Husker fans wince every time a preseason prognostication casts doubts on Nebraska's chances in 2012. SB Nation Studios started their Top 25 countdown on Tuesday, and wasted no time in slotting the Huskers at #23. Behind Notre Dame and Clemson, mind you. An unofficial media poll released last week predicted the Huskers to finish third in the Big Ten's west division. Michigan and Michigan State are the favorites; only one out of 24 sportswriters picked Nebraska to win their division. (And lose to Wisconsin in Indianapolis, I might add...)
Tom Shatel noted that there was almost no buzz around Nebraska football at the Big Ten media days in Chicago. Earlier this month, some Vegas bookies set the over/under on Nebraska wins at 8.5. If Nebraska wins nine games in 2012 and you put your money down, you're a big winner in Vegas.
Yay.Why is that? Let's look at some of the reasons for pessimism in 2012. (Before anybody overreacts, this is part one. Part two is why "Husker Football Will Be Better in 2012".)
Nebraska got no favors from the Big Ten's schedule makers starting out. Last year, Nebraska lost by double-digits at Wisconsin and Michigan. Those games may be in Lincoln this year, but Wisconsin still has Montee Ball. Michigan still has Denard Robinson and Fitz Toussaint. Is home field enough to flip those matchups? Lost to Northwestern in Lincoln, mind you. Nebraska has to play a Joe Bauserman-less Ohio State team in Columbus, where this guy named Urban Meyer is ascending to the throne. Dr. Saturday even suggests the Iowa game "could be interesting."
Where would the Blackshirts have been last season without Lavonte David? Husker fans shudder at the thought. Well, he's gone for 2012. So is Alfonzo Dennard. Who are the playmakers that will fill those holes? There's your essay question.
ESPN had a field day on this in May, pointing out how Nebraska's quarterback regressed in the passing game last season. Statistics don't lie. And Martinez's fundamentals in the passing game are painful to watch at times. He's a two year starter; what you've seen is what you get.
The Pelini Hairball
Every year, Nebraska seems to lose a game or two they shouldn't. We saw it in 2009, losing to Iowa State with eight (count 'em, EIGHT) turnovers. 2010 had losses to Texas and Washington. Last year, Northwestern. And the final 30:05 of the Capital One Bowl, too. There's a trend here, folks...
Acceptance of Mediocrity
Last year, Bo Pelini started the season talking about being all about championships. By the end of the season, it was about "more than championships." When Pelini needs to hire assistants, he goes the buddy route and selects people he knows. Tim Beck had never been a coordinator before 2011; John Papuchis hasn't been a coordinator anywhere either. Other schools bring in all-star coaches to fill vacancies; Nebraska gives young guys their big break.
This is part one, where we look at the negative factors that indicate that the Huskers won't be better in 2012. Part two is where we'll pump sunshine and point out why the Huskers will be better.
So with that in mind, are these valid reasons why Nebraska football will not be better in 2012?