Absolutely not, are you silly? This is Nebraska. And I don’t mean in the way that Husker fans hanging onto the nineties say “this is Nebraska, we deserve better” yada, yada, yada. What I mean is, this is Nebraska, a Nebraska that has fallen to the middle tier of power five college football. Nearly every game the Huskers play will be competitive. Do I like it? Hell no. But I understand it. It happens to every program. One game does not tell the story of an entire season. Here is why you should remove your hand and slowly back away from that panic button.
The Arkansas State game was everything I expected it to be. A new defense, an offense trying to find their rhythm (which they did) and first game jitters intermixed. Not to mention a Red Wolf squad that was bound and determined to come out swinging. They did just that. ASU’s offense spread the ball around and took shots down field when Nebraska’s secondary was on their heels. A valiant performance by Coach Anderson and crew.
The Red Wolves have a strong showing, but fall by a score of 43-36. From the looks of this game, it’s going to be an exciting season. pic.twitter.com/2XYIlYLp7l
— Arkansas State (@ArkansasState) September 3, 2017
Here is the hard truth, Arkansas State is a good football team. Whether you want to believe it or not, I don’t care. They are returning Sun Belt Champions coming off a successful 2016 season with a lot of upside heading into 2017. They were the perfect opponent for Nebraska’s season opener for many reasons. But we will get to that later. Nebraska could have beat this team by 21 if they played four quarters of sound football. They didn’t and haven’t for quite a while. So Saturday’s game should come as no shock. Again, this doesn’t mean we hit that damn button, not yet.
Bob Diaco and company will have a lot of work to do this week in preparation for Oregon. Because like Arkansas State, Oregon likes to spread the ball around and use tempo. They are also man for man more talented than ASU. Pretty daunting task right? Now let’s sprinkle a bit of optimism in here. Yes, ASU’s spread offense gave Nebraska fits, but they also gave the entire defense one hell of a warm up leading up to the Ducks. By the way, Oregon played an FCS team yesterday winning easily 77-21, faced no adversity and have not been tested nearly as much as Nebraska.
The offense on the other hand looked great. Tanner Lee was impressive and Tre Bryant showed great vision in the running game. Not to mention, J.D. Spielman and Tyjon Lindsey are straight burners that need to touch the ball as much as possible. Morgan Jr., Hoppes and Pierson-El all had great days as well. Every skill position on the offense played at a top tier level yesterday. The offensive line did not.
— Derek Peterson (@DrPetey15) September 3, 2017
First touch, first touchdown for JD Spielman.
— Josh Planos (@JPlanos) September 3, 2017
I will own what I wrote yesterday. I actually said the offensive line would shine in the season opener. I made this assessment based on the experience this unit had together. Hand up, I was wrong. Communication errors all over the place, missed assignments and missed blocks. All in the passing game. I don’t know what it is going to take for this group to become average, but offensive line coach, Mike Cavanaugh and company have some major work to do. Until they clean things up Tanner Lee is going to have to make some quick decisions in the passing game.
Would love to know the call from Farmer. pic.twitter.com/yWQCDXJAJ5
— Damon Benning (@damonbenning) September 3, 2017
Long story short, the Arkansas State game exposed a lot of weaknesses for Nebraska. A majority of these weaknesses were on the defensive side of the ball. The good news is that they were mostly assignment related and that can be fixed. Can it be fixed in a week? That I do not know. What I do know is that this defense has bought into Bob Diaco as a Leader. There is something to be said about that, as it was very obvious Banker never had full confidence from his players. For better or for worse, as Bob Diaco goes, the defense follows.
Before I make my last plea, because I know you want to press that button. I know you do. You should know, I am not a Mike Riley apologist, never have been. I’m aware of his win/loss record as we all are, and what we can expect from him as a coach. The performance we have seen thus far is fairly par for the course. However, when you look around the college football landscape this weekend, there was more parity and upsets than ever before. Which gives credence to the idea of a team like Arkansas State hanging in there with Nebraska. The game has changed, Nebraska will improve, play Oregon tough and in my opinion, WIN.
I’ve made my peace. The choice is yours now. Will you press that button? And as always, Love you guys.