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Midseason Roundtable: How Have The Huskers Fared So Far?

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In part 1 of our Midseason report, the CN staff talks about how the Huskers have gone so far this year.

David McGee

It's the middle of the season for your Nebraska Cornhuskers. With a record of 5-1, Nebraska is in the thick of things for the Big Ten title race.

What does our staff think about how the season has gone so far? Well, we asked them and they answered.

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What’s your thoughts of the season so far for Nebraska?

Cobcast Ryan: It’s been decent. We are basically doing what I thought we would. However I did think we would beat Michigan state. Im not impressed but I’m not mad.

Paul: I began the season with much lower expectations that most in the Husker community.  Everything I had pointed to a 7- or 8-win season.  However, after we closed out Miami to finish the non-conference season 4-0 and then punched Illinois in the face and took Tim Beckman’s lunch money I came to realize that this team could be something special...or at least something more than we’ve seen from Pelini-coached teams in the past.

I still feel that way.  The way the offense played in East Lansing is beyond frustrating.  But it was a night that nothing went our way for 3 ½ quarters.  And since it’s clear that Michigan State is at least a little bit better of a team than Nebraska, the Huskers would need some good luck and great play to win at night on the Sparty’s home turf.  That ALMOST happened.

Jon: It’s about where we thought we’d be, realistically, isn’t it? The majority of Husker fans had the Michigan State and Wisconsin games as losses.

David: Hmmm, not sure about that. I heard a lot of worries coming into the season about going to Fresno (something I was on record back in July saying should not be a game Husker fans should be afraid of) and playing Miami. I think a lot of people feared starting the season 3-3. Does that fit into your realistic category? I’m not sure. Winning those two games calmed the nerves of some fans. MSU reopened them. Personally, they’re about where I thought they’d be with an opportunity to really take control of the division over the next four games or so.

Ranchbabe: We are probably in a little better shape than I thought pre-season. Of course, after the first 4 or 5 games, my expectations had gone up a bit, so it feels like a letdown even though it shouldn’t.

Ty: I was super worried about our non-conference schedule putting us in an uphill battle coming into the B1G season.  Didn’t happen.  Save the McNeese hiccup and the first three quarters against MSU, it’s been a nice season to watch.  I’d love to see Tommy develop (I did see him check down at least once against MSU… okay, only once) and I’d REALLY love for our wideouts to stay healthy!  However, I believe I said we COULD be a 10 win team after the regular season, and that still looks like a possibility.

Brian: I have no qualms about how the season looks so far. Granted, there are about 6 quarters you can take back (back 3 of McNeese St, first 3 of Michigan St), but for the most part, Nebraska has played well outside of that. Now, that all being said, Nebraska could very well be a illegal formation away from 4-2 and such. It’s not bad to be lucky, but at the same time, it’s good to realize that the best games & part of the season in front of themselves.

What has been the highest point in the season so far?

Cobcast Ryan: Beating Miami. I was there and it was epic.  Even if they were the worst team in the history of teams I would still thoroughly enjoy beating them.

Paul: Miami.  No Contest.

David: From an emotional standpoint, it was Miami, but I think from the standpoint of easing fears, manhandling the Fresno St. team was a very underrated moment of the season. There were a lot of people that were uneasy about that game. NU passed with flying colors.

Jon: I’d have to go with Miami as well, specifically the performance of the offensive line and the rushing game.

Ranchbabe: Miami. The student section got some nice positive press going for the Huskers, and the ‘94 team on the sidelines…. can they come to all the games? Please?

Ty: Miami.  That was a great way to ease some fears.

Brian: Miami for sure. Not a lot of people have seen the fanbase that charged up for a game, and to have the team actually play well in front of the hype fans and media put in front of it was satisfying.

What has been the lowest point in the season so far?

Cobcast Ryan: The McNeese State game was unacceptable. If it continues to be a wake up call and they don’t overlook other teams then at least there’s a positive. If they don’t then it's reminiscent of other eras.

Paul: Michigan State.  Maybe #clapgate had something to do with it, but our offensive line got slobberknocked in a way that I hadn’t seen since 2007.  I don’t know what the problem is, but it has to be fixed or Nebraska will never be a national contender.

