Failures in offensive line limits Nebraska ground game

Nebraska Offensive Lineman Boe Wilson and Matt Farniok warm up before a game. (NTV News)

LINCOLN --- Nebraska's average rushing yards per game for the season has dropped each time out since the bye week, a total of 18 yards over the last four games.

The Huskers, who came out of the Ohio State game averaging 133.6 yards per game are now 17th from last in the FBS, at 115.6 yards an outing.

"As an offensive line, I think we're going to be working on just being able to get our blocks down," said junior lineman Jerald Foster.

It showed it's ugly face again against Minnesota as Nebraska scraped together 69. Granted, they lost 41 yards due to sacks surrendered by Patrick O'Brien. And sure, there's injuries littering the backfield, but it's hard for anyone to find holes right now and the offensive line knows they need to get better in a hurry.

"In the broad aspect, I would say inconsistency of our run game," said Foster. "I felt like we started off the game against Minnesota running it really well, and just not being able to keep that throughout the whole game and being able to finish when we needed to on the 4th–and–1's that we had. Just not being able to get what we needed from those, that just goes back to consistency, just the push that we give."

The last play of the game was especially atrocious for the offensive line. It started with seven blockers facing three rushers from Minnesota. Center Cole Conrad had a nose tackle lined up directly over the ball, and Conrad went to his left after snapping it. Right guard Matt Farniok tries to cover Conrad's right side, but Merrick Jackson split them both. Right tackle Brendan Jaimes inexplicably slides down, leaving Jack Stoll, a redshirt freshman tight end, one–on–one with a defensive end. Stoll swung and missed when he tried to get his hands on the Gopher lineman. Meanwhile, running back Devine Ozigbo is in charge of cleaning up the Conrad whiff, and at about 100 pounds lighter than the DT, he had little chance of holding him off. The play resulted in two Gophers getting to Patrick O'Brien for a sack.

The pipeline has its work cut out for them this weekend. Penn State brings one of the nation's top defenses into Saturday's contest, giving up 318.3 yards (18th, FBS) and the 22nd-ranked rushing defense at 123.9 yards a game. Kickoff is at 3 p.m. on Saturday on FS1.

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