Nebraska had plenty of questions to answer today against Arkansas State. Wondering whether they could keep their composure after their head coach falls ill was not one of them. Bo Pelini was seen on the sideline during the first half having his pulse checked. As he left for the locker room at halftime, he stated simply that he was “not feeling well”. Pelini did not return after halftime as he was taken to the hospital via ambulance. Thankfully, Osborne has stated that Pelini is doing well as of now. Osborne did not disclose the reasoning for Pelini’s hospitalization, but it seems to have been a precautionary measure. Certainly, we all hope for the best and that he will quickly recover from this battle.
To answer the question, not only did the Huskers maintain their composure (aside a few sloppy turnovers and a questionable special teams error), the players showed emotion and took care of business.
Leading up to this game, I spoke about the ripple effect. How the players and coaches need to feed off each other. Special kudos goes out to John Papuchis for, not only taking over the team in the second half, but showing an abundance of fire on the sideline. His passion paid off well. Despite turnovers and Arkansas State having favorable field position at times, the Blackshirts held for only 6 points. No offensive touchdowns allowed. Even better yet, the ripple extended to the Husker fans in Memorial Stadium. Some of the best crowd noise of the season. The Blackshirts had a lot to prove this week. Much further progress is needed, but the 3-4 gave the Blackshirts a new look and some new strength. Missed tackles are still a concern. The frustrations of watching a negative yardage play turn into a formidable gain is undeniable.
The offense was still the strongest asset coming into the game this week. The big question mark was the offensive line, and whether or not they could answer for the broken protection witnessed in the 2nd half at UCLA. The Pipeline has been a unit of halves so far this year, and the Big Red faithful still saw shades of that against the Red Wolves. In the first half, the offensive linemen created space for Abdullah and Martinez to run through, and Taylor had time to throw. Once more in the second half, however, the running lanes weren’t created and Martinez took some hard hits. One of those creating the fumble leading to Arkansas State’s only touchdown. Considering that Arkansas State is not known for their defensive ferocity, this issue will continue to be a growing concern moving towards conference play.
Husker Nation should enjoy this win today. Again, this 2012 squad is showing signs that they can compete at high levels. The offense is producing better than they have in recent years, and the defense is getting some necessary tweaks to move in the right direction. The return of Rex Burkhead certainly won’t hurt matters, either.
The big questions heading into Idaho State week are Pelini’s condition and whether or not that will effect team preparation, and can the players become fundamentally solid enough to play well and consistently through a full game?
Time will tell, but overall, this one felt good. Go Big Red, and Get Well, Bo!
By Tyler Wanek
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