World-Herald staff writer Rich Kaipust breaks down the Huskers’ play on both sides of the ball during NU’s 27-24 win over Northwestern.
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TRACKING THE OFFENSE
The game plan: Redshirt freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong started off 6 for 7 passing as Nebraska gave him some safe throws, and he was effective running the football in the first half with the option. The Huskers also gave I-back Ameer Abdullah steady work with 12 first-half carries.
The adjustments: Some of the best came by Northwestern, which threw different coverages at Armstrong after halftime and came up with three second-half interceptions. Nebraska made its best call late by turning to Ron Kellogg for its two-minute drill.
NU star: Jordan Westerkamp. How about a redshirt freshman making that game-winning catch and finishing with a career-high four receptions for 104 yards?
Stat of the game: Abdullah used his 127 yards rushing to go over 1,000 yards for the second straight season, becoming only the eighth Husker to accomplish that feat.
Final word: The fantastic finish will cover up some problems, like Nebraska going the previous nine offensive possessions without a score. That stretch included three Armstrong interceptions and three very costly fourth-quarter penalties on the offensive line. There are all kinds of injury problems to deal with, too.
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TRACKING THE DEFENSE
The game plan: Nebraska came out with Michael Rose at middle linebacker and defensive end Randy Gregory standing up and coming from about 5 yards off the line of scrimmage. It wasn’t particularly effective: Northwestern already had 160 total yards after its first two offensive series.
The adjustments: Nebraska cranked up its run blitzes and pass rush after allowing 222 total yards in the first half, and it helped the Huskers produce 10 tackles for losses. The Northwestern offense did not put any second-half points on the board until its field goal with 1:20 left after getting the ball at the NU 7.
NU star: Senior defensive back Ciante Evans made a number of big-time stops, and five of his eight total tackles were behind the line of scrimmage.
Stat of the game
NU held Northwestern to 104 total yards on 34 snaps in the second half (3.1 yards per play).
Final word: The unit that turned in its Blackshirts starting the week finished with a bang after a shaky first half. It also provided a game-changing play — with Avery Moss’ interception and 25-yard return in the third quarter to tie the game at 21-21. And a late red-zone stand held the Wildcats to a field goal and set up the winning finish.