Well that was…interesting. While Nebraska looked more confused than a bi-sexual Lou Holtz in the first half against San Jose State, the second half (okay, I’ll be honest - fourth quarter) was far more promising. I went back and had a look at my gripes from last week to see if they had been addressed. We had left off with Doc Oz’s thoughts that from game one to game two, you’re going to see the biggest improvements.
Not Good #1: The Running Game – 99 yards on 30 attempts? Yikes that’s harsh.
Not Good #2: Pass Defense - In a way I’m happy that Nebraska had the game that they did because it’s a severe wake up call to what they’re going to see out of the Missouri Tigers. On the other hand there were still far too many players not picking up their assignments properly and even getting straight up beat (I’m looking at you, Asante). Suh and Potter were the highlights. Everything else was concerning.
Improvement #1: Conditioning - With four quarters of mostly starters playing in this game, there was good rotation, effort seemed consistent and spirited throughout. There didn’t seem to be the sense that people were dragging and I commend the staff responsible for that.
Improvement #2: The Young Not Quite so Restless - A lot of the newbies got to see time and played well. Helu Jr. and Paul made their presence felt. I was very happy to see guys like Pat Witt and Marcus Mendoza get time even if it was brief. I feel fairly confident in saying that should the game have been more of a 55-7 affair, they would have seen a good five to six minutes at least.
In the end, some good, some bad, but there’s a problem: Some new very bad has cropped up.
Penalties: 12 penalties for 103 yards. That’s right, Nebraska gave up a football field’s worth of free yards and three of those penalties came right in a row when two wide receivers and a tight end of all positions decided to flinch.
Arm Tackling: When a player slips through your arms, it’s contagious like sneezing or booing Lee Corso. A lack of confidence spreads to teammates and even to the coaches regarding your ability when it is seen multiple times and does not bode well for anyone in your uniform. Far too many times there were people going for legs and jersey instead of body. I know well enough that Bo does preach himself a good fundamental and that tackling drills will more than likely be a frequency this week.
Play Timing: Okay, so we’re running playaction to the weak side, wait, what, you sure? Hey why's the play clock say "five"? This sort of ties into the penalty aspect as…again, seriously, three receiver/tight end penalties in a row? Confusion seemed to rear its ugly head today and, hey, we’re all human. We’re going to make mistakes. If Nebraska cannot learn their snap counts and to keep their mitts away from the facemask, they will pay for it and soon.
In the end, Nebraska learned that they have a long way to go to put together a solid season and maybe it’s for the best. It gives them all of the incentive to treat New Mexico State as Missouri (don’t feed me the “one game at a time” BS on this one). I liked how the staff addressed an attempt at establishing the run. It shows that they are actively looking to correct problem areas and for that they get a gold star, but as quickly as that Is affixed to their foreheads lack of fundamentals pop up.
The younger guys are coming along nicely but Asante continues to find himself out of position. The constant 5-7 yard hook route was constantly there for SJSU today in front of #4. Culbert’s presence was a welcome addition. Also, will someone please bench Mike Huff? Jon said it before me, but I echo it. I don’t care how well he grades out. Put D.J. Jones in there and let’s see how poorly the line does after he gets comfortable. Huff’s been at Nebraska how many years now and he can’t seem to grasp simple concepts? The mind boggles.
Regardless, Nebraska is in fact 2-0 and along with Big 10ers Ohio State and Michigan had some trouble today but came out on top. That said I think OSU gets creamed next week by the eventual National Champions in USC. Nothing personal Buckeyes, but I think USC is just that damn good and a good waist above everyone instead of head and shoulders. As for the Big Red? Still a work in progress in my eyes. That Suh guy's pretty good, though.
Next Up: New Mexico State (0-0 Nicholls State game postponed)