Danny Langsdorf knew what the Nebraska offense would be up against in Saturday's matchup against No. 9 Ohio State.
The scouting report on the Buckeyes goes something like this:
* Their defensive line is very good. Very fast.
* Their linebackers are just as good, just as fast.
* Their cornerbacks play great man-to-man coverage.
The Huskers saw every bit of that in a 56-14 loss at Memorial Stadium.
"They're good across the board," Nebraska's offensive coordinator said. "And when they're that good, you've got to be able to make some plays against them, find some ways to hit some runs. Those are the things we weren't able to do against a really good defense."
For the second straight year, the Buckeye defenders put a ton of pressure on NU's offensive line, forcing quick or low-percentage throws. They shut down NU's running game — 44 yards on 16 carries.
In eight quarters of play against the Buckeyes, including last year's loss in Columbus, Nebraska has scored a combined 17 points.
Yes, Nebraska's defense couldn't slow the Buckeyes from the start Saturday. But the offense's inability to move the ball early didn't help.
The Huskers had two three-and-outs to start. By the time NU's third possession rolled around, Ohio State had the advantage in points (14-0), plays (18-6) and yards (171-5).
The pressure got turned up in a hurry, and Tanner Lee and the Huskers were in catch-up mode.
"We had some struggles getting first downs, so we weren’t helping out, getting the defense the rest and moving the ball ourselves," Langsdorf said.
Nebraska found some life on its third possession. Lee hit JD Spielman for a 15-yard pass, Devine Ozigbo broke free for a 17-yard run and the Huskers were at the OSU 25-yard line. But a holding call on offensive tackle Nick Gates negated Ozigbo's run, and the Huskers were in another hole.
"I think when playing against a tough team like that, you've got to be able to take advantage of those big plays," Lee said. "It’s plays like that, that we really needed, especially at that point in the game. It’s our job to take pressure off the defense and continue to score and move the ball.
"That was tough. That was really tough."
Nebraska had an extremely tough time running against a Buckeye defense that came in 29th nationally in rushing "D" at 120.5 yards per game. In fact, the two longest Husker runs came from the quarterbacks — Lee for 5 yards and Patrick O'Brien with an 11-yarder when he came in late. Through three quarters, NU had 26 rushing yards on 12 carries, but was forced to rely more on Lee's arm sooner.
"Early on it was some tough sledding running," Langsdorf said. "They had us a lot of pressure in the game. I thought as the game went on we did a better job with the interior of our line."
Langsdorf said the Huskers brought in more backs and tight ends to help chip defenders as the game went on.
Now entering the bye week, the Husker offense returns to the drawing board after scoring a combined 28 points against Wisconsin and Ohio State. Langsdorf said Nebraska needs to continue to scratch and claw and find a way to improve the running game and pass protection.
"I think the quarterback has shown when he has time that he can throw accurately and deliver some throws," Langsdorf said of Lee. "We’ve got to be able to make some plays with the receivers and tight ends in the passing game and run the ball better, so it’s not a hard formula to follow."
Lee completed 23 of 38 passes for 303 yards and two scores. Langsdorf said with Ohio State's strong coverage on the outside, the Huskers were able to attack the inner part of the defense more, which resulted in a record night for JD Spielman (200 receiving yards).