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Making Sense of the Year 2 Phenomenon: Ramblings of a bored fan drinking Spaten Optimator

YUENGLING

Junior Varsity
5 Year Member
"The best defense is a good offense". Score a bunch of points every game and not have to worry about playing elite defense. It wouldn't be necessary, the defense just has to be decent and opportunistic. It makes sense.
What team on our schedule this season has the toughest defense?
 

YUENGLING

Junior Varsity
5 Year Member
Nice write-up, OHW. :thumbsup:

One thing that may blunt the statistical improvement we all hope to see is the question mark with the running game. It is imperative that Mills is everything that is expected of him and then some. Ozigbo's presence took a lot of pressure off the pass game last year and kept defenses honest.
I don’t think anyone on this board expected Ozigbo to have the kind of season he had last year. There was certainly no pre season hype on him. I believe the offensive scheme and improved offensive line deserves the credit for his success.
Bell ( before he quit) was impressive and Washington had a very good season. Great coaching( now in its 2nd year) is going to allow all of the running backs to improve as the season progresses.
 

cthusker

You talken to me?
5 Year Member
I think our defense is in much more disarray when Chin got here compared to UCF. Too many coach and scheme changes in the last 5 years. This will be only the first time any of these players have had the same coach/scheme for two years in a row.
UCF D was ranked 114th when Chin and company arrived yet the year before they were ranked 5th! Talk about a total collapse..... Obviously their D was miserable when they went 0-12 so I'd say there was also a major rebuilding job required by the new coaching staff.

In summary Chin pretty much took over UCF and Nebraska defenses at their low points. I'm looking for a major rebound this season and believe we have the nucleus to make that happen.
 

gardenjam

Red Shirt
2 Year Member
Creating sacks, turnovers as well as the yards per play metric on both sides of the ball will be huge in determining how the season plays out.
 

One Hit Wonder

Recruit
2 Year Member
Nice post OHW. I think your numbers show that Milton had a lot more room for improvement than AM...but if AM can maintain or slightly increase his completion percentage and eliminate/minimize his fumbles and keep his interception ratio low, the whole offense will take a big step forward. If he rushes for 900 and throws for 3500 I wouldn't be shocked.
He will continue to become more efficient in terms of managing the game and his statistics will ultimately improve as a result of it. He needs to continue to build on his decision-making.

I think our defense is in much more disarray when Chin got here compared to UCF. Too many coach and scheme changes in the last 5 years. This will be only the first time any of these players have had the same coach/scheme for two years in a row.
In 2015 before Frost & Co showed up, UCF’s entire team was in disarray. It was damn near mutiny as the team started 0-8 and then HC George O’Leary decided to “retire” and then the interim coach took over. In their last 5 games they gave up an average of 49 points per game – 38 points for the season.

One thing that may blunt the statistical improvement we all hope to see is the question mark with the running game. It is imperative that Mills is everything that is expected of him and then some. Ozigbo's presence took a lot of pressure off the pass game last year and kept defenses honest.
Establishing the running game will be imperative. In 2017 UCF had at least 7 guys get 10 or more carries in that season. Fall ball is important to develop the players and that aspect of the offense. Right now I'm hoping we can find two guys that are consistent.

I believe AM's excellent running ability also helps our RB's. Try to key on Mills, MW? or other RB's and risk AM ripping off big yardage. Our offense can/will be an absolute nightmare for LB's to try and guess what's coming at them in quick fire fashion. Ziggy had a heck of a good season but was also helped with that new offense imo...........
The LBs will be stranded in no-man’s land if they key in on Martinez or the RB and lose focus because the TE and the DUCK-R will shred them to pieces.

AM will definately be better but IMO, I don't think he will be leaps and bounds better than last year. I think he was a lot closer to his ceiling that Milton was in year one.
I agree to a certain extent. I believe Martinez’ statistics won’t be leaps and bounds better but if he can become more efficient with the ball then it will make the offense more lethal and his (more importantly - the team's) production will increase. There were plenty of times when he chose to not throw it to a wide open Washington or Ozigbo in the bubble and launched it down field to Stanley or Spielman into double coverage instead. Those are freshman mistakes and there are other little things that he can work on and I expect him to grow.

What team on our schedule this season has the toughest defense?
According to SB Nation’s Total Returning Production (link attached below), these are the top 6 teams on Nebraska’s schedule with the top returning defense in terms of percentage:

Ohio St – 85%
Illinois – 81%
Indiana – 77%
Northern Illinois – 75%
Purdue – 72%
Northwestern – 71%

2019 Returning Production

Mmmmmm, Spaten Optimator!

