Saturday, September 14, 2013

Are Husker Fans Calling A Code Red After UCLA Bombs the Blackout in Second Half

When Nebraska took a 21-3 lead over UCLA late in the first half, I was starting to feel the power of #teamSunshine permeating the Nebraska football program.  #teamSunshine is the term used at CornNation to point out that there are a good things going on in the Husker program.  I almost tweeted something about it, in fact.

I'm glad I didn't.

From that point on, #operationRaincloud became the dominant opinion.  Four of Nebraska's next five drives went three-and-out.  All told, after Nebraska took that 21-3 lead, Nebraska had just eight first downs and 146 yards of offense.  And most of that occurred after UCLA flipped that 18 point lead to a 17 point deficit.

I suspect most fans are upset about the defense; I'm not as worried about that.  In my opinion, Nebraska's offense is it's biggest issue right now.  We knew the defense was a rebuilding project, but the offense was supposed to carry the team.

That isn't really happening.  The running game is average, at best.  The real disappointment is the passing game.  This offseason, I've felt Nebraska had the best receiving corp in the Big Ten.  I still think that.  But for some reason, offensive coordinator Tim Beck seems content to just throw screen passes to them.  High percentage passes, I suppose.  But it doesn't stretch the field, and frankly, when you do it over and over, it encourages defenses to stack the box...and it only makes it more difficult to run the ball.

Today's offensive ineptitude probably was magnified by Taylor Martinez's ankle; after the game, it was in a boot, which probably explains why Martinez lost 13 yards rushing today.  Martinez pretty much was one-dimensional today, which makes Nebraska much easier to defend.  So why on earth do you call that many option plays (which Martinez doesn't run particularly well to begin with) when he's obviously injured?

I'm not as down on the defense as it seems other fans are.  I see good things from the young defensive line and linebackers.  Avery Moss and Randy Gregory each had eight tackles, and were disruptive at times.  (How he missed Randy Hundley on that one scramble in the third quarter is an amazing testament to Hundley's ability.)  The secondary is a huge disappointment.  Stanley Jean-Baptiste had another interception, but that seemed to be it.  Ciante Evans got schooled at times, and Andrew Green is just as out of position at safety as he was at cornerback.  Harvey Jackson missed a couple of tackles that enabled that third quarter meltdown, and while Corey Cooper led with tackles, his personal foul for a late hit led to a touchdown instead of a field goal.

So which is the real Nebraska:  the one that led UCLA 21-3, or the one that got blown out 38-0 over the last 35 minutes?  I lean towards the 21-3 version, personally.  Open up the passing game and utilize those "best receivers in the Big Ten".  Loosen up the secondary to allow Ameer Abdullah and the other backs to get some yards.  Get some first downs and get the young defense off the field.

My e-mail is full of calls for tar and feathers.  People comparing 2013 to 2007.  Folks, it's September 14th.  UCLA might turn out to be a pretty good team.  But in my opinion, Southern Cal wasn't what got Bill Callahan fired.  It was the narrow escapes against Ball State and Iowa State.  It was the blowouts by Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Kansas, and Colorado.

And despite all of that suckage, Bill Callahan stayed to the end of that bitter season.  So no, Bo Pelini isn't going to be fired tonight.  Or tomorrow.  Or Monday.  No matter how many people scream on Twitter, and on Big Red Overreaction. Now, if Bo Pelini can't start giving us more football like the first half and less (much less) like the second half, we'll have that conversation after Thanksgiving.

But not before the autumnal equinox.


James Leroy Wilson said...

The program hasn't been nationally relevant since 2001, when today's high school seniors were in kindergarten. What's disappointing is the seeming lack of progress over the Pelini years. It's a Top 30 program, but not Top 10 or Top 15. And similar ex-powers who experienced doldrums in the mid to late 00's (Florida State, Notre Dame) seem to have revived.

I C RED said...

Saturdays game is a reflection of a trend. We can all place blame wherever but if you look at the numbers and analyze the stats you will see the trend. The team consistently shows (especially in 2nd halves) that they come out with no adjustments and no leadership. We don't have the "go for the jugular" mentality. We don't have good leadership. Our coaching is lackluster at best. After you look at the stats for this game, as well as those for the last 5 years under Bo, the trend is not deniable. As an avid fan, season ticket holder for over 30 years, and as a significant contributor, I am tired of "the process" and "missed assignments" and "I don't know" comments! When it comes to "ACCOUNTABILITY" , just ask yourself the following: Who is accountable for; 1) selecting and recruiting the talent? 2) Raising that talent to a higher level with consistency? 3) Putting the right people (other coaches and players) in the correct positions to be successful? 4) Making adjustments during the game and particularly at halftime? 5) Choosing the right leaders and motivating them WITH POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT? After too many Big Game Debacles, it's time BO looks in the mirror and gets some help with his own weaknesses - make us BOLIEVE! Do whatever is needed and if you "don't know" - then you either need to find someone who does or the fans will find that someone - SHOW US TRUE LEADERSHIP, SHOW US THE PRODUCT AND REVERSE THE TREND!

Husker Mike said...

The trend is clear; everybody knows it. But some of these issues take longer - much longer - to resolve. Start with your first argument: talent.

We've had some talent issues on defense start to emerge the last couple of years. But when you look deeper, I've come to the conclusion that Bo Pelini saw these problems coming back in late 2010. He started making changes then. Recruiting coordinator Ted Gilmore was gently jettisoned, and Nebraska refocused their recruiting on the defensive line and at linebacker.

We're starting to see the results. Avery Moss, Vincent Valentine, Randy Gregory, Josh Banderas, and Nathan Gerry are all a result of those changes. But they are freshmen.

Now, does Pelini need to redouble his efforts to get his players fundamentally sound? Absolutely. That's on him.