In the first half of Saturday's 38-17 loss to No. 9 Wisconsin, the Nebraska offense racked up yards and got close to scoring, but kept coming up empty.
In the second half, the yards weren’t there, as NU was held to 68 yards and didn't account for any points.
No matter why the offense couldn't get the job done, it left Nebraska offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf frustrated.
“We’ve got to be able to finish with touchdowns, and that’s a big part of winning games,” Langsdorf said.
The trouble started right away. Nebraska had several big gains on its first drive, but then Tanner Lee's pass bounced off Devine Ozigbo, and Wisconsin's Chris Orr snagged it and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown.
“That was definitely a buzzkill,” said Husker center Michael Decker. “First drive, and you’re really on an adrenaline rush given the (1997 national championship team celebration) and what-not.”
In the first quarter, the Huskers had drives reach the Wisconsin 17-, 39- and 44-yard lines, but came away with no points.
“We were pretty good getting across the 50, and it wasn’t very good finishing on the end of the drives,” Langsdorf said.
Then early in the second quarter, the Huskers had first down at the 14. But Devine Ozigbo lost 2 yards on first down, then there were two incomplete passes. The Huskers had to settle for a field-goal attempt, but even that didn’t work. Drew Brown’s 33-yard attempt went wide-right.
As a drive goes on, the focus has to be better, Langsdorf said, and that didn’t happen.
“We stalled out,” he said. “We had some opportunities. I thought down there we got stuffed on a couple of runs and we missed a few plays in the end zone that were real close. And close isn’t good when you’re trying to score points.”
After rushing for 101 yards and passing for 212 in the first half, the Huskers only had 9 yards rushing and 59 yards passing after halftime.
“It’s continuing to play,” Langsdorf said of the second half. “It’s always about being able to consistently run and then make some throws and catches. I thought they played us pretty tough. It seemed like we had some stuff there, and I think they made it tough.”
Nebraska also turned the ball over on a fumble in the fourth quarter, after a 15-yard catch by Stanley Morgan.
The Huskers’ first points came on an 80-yard TD reception by Morgan in the second quarter.
“We had a big angle and kind of took the top off the coverage and threw it over a linebacker and (Morgan) made a great play. Great catch and run,” Langsdorf said.
That was the seventh-longest pass play in school history.
Morgan had four receptions for 115 yards. JD Spielman had six catches for 79 yards.
Langsdorf thought Lee played well. He was 16-for-32 passing for 262 yards, with one TD and one interception.
“I thought he got rid of the ball and made some great decisions and gave our guys chances to make plays,” Langsdorf said.