(Now I'm all thirsty....)
I'm not much of a drinker but Optimator is near the top of the list.
 
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DuckTownHusker

Blackshirt Sith Lord
5 Year Member
If we're adopting the offense that Frost ran at Oregon (and UCF), than having a stout defense is critical.

Watching the Pac-12 over the years, the teams that Oregon has historically struggled with are the big bruisers like Auburn or Stanford (ie, "Big Ten style") that can line up and punch you in the throat.

Whenever the Ducks got into an offensive shootout with another team, they almost always outran and out-gunned them. You'd get final scores like 64-42.

If we're going uptempo and speed, with a mix of distraction and concealment, we need a defense that can come up with some 3-and-Outs or timely sacks. We don't have to kill EVERY drive, but if we solidly kill off maybe one extra drive per quarter, we'll win a lot of games.
 
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Bluffsker

Recruit
"The best defense is a good offense". Score a bunch of points every game and not have to worry about playing elite defense. It wouldn't be necessary, the defense just has to be decent and opportunistic. It makes sense.
I don’t think you understand what “the best defense is a good offense” means.

It means keeping the hall out of the other teams’ hands. Running the ball, eating clock, winning the time of possession 2:1. Frosts offense does not do this. He may become more conservative as he gets older, which I would appreciate. But this offense is not the type of offense you get to call a good defense. I’m predicting we are going to see several 50-55 type games over the next decade.
 

AzHusker

All Big 10
10 Year Member
I believe AM's excellent running ability also helps our RB's. Try to key on Mills, MW? or other RB's and risk AM ripping off big yardage. Our offense can/will be an absolute nightmare for LB's to try and guess what's coming at them in quick fire fashion. Ziggy had a heck of a good season but was also helped with that new offense imo...........
AMs excellent running ability helps the entire offense. Just like the ability to through deep with a speedy receiver, or having a running back who can plant a foot and take it to the house at any time, the threat of Adrian ripping a 40 yard run must be accounted for by the defense. I agree about wanting him to run a few less carries, but if he sees an opening for 20+ and can avoid a major collision at the end of it - go dog go. Those poor LB’s and DB’s will be in conflict constantly over how to prioritize their attention.
 
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AzHusker

All Big 10
10 Year Member
Ever since Scott Frost stepped back onto Nebraska’s campus following the 2017 season, it seems everyone has been pointing toward “Year 2” for Nebraska. Why? Because in 2017 Frost took his 6-7 UCF team to 13-0. Much of that success can be attributed to his quarterback (McKenzie Milton) and his development from Year 1 to Year 2 and ultimately his performance.

At the Big 10 Media Day, Frost said you can’t compare Nebraska Year 2 to UCF Year 2. I thought to myself, “Oh ya! Watch me!” I decided to take a look at Milton’s numbers from 2016 and 2017 to see if I could make some sense of what Nebraska fans may be dreaming of when the season kicks off in a few weeks. I know people will jump in with the “Ya but!” and say, “Martinez plays in the Big 10 and that’s a hell of a lot tougher than the AAC.” And I would agree with you. However, the level of competition is relative to the conference and the players. In other words, I’m not necessarily comparing apples to apples. I’m simply having a little fun to show some type of correlation (or exotic BS) between Milton’s performances in Year 2 to gain some sort of insight (more like a fantasy) as to what we may expect from Martinez in 2019.

Note: Milton played in 10 games in 2016 while Martinez played in 11 but the mathematics and attempting to derive certain correlations are similar. But I believe this fact is more relevant... their last names both start with an “M” and if you really want to start thinking about the similarities… Marcus Mariota played under Frost at Oregon. So now I’m starting to wonder if we should petition to change Adrian Martinez’s first name to McKenzie or Marcus or Milton or … OK enough of the silliness.

