What a brutal start to the Matt Rhule era at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers lost another one-score game, this time to the Minnesota Golden Gophers, 10-13. Nebraska had a rough start to the game; not scoring in the first half. Defensively, Nebraska was very impressive but couldn’t stay strong all the way through.
Here are five takeaways from Thursday’s game.
Five Takeaways From Nebraska’s Loss to Minnesota
1. Offensive Struggle
The Cornhuskers’ offense was something to watch going into the week one matchup. Over the off-season, junior quarterback Jeff Sims was brought in from Georgia Tech. There were concerns surrounding Sims’s issues with turnovers.
That was prevalent Thursday night. Sims threw three interceptions with only one touchdown on 11 completed passes. Sims did show some promise with his running ability, rushing for 91 yards on 19 attempts.
The running backs only rushed for only 81 total yards on 17 combined carries. Anthony Grant had the Huskers’ only fumble of the night, which led to Minnesota’s game-tying touchdown with 2:32 left in the game.
Nebraska’s offense will have to improve to have success the rest of the season and hopefully, they can make improvements quickly.
2. Defense Shows Promise
The Blackshirts had a successful showing Thursday night and was a big reason why Nebraska stayed in the game all the way through. Nebraska’s defense held the Gophers under 200 passing yards and 60 rushing yards.
The defensive line took advantage of Minnesota’s offensive line losses over the off-season, forcing pressure on Athan Kaliakmanis. The Huskers sacked Kaliakmanis three times in the loss.
The defense came up clutch multiple times including a massive interception by Omar Brown late in the third quarter. Despite that, the offensive struggles would put the defense in a bad spot, which led to Minnesota’s successful comeback and win.
If the defense can keep this up, Nebraska should be able to continue to stay in tough games.
3. Improvement in Special Teams
Special teams have been a rough spot for Nebraska in the past few seasons. Kickers were inconsistent and failed to limit return yards.
This was the opposite on Thursday night. Junior punter Brian Buschini had himself a good night with all three of his punts landed inside the 20-yard line. Freshman kicker Tristan Alvano was perfect on the night going 1/1 on field goals and 1/1 on extra points.
Rahmir Johnson put the Huskers in a good spot with a 60-yard return that would lead to Nebraska’s only touchdown in the game. With the success of the special teams on Thursday, it’s a good sign for the rest of the season and future.
4. Offensive Line Needs Major Improvement
The offensive line struggled against the Gophers. They only sacked Sims three times, but the lack of time in the pocket caused Sims to scramble. Having the lack of time in the pocket caused some miss throws as well.
There was hope of improvement from last season when Donovan Raiola was retained by Coach Rhule. There’s only been one game so, there is a chance of more improvement.
5. It’s Going to be a Process
Thursday’s game showed that it’s going to take some time to bring back Nebraska to its winning ways. It’s going to take time to implement the new offense and defense schemes as well.
Even though it was a loss, Thursday’s game showed that Nebraska is heading in the right direction. Getting into the win column will make a big difference in getting back to the bowl season.
Heading into Colorado Week
Nebraska has a few extra days to prepare for their massive matchup in Boulder. The Huskers do have to improve on a few different fronts to get the win.
The offensive line needs to improve, Sims needs to limit the mistakes, and play-calling will go a long way to get the big win. Keeping up the great play by the defense and special teams will go a long way as well.
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