Monday, November 2, 2009
Pelini intent on improving Cornhuskers' rushing
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini is intent on improving production in Saturday's game against Oklahoma, despite facing the Sooners' ballyhooed rushing defense.
"We've got to get better production," Pelini said. "We need to run the football better. We've got to block better. We've got to run more consistently. We have to not miss holes. We just need to execute better in that phase of our game."
Despite producing 145 yards rushing against Baylor -- the most by the Cornhuskers since the third game of the season -- Pelini was disappointed with how the Cornhuskers finished the game in their rushing attack. Nebraska averaged 6.7 yards per carry in the first quarter against the Bears. But they produced only 78 yards on 28 carries over the final three quarters for an average of 2.8 yards per carry.
The Cornhuskers have shown a precipitous drop in running game production since conference play began. Nebraska averaged 183.8 yards per game and 5.7 yards per carry in the non-conference portion of their schedule, scoring 10 rushing touchdowns on 130 carries.
But since conference play began, those numbers have dipped. Nebraska is averaging 108.5 yards per game and 3.4 yards per carry against conference foes. The Cornhuskers have scored three rushing touchdowns on 129 carries against Big 12 opponents.
And it won't be any easier against Oklahoma, which ranks third nationally in rush defense and will be the best rush defense the Cornhuskers have yet faced. The Sooners are allowing 80 yards per game rushing, allowing only four opponents to top 100 yards against them in a game this season.
Pelini said his running game should get a boost with the return of I-back Dontrayevous Robinson, who was shaken up after catching a screen pass late in the third quarter against Baylor. Pelini said that Robinson should be ready to practice this week to get ready for Saturday's game.