The Husker offense missed out on an opportunity to seize momentum just before half, but Nebraska did manage to respond after Northwestern scored 21 unanswered points.
Senior Quincy Enunwa caught a 3-yard touchdown pass with 6:37 left in the second quarter, capping an 11-play, 77-yard drive at a critical point early in Saturday’s game. Northwestern held a 21-7 lead when the Huskers’ offense began that possession — the Wildcats had just quieted the home crowd by scoring on a two-play drive following an interception.
Nebraska hasn’t let the game get away, which is good sign for a mentally fragile team.
Now… If only that Husker defense could figure some things out against the run. Northwestern’s averaging 6.6 yards per carry.
Give that unit some credit, though. The Huskers started getting pressure on Colter (and wrapped him up, too) in the second quarter, and that resulted in a couple stops. Stanley Jean-Baptiste nearly had an interception on Northwestern’s second-to-last drive. And despite great field position for the Wildcats (the NU 46-yard line) just before the break, they couldn’t get a first down.
Should be a fun second half. Northwestern gets the ball first.
More observations are below…
>> Nebraska’s made a commitment to the ground game (28 rush attempts, to 19 pass attempts), but much of that has been on the perimeter (stretch plays and options, mostly). The Huskers apparently have no desire to run between the tackles. … That’s somewhat risky, even against a suspect defense. One missed block and you’ve lost several yards. The reward, of course, is you could get yards in chunks.
>> NU showed that jet sweep with Terrell Newby early, but hasn’t run it since. Maybe that gets called once or twice more.
>> Offensive coordinator Tim Beck has designed a pretty impressive attack so far, but he might regret how that second-to-last possession of the first half ended. The Huskers — with the ball at the 50 and trailing by seven with less than four minutes remaining — tried a deep throw that landed 15 yards past everyone on first down and needed a tough catch by Alonzo Moore to keep the drive alive. Their next first down play: A deep ball to Enunwa. … You have to stretch the field, yes, but that might have been overkill at that spot in the game.
>> The Huskers’ injury issues at receiver are worrisome. Kenny Bell spent much of that second quarter watching from the sideline with his helmet off. Enunwa’s clearly banged up — though he’s battling through it (five catches for 57 yards). Jamal Turner’s out. Tyler Wullenwaber retired this week. Taariq Allen apparently hasn’t recovered from last year’s season-ending injury. … Who’s left? Two redshirt freshmen, Jordan Westerkamp and Moore, and two walk-ons, Sam Burtch and Brandon Reilly.
>> Westerkamp, by the way, is living up to his reputation as the team’s most reliable pass-catcher. He’s hauled in a couple tough ones already, totaling a career-high 55 yards on three receptions.
>> Senior quarterback Ron Kellogg got a chance to jump start the Nebraska offense after two scoreless possessions, but he threw an interception on his second pass attempt. It’s been Tommy Armstrong’s game ever since (not counting Kellogg’s failed attempt to run the two-minute drill to end the half). And that’s probably how it should be going forward. The run threat that Armstrong presents — he has 11 carries for a team-best 52 yards — will be needed in the second half.
>> Kain Colter has 10 rushes for 49 yards so far. Assuming he’s healthy, Northwestern should keep feeding him. That deep-ball strategy the Wildcats tried to use last year didn’t work. Their best bet is to run right at Nebraska. … That also puts a lot on the shoulders on running back Trevyon Green, who has 92 yards on 10 carries. Green didn’t play last week at Iowa. The 10 carries are already the most for him since Sept. 14.