Mike Riley’s Cornhuskers Rebounding Thanks to Sound Minds

Disciplined football, fewer penalties have been key to Nebraska's recent stretch of strong play

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. Late American entrepreneur Jim Rohn once said that and it certainly applies to Nebraska football’s 2015 season.

 

Penalties will be the death of a football team’s dreams, their goals, their accomplishments. In the month of September, the Cornhuskers averaged nearly 11 flags per game. That’s a good way to lose any contest, regardless of the opponent. However, the Big Red is clearly gelling under head coach Mike Riley’s watch.

 

In October, Nebraska nearly slashed its shaming by the refs to six penalties per tilt. After crushing the College Football Playoff hopes of Michigan State and knocking off Rutgers, the Big Red has shaved that number down to four.

 

It’s no coincidence that Nebraska is able to upset teams like the Spartans when they play disciplined football even when hobbled. Nebraska lost the turnover battle by one versus the green and white, but Michigan State stacked 76 yards worth of penalties on top of its performance. Nebraska only totaled 55 yards.

Six of those Spartan penalties came in the second half while the Huskers committed zero. Zilch. Nada.

While Nebraska lost the third quarter 14-7, that discipline was rewarded with a 19-7 fourth quarter and…well, you know the rest.

 

All two of the Big Red’s penalties against Rutgers were for a combined 15 yards and came in the second quarter.

 

What does this mean? It certainly speaks to offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh’s ability to keep his unit from jumping very much as the year’s gone on. The illegal procedure penalties that were too common earlier in the year were cleaned up, too.

 

In short, the Big Red’s game was polished up, which puts this team in a prime position to knock off yet another top-ten opponent when Iowa comes to Lincoln the Friday after Thanksgiving.

 

It’s always ideal to keep that turnover margin in your favor or at least even, but playing crisp, clean ball likely sends the fans home happy next weekend.

 

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and like his Facebook page.

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