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What We Know From The Huskers Loss To Maryland

Huskers Maryland

Last Saturday, Nebraska head coach Matt Rhule and his Nebraska team suffered a major loss to the Maryland Terrapins.  As a result, the Big Red failed to capture their sixth win for a shot at bowl eligibility. And with two games left, its chances are slipping further away with their 5-5 record. Let’s talk about how this affects the program going into their last two games of the season.

The Turnover Issue Continues

Just like its most recent performance against Michigan State, the Husker offense struggled to find a clear identity. After throwing an interception to Maryland defensive back Dante Trader Jr, sophomore quarterback Heinrich Haarberg was sacked in his next series. This not only stalled NU’s momentum, but it also left the sophomore with an injury. Because of this, NU was forced to rely on Jeff Sims to get them out of this predicament. And he proved to be the answer in the second quarter. In 12 plays, he marched the offense 58 yards down the field. However, their progress was wiped out when he forced an interception with two minutes left. Because of this, the Huskers relied on sophomore Chubba Purdy. And he provided a legitimate spark with his 90 yard drive. But this momentum faded quickly when he would give it away at the end of the game. All in all, Nebraska’s offense turned over the ball five times. And this issue will likely continue into their matchup against the Wisconsin Badgers. Can the Nebraska Cornhuskers weather the storm and still come out on top?

A Depleted Secondary Works Wonders

After surrendering 20 points to the Michigan State Spartans, Nebraska’s depleted secondary under defensive backs coach Evan Cooper might’ve needed retooling. And the second half against Maryland provided more evidence of this. On the first play of the second period, Terrapins senior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa  hit wide receiver Tai Felton on a long 53-yard pass. And two plays later, he would walk in for a 16-yard touchdown. But in the third quarter, the Blackshirts secondary would ratchet up their intensity. This was demonstrated when senior cornerback Omar Brown forced a fumble on a Terrapin screen pass to set NU’s offense up at the 27-yard line. This allowed Cornhuskers fullback Janiran Bonner to tie the game at 10-10. Junior linebacker Javin Wright also delivered in key moments as well, with eight tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble. Now, Huskers offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield just has to show the fanbase that they can take advantage of these opportunities with the right play. Can the Huskers start this trend against the Badgers in Camp Randall Stadium this week?

 

The Huskers Can  Shut Down Any Quarterback

As the younger brother of current Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Taulia is in elite company. But the problem is that none of this was able to manifest itself against the Huskers. Throughout the game, Tony White’s unit only allowed him to complete 27 out of his 40 passes.  In the second quarter, he was able to 16-yard touchdown to Felton, but this didn’t help. Instead, it only got worse when facing Husker defenders.  As a key contributor throughout the season, junior linebacker Isaac Gifford  has solidified himself as a leader for the Blackshirts. The veteran came up big against the Terrapins when he totaled up five assists as well as two solo tackles. But this would pale in comparison to junior defensive back Marques Buford Jr. In his first game back, he impressed in his return to the gridiron with his five solo tackles and two assists. But this wouldn’t even be his best play.  This would come in the fourth quarter when he would deliver a well-timed safety blitz in order to sack Tagovailoa.  This allowed the Cornhuskers to stall Maryland’s momentum into their going into their final drive.  Against Wisconsin Badgers freshman quarterback Braedyn Locke, the Huskers’ experience on defense will need to duplicate their performance. And there’s proof that they can. In a 20-14 loss against Indiana,  the signal-caller only completed 21 passes. And against the Ohio State Buckeyes, he only threw one touchdown with two sacks. Can the Blackshirts make the Wisconsin offense pay with another impressive scheme by the coaching staff?

Read more about the Blackshirt defense iCan The Nebraska Cornhuskers Finally Go Bowling? 

 

Huskers Maryland
Photo courtesy:  Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

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