Diaco: Don't believe the numbers

The helmet of Blake Mack (16) gets jarred loose on the second to final play of the first half of the Arkansas State-Nebraska game on Sept. 2, 2017 (KHGI)

Arkansas State seemingly had their way for the most part against Nebraska in the season opener.

497 yards of offense with 415 of those from the passing game, 32 first downs, and a third down conversion of 54%.

Those are all meaningless numbers, according to Nebraska defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.

"When you think about the tale of the tape, there's 6:43 left to play (sic), and they have 26 points (sic) and 19 were given (sic), nine non-defensive points," said Diaco.

In reality, Nebraska led 41-29 until a safety was recorded because of an A-State holding penalty in the end zone at the 5:52 mark in the fourth and the Huskers regained the lead 43-29. Arkansas State had made it a 12-point game with a 31-yard field goal with 9:27 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Red Wolves did record a safety in the second quarter and also had a punt return touchdown, neither of which are attributed to the defensive scoring.

Diaco also believes the Huskers had a few moments when they allowed the Red Wolves a couple of extra points because drives continued. Those points totaled six.

"A third down stop that had a personal foul that kept the drive, a scoring drive, alive.

"Then an end of half routine play of force, that when we make that routine play routine, and there's not even an opportunity for them to trick the rule with two seconds left for them to take the helmet deal, where ever, however that went, to get that kick off at that time," said Diaco.

The play in question was the second to last play of the first half when Justise Hansen hit Blake Mack over the middle for a short pass and he was tackled at the Nebraska 22-yard line. Mack's helmet was clearly dislodged from its normal resting spot atop his head and Mack then removed it the rest of the way with two seconds left. The officials stopped the clock because, by rule, any time a player's helmet is dislodged, he is required to sit out the next play. Arkansas State hit a 39-yard field goal to send it to the half with Nebraska leading 27-26. The Red Wolves were rushing to get the field goal unit out before the clock resumed after the chains were re-set because the play resulted in a first down.

"So, even at that point, and think about that, so 26 at half time, that all happened in the first half, it took to about four minutes left (sic) to kick that field goal to get the first points of the second half, so at four minutes left, we're ahead by two full scores, four minutes to play - it didn't need to be as exciting as it was down the stretch," Diaco surmised.

The Red Wolves were a tipped touchdown off the hands of Kendrick Edwards away from tying the game as time expired. Arkansas State tied for the 41st most productive offense in the FBS through the first weekend with its accumulated yardage.

Nebraska plays at Oregon this week, and the Ducks torched Southern Utah for 703.0 yards and 77 points, the highest scoring offense of any FBS team.

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