By most accounts, the Nebraska offense had a decent performance against Colorado on Saturday, with 469 yards of total offense and 31 points. However, with three turnovers, a disappointing interior run game and a disappointing third quarter, there’s room for improvement.
“We played three good quarters,” offensive coordinator Troy Walters said. “First quarter was good, second quarter [too], but that third quarter was a bad quarter.”
An area where Nebraska can improve is its interior run game, as the Huskers experienced success running outside the tackles but only managed short gains inside.
“It’s one of those things where we need to be patient, take the three, four-yard runs and then wear them down with our tempo, with our speed and then second half, the big runs should come about,” Walters said.
For the interior runs to work successfully, the offensive line has to create push up front, something they struggled to do thus far. Walters called the line play “just average” so far and offensive line coach Greg Austin voiced his displeasure over his unit allowing six sacks against the Buffaloes.
"It wasn't even a freaking technique deal,” Austin said. “It was a getting your a** out of your stance deal."
Another area where Nebraska is seeking improved consistency is at wide receiver, as junior JD Spielman and freshman Wan’Dale Robinson have been productive but the rest of the team has lagged behind. One surprise has been senior transfer Kanawai Noa, who has started in both games but is yet to haul in a pass.
“He gets out on that field, he plays hard, he’s running good routes, just sometimes the read doesn’t go to him or Adrian throws it somewhere else,” Walters said. “We’ve got to get him more in the mix, we’ve got to get balls to him, we’ve got to get him touches.”
As has been the case since 2018, Walters is still searching for other wideouts to come in and contribute at a high level. He said the Huskers will play more than three against Northern Illinois on Saturday as they aim to remedy that problem.
“We’ve got to get more guys going and that’s on me,” he said. “I’ve got to get guys in early and get them into the flow of the game because we’re going to need the depth as we continue the season.”
Senior Mike Williams will figure to feature heavily, along with senior Jaron Woodyard, pending his recovery after he didn’t travel to Colorado last week due to an undisclosed injury.
Additionally, sophomore Kade Warner could make an impact similar to his performance last season, where he caught 17 passes. Walters said Warner missed most of fall camp with an injury and the coaching staff is bringing him back slowly to avoid any chances of reinjury.
There is no time for Nebraska to soak in last week’s performance as all the preparation now turns to Northern Illinois, which held the Husker offense to 17 points in the 2017 matchup. Walters expects movement up front which could result in pressure on the quarterback, but could also open opportunities for big plays. Either way, the Huskies present a real challenge for a Husker offense that is still growing.
“It’s probably a good opponent to play after a tough loss like we had, you put on their tape and they catch your eye,” Walters said.