For much of this afternoon, that nightmare kept recurring to me. The game started fine, as Nebraska marched down the field on their opening possession and scored. It helped that Southern Miss decided not to challenge the secondary most of the first half. But Nebraska's sharp start couldn't be sustained, and the Huskers settled for five first half field goals.
I knew Southern Miss had the receivers to dominate the Nebraska secondary, so that halftime lead was extremely uneasy to me. And as the second half went on, I got more and more uneasy.
I'm going to have to chew on this one s bit, but there are several areas of extreme concern to me as I return from the game:
First, Nebraska still doesn't have a true #1 I-back. Terrell Newby is a nice scatback, but he's not an ever down back. Imani Cross is a short yardage back, not a game breaker. Mikale Wilbon actually looked like the best back against BYU, but hasn't seen the field in a meaningful situation since. WHY? Clearly, the coaches see something that we don't...but the evidence that Newby and Cross aren't the answer is pretty decisive.
The secondary played better at times today, but soft coverage continues to be a known failure point. That might not hurt much against Wisconsin and Minnesota, but Wes Lunt certainly can exploit it next week.
For a team with a dedicated special teams coordinator, Nebraska sure seems ill-prepared to defend the onside kick.
12 penalties once again means that this issue isn't going away soon. Yes, a couple were questionable, but it's still alarming.
How any more groin injuries this week? This is starting to become a real trend...is it systemic?
Please stop crediting this staff with "improved tackling." Because tackling is not improved by any means.
Frankly, that applies to just about everything with this staff. Other than the play of Tommy Armstrong and our linebackers, it's difficult to point to any thing that's improved at this point. It's way too soon to declare anything as a failure at this point, but the signs on progress aren't clear at all.