Caught your breath yet? It’s been a wild first quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium, where both offenses seem to be two (or maybe 10) steps ahead of their defensive counterparts.
Wisconsin has 154 offensive yards (and a pick-six). Nebraska’s offense has totaled 186.
But the Huskers have been the most mistake-prone so far, which is why they trail 21-10.
Both Nebraska safeties missed open-field tackles on Melvin Gordon’s 56-yard touchdown run. There have been other missed tackles and poor execution as well.
There was that interception — when Kenny Bell dove to catch a short pass, but the football grazed off his hands and Marcus Cromartie returned the interception 29 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0.
On the next drive, senior Ben Cotton was called for a false start on third down. There was a delay of game, too. But Taylor Martinez bailed the offense out with a spectacular 76-yard scramble to cut Wisconsin’s lead to 14-7.
Both teams have moved the ball pretty well since, trading scores.
Other observations are below…
>> Two tendency breakers to note on Wisconsin’s first scoring drive: The Badgers actually handed the ball off to Gordon on a fly-sweep/reverse (most of the time, they fake it and give it to Montee Ball). Also, on Ball’s first run, he cut back toward the weakside edge of the formation, instead of going straight downhill between the tackles (like normal). … Both plays showed up to begin the Badger offense’s second scoring drive, the one that made it 21-10.
>> At least for the first drive, Nebraska’s answer to the jumbo formations of Wisconsin was to put three safeties on the field (NU did this in the first meeting, too). P.J. Smith rotated down toward the line of scrimmage, sort of like a cornerback. Courtney Osborne (it was Harvey Jackson in Game One) and Daimion Stafford were the traditional safeties.
>> Rex Burkhead looks healthy once again. He’s only ran the ball three times for 28 yards, but he’s juking and spinning like the play-maker he is.
>> Wisconsin’s defense hasn’t simply sat back in its traditional look (with a four-man rush and soft zone coverage behind it). The Badgers have brought pressure, which has had boom-or-bust results. … An unofficial observation of Wisconsin’s last two games against Ohio State and Penn State: The Badgers probably blitzed twice total.
>> Rough start for Stafford, who’s been caught in space a couple of times and has failed to make the tackle. He and Smith have struggled to fill their lanes properly in run support, and it’s resulted in a few big plays.