In 1984, Ronald Reagan once ended a Presidential Debate by asking if you were better off now than you were four years before. I was reminded of this question a couple of times last week, once over at BigRedNetwork and again on during afternoon sports talk radio. Today's 41-40 comeback win over Ball State only stengthen's my opinion.
Believe it or not, the Huskers are not a better football team than they were four years ago.
The instinctive reaction is to point to the Husker offense. Look over the offense, and yes, Nebraska is better. Quarterback Sam Keller is better, especially in this system. Wide receivers definitely are better. Last week, I thought that we were better at tight end with a pre-injury Matt Herian, but I'm not so sure after today's performance by Sean Hill. I think Cody Ross is a better running back than Marlon Lucky, but we have more, better depth. I think the offensive line might be a little better. So yes, the Huskers are better on offense.
Defense is now a whole another issue. Last week's defensive meltdown can be explained in part by the opponent. USC is a very talented team. This week's meltdown against a middle-of-the-road MAC team can't be explained. Yes, we were missing a few key defenders today. That doesn't explain over 600 yards. That doesn't explain the lack of physical play. That doesn't explain looking slower than a MAC school.
That's right...a MAC team has better defensive football players than the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
That a sobering thought...especially on a night when a lot of Husker fans are probably drinking heavily to forget what they saw today.
In fairness, there are a lot of games left this season, and plenty of opportunity to regroup. Plenty of opportunities to sway my opinion. I'd sure like to believe that we've got some playmakers on defense. But right now, I don't see them.