I never have been a big fan of playing Wyoming. Despite owning what is now a 7-0 all-time record against the Cowboys from the Western borderlands, I have always thought they played Nebraska tougher than anyone believed they should. More frightening, their coach does not exactly have any problems giving Pelini fits on the field. These thoughts, and others, were painfully clear as I watched the carnage unfold on Saturday -- giving way to what will surely be overreaction on pretty much every front. The following are thoughts of mine in light of the almost-terribad game against the Cowboys. (Note: I have note read comments, commentaries, or much of anything since Saturday. I shut it off, went about my business - and busyness... been an intense ten days for me - and am now coming around to figure out what week one meant.) (Also note: I actually did watch the game... At times I wish I didn't)
Nebraska Is Super Young, Especially on Defense
I'm sure that every Big Ten offensive coordinator laughed as the middle of Nebraska's young defense got pulled out of position by pre-snap motions over and over. That gave the athletic Brett Smith ample time to pull the zone-read off right up the gut. 1,000 yards later - or what seemed like it - Wyoming proved that Nebraska's defense is not where it needs to be yet. In the second half - before the meltdown at the end - Nebraska's coaches seemed like they were starting to get things under control, but bad penalties gave Wyoming extra chances that they capitalized on. I still believe that Nebraska has the athletes on defense to not suck, but I have less and less faith in the scheme.
Nebraska's Offense Does Not Suck
Here's the super cool thing about Nebraska. Their run game is pretty spectacular. Since Nebraska almost lost, there are things that get lost in the wash. One of those things is that Nebraska looked three-deep at running back. Imani Cross easily had the run of the night when he busted out the double spin. Ameer Abdullah broke the 100 mark. Oh, and True Freshman Terrell Newby showed he will be something DC's across the B1G will have to worry about.
Nebraska's Coaching Decisions
Offensively, I think Tim Beck was trying to stay vanilla and that backfired at times. He did have some good setup plays, but damn if conservative didn't almost backfire. As for Pelini and Papuchis? The defense needs to get better in a hurry. Dave Christensen knows offense. Missouri was the last team to come into Lincoln and make a mockery of Nebraska on the Memorial turf and he schemed perfectly. I do not necessarily believe that they will see multiplicity like they did on Saturday. Wyoming threw the playbook at the Cornhuskers, and it almost worked. With that said, Nebraska is a more athletic team and really should have won by around 20 or so. Still, would you bet on this team winning more than 9 games right now? Pelini knows the fanbase is angsty. It's time to bounce back and throttle a horrible Southern Miss team in prep for what will be potential insanity against UCLA. Can you say all the points?
Why any of this matters to B1G fans
And here is where I'll come in for a landing. Look, I'm not recapping the game at the level I could because Corn Nation and other sites will give you the stats. What I am saying is that College Football is often about trends. Nebraska's offense? Still trending up. Sure they left some points on the board, but they also didn't exactly come out swinging. Nebraska's defense on the other hands... That is a specifically bad trend down. Week One has a way of convincing people that the world is ending or that their team is National Champion. Wyoming will be a better team than they were last year, but not a world beater. Nebraska will be a better team than they are now - and people thinking otherwise would be wise to hold off on betting the demise of the Huskers - but probably not enough so that it will satiate fans' desire for a championship anything.
Bottom line? Nebraska has three weeks to get their affairs in order for Big Ten play. If they don't do that, it's going to be a long year for the Bugeaters.