college football history.

May have lost the game, but didn’t lose the streak. Please don’t be mad.

The Bad

The offense without Casey Thompson: Since starting quarterback Casey Thompson was injured against Illinois, things have been rough for the Nebraska offense. More specifically, this is how it has looked since he left in the second quarter of that game against the Illini:

Through 27 drives without Thompson, Nebraska has punted 18 times, turned the ball over four times, kicked three field goals and scored one touchdown. As Brady Oltmans pointed out post-game, that’s one touchdown in the last 159 minutes, 38 seconds of game play for Nebraska. Yikes.

The Huskers have only had 23 first downs and 208 yards since losing Thompson as well. Against Michigan, Nebraska had 75 rushing yards and 71 passing yards. The combined 146 yards was a new season low. The previous? The 267 yards against Minnesota one week prior.

Chubba Purdy—who started in place of Thompson—finished his day 6-of-12 for 56 passing yards and another 39 yards on the ground. Logan Smothers, on the other hand, was 4-of-8 for 15 yards passing and only had one rushing yard.

Interim head coach Mickey Joseph said he suspected Thompson had already texted him post-game that he’d be ready for Wisconsin. Will he be though? Joseph said they’ll evaluate him, but it’s clear the Huskers need him to be successful on offense. Without him, everything—including the snaps from center Trent Hixson—are seemingly more difficult than they should be.

ABC’s camera angles on Michigan’s touchdown: Was it a touchback? Was it a touchdown? It seems like we’ll never truly know, because ABC didn’t have a camera angle that was clear enough to tell us.

What we know is that Michigan’s Ronnie Bell had the ball and was making his way toward the end zone. Just before breaking the place for the touchdown, Bell filmed and a scrum ensued. It appeared that the ball had touched the white line—meaning a touchback for Nebraska—but the officials called it a touchdown with Andrel Anthony recovering the fumble.

Twitter went back and forth on what it was, but the call was ultimately upheld. It’s understandable, considering the camera angles that the officials we working with. In 2022, you’d think there’d be something more definitive than a couple of bad camera angles but that’s where we’re at.

The Unexpected

Injuries: Purdy left the game in the second quarter after an awkward slide that appeared to injure his ankle or foot. Joseph confirmed post-game that the injury was a high ankle sprain, which explained the walking boot and crutches when he returned to the sidelines in the third quarter.

However, it wasn’t just Purdy who was injured against Michigan. Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple was too.

He was hit by Michigan’s A.J. Henning for went out of bounds on the Nebraska sidelines near the end of the first half. It felt like he was down for a long time before he was able to sit on the bench, which was painful to watch as ABC replayed the moment over-and-over as the game waited to resume. He eventually called the rest of the first half while holding on to Nebraska staffers for support.

Out of halftime, Joseph said the play-calling duties would be shared by the staff as Whipple got x-rays on his leg. He eventually returned to call plays, but this time from the press box.

No injuries are expected—or hoped for, of course—but Saturday was one of the more unexpected days for the Huskers on the injury front.

Alante Brown’s leap: This was wild, from start to finish. The fact that he just bounced back up and was ready for the next play? Even wilder.

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