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Nebraska’s Defense Will Make or Break This Season and So Far It Isn’t Looking Good

A win over North Dakota is nice but the issues on the defense make it difficult to feel good about the season going forward.

North Dakota v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Watching Iowa struggle to pull a 7-3 win over South Dakota State yesterday was interesting. The Iowa fans were obviously upset with the state of the offense for the Hawkeyes. Many of the Nebraska fans took this very opportunity to take shots at Iowa.

I kept coming back and saying even when the game was in doubt for Iowa that no matter what happens they were going to find a way to walk away from the game against South Dakota State with win. The coaching staff will likely be fine with it and then they will go down the road.

Fast forward and to halftime of the Nebraska game where the Huskers are tied 7-7 against North Dakota which is also a FCS team though without the notoriety of South Dakota State.

Did I feel the same in regards to how I felt about Iowa?

Not even close.

I had zero confidence that Nebraska was going to pull out a win on Saturday. In fact, I wasn’t sure how Nebraska was going to get a win in 2022. Especially with the inability of the Nebraska defense to get off the field.

This is concern number one for this team.

As Robin Washut from on3 said in his article from the game:

There were defensive communication and alignment issues from the opening drive, not to mention another slew of glaring missed tackles and coverage breakdowns early on. On a fourth-down play at the end of the first half, UND converted a first down, and Nebraska’s players were running down the field celebrating as if they had no clue what had just happened.

I knew that this defense would not be as good as Erik Chinander’s 2021 version but I expected much better than what they are giving this team so far in 2022. We should expect growing pains for this offense as it continues to meld philosophical styles between Whipple and Frost.

That’s what we have seen so far through two games. There are reasons for hope for this offense. Nebraska had seven drives in the second half and scored on five of them — four touchdowns and a field goal.

The offense has Anthony Grant. He appears to be the running back workhorse that Nebraska has been searching for over the past five years of Scott Frost’s tenure.

Grant had 183 yards on 23 carries and he wasn’t exactly working with a dominating offensive line. He could be the shining star on the otherwise bleak start of the 2022 season. True freshman Ajay Allen doesn’t look too bad either.

It was expect that this defense was going to bail out this offense for the first part of the season, but against North Dakota it was the offense that bailed out the defense. After Casey Thompson’s interception Nebraska fan 26 plays. Twenty of them were runs. Maybe they are starting to find an identity.

That would be nice.

As of right now the identity of this Nebraska defense is missed assignments, missed alignments and missed tackles.

If they don’t get those things fixed then there is not much hope for this season.

The Morning After

Steven Sipple: Dire conversations among Nebraska fans at halftime turn more pleasant in the end, but anxiety will be prevalent this coming week in Husker Nation - On3
One win down, five to go for bowl eligibility.

If you’re a Nebraska football fan in that sort of mindset, you’re being a tad optimistic.

Granted, Nebraska on Saturday won its first game of the season, a 38-17 decision against North Dakota of the Football Championship Subdivision.

Final take: Nebraska was far from perfect in a 21-point win over North Dakota on Saturday - On3
Nebraska head coach Scott Frost was brutally honest about his team’s play on Saturday. His football team has a long way to go.

Five things we learned from Nebraska's win over North Dakota - On3
Here are five of our biggest takeaways following Nebraska’s 38-17 win over North Dakota on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Everything Scott Frost said after the win over North Dakota
It was a bit touch-and-go for a few quarters between Nebraska and North Dakota.

The Huskers found themselves in a close game with North Dakota in the second half as both offensive and defensive issues from last week lingered into the Huskers' second game of the season.

Grant tightens grip on top back spot with big day against North Dakota
There are plenty of questions coming out of Nebraska’s 38-17 win over North Dakota, but one of those isn’t the identity of Nebraska’s top running back.

Junior college transfer Anthony Grant carried the load for the Husker offense in Saturday’s win, juking and jump-cutting for 189 yards on 23 carries and scoring two touchdowns in the win. Grant’s performance backed up his 100-yard rushing performance in Dublin, giving a Husker back-to-back 100-yard rushing games for the first time since Devine Ozigbo in October 2018.

Frost after Husker win: This can be a great team but we aren't one right now
It didn't look like Scott Frost thought it would. But considering Nebraska hadn't won a football game since Oct. 2, you also don't crumple up the paper because there was some coloring outside the lines.

Nebraska Starts Slow But Puts Away North Dakota 38-17 - Corn Nation
It looked convincing in the end, but the same old problems showed up over and over