Through four weeks of college football, SB Nation’s Football Study Hall has tracked the pace of the 125 FBS offenses. The methodology — dividing time of possession by the total number of plays — is far from perfect, because it favors teams that pass the ball more and stop the clock more frequently with incompletions. Still, it’s interesting snapshot for where the Huskers’ offense sits, and more to the point, what the Husker defense has had to face thus far.
Nebraska’s offense currently sits at No. 61, running a play every 25 seconds. This is 1.7 seconds faster than the Big Ten average, which itself is the slowest average of any FBS Conference. It’s .2 seconds faster than the national average. NU’s pace isn’t that surprising, considering offensive coordinator Tim Beck has four speeds in his offense — he won’t say what they are, but coach Bo Pelini said at Big Ten Media Days there are four — and Nebraska ran clock at the end of the Southern Mississippi and South Dakota State games to save those opponents further embarrassment.
Look, instead, at the top 30. Wyoming is No. 2, running a play every 18 seconds. UCLA is No. 15 at 20.9 seconds. Southern Mississippi is No. 30 at 22.8 seconds.
Using the same calculations as SB Nation, here are the seconds-per-play average each of the four teams had against the Huskers:
Wyoming: 19.5 seconds
Southern Miss: 26.3 seconds
UCLA: 22.8 seconds
South Dakota State: 24 seconds
Translation: NU’s young defense has had to adjust quickly play-to-play to what the opposing offense is doing. On top of the busts and errors, opponents haven’t given the Huskers much time between plays to adjust personnel or clearly communicate calls. One could argue that the defense has to be simplified to the point every adjustment is nearly automatic, but you can only reduce the pre-snap work so much.
Nebraska’s next three opponents should ease the communication transition into the Big Ten.
Illinois: 27.5 seconds per play (93rd)
Purdue: 28.5 seconds per play (108th)
Minnesota: 30.2 seconds per play (119th)