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FOOTBALL

Matt Lubick dissects two missed plays that may have changed Nebraska's result against Purdue

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It’s the two pass plays Nebraska offensive coordinator Matt Lubick won’t soon forget.

If NU had connected on either — one at the end of the first half, another early in the second half — the coaches may have been discussing a win over Purdue instead of a loss.

The first clearly remained fresh in Lubick's mind Tuesday. Adrian Martinez and Samori Touré couldn't connect on a touchdown with 20 seconds left in the first half. Touré was wide open by three or four yards, but Lubick said he lost the ball "for a second" in the sun and didn't have a chance to lay out for it.

“The biggest thing too — and Adrian would be the first to say this — we’ve got to give them a catchable ball,” Lubick said, “Samori should have made that catch, and we need to give him a better ball.”

So Lubick agreed the pass should have been better? A strong disagreement broke out on the ESPN2 broadcast between the announcers, and analyst Kelly Stouffer thought the throw was poor.

“Oh yeah, it could have been a little bit more catchable,” Lubick said. “I also think it was catchable to some degree, but when you’ve got a guy — I think it was three yards of separation, give or take a yard, the whole stadium saw he was pretty open — those are the ones you want to complete. And we’ve got to complete those.

"Could he have made the catch? Yeah. And he’ll say that too. You’re not blaming anybody, but it’s, hey, we’ve got to complete that. Give him a little bit better chance, and at the end of the day we’ve got to make the catch.”

Pass No. 2: Nebraska had run for 115 yards in the first half and started the second half with a nine-yard run. Then on second-and-1, NU ran what amounted to a trick play.

Martinez pretended to look over to the sideline for a play, then received a snap just as he turned his head toward center Cam Jurgens. Two receivers went deep, but the play ended in a sack once Purdue realized it was live.

“We ran the play the way we were supposed to, yeah,” Martinez said Monday. “That’s how it was designed and that’s how we ran it. It didn’t necessarily go as planned. That’s how some of the things go.”

Lubick said receiver Levi Falck “kind of got tangled up” and the Huskers had a “protection bust.”

“We thought it was a safe shot,” Lubick said. “And at the end of the day, even if the corner does react, it’s still a one-on-one safe shot with press coverage on second-and-1. That was kind of the mindset and then, worst-case scenario, you’re thinking third-and-1, but then the sack happened because of the protection.”

More notes from Tuesday’s press conference:

» Lubick said Nebraska has to be mindful of Ohio State’s ability to score while on defense. The Buckeyes have given up yards at times this season — including in a 31-24 loss at Oregon — but in recent weeks have made their share of plays to score points.

» Tight ends coach Sean Beckton said he’s taking Thomas Fidone through a simulated script after practice to get him used to seeing signals and knowing plays in games.

» Beckton gave an illuminating, in-depth answer when asked about what the Husker offense could be doing better.

“We’ve got to play just a little bit harder across the board, and we’ve got to focus in a little bit harder across the board,” Beckton said. “Our lapses have been killing us. Quarterback, running back, tight ends, receivers, O-line. Our lapses have caused us not to execute on plays that we can basically have scored on. I can count four to five, every single week, if somebody plays a little bit harder, or somebody has a little bit more focus, we’re sitting here 8-1, 7-2, better season — particularly just on offense."

What does it mean to play harder?

“You’ve just got to grind, grind a little bit harder,” Beckton said. “I’m old-school, come from a background where I had to fight for everything I’ve got. We try to instill that in the tight ends, obviously, but I’m trying to instill that in everybody on this team. You’ve got to fight and grind, just a little bit harder. If I’m kick-sliding on a pass pro, I’ve got to kick slide just a little bit harder, a little bit more strength. Same thing on a pass rush, same thing driving on an out as a corner. All those things we’ve got to do just a little bit harder, against a team like (Ohio State), and we’re going to start seeing results, across the board.”


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