Let’s look at the freshman stats for Milton and Martinez:

Player
Year
Games
Comp
Passes
%
Yards
TDs
INTs
Rush
Yds
Avg
TDs
Milton
2016​
10​
194​
336​
57.7%​
1,983​
10​
7​
100​
158​
1.6​
3​
Martinez
2018​
11​
224​
347​
64.6%​
2,617​
17​
8​
140​
629​
4.5​
8​

As you can see, Martinez had better numbers in almost every category but the stat that really jumped out at me is the completion percentage. Martinez was roughly 7 percentage points higher than Milton while throwing more passes. That 64.6% completion percentage is very impressive for a true freshman in the Big 10. And to put things into perspective, the list below shows the last 10 years of Nebraska QBs and their best completion percentages:

2008​
Joe Ganz
Senior​
67.9%​
2012​
Taylor Martinez
Junior​
62.0%​
2013​
Ron Kellogg
Senior​
59.7%​
2009​
Zac Lee
Junior​
58.6%​
2017​
Tanner Lee
Senior​
57.5%​
2006​
Zac Taylor
Senior​
59.6%​
2015​
Tommy Armstrong
Junior​
55.2%​

Did you notice that only juniors and seniors are on the list? We can all agree the stats indicate Martinez was a pretty good QB in 2018. So let’s look at Milton’s stats for his freshman and sophomore years.

Year
Games
Comp
Passes
%
Yards
TDs
INTs
Rush
Yards
Avg
TDs
2016​
10​
194​
336​
57.7%​
1,983​
10​
7​
100​
158​
1.6​
3​
2017​
13​
265​
395​
67.1%​
4,037​
37​
9​
106​
613​
5.8​
8​

The increase in the completion percentage from Year 1 to Year 2 is nearly 10% and he threw 27 more touchdowns which is jaw dropping. Milton also doubled his passing yardage which equates to a 57% gain in yards per game from 198 yards (2016) to 310 yards (2017). The second stat that jumps off the page is that Milton ran the ball roughly 10 times a game in 2016 v. 8 carries a game in 2017 but increased his production by almost 300%. His average yards per run went from 1.6 to 5.8 yards which is outstanding. In 2018 Martinez ran the ball 13 times a game in 2018 and I will go on record to say that his carries per game needs to be in the 8-ish range in 2019. Hopefully they won’t need him to run it that much.

This table shows the projected stats for Martinez if he has increases in his production statistically identical to Milton from his Year 1 to Year 2:

Year
Games
Comp
Passes
%
Yards
TDs
INTs
Rush
Yards
Avg
TDs
2018​
11​
224​
347​
64.6%​
2,617​
17​
8​
140​
629​
4.5​
8​
2019​
13​
306​
408​
74.0%​
5,328​
63​
11​
149​
2,440​
16.4​
21​

As you can see, if Martinez shows identical statistical improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 as Milton displayed, then Martinez will be the greatest quarterback to play the game. Am I being serious? Absolutely not. How cool would it be to have a Nebraska quarterback throw 63 touchdowns while rushing for more than 2,400 yards?

Does any of this data mean Martinez is going to have similar increases in 2019? No and it is highly unlikely because if he does his stats would be off the charts and he will be sitting in NYC at the Heisman Club in December waiting to hear his name be called. However, I do believe he will improve in Year 2 and it will be fun to watch. But of course a lot of fans will say the offensive production is nice but it won’t matter if Nebraska’s defense doesn’t do a better job. So let's look at some stats for UCF’s defense for 2016 and 2017 and Nebraska’s defense in 2018 before I end this madness.

- In 2016 UCF scored 28.7 points per game; the defense gave up 24.6 points; 370 yards per game.
- In 2017 UCF scored 48.7 points per game; the defense gave up 25.3 points; 428 yards per game.
- In 2018 Nebraska scored 30 points per game; the defense gave up 31.3 points and 433 yards per game.

UCF increased their offensive output by 20 points and allowed nearly the same amount of points on defense. So, if Nebraska is scoring 51points per game, would we really care if their defense is giving up 32 points per game?

So what does all of this mean? What is my point? I’m not really sure but if Coach Frost’s words ring true (“We’re going to go as far as he can take us.”) and ‘if’ Martinez shows statistical improvement in Year 1 to Year 2 remotely similar to those that Milton had in “his” Year 1 to Year 2, then Nebraska fans will have a lot to cheer about when the offense is on the field and should enjoy (hopefully) the 2019 season.
Durn that Optimator sure makes you think good and type good!!

Love me a good dark beer. I swear I could live on that stuff. Meal in a bottle.

 
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AzHusker

All Big 10
10 Year Member
Will the running teams we go against play keep away and eat up clock?
That's their game - that's what they try to do. And if our front 7 is better at all against the run this year - and I think they will be - that will be a losing strategy.

Stop the run. Run the ball. Win the game.
 

BigRedAvenger

Poster of Substance
2 Year Member
The schedule alone should aid in a year 2 jump. Replacing road games at Michigan, Ohio State, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Iowa with home games against the above with the exception of Michigan who drops off the schedule without a return trip to Lincoln for some reason.
 
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