The Nebraska Cornhuskers have an opportunity in front of them, and it’s Golden. The Southern Miss Golden Eagles have not won a game since Nebraska defeated them 49-20 last season at Memorial Stadium. Their embarassing 22-15 loss last weekend to Texas State marked the teams thirteenth loss in a row. Call them the unlucky thirteen.
Nebraska is at an early crossroads in 2013. Many people, myself included, expected Nebraska to put up anywhere between 42 and 56 points against Wyoming last week. I also expected around 350 to 400 yards and 20 points to be surrendered by the Blackshirts. Instead the team limped out of Memorial Stadium with a meager 37-34 three point victory.
The timing for this game could not be any better for The Nebraska Cornhuskers. With the UCLA game next weekend, the Huskers need a game to build confidence and this is a golden opportunity to get that done. Southern Miss threw the ball over fifty times against Texas State last week and only ran the ball 23 times. This should give Nebraska the chance to work on their pass rush. The Huskers only had one tackle that resulted in lost yardage for The Cowboys. Nebraska’s defense, in theory, could have a field day with a weak Golden Eagles offensive line.
The apparent lack of a running game in Southern Miss’ offense should help a young Husker defense gain confidence. People can overlook the mental aspect of football. We all witnessed the defense struggle with the up tempo and multiple offense Wyoming threw at them. That can take a toll on the psyche of a young athlete trying to find their way at a big time program. A game that allows them to make a few plays and build confidence can go a long way in making this young defense forget about their week one mistakes.
The game one miscues and failures can be erased with a few sacks and tackles for loss. Imagine if Randy Gregory can get to Golden Eagles quarterback Allan Bridgford a few times. A few quarterback hurries and a sack or two would do wonders for his confidence. The same can be said for defensive tackle Vincent Valentine. David Santos and the rest of the linebackers can earn a little redemption by making open field tackles and not forgetting their assignments.
The coaching staff has a chance for redemption as well. Hopefully offensive coordinator Tim Beck has learned that a conservative offensive effort can limit their ability to put up points. It was great seeing the line’s improvement from last year as well as the rushing numbers the team put up, but keeping the ball out of the hands of the wide receivers was a mistake. Beck’s play calling has to be better this week.
The same goes for defensive coordinator John Papuchis. He needs to have his defense better prepared for Southern Miss, young unit or not. The d lineman need to get penetration and those backers need to be in the right spot to make plays. The opportunity in front of Nebraska is too good to balk at. They only have eleven days until the season really begins.