Maybe it's the fact that football is here again and I am feeling a bit giddy. I just look at the Huskers this year and see possibilities. There are the best skill position players in the Big Ten and depth in the secondary that Pelini hasn't had since coming back to Nebraska.
I think that it leads up to possibilities. I think that it leads up to potential. Nebraska opens up their season of possibilities today against Southern Miss. A team that won 12 games last year, had changes in their coaching staff and they have three quarterbacks that all could see time today that have zero DI snaps combined between them.
The game today is more about the Huskers and what they can and won't be able to do than what it will be about what Southern Miss can do or take away from Nebraska in my opinion. Here are three keys to the game that I will be watching:
1. No costly mistakes - Nebraska can't become their own worst enemy today. It will be tough to overcome one mistake, but the fear there is some sort of a snowball effect. And this just isn't about turnovers. It's about anything that can lend itself to stalling out a drive or allowing Southern Miss to continue their drive; blown assignments, dropped pass, missed tackle, bad penalty, etc.
2. Execution - I think that I said on the radio the first thing that I wanted to see on Saturday was execution. It's actually the second, but it's just about as important. Nebraska needs to come in that and execute, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, and not get out of the game plan because they can't do something. Nebraska needs to grind it out and do it right. It's going to start with the running game between the tackles, then go to the intermediate passing game and ultimately that will open up things deep.
3. Rotation - I can't get out of my head why one of the biggest reasons Nebraska is looking for players to step annually is because of poor rotation at positions particularly on the offensive side of the ball. I hope that Nebraska gets a little deep on offense with lineman and running backs. I want to see half of a quarter given to the backup quarterback(s). I would like to see seven or eight players rotating in the secondary among the various positions. I want to see four defensive tackles and ends and rotation at the linebacker spots is going to be critical today to prepare for the rest of the season.
As I said before, today is more about what Nebraska than it is about Southern Miss. Yes, there is talent and speed on their side, but this is not last year's squad for the Golden Eagles. I also think that Nebraska's vanilla game plan will include around a 75-25 to 70-30 run to throw percentage today which will grind on the clock and put the time of possession in Nebraska's favor.
Some will say that they want to watch what the three walk-ons are going to do on the offensive line and criticize it like it's a weakness. For another program that might be a weakness, but at Nebraska the walk-on program is a source of pride and really is a type of extension of the attitude of the working people of the state.
I think that you will see a lot of players today so have your rosters ready. Lots of new faces including true freshman seeing the field in Imani Cross, Avery Moss, Aaron Curry and Charles Jackson for starters and these are the names that need to develop now for this season and the seasons to come.
I am going to savor this season though, personally. I am excited about it. I haven't been this optimistic about things in a while. It's a week to week thing but as long as Nebraska stays healthy, limits the errors and executes then I think that a division title is a definite possibility this year. But I'll take Nebraska today, 34-17.