Not that there weren't signs of improvement:
- Defensive front 7. The new players have significantly improved the depth of this bunch, and thus allowed more people to make more plays. Steve Octavian showed a knack for recognizing where the playwas going in his limited time.
- New punt return blocking scheme. Last year, Santino Panico took way more abuse from both punt coverage teams as well as fans than was necessary. On his post-game radio show, Bill Callahan even admitted that they really didn't put much heart into the punt return game. The player that stood out on punt returns for me was Blake Tiedtke. Tiedtke would line up over the ball, and then would break back just before the ball
was snapped to the punter to help block for the returner. The result? There were no tacklers within at least 10 yards of the return guy, allowing our return guys time to catch the ball and find their holes.
- Penalties. None!
- Offensive Line. I admit that I didn't follow the offensive line play as close as I should have, though.
- Zac Taylor. My concerns about Taylor from the spring game were apparantly shared by Callahan and Jay Norvell. Taylor opened the spring game with trouble taking the snap and with wobbly passes, but gradually calmed down once the game wore on. Last night, Callahan took the ball out of Taylor's hands for most of the first quarter. However, unlike our backup defenders, Maine was able to put pressure on Taylor, and Taylor alternated between some nice throws to Frantz Hardy, some wobblers, and some ill-advised throws that were picked off. A lot of Husker fans owe Joe Dailey a huge apology.
- Play calling. The opening ball-control series made sense in hindsight. Calling 3 straight passes once you've got 1st and goal at the 2 yard line still is bothersome. And apparantly the play communication system still is buggy, as Zac Taylor occasionally needed to run to the sideline to get the play.
However, what happened in Lincoln yesterday was not improvement. It can only be described as gravitating below mediocrity. If things don't turn around (and quickly), the boo-birds will be out in force.