Nebraska football: Full stock report following Week 10 loss
Nebraska is coming out of Week 10 and moves into Week 11 with a 5-4 overall record. Unfortunately, the Huskers produced their worst showing since the end of September in a gut-wrenching 20-17 loss to Michigan State.
While hopes for a bowl game were starting to build around Lincoln, the Huskers will have to take a step back and regroup before facing Maryland. The only good news for Week 11 is that the Terrapins are in their own skid while preparing for the matchup at Nebraska.
Before we move on, here is the full stock report for Nebraska coming out of the Week 10 loss:
Player of the Week: RB Emmett Johnson
There are not a lot of positives to pull from the total performance, but Emmett Johnson continues to solidify his spot as the lead running back for Nebraska. He finished the game with 57 yards rushing, and it was his touchdown with 3:35 left in the game that gave the Huskers a chance to complete the comeback. Johnson now has 50+ yards rushing in 3 straight games, and he’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry this season.
Newcomer of the Week: DL Cameron Lenhardt
True freshman Cameron Lenhardt has been a game-changing piece for the Husker defense, and he continues to fill a key spot along the front. In the loss to MSU, he delivered 4 total tackles to go with a sack and a team-high 1.5 TFL. He is now up to 4.5 TFL and 3 sacks on the season and will need to continue to have an impact down the stretch.
Biggest Surprise: Allowing explosive plays
Nebraska has done a good job of limiting explosive plays throughout the season. Unfortunately, that went out the window in East Lansing. While the Nebraska defense continued to shut down the ground game, the Spartans found success throwing the ball down the field.
Michigan State finished Saturday’s game with receptions of 42, 46, 28, 17 and 11 yards. Those numbers include touchdown passes from 11 yards and another from 25 yards out in the fourth quarter. The 42-yard pickup came on a trick play that set up MSU’s first touchdown of the game to make it 10-7.
Those gash plays proved to be the difference for the Spartan offense, and it’s an area the Huskers need to clean up before turning the page to face Taulia Tagovailoa in Week 11.
Biggest Concern: Bowl hopes on hold
Nebraska had a golden opportunity to get to bowl eligibility against reeling Michigan State. Now, the task to get to that 6th win looks considerably tougher down the stretch.
In Week 11, Nebraska and Maryland will both be playing for a bowl game, and the Terrapins have a passing attack that could stretch the Huskers. After Week 11, the Huskers will face games at Wisconsin and home vs. Iowa to finish the regular season.
Nebraska can be competitive in those games, but it would feel much better to have the bowl picture already decided coming out of Week 10.
Developing Trend: Turnover issues
Forget the idea of a “developing” situation, Nebraska’s turnovers are a major concern. It’s an area that has frustrated head coach Matt Rhule as he called it “stupid” that the Huskers had 5 wins yet continue to lose the turnover battle.
Against the Spartans, Nebraska was unable to dodge the turnover bullet. Heinrich Haarberg threw 2 interceptions and was credited with 3 total turnovers in the loss. While Nebraska’s defense did a good job stepping up after those turnovers, Nebraska needed to be scoring points as opposed to losing possessions.
First impressions for Week 11
This weekend, Nebraska will face Maryland, a team that has lost 4 straight games after opening the season at 5-0. Most recently, the Terps surrendered 51 points to Penn State in a blowout loss at home.
Nebraska has a solid matchup in this one on the defensive side of the ball against a Maryland offense that is averaging 116.9 yards per game. That gives the Huskers a shot to turn Mike Locksley’s offense into a one-dimensional attack.
If that happens, Taulia Tagovailoa has a shot to make plays after throwing for 2,486 yards with 21 touchdowns in the first 9 games. Maryland also has 3 receivers with at least 400 yards receiving on the season, but Tagovailoa does have 7 interceptions on the year.
As for Nebraska’s offense, Maryland is giving up just 114.7 rushing yards per game, so this will be a good test to see if the Huskers can get the ground game going early.