Five Things We Learned From The Southern Miss Game
1) The Defense Has Serious Potential: The Nebraska Cornhuskers defense put the debacle that was the Wyoming game in the rear view and gave us a glimpse of what the group is capable of. While they are far from perfect and by no means “fixed” they flashed the beginnings of something that could become special. Almost all of the newcomers made an impact in Saturday’s win, most notably defensive end Randy Gregory and middle linebacker Josh Banderas. It might not all come together this year, but how the defense rebounded against Southern Miss shows the real potential they have.
2) The Running Back Well Runs Deep: We all knew that Ameer Abdullah would lead the pack at running back in 2013. In my opinion, he had eclipsed Rex Burkhead as the best back on the squad mid way through last season. We also knew that Imani Cross was going to be a big factor for the Huskers offense. There was also hype about incoming freshman Terrell Newby in fall camp. What he showed in Saturday’s win might not show up in the stat line. This kid has the best balance I have seen in a Husker running back since Ahman Green. Before the criticism of this opinion starts, I said balance not overall skills. Regardless, this trio of backs worked well last weekend and will be a force moving forward.
3) Practice Makes Perfect: I was surprised when freshman Josh Banderas was named the starting mike linebacker for the Southern Miss game. Not because he doesn’t have the tools for the job, but because David Santos was viewed as a leader. He was given a Blackshirt that proved as much. Banderas, however, did a better job at practice leading up to game day and was awarded by starting over Santos. Nate Gerry and Micheal Rose also played a lot on Satruday, proving that coaches are all about starting the most talented players on the team.
4) Taylor Martinez Seemed Out of Character: No, this is not a sarcastic take on Taylor not turning the ball over. He just didn’t seem like the Taylor Martinez we have come to know. While all we can do is speculate, there are a few reasons that Martinez might have been off of his game. A- His shoulder is bothering him more than he and the team are saying, or B- Nebraska knows that Taylor will have to sacrifice his body this Saturday against UCLA, and the senior quarterback was a bit more reserved when running the football against Southern Miss.
5) The Offense Has A Lot of Room For Improvement: The 42 points the offense put on the board on Saturday were nice, but there are still a lot of kinks to be worked out with Tim Beck’s scheme. The mistakes were not as costly as they were in the season opener, but more work is needed for the offense to really be able to carry the team when the young defense falters. Quarterback Taylor Martinez is still not checking down as much as he should when his first option on a pass is covered. Tempo still seems to be an issue for Nebraska as well. This unit is good, but could be a lot better.