(I'm going to take a moment here to give myself the Phil Steele treatment. Steele is better than anyone at telling people about his predictions that turn out well. He says it so often, you believe it. I've taken note..... Ha!)
I told all y'all all the way back in April that the 2009 Cornhuskers might resemble Virginia Tech this season and it looks like it's come true. Our offense has struggled, partially due to injuries, partially due to a lack of playmakers, and partially due to youth (okay, Baylor can be attributed to the youth movement).
The Husker defense, however, has performed very well. The Blackshirts are fourth in the nation in scoring defense, tenth in rushing defense, 13th in pass defense (despite all those long plays we keep complaining about), and eighth in total defense.
Great defense, weak offense - if that doesn't sound like Virginia Tech... what does? Perhaps special teams play provides more evidence. The Huskers are tied for fourth in the nation at blocking punts and kicks. Eric Martin's punt block against Baylor and subsequent touchdown return by Justin Blatchford proved that the defense is capable of putting points on the board.
In order to do that, the defense must improve in gaining turnovers. Forget turnover margin for a moment, the Iowa State game blew that statistic as a useful comparison the rest of the season. Let's look instead at interceptions, where the Blackshirts are tied for 63rd, and forced fumbles, where they're tied for 30th. The Blackshirts played well enough against Baylor
So the Huskers resemble Virginia Tech - who cares? Well, since joining the ACC in 2004, the Hokies have won three out of five conference titles. That's not such bad company to be in, is it? I'm guessing most of you would say no.
What is bothersome to Husker fans is we're accustomed to blowing out teams with a dominating offense. Hate to be blunt about it, but that's not going to happen this season regardless of who's playing quarterback or what plays Shawn Watson calls. It should be obvious by now that we just don't have the players.
The good news is that our defense will keep us in every game this season. If they can make some plays like they did against Baylor, the Blackshirts just might be responsible for some wins, and that includes this upcoming game against the Oklahoma Sooners.
It's the uncertainty of the rest of the season that has most of us on edge. If the rest of the season were a metaphor for a single play so far, it would be Niles Paul's long catch and subsequent fumble against Iowa State. That single play resulted in a roller coaster ride between "big play touchdown" and "OMG $%$$)#($#)(*!!!!!!!" and that's what we're going to experience the rest of this season (although you hope that each game ends up more like the Missouri game of course).
Bottom line - the rest of this season is going to be hard to watch. The question is - why should this bother die-hard fans from a state known for its work ethic?