Well, we talked about how the Nebraska Cornhuskers will win this opener vs. Fresno State earlier this morning. Now, we talk about the flipside of it all.
I get it, when you read the headline, you get mad… probably at me. That’s fine. You can tweet me (@mikersnow) or email me email@example.com and tell me why I suck, it wouldn’t be much different than any other week of writing these articles. I do enjoy some of the things I hear, I really do… so, lets begin.
The Offensive Line:
Tommy Armstrong has the capability of being an All Big Ten quarterback. Before the last two games last season, Tommy was just that. For Tommy to take the next step this season he is going to need to have time to throw, and at times he will need to be able to rely on a run game. The Nebraska offensive line is very young and inexperienced. Nebraska lost nearly all of its snaps on the offensive line from last year. If Nebraska can’t protect their quarterback, the turnover rate will stay the same, and the Huskers will have many of the same problems as last year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some missed blocks, and procedural penalties on Saturday. If this is the case, and Fresno State can get some momentum going, the game may be closer than people are comfortable with.
The Coaching Staff Doesn’t Make Changes:
Nebraska can’t lose to Fresno State, there is no way. How many times did you say this last year when reading this article? Well, it IS possible. If this coaching staff does not begin to mold the offense around what they have, not what they want, Nebraska is in a world of hurt. I would love to be able to throw the ball 40+ times every game, but that just isn’t realistic. Last year Nebraska threw the ball 40 times in a game five different times. In those five games Nebraska had a total of ZERO wins. Nebraska needs to establish a ground game and run play action off of it. Look at this offense. There is a wealth of talent at every skill position. The defense should never know what’s coming. If this coaching staff gets predictable and allows Tommy to throw all over the yard, there will be some problems, and those problems could lead to a close game on Saturday.
What if the Defense Doesn’t Improve?:
Last year’s run defense was phenomenal, due in large part to teams rarely sticking to the run, but the secondary was terrible. It is reasonable to expect the run defense to take a step backwards with all of the losses on the defensive line. With that taking a step back, Nebraska needs the pass defense to take a big step forward. If Nebraska doesn’t find a decent pass rush and the secondary is not as improved as people think it will be, even a team like Fresno State will be able to move the ball on the Huskers. It was the big plays that killed Nebraska last year. Nebraska gave up 18 plays of 40 yards which ranked 95th in the country. If the secondary improves this number should go down significantly. If not, Fresno State could be right in this game due to some big plays.
Nebraska Barely Wins:
Hey Michael, this is a why Nebraska will lose piece, yet you have them winning as a reason…
Let me explain. This may be the biggest week in recruiting in Nebraska HISTORY. The crowd should be electric, it’s a night game, and there are several highly prized recruits on campus. Say Nebraska is down by three with five minutes to go and somehow drives down the field for a game-winning touchdown. What will the recruits think? Are they going to want to play at a place that was 5-7 last year and hardly beat a BAD Fresno State team? I think not. This would not be a loss today, this would be a loss for the future of the program, which is far worse.
I really think Nebraska wins this game big, but they can still take a big loss at the same time. It is vital Nebraska gets through these first two weeks healthy. If they take an injury in the wrong place, say the defensive or offensive line, Nebraska could be doomed this season. The only way I can see this season going similar to last is if there are some big injuries. And with this game being a 28.5 point spread, Nebraska will need to get their top guys out of the game once it is hand to avoid any season crippling injuries to the wrong unit.