Five Factors – Nebraska

Courtesy: Michael Williams

Courtesy: Michael Williams

It was an inefficient offense with few big plays that had difficulty finishing drives.  Yet due to a stellar performance by the defense, the Hoosiers had a chance to upset #10 Nebraska.  It’s strange that this is the new normal for 2016 Indiana football, yet here we are.  Let’s recap.

Explosiveness

isoPPP Explosive % Yards/play
INDIANA 1.2 7% 4.8
NEBRASKA 1.2 11% 5.1

Nebraska had one pretty big play and one really big play.  The former was a 45 yard pass in the first quarter in which Marcelino Ball had good coverage.  Unfortunately his deflection fell right to Brandon Reilly.  Seriously, what are you going to do?  The latter was a 72 yard touchdown in which multiple Indiana defenders ran into each other.  That was the 2nd longest play Indiana has allowed all season.  Other than those 2 plays, the longest that IU allowed was just 18 yards.  One play was a fluke, the other was due to poor coverage (and then a fluke), and other than that the Hoosiers continued to play strong defense.

Indiana had 5 plays that accounted for 127 of their yards, or 38%.  Their longest play was a 36 yard pass to Ricky Jones.  It’s worth noting that Indiana would have had a few more big plays if it weren’t for drops.

The rushing game…well, they had a big rush on a fake reverse but that was about it.

Efficiency

All (close) Rushing (close) Passing (close)
INDIANA 35% 30% 38%
NEBRASKA 37% 40% 32%

To start with the positives, Indiana’s defense continues to be strong.  They allowed a success rate of only 37%.[ref]IU now ranks 21st nationally in opponent adjusted success rate.[/ref]  Unfortunately, IU was not about to get a stop on Nebraska’s final drive.  The Cornhuskers started that drive with a success rate of just 32%, but the 14 play drive consisting of all rushes sucked up nearly 8 minutes of clock time due to a 57% success rate.  As a whole, the defense has been unlike any in recent memory.[ref]In a good way![/ref]  Unfortunately…so has the offense.

So yeah, the offense has been not great.  The passing game was okay[ref]Minus the turnovers. More on that later.[/ref] but the rushing game was consistently stopped, albeit against a strong Nebraska rush defense.  Even despite the spark, Zander Diamont’s rushes were successful only 43%.  Although when compared to Devine Redding’s 18%, it wasn’t that bad.

Indiana’s offense was particularly bad when they fell behind schedule and found themselves in passing downs.  While both teams had a 38% success rate on standard downs, Nebraska had the passing down advantage, 34% to 27%.

Field Position

Avg Starting FP
INDIANA 30
NEBRASKA 26

Excluding the final Nebraska kneel-down that didn’t matter, Indiana had a 4 yard average starting field position advantage.  That is partly due to Nebraska having a pick-6 instead of being tackled in Indiana territory.  However, Mitchell Paige’s big 39 yard punt return gave Indiana the ball at the Nebraska 33.  That return was huge for a stagnant Indiana offense and ended in Redding’s touchdown run 2 plays later.

Finishing Drives

Scoring Opportunities Points Per Opportunity
INDIANA 6 3.3
NEBRASKA 4 5.0

This has been such a broken record.  At least the Hoosiers were able to create more opportunities than Nebraska.  Unfortunately they were unable to covert.  Let’s quickly rehash:

  • Failed 4th down.  Can’t blame KW here.  It was probably too close to punt and too far for a field goal attempt.[ref]When combining Oakes’ apparent quad injury and recent struggles.[/ref]
  • Danny Friend holding penalty resulted in a field goal.
  • Following the interception, IU failed to gain a yard on 3 plays and settled for another field goal.
  • The Zander offense had probably gone a drive too long as Nebraska had adjusted.  So another failed 4th down.
  • Following the Paige, return…hey, a touchdown!  It had been a while.
  • Another touchdown.  A classic, quick 5 play drive.

On the season, Indiana has a success rate of 44% outside the opponent’s 40 yard line and a 32% success rate inside it.

But enough of that, the defense only allowed 4 scoring opportunities.  The first came on Nebraska’s first two drives.  But then the Cornhuskers went 9 straight drives before ending the game with 2 scoring opportunities.  NINE STRAIGHT DRIVES.  The closest to the end-zone play Nebraska would run during those drives was the IU 40 yard line.  Those 9 drives resulted in just 96 yards and 2 Tommy Armstrong interceptions.  The defense really stepped up and gave Indiana a chance to win the game

Turnovers

Turnovers Turnover Points Added
INDIANA 2 7.0
NEBRASKA 2 9.8

Both teams had 2 interceptions, but Nebraska was able to take one of their picks for a touchdown, thus the higher turnover points.  Indiana also blocked a punt resulting in a safety.

Billy