It’s refreshing to have a road game this early in the season. It gives the Nebraska football team, a chance to adapt to the atmosphere early before the big conference games come. Usually fans do not see a road game until the end of September, so this will be a big chance for the Huskers to show their road chops. A Big Red crowd is expected, but I’m willing to bet the blue and gold faithful show up for this showdown as well, so I’m willing to bank on that Martinez and Co. will have a decent amount of noise to combat.
Personally, I welcome that, and I hope the players do too. I believe that being on the road in a possibly hostile environment this early in the season well help show and prove what I’d really like to see from the Huskers this Saturday, which is consistency. Offensively, Nebraska is coming off a huge high from last week, as well as it should be. “First game” and “quality of opponent” aside, I think that’s the best the offense has played as a collective during a single game in the Bo Pelini era. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I’m still incredibly pumped from having ZERO turnovers. It’s been a while, hasn’t it, Husker Nation? It’s a great, yet not so great stat all at the same time. I’m thrilled that no turnovers were committed, though Taylor had a scare or two, but it was the first time in literally 3 to 4 years since that has last happened. I’m still not looking to get too picky this early in the season, and since the offense did so well last week, the turnover margin is where I’d love to see the consistency. Keep the ball off the ground, and Martinez throwing it to the right team colors. I have faith the receivers and the running crew will hold up their end.
On the defensive side, the Blackshirts received more flack than I feel they should have last Saturday. To the credit of the group, there was hardly any material to study before hand against Southern Miss, and the adjustments were pretty noticeable in the second half. On the other hand, I can understand how the fans can be concerned about how our defense isn’t showing a lot of dominance with a defensive-minded coaching staff. Though one also has to understand that the 2009 Blackshirts were a very special group that played at a level Nebraska hasn’t seen since the Charlie McBride glory days. Those glory days will return, too, but it takes time rebuild. This defensive bunch in 2012 has a ways to go yet, but I saw an abundance of promising young talent. They will have their day soon enough. For me, the consistency I’m looking for on this side of the ball is the consistency of overall improvement. Think Anthony Alford was a threat running the ball against the Blackshirts? Just wait until the Braxton Millers of the Big 10 come along. UCLA’s offense played stellar last week…against Rice. Nebraska’s offense play fantasic as well….against Southern Miss. (By the way, easily not the same 12 win team as last year. That comparison needs to stop in favor of reality.) In an honest outlook, both Nebraska and UCLA are looking about the same coming into this matchup. Defense is going to play a big part of which side ends up with the “W”. Here’s to hoping the Blackshirts gained some teeth this week.
Of course, I can’t end this and exclude the special teams. Special teams, special teams, where do I go from here? All I can really say this week is since there was no consistency to be found against Southern Miss in this department, how about we just scratch that one and pretend this is Week 1. Sound good? Fair? I’d like to hope so. Maher will be back tomorrow, I have no concerns about that whatsoever. The coverage team, though? Let’s just say that if kickoff doesn’t go through the end zone, I may find myself with my hands over my eyes. I’d personally love to see Pelini tear into that one a little bit more. It’s such a major dynamic to the game. Huskers fans know that. A 14-0 lead quickly evaporated to 14-14 tie because of the Eagles big special team spark. I’d personally love to see no consistency in 100-yd. kick returns. I have a feeling I’m not alone.
By Tyler Wanek
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