Jon: Michigan State, specifically the performance of the offensive line. It’s like they thought they’d just show up and the other team would fall over in awe of them. Jake Cotton and the fallover in the stance - it is easy to pick on him as the failure poster boy? Well, now it is. And he has no one but himself to blame.

Ranchbabe: Had the ‘Ameericle’ not happened, McNeese was shaping up to be a low point in program history--not just this season. Fortunately, the Huskers pulled that one out and we are not going to schedule FCS teams again. They are bad for the blood pressure. Even  the offense’s crappy first 3 quarters against the Spartans did not have the huge implications that losing to McNeese would have had. The Huskers got lucky.

Ty: McNeese, but only because of the fact that a couple of key penalties were able to completely derail the team.  That focus HAS to improve the rest of the way.

David: Watching the oline get manhandled vs. Michigan St. was probably the low point for me. We’ve supposedly got talent there and everyone says Garrison’s a good Oline coach, but it sure didn’t show in East Lansing.

Brian: First 3 quarters of the Michigan State game. There’s something to be said about the final quarter yes, but you can’t forget that for the first 50 minutes or so, Nebraska was a hollow shell of itself in many parts of the game, including the staff and mental aspect.

What do you think has been the biggest surprise on the team?

Cobcast Ryan: Bo Pelini’s calmness. I liked the fire but I appreciate his ability to restrain himself. I also like Byerson Cockrell and Gangwish, I hadn’t given them much thought in the preseason but I think they’ve played well when they’ve needed to.

Paul: A tie between the Blackshirts and Demornay Pierson-El.  The defensive line has been sterling, which has taken a lot of pressure off the secondary, allowing them to overcome devastating injuries.  For 3 ½ quarters the Blackshirts kept the Spartans contained just enough to give the offense time to mount a comeback.  And DPE has been amazing.  I had almost given up hope that a Pelini-coached team could return a punt or kick more than 5 yards.

David: I think DPE has been a surprise to everyone except himself. I’ll be curious how much more he gets the ball kicked to him and if NU gets creative in how they combat that.

Jon: I’d have to say Ameer Abdullah. We knew he was good, but this year he’s on a completely different level from where he was last season. He’s a beautiful player, and his offensive line did nothing to help him against Sparty (sense a theme here?).

Ranchbabe: Pierson-El has been the best surprise. I was merely hoping for competence on special teams and he has exceeded my wildest dreams. I know no one will ever kick to him again for the next 3 ½ years, but it was worth it to see that punt return against Sparty.

Ty: For me, McMullen.  He’s made it so both sides of the D-Line are solid, if not, ya know, good!  He’s been able to make a ton of plays and has made his name one that quite a few fans can (and should) throw out when people talk about the defense this year.

Brian: Beyond a shadow of a doubt Pierson-El. Nebraska’s punt return was literally non-existent last season. Now it’s something that gives you hope to take it back every time since, what, DeJuan Groce?

What do you think has been the biggest disappointment on the team?

Cobcast Ryan: The O-Line needs to get its shiz together. I feel like last year they got better as the season went on and ended on a high note so I hope they can do it this year too.

Paul: I’m with Ryan...the offensive line is one of the most experienced in the Big Ten, and they got pushed around like 8th graders versus Michigan State.

Jon: Inconsistency and Kenny Bell’s injuries. Jason Peter had a point when he went off about the team not holding themselves accountable for every play, every game. Execution suffers because of it. Bell’s injuries aren’t his fault, but it’s disappointing in that the Huskers lose a dynamic player on offense when he’s out. I’d like to see him set as many records as possible, and win a Big Ten title. Hopefully he’s okay the rest of the season.

Ranchbabe: Michael Rose tearing his ACL.

Ty: Jamal Turner’s Achilles.  Man.  I know Tommy’s passing isn’t perfect, but if we had Turner, Bell, and Westerkamp as the top three healthy receivers…  Well, I don’t want to finish that… It’s almost too much to hope.

David: I guess I was hoping to have seen Tommy take a bit more of a jump passing the ball, especially the short to intermediate routes. Some of those have been painful to watch.

Brian: I have to share on the OL, but only in the aspect that the blocking for the running game has seemingly gotten worse, while the pass protection has gotten better. And it’s not only the right side of the line, Alex Lewis and Jake Cotton need to be added onto this. Penalties were a killer for Lewis against Michigan St.

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What does the staff think about the future of the Huskers season? Part 2 drops tomorrow.