World-Herald staff writer Jon Nyatawa breaks down the Huskers’ play on both sides of the ball during NU’s 37-34 win over Wyoming.
* * *
TRACKING THE OFFENSE
The game plan: Tempo is always an emphasis, but early mistakes by the Huskers disrupted their rhythm. It seemed that they wanted to attack the edges of Wyoming’s defense, using power tosses, various option plays to the outside and quick screens. But successfully stringing plays together seemed to be the biggest hurdle early.
The adjustments: Four of Nebraska’s first six plays to begin the second half were runs between the tackles (the other two were scrambles). And it didn’t stop there. Clearly, the Huskers wanted to establish their physicality up front, wearing Wyoming down and presumably opening things up downfield. But not many deep throws were called in the fourth quarter.
NU stars: Running backs Ameer Abdullah, Imani Cross and Terrell Newby. Nebraska put the game in their hands and they delivered, powering through holes and punishing Wyoming defenders along the way. They combined for 295 yards on 47 carries.
Stat of the game: Nebraska, not known as a possession offense, held the ball for 21:06 in the second half.
Final word: The run game made the difference, but don’t underrate the ability of Nebraska’s receivers. Quincy Enunwa, Jamal Turner and Kenny Bell kept drives alive and put points on the board by making difficult catches.
* * *
TRACKING THE DEFENSE
The game plan: Nebraska put six defensive backs on the field to counter Wyoming’s speed, but the Cowboys seemed content with taking advantage of its numbers up the middle. They simply ran downhill. The Huskers couldn’t create much of a backfield presence either because of Wyoming’s quick-passing game and quarterback Brett Smith’s ability to maneuver in the pocket.
The adjustments: The Huskers started adding an extra defender in the box late in the first half. Brought more designed pressure at times, too. By slowing down Wyoming’s run game, it made the Cowboys a little more predictable. Nebraska played lots of three-man fronts early, but relied more on the traditional look of four down linemen after halftime.
NU star: Stanley Jean-Baptiste. He had an interception to halt one potential scoring drive. He ended two other Wyoming possessions with a pass breakup and an open-field tackle.
Stat of the game: Wyoming started the game 0 for 6 on third-down attempts before converting its first in the fourth quarter.
Final word: A young defense was expected to have a mistake-filled debut, but there probably weren’t many who predicted that the Cowboys would finish with 602 total yards of offense.