Photo by Aaron Babcock
Nebraska Football

What We Talk About When We Talk About 'Inconsistency'

September 11, 2017
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Whenever a team loses a football game, it’s going to be dissected a million different ways. Sometimes what you feel in the moment after a game changes after reflection and perhaps re-watching the game.

It’s not difficult to lose sight of the little things that led up to getting into a 42-14 halftime hole when the team fights back in the second half to only lose by one score.

However, after I re-watched the game I had the feeling that Nebraska really shot itself in the foot and gave Oregon plenty of opportunities. On Monday, Mike Riley came to a similar conclusion during his press conference.

“The reality of it, watching the film Sunday or on the way back on the plane, it was really disappointing,” he said. “Really feels like a lost opportunity. It was a disappointing game. I just think we all can get more from what we do. We had again an offensive game similar to the first that sporadically had some good plays. Good plays, good runs, good passes, sharp, but way too much inconsistency. Way off-balance with what we need to do. We have to get better.”

What are some specific things that need to get better?

We know the defense improved dramatically in the second half. The Blackshirts gave up 157 yards and no points in the second half after surrendering 313 yards and 42 points in the first. Nebraska also tightened up on third downs allowing just a 17-percent conversion rate in the second half versus 75 percent in the first half.

Taking a look at the offensive numbers, third-down efficiency jumps off the page immediately. The Huskers were just two of 14 on third downs against Oregon. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that Nebraska went 0 for its last 11. Also, the average yards to gain on third down for Nebraska was 8 yards in the game.

That’s not a winning recipe on the road much less at one of the toughest road environments in the nation.

After the 28-yard touchdown pass to Stanley Morgan Jr. to bring the game to 42-28 with 8:52 left in the third quarter, things went sideways for Tanner Lee and the Nebraska offense.

After that point, Lee went 7-for-18 with two interceptions. Yes, the final interception was aided by Lee’s arm being hit as he threw. However, these are the types of things Riley means when he talks about inconsistency. Two games into the season, Lee is just 7-for-21 for 79 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the fourth quarter. It’s hard to win that way.

“What has to improve there is the consistency of it. It shows up for a while then disappears for a while,” Riley said. “We have some great drives, good finishes. Then we’ll go three and out three times in a row. That shouldn’t happen, it’s ridiculous.”

There was a certain frustration in Riley’s voice today that I have not heard very often during his time at Nebraska. He was more forceful in his answers, which was very evident in his response to a question about getting his team ready to play an 11a.m. kickoff against Northern Illinois on Saturday.

“We should be so hungry to practice today,” Riley said. “When they look at that video, they should be sick. They should want to work and be better than that. I don’t care if we’re playing the Green Bay Packers or whatever, it should be about us wanting to be better than that.”

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