This is a team of fighters, except during the lapses. This is an offense with firepower, except when it stumbles. This is a defense that can play physical and tackle and cover, except when it doesn’t.
On one hand, the Huskers aren’t far from 4-0, losing on the final play against BYU and Miami. Conversely, Nebraska enters Big Ten play next week at Illinois with a secondary in something close to disarray, threatening to derail progress made in other areas under first-year coach Mike Riley.
The Golden Eagles’ contest against the Cornhuskers left Mullens, and others as well, wondering ‘What if?’ One in particular was still fresh on his mind following the game.
The shaky second half will cause some heartburn. But NU’s coaches and players weren’t apologizing afterward. It has been a heart-stopping month of nonconference play. Here comes the Big Ten.
Nebraska (2-2) entered the day 126th nationally in pass defense, having allowed an average of 357.0 yards. Could it get worse before it gets better? If you're a Husker fan, perhaps you want to think about more pleasant aspects of life — you know, like cleaning gutters or something.
I tell them get their heads out of their ass and let’s go. We’ve got a ballgame. There’s no time to be down now. I mean, it’s competition. That’s what a competitor is...They want to be excellent and they want to make plays.
-- Mark Banker, Nebraska Defensive Coordinator
Husker fans needed a few flashbacks to the good ole days because the 2015 edition continues limping along like a team destined for 6-6 or 7-5. Under Bo Pelini, the weak links were pass offense and run defense. Under Mike Riley, it’s totally flipped. You decide which is worse.
One thing I wouldn't have guessed: That Nebraska could leave nonconference play with a 2-2 record and Armstrong would be more popular than ever. Fans have admired the QB's competitive drive. It's a team with weaknesses, but Armstrong has mostly made the quarterback position a strength so far in 2015.
Akinmoladun's rapid progress is one of the few bright spots for a maligned and injury-plagued unit that ranks 103rd in the country in total defense and 128th and last in passing yards allowed.
Can Nebraska win the Big Ten West? Sure, but it will have to play better than it did against Southern Mississippi on Saturday. Better than it did in September in general, really.
Some of those were petty calls, but we have to clean that up for sure. In the Big Ten, it's going to cost you.
-- Dylan Utter, Nebraska Offensive Lineman
Consider if USM had any clock managment skills and saved even a single timeout. Whoa. Watch out.
1st year of new staff, systems, key injuries, lack of depth, players starting for 1st time ever. These aren't excuses but REASONABLE reasons.