Nebraska Football: Analyzing Cornhuskers' Top Weaknesses in 2012
For every yin, there’s a yang. For every Luke Skywalker, there’s a Darth Vader. For every Splinter, there’s a Shredder. For every …
Well, you get the idea. One particularly smart and handsome analyst has already looked at Nebraska’s strengths for the upcoming season. Now it’s time to take a look at Nebraska’s biggest weaknesses for the 2012 campaign. Don’t worry, we’ll be gentle.
Lack of a Pass Rush
John Gress/Getty Images
Thirty-five. Forty-four. Thirty-one. Twenty-one.
No, it’s not a snap count. Those are Nebraska’s sack totals from 2008 to 2011. As you can see, the numbers have gone down in recent years, falling through the floor last season.
If you want to look for one thing to explain the struggles of Nebraska’s defense last year, this is the statistic you would point to. Nebraska’s lack of a pass rush put undue pressure on an already weakened secondary, and forced NU to overplay the pass and be left more open to the run.
If Nebraska can’t halt its two-year slide in sack totals, there’s little hope for the Blackshirts getting back to being … well, the Blackshirts.
Unproven Offensive Line
Eric Francis/Getty Images
It’s true that Nebraska returns a number of starters on the offensive line. But what’s also true is that there isn’t a tremendous amount of blue-chip talent coming back. Spencer Long is the most decorated returning player, and a lot of young recruits should get a chance to shine in 2012.
But that lack of proven performers, coupled with the need to break in a new starting center, make Nebraska’s offensive line a real question mark heading into the new season.
Replacing Lavonte David
Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
Trick question, of course. There really is no replacing the kind of production that David brought to Nebraska in his two years on the field. But David’s sideline-to-sideline pursuit and ability to find the ball and make a play is something that will have to be collectively picked up by Nebraska’s 2012 linebacking corps.
In at least two games last season (Ohio State and Penn State), Nebraska victories were directly contingent on David’s play-making ability. Will Compton looks ready to shine in his senior season, Sean Fisher may finally be healthy, Zaire Anderson looks ready to contribute and we may finally see what Nebraska will get from David Santos and Alonzo Whaley.
But until we see it on the field, it’s hard not to see a David-shaped hole in the middle of Nebraska’s defense.
Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE
Some of these observations aren’t really new. Nebraska commits too many penalties. They turn the ball over too often. They consistently lose to mediocre teams at home.
Maybe this is the year that gets cleaned up, and Nebraska is able to have a season where they aren't tripping over themselves and making victories harder to come by. But until we see that happen, you have to assume that the past is a prelude.
Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
It always comes back to T-Magic, doesn’t it? Yes, he’s a year more mature. Yes, he’s been in the same system for two years. Yes, he’s spent the offseason with a quarterback guru to get better at passing the ball. Yes, he’s still the guy we’ve seen take over games with his phenomenal athletic talents.
But he’s also the guy who has cost Nebraska big games on his own. And if Nebraska is going to get out of the four-loss run it has been in since Bo Pelini’s arrival, Martinez has to do more than be good most of the time and awful some of the time. Yes, he needs to win games, but he also needs to not lose games.
The circumstances are there for Martinez to break out and become that great quarterback that can lead Nebraska to championships. But to paraphrase Yogi Berra, until he’s done it, he hasn’t done it.
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