Part of my job here is to entertain you with a refreshing perspective on sports, and most importantly, Nebraska athletics. While that is my specialty, I also blindly dabble in arm chair psychiatry. Consider this blog our first session. Please sit down and make yourself comfortable.
📍 – Oregon
— Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) September 9, 2017
Let us start with a little introspection and be a self reflective fan base for a moment. From what I gather, most of the Husker faithful is now leaning towards a 8-4 season at best after last week’s showing. I get it. The Huskers looked less than impressive in their opener, so naturally the season outlook will be a little less optimistic. Rightfully so. However, as a fan base, it is important to remain objective. If we do that, then it is plausible that the Arkansas State game was not as big of a let down as we thought. Were there mistakes and missed assignments? You better believe it. Does this mean the season is doomed and Oregon rolls Nebraska in Eugene? Hard no.
Before we go any further, you should know I am not a Mike Riley apologist. Hell, I am not a “Mike Riley Guy”. That said, he is “The Guy” and as he goes, the program goes. This blog is not an excuse party, it is a therapy session and a bold prediction. So let’s carry on.
Like I said, Arkansas State is a pretty damn good mid major team. The Red Wolves are trending up thanks to Head Coach Blake Anderson and company. On the flip side, Nebraska as of right now, is a slightly above average power 5 team. If you’re looking from the outside in, last week’s result may not be as much of a shocker. But looking from the outside in is not something we do here, nor should we. As Husker fans we are in the thick of it. Football is literally all we care about in the fall and it should stay that way. That said, when you are so close to something it is easy to lose perspective. I think last week’s game was a prime example of this.
Looking at today’s game in Eugene, OR against the Ducks, the knee jerk assumption is that Nebraska will lose big. Vegas would agree, as the spread is currently at +/-13 in favor of the Ducks. What Vegas doesn’t take into consideration is all the intangibles. Things such as comparing each teams match ups from the previous week. As we all know, Nebraska played Arkansas State in an offensive shootout. The Red Wolves were 8-5 last season with a conference championship to boot. Oregon played Southern Utah, an FCS team that went .500. Nebraska was challenged, Oregon was not. The Huksers faced adversity and had to make changes to overcome, the Duckies did not. Oregon rolled their far more inferior opponent and did not have to adapt or change their strategy in anyway. Although Nebraska struggled at points, the “gut check” and experience they gained is invaluable, especially this early in the season.
— Joe Quinn (@JoeESPN590) September 5, 2017
So what needs to be done for Nebraska to achieve victory? First and most obvious, Nebraska needs to step up defensively. Although last week’s defensive scheme was very bland to say the least, most likely to limit what the Ducks could see on film, it still had many weaknesses exposed. The linebackers were out of position at times. Defensive backs often gave too much cushion and missed a few open field tackles in the bubble screen game, leading to larger chunks of yardage. Meanwhile the defensive line struggled to get much of a pass rush against the Red Wolves rapid fire dink and dunk offense. It goes without saying, Oregon will look to expose Nebraska in the same way Arkansas State had.To shore up their defensive woes and knock the Ducks off their rhythm, Nebraska will have to show some exotic looks on defense; control the line of scrimmage with the run defense, limit big plays and get pressure on sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert. I believe they will. Look for Herbert (who threw only 4 int’s last year) to throw two picks in this game.
Offensively, Nebraska had a strong showing. Tre Bryant ran the ball very well with his shiftiness at the line of scrimmage. I cannot stress how important an impact Nebraska’s ability to run the ball will have on this game. The Huskers will look to pound the ball, control the clock and go over the top with play action against Oregon’s secondary, a defense that was ranked 116 in total defense last year. Look for the Husker offense to be the 12th man for the defense today. Limiting their time on the field against an explosive spread offense in Oregon.
Today’s game will no doubt be a barn burning, offensive oriented game, which most would say is in Oregon’s favor. However, I have been calling Nebraska defeating Oregon since mid July and I am sticking to my guns. I like what I see out of the Husker offense and I am confident in Diaco’s ability to make the necessary adjustments to the defensive side of the ball. Time will tell if my prediction holds true, but I am fairly confident it will. If nothing else, I hope this therapy session helped you kill a little bit of time before kick off. Enjoy the game today and as always, love you guys.