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The biggest surprise of last season was how Nebraska’s defense struggled. Against Southern Miss, there were elements of the defense that still looked strained. The Golden Eagles were successful in moving the ball between the 20s. They were 7-of-14 in third-down conversions. The zone read and misdirection plays had the Blackshirts chasing ball-carriers all afternoon, and at times struggling to keep up. So while the overall statistics looked acceptable, there are areas of improvement that the defense will need to focus on getting ready for UCLA.
The special teams for Nebraska was nothing short of a disaster in the first half. Maybe Brett Maher got spooked by a missed field goal early in the game, but he seemed completely lost throughout the first half. In placekicking, kickoffs and punting, Maher struggled until well into the third quarter. After that, Maher did seem to settle down and find his mojo with his kickoffs and extra points.
Nebraska’s kick coverage unit continued its struggles, with Southern Miss returning a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown on a play that was disturbingly easy for returner Tracey Lampley. The kick return unit for Nebraska, however, continued to impress with Ameer Abdullah, Jamal Turner and Kenny Bell each getting chances to flash their speed and their moves.
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