Everyone knew that going into this game, Nebraska's offense wasn't great. Joe Dailey had issues running the offense, executing passes and the defense was responsible for no less than two of the wins NU has gotten this year.
Against Texas Tech and the most prolific passing offense in the country, the defense couldn't save them this time.
To the tune of 70 points, the most that any Husker football team has ever given up, the Texas Tech Red Raiders set records and a precedent for their program, but reiterated one to NU.
They just aren't ready for the "West Coast".
While valiantly fighting to win the confidence of his teammates and keep the confidence of the fan-base, Dailey basically lost any he might have had as it got so bad, the NU staff put in true freshman, Beau Davis even before the fourth quarter had begun.
Completing only 14 passes out of a season-high 34 attempts, Dailey proved consistently unable to find what were often wide-open receivers. It was as offensive coordinator, Jay Norvell put it, a game where what they needed to do was what they couldn't manage all game. "We just didn't see how we could keep up with them if we couldn't throw the football."
"So, we made a decision to do that and did it with Joe and just couldn't find enough explosive plays."
While Nebraska couldn't find them, Texas Tech found them in bunches, Sonny Cumbie throwing for 5 touchdowns on the night, compiling up over 430 yards in the air. Against a Nebraska defense that had been amongst the country's best in total defense, Cumbie's group proved not just productive, but prolific as well.
Tech's second half explosion that saw them rack up 49 of their 70 points came as the product of turnovers that Nebraska had which came almost proportionately in their rate. 5 turnovers in a row at one point, a fumble by Cory Ross, a fumble by QB, Beau Davis followed by three consecutive interceptions that Davis threw after being thrown in to replace Dailey.
Putting Davis in might be considered somewhat of a panic-move in hindsight, but as Norvell stated, it was just an attempt to see if someone else could get this offense going. "We had an opportunity to play a young guy, give him a chance to play and see what he could do-see if he could give us a spark." He said of Beau Davis. "We gave him that opportunity and he had some problems obviously."
For his one quarter-plus stint in the game, Davis was 1 for 7 passing, a fumble on a snap, plus 3 interceptions.
The theme of the game was indeed the turnovers, but the fact that Tech scored on nearly every one. Plus, Nebraska experienced some major letdowns in the tackling department, a variety of players missing tackles or simply over-running plays.
Ironic considering that it was against Texas Tech last night that Barrett Ruud became the Huskers' all-time leader in tackles for a career.
With all that bad, however, Nebraska had a chance and it seemed if only for a moment that Nebraska was going to come back in this game, Dailey hitting Mark LeFlore at the beginning of the 3rd quarter with a 74-yard touchdown pass, Nebraska down just 21-10. Nebraska didn't capitalize on the momentum, though as for the next 9 possessions, Nebraska fumbled the ball twice, was intercepted 4 times and punted the other 3.
And, Texas Tech scored and kept on scoring, nearly at will.
It was the worst loss in the history of the Husker program, easily the worst loss Bill Callahan has experienced as a head coach and while the margin of loss probably won't be as significant in the future, it's another example of the growing pains Nebraska has to experience thus far.
Norvell conceded the growing pain theory, but when it was all said and done, he had a fairly clear idea of how things simply got as bad as they did. "You have to execute." He said. "That's the biggest thing. We aren't executing well enough. We got beat by a pretty good football team tonight. We got beat good."
"When you make those kinds of mistakes, you've got a chance to lose by a big margin and that's what happened tonight."
Where does Nebraska go from here?
That's a big question and one that the coaches will have to answer and not with the coach-speak that the media gets outside of the locker room, but what the actual team gets within it. A team that seems ready, teetering on the edge of collapse, we'll see how this staff does on putting it back up right.
That particular attempt starts tomorrow as the Nebraska players will hit the meetings and discuss just what happened down in Lubbock Saturday night.
Nebraska's record falls to 3-2 overall, 1-1 in the conference, but the Huskers are still without a loss in the North. That won't be challenged next week as the Huskers host the Bears. The first test from an opponent in their division comes the following week as they travel to Manhattan to play Kansas State, the Wildcats just dropping their in-state game to KU.