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How Nebraska Can Win Against Iowa

It’s a short week for head coach Matt Rhule and the Nebraska Cornhuskers as they prepare to take on Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes inside Memorial Stadium on Friday. Here’s what you need to know about how NU can win the matchup.

 The Cornhuskers Need To Have Consistent Quarterback Play

As the third-string quarterback for most of the year for the Huskers, sophomore Chubba Purdy rocketed up the depth chart to start against the Wisconsin Badgers. And he should be Nebraska’s primary option at quarterback going forward. Against Luke Fickell’s outfit, he rushed for 105 yards, capping it off with a 55-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He also made the most of his passing attempts by completing 15 out of his 23 passes. Most impressive was his 58-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Jaylen Lloyd. All in all, Purdy’s 254-yard output helped to improve Marcus Satterfield’s struggling offense. And that’s what matters at the end of every contest. But it wouldn’t be enough as he threw an interception in a crucial moment in overtime. Now, he just needs to flush this turnover and put his best foot forward again.  But it won’t be easy with Hawkeyes defensive coordinator Phil Parker’s third-ranked defense coming to Lincoln.

Read about Purdy’s big outing against Wisconsin in Positives From Nebraska’s Loss to Wisconsin 

The Coaching Staff Must Make Good  Decisions

Last week against the Wisconsin Badgers, Purdy and freshman running back Emmett Johnson delivered fourth-quarter heroics when they got big gains on the ground. This allowed the offense to get down to the 12-yard line. But the Huskers couldn’t rely on a touchdown to end the game. Instead, Rhule and the rest of Nebraska’s coaching staff allowed freshman placekicker Tristan Alvano to tie the game at 17 with four seconds remaining. Because of this, the Badgers were able to rely on the experience of junior running back Braelon Allen to finish out the game. Against Iowa’s offense, the Huskers have to put up good stops and capitalize end its drives in touchdowns at the end of the game. Can NU start this trend on Friday in Memorial Stadium? Recent history tells us that another close loss is in the books, but anything can happen on Senior Day.

Eliminate Self-Inflicted Penalties

After having one penalty against Maryland,  the Cornhuskers committed seven penalties for 54 yards against Wisconsin. This manifested itself on the offensive line when sophomore left guard Teddy Prochazka flinched on 3rd and 7, knocking NU out of manageable field position in the fourth quarter. Another offender was junior Nouredin Nouilli. He committed a false start on 3rd and 11, which stalled another Husker drive. But, the most damaging to Nebraska’s momentum was when sophomore defensive back Malcolm Hartzog committed a pass interference penalty to set up an easy score for UW at the two-yard line. If NU has any hope of making a statement against Iowa, the Cornhuskers have to stop creating self-inflicted penalties.

NU’s Punts Need To Get Better

According to the Nebraska team website, NU punter Brian Buschini has placed 35 percent of his kicks inside his opponent’s 20-yard line. While this may be a good statistic heading into the matchup against Iowa, Buschini still needs to improve. In the second quarter against Wisconsin, he only booted a punt 19 yards. And his struggles would only continue in the third quarter. This was demonstrated when he was forced to make a touchdown-saving tackle after Badgers wide receiver Vinny Anderson returned his punt to the 40-yard line. But there is optimism that he can rebound after this dismal performance. However, it will have to require more effort from the special teams to give him more time to place punts deep inside the opponent’s territory. Can it be the 20-yard line or deeper?

Can the Blackshirts Maintain Dominance Throughout The Game?

Against Wisconsin, Tony White‘s Blackshirts had all the answers to stop UW offensive coordinator Phil Longo. This was shown in the first half when they limited the Badger’s running game to 85 yards. But they couldn’t quite put Wisconsin away in the second half. Instead, Nebraska’s defense allowed quarterback Tanner Mordecai to pass for 183 yards. And their ground game got going too, as  Allen would total the last 16 yards in overtime. Can the Blackshirts rebound from this uncharacteristic performance and execute the defensive scheme to perfection against Iowa on Senior Day? It will interesting to watch on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports


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