Last week was one of the worst defensive performances in school history. Last week was an offensive line folding under pressure. Last week was a special teams unit uncharacteristically continuing to struggle. Last week was a coaching staff that couldn’t show the answers needed to adjust and to win. Last week wasn’t just any loss on the road.
It didn’t end there. Turns out this loss had a ripple effect in a different way. This week in practice, the Huskers suffered an unfortunate season ending injury to a great talent in Tyler Wullenwaber. This week in practice, Chase Rome out of blue is no longer a Blackshirt, and no longer on the team in general. All the while, Bo Pelini making it very clear that particular subject needs to stay silent.
What a week, Husker Nation. What a week.
From that build up scenario, it would appear that Nebraska is already dancing the wrong tango in 2012. Two steps forward and about five steps back. Well, for me as a fan and observer, it depends on the perspective. Just like another week, this one is in the past. Only because the season is only two weeks in, and only if these negatives are tackled with grace and knowledge, these occurrences are also highly positive.
My belief is that Husker fans are going to be watching the coaching staff more closely than individual player performances today against Arkansas State. Obviously, the coaches are not responsible for everything that happens on the field. The team as a whole takes mutual responsibility for a breakdown. However, a majority of the flaws last week were fundamental, and the coaching staff is responsible for getting that vessel back on course.
Bo Pelini has never appeared to be much of a betting man. So far, his biggest gamble was sending Alex Henery out to kick a season-saving field goal. Luckily, that turned out really well for everyone involved (and thank you, YouTube, for allowing me to watch that play more times than is probably considered healthy). At that time, though, Pelini and the Huskers had their back against a wall. Now, it’s only the third game of the season, and it’s still non-conference play.
Could it be time for Pelini to roll the dice and take a gamble? In this case, should he bring in different players to start the game? Try and see if maybe Nebraska hasn’t found its winning combination for the starting 22, yet? Pelini has already made one switch with Brion Carnes by moving him to wide receiver. I’m curious to see how that plays out. There are 2 weeks left before conference play, where another loss could really injure how high the Husker ceiling can go this year. That being said, also, no disrespect paid to Arkansas State. Rotating in a new batch of players against the Red Wolves is a true gamble, because this squad has plenty of threats to offer the Big Red today. I don’t believe Tom Osborne pays a cool $1 million to have a cupcake crew come to Lincoln. I don’t believe Husker fans will see the kind of beating teams like Savannah State had been receiving so far (no offense, Tigers).
That’s what I would like to see out of today’s matchup. I’m hoping to see some growth out of this coaching staff. It still has fresh faces, and it still needs to find its groove. Let’s see if they answered UCLA’s wake-up call. This is a grand opportunity to create a new and better ripple effect. Growth as coaches brings growth to players, and the end result, growth as a team.
It’s a new Saturday in Husker Nation. You’re on, Pelini and Co. Get that swagger back.
By Tyler Wanek
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