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Nebraska-Penn State: Three things we learned, three things we still don't know

Nebraska-Penn State: Three things we learned, three things we still don't know

Cam Taylor-Britt

This pass breakup by Cam Taylor-Britt saved a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Stille ended the game with a quarterback pressure against the Nittany Lions.

Three things we learned and three things we still don’t know about the Huskers coming out of Saturday's win against Penn State.

* * *

Three things we learned

1. Nebraska’s defense came to play, especially early. The Blackshirts might have produced more big hits in the first quarter than they did all of 2017. Giving up 501 total yards won’t warm Erik Chinander’s heart, but he’s building a unit capable of competing with the Big Ten’s most physical offenses.

2. Luke McCaffrey will give defensive coordinators a headache, but as expected the offense still has considerable room for improvement. Nebraska too often looked sloppy. Bad snaps. Bad substitutions. Questionable playcalling. Rhythm, like an old cowboy trying to dance to hip hop, remains elusive.

3. Nebraska cornerbacks, aside from the one busted coverage, are a team strength. In years past, they played too far off receivers and didn’t break up passes when they could’ve. The trend has changed in 2020. Justin Fields humbled NU’s DBs in Week 1, but they’ve responded. Credit the Big Red secondary with Penn State’s red-zone problems.

Three things we still don't know

1. Can Nebraska ever fix its second-half woes? Tom Osborne used to be famous for his halftime adjustments. Scott Frost, on the other hand, usually staggers to the finish line. In three games this year, NU has been outscored 59-6 in the second half. This coaching staff must do a better job.

2. What’s the immediate future at running back? Dedrick Mills missed most of Saturday’s game with an injury. Wan’Dale Robinson looks good in the backfield, but he’s a finesse runner like McCaffrey. The Huskers need more depth and more horsepower between the tackles.

3. Can the Huskers get more pressure from blitzes? Clearly this defense doesn’t have the edge rusher it needs to sack quarterbacks. But the blitzes too often don’t get home, either. Expect Chinander to experiment with new packages.

Photos: Nebraska hosts Penn State in first home game of the season

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Reporter - Sports

Dirk writes stories and columns about Husker football in addition to covering general assignments and enterprise for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @dirkchatelain. Phone: 402-444-1062.

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