After The Nebraska Cornhuskers escaped with a win over The Wyoming Cowboys Saturday night, I caught up with Husker Corner staff writers Jimmie Allen and Leland Johnson to get their takes on a few topics.
What defensive position are you most worried about after Wyoming ran all over the Huskers?
Jimmie Allen: I honestly don’t think it is a player issue anymore. I understand that there are a lot of under classman on the defensive line and at linebacker. I really think something needs to change in Nebraska’s defensive system. Nebraska uses their defensive linemen to eat up blocks for the linebackers to pursue. I think that technique needs to go, because it seems like when a d-linemen has an open shot at a quarterback, they are hesitant.
The reason Bo Pelini never beat Mike Leach, and why Wyoming had so much success on Saturday, is because Nebraska doesn’t get any pressure. The Pelini system doesn’t allow defensive ends to pin their ears back, and with guys like Greg McMullen and Avery Moss, you need to let them pressure the quarterback. Nebraska hasn’t produced a good pass rusher since Lavonte David.
Leland Johnson: The guys up front have the size and speed we all thought was there, but the play-making talent might not be as strong as advertised. There seemed to be plenty of penetration into the backfield on most plays but no one seemed to break off a block fast enough to cause much trouble for Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith. Zero sacks and a one tackle for a loss, no surprise it was a three point game. It was good to see Randall, Gregory, and Vincent Valentine on the field.
Were there any aspects of the game that you felt good about? New players, systems, anything?
Jimmie Allen: I loved the offensive line and running backs on Saturday night. Terrell Newby is as good, if not better than advertised. Imani Cross looks faster and more explosive after cutting some weight in the offseason. I am not sure why Ameer Abdullah wasn’t involved much of the 2nd half of the game, but Nebraska’s rushing attach should be great all season. If the defense continues to struggle, running the ball well is going to be a necessity.
Leland Johnson: Saturday’s offensive performance proved it will be an exciting year for the Huskers. When the offense was rolling, it looked like this team could put up 60 points pretty easily. Terrell Newby definitely fits on the field, gaining an easy 76 yards on fifteen carries. Along with Ameer Abdullah’s speed and Imani Cross’ power, you won’t find a better trio of backs in the country. Taylor Martinez showed he still has big play ability, but also showed he’s still willing to gamble in order to try and accomplish them. Martinez was roughed up during the game, it caused me to gasp a bit.
Do you think the young defense learned from the experience Saturday night? Will they improve moving forward?
Jimmie Allen: The defense obviously learned a lot, but unless the scheme allows them to apply what they have learned, I don’t know how much good watching film is going to do. Bo Pelini coached teams have always struggled with quick passes and outside rushing attacks, no matter who the personnel was. This is something Bo Pelini and John Papuchis need to figure out.
Leland Johnson: I think the defense learned other teams are capable of running the up tempo offense just as effective, if not better than, the one they practice against everyday. Several times the Husker defenders appeared winded and on their heels reacting to plays instead of dictating them. I’m not so sure this group will put it together as fast as we’ll won’t them to. It will take some huge strides in week two against Southern Miss if the blackshirts hope to contain the dynamic offense UCLA will bring to Lincoln..