Published Saturday, September 14, 2013 AT 5:21 PM / Updated at 10:26 PM
Tracking the Husker offense, defense
Jon Nyatawa Omaha World-Herald

World-Herald staff writer Jon Nyatawa breaks down the Huskers’ play on both sides of the ball during NU’s 41-21 loss to UCLA.

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TRACKING THE OFFENSE

The game plan: Taylor Martinez tested a young secondary with quick throws to the perimeter (five passes in the first seven plays), spreading out the Bruins and opening up the middle. The Huskers mixed it up from there, trying to keep UCLA off balance. An interception and a fumbled snap by the Bruins’ punter helped considerably.

The adjustments: There weren’t many. And whatever changes did get implemented were ultimately masked by an onslaught of unforced errors. Nebraska didn’t feel comfortable running the ball up the middle because of the way UCLA loaded the box before the snap. So the Huskers attacked the edge and soon ran out of room.

NU stars: Kenny Bell and Quincy Enunwa. The receivers made tough catches and picked up the extra yards with nifty moves after that. They combined for three touchdowns.

Stat of the game: Nebraska was just 3 for 14 on third down, needing an average of 7.4 yards for a first.

Final word: UCLA didn’t blitz and focused on turning Martinez into a pocket passer. Nebraska will need to find a way to counter that approach.

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TRACKING THE DEFENSE

The game plan: Nebraska didn’t blitz much, assuming that its front four could create enough pressure by itself. That seemed to work well early. The Huskers committed their linebackers to the run game and used their defensive backs to handle the pre-snap motions and decoy swing passes. Trouble was, they were a bit vulnerable downfield.

The adjustments: UCLA began the second half with a running back draw play that seemed to take the aggressiveness out of Nebraska’s defensive line. Or perhaps it was the missed sack on a third-down play right before halftime. Regardless, the Huskers got back on their heels, started missing tackles and never could regain control.

NU star: Randy Gregory. He had eight tackles and forced a fumble. It was his ability to keep UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley conscious of the rush that aided Nebraska’s defense early.

Stat of the game: UCLA averaged 18.4 yards per completion.

Final word: Once the Bruins solved the Husker plan, Nebraska’s players seemed to lose their confidence. They’re young, yes, but properly handling adversity is the next step for this unit.

About Jon Nyatawa

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008. He and his laptop, cell phone, tape recorder, pen and notebook all live in Lincoln. Follow him on Twitter: @JonNyatawa. Email him here: jon.nyatawa@owh.com. He welcomes feedback.