|Photo Courtesy of "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" via Facebook|
Some will remind us that it's insane to lose an Outland Trophy winner (who turned out to be a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate as well) and still expect to contend for a championship. Point taken...but teams lose players all the time in college football. Suh was special, to be sure...but Nebraska may have enough left in the tank to be pretty good on defense. Add in Pelini's proven track record in college football: whether it was 2003 Nebraska, 2004 Oklahoma, 2005-07 LSU, or 2009 Nebraska, Bo Pelini puts an outstanding defense on the field. Even that 2008 defense became ok by the end of the season, especially when you consider how the 2007 season ended defensively.
And yes, Nebraska's offense was putrid most of last season, though injuries help explain things. Zac Lee's arm injury. Roy Helu's shoulder and Rex Burkhead's foot. Offensive line injuries that eliminated any possibility of substitution in the final five games of 2009. The offense muddled through, and got a little bit better in the Holiday Bowl after a few weeks of healing. The offense has nine returning starters, and a three-way battle to be the starting quarterback is currently underway. My money is still on Zac Lee against Western Kentucky, but I'd keep an eye on Taylor Martinez.
One thing I did hear today sent chills down my spine...and for all the wrong reason. Defensive end Pierre Allen mentioned that Nebraska "definitely" could content for a national championship in an interview on KOZN's "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" today. Everybody talks it...even Baylor players mentioned it. But I also remember the last time I heard that coming from the mouths of a Husker player...and how it turned out. AJ the Huskerh8er loves to draw parallels between 2007 and 2010. And while I'm convinced this time is different, I also admit I didn't see that 2007 flameout coming like it did.
Looking ahead to this season, I just want to see improvement. Don't talk about it. Do it. I like the focus on "finishing" each and every game. Finish like they did at Missouri in the monsoon last season. Don't make the mistakes that killed them against Texas Tech and Iowa State. And continually push themselves to be even better, to make that one extra play, gain that extra yard, make that tackle, and make that last second irrelevant. Finish.