World-Herald staff writer Rich Kaipust breaks down the Huskers’ play on both sides of the ball during NU’s 38-17 loss to Iowa. Get full coverage of the game on Omaha.com/bigred.
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TRACKING THE OFFENSE
The game plan: Any hopes of unleashing running back Ameer Abdullah early were dashed, and Iowa held Nebraska to 117 yards in the first half. The Huskers went 2 for 7 on third down in the first two quarters, and needed 7 or more yards on six of them.
The adjustments: NU found some continuity in the third quarter and some room for Abdullah, but blitz-heavy Iowa started punishing Kellogg.
NU star: Senior receiver Quincy Enunwa caught three passes for 46 yards, including his 10th touchdown of the season.
Stat of the game: NU averaged just 2.4 yards per rush, its worst mark in any game this season.
Final word: Take away the three scoring drives and Nebraska couldn’t have been less effective on its other 11 possessions (42 plays, 94 yards). It also seemed like the Huskers were in a constant hole, and turnovers again were an issue (three, and now 19 by the offense in the past seven games). The nonstop hits to the personnel this season, however, have to be considered a big factor.
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TRACKING THE DEFENSE
The game plan: Iowa came at Nebraska with the stretch play and cutback runs, just as Penn State had done a week earlier, so NU was ready for the power and conservative game. The Huskers actually countered with four linebackers on the field for the first two plays, but shifted back to their base and nickel schemes.
The adjustments: Nothing overly sophisticated was necessary, other than a better focus on getting 236-pound tailback Mark Weisman to the turf. The Huskers ended up giving up 38 points, but all five of the Hawkeyes’ touchdown drives started in NU territory.
NU star: Michael Rose. The 16 tackles (four for losses) by the linebacker were the most by a Husker this season.
Stat of the game: Nebraska failed to force a turnover for the fourth time in six games.
Final word: A decent but not great effort by the defense. NU allowed only 281 total yards, but couldn’t withstand trouble several times when Iowa took over in NU territory — Iowa scored in three or fewer plays three times after possession changes. It was promising to see several underclassmen make key contributions.