Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
I was sitting on my couch staring in disbelief. How could this game get so out of control so fast? Rather, how could this team be so fundamentally flawed? Jarring me from my disbelief, a loud cheer poured out of my television screen... Braxton Miller just ran for a touchdown.
Let me start by saying I am firmly on the keep Taylor Martinez in the game train. Look, I know he had four turnovers, but those are forgivable if you realize that he also kept Nebraska in the game for much of the first half and he was running for his life in both halves. For all Husker pundits clamoring for a backup, consider this. The backup options are Ron Kellogg III and Brion Carnes. Neither provide any upside over Taylor, and for all of the mistakes Martinez had, he was a playmaker and connected on a decent amount of his passes. Even more importantly, Nebraska scored 38 points. That should win a game. It didn't.
As a fan, I am angry (Sports angry mind you. I'm actually a pretty happy person in every other aspect of my life. Just wanted to make that clear for those of you who might get the two mistaken.). I am angry that Nebraska looks inept at times and absolutely dominant at others. I am angry that our coaching staff looked like they were playing checkers as the other staff was playing chess. I am angry that a defense that was #1 in scoring just three years ago is now a laughing stock. I am angry that I had flashbacks of this and this and this and this. There is just no excuses for it anymore. And yet, that is what I am hearing from coaches -- excuses.
Now let me be clear. Ohio State is a good team, but they are not a dominant force that should be scoring 60 points. Last week, Michigan State proved that they could be stopped. Hell, UAB proved this team could be at least contained. There is no way to sugarcoat it. Nebraska fan's biggest fear -- mainly, this defense is just too small and too slow to do much -- was confirmed on Saturday and the visions of Braxton Miller will be dancing in Bo Pelini's head all week. Obviously I could sit here and say, "Well sure, we could have played a better game and it would have been a lot closer and..." but that is naive at best, and probably extremely sheltered and lost at worst.
Three years ago, Nebraska could not score a point to save its life, but the defense kept it in every single game it played. Now, the offense can practically score at will, but the defense cannot stop any offense that rolls the pocket. The reality for this season is that Michigan and Northwestern will beat this team because it knows how to do just that and is capable of making life miserable for the Husker defense. I still believe Pelini can coach defense, but I am no longer confident in his ability to make adjustments and counter a running Quarterback. Rather, I am unable to believe he understands how to recruit to this.
Look, the Big Ten is not just 3 yards and a cloud of dust. Braxton Miller, Denard Robinson, Kain Colter, MarQuies Gray, and probably a slew of QBs I cannot name because the Huskers will not play them are all able to roll out of the pocket and beat you with their legs. This is not news to anyone, but it is frustrating to Husker fans who believe that sooner or later, we will figure it all out. Hell, if I was Iowa and Michigan State, I'd just run some form of Wildcat all day against this Husker defense and hope for the best. They just do not have good leverage on the snap and they do not have the recovery speed to contain out of their two gap.
All that to say, there is a problem brewing in Lincoln and if Pelini and his staff does not figure it out, his seat is going to get extremely warm. I am not calling for his firing and do not actually want to see him go, but the new reality is that he failed another test and boosters will not put up with blowouts on national television. Nebraska's new Athletic Director starts this week. He will be getting a lay of the land and meeting very important people. Pelini knows his shield will be leaving soon. It is time for him to rally the troops and get to work.
The upside to this? I think he still can. This team will not lose every game from here on out. This is an extremely dynamic offense that any defense will have difficulty defending. Offense can win ballgames, and Pelini will just have to get his team all on the same page this week. There are two weeks before Northwestern, and if Bo wants a run at Indy, it starts there. Back in 2009, Nebraska opened up just like this and rallied the troops to get to Dallas. If he wants to cool his seat, he best do the same this year. As a fan, I just hope it's not too late.