Just two weeks into the season and Nebraska faces many questions. The Huskers started off hot against Southern Miss, racking up yards as Taylor Martinez had a career day. Then last Saturday, the Huskers were upset by UCLA and gave up the second-most yards all time in Nebraska history.
The shot at a national title is over, but the Big Ten title race is wide open. Michigan and Iowa look vulnerable, Northwestern is a dark horse and Michigan State is the sole top team in the Legends division, but even they have their own problems. And who knows who will represent the Leaders division for the title game.
But the Huskers need to improve if they want to make a return trip to Pasadena in January.
The biggest problem was there was almost no pass rush by the Huskers. Very few times did they manage to get pressure on Brett Hundley. Simply put, the three seniors and junior on Nebraska's defensive line were getting dominated by freshmen. If they can't develop any pass rush against a young line, how are they going to do against Wisconsin and Ohio State?
Nebraska needs a pass rush to make the defense work. The secondary is doing its job, but it can't stop the receivers for forever; the front seven needs to step up and get to the quarterback. Whether Nebraska does that by changing personnel on the front seven or scrapping the two-gap scheme, something needs to change.
Maybe this should just be better blocking overall, but the pass blocking was a definite weakness for the Nebraska offense.
In the second half, UCLA brought the pressure. The offensive line could not pick it up and cracked. Taylor Martinez did his best under the pressure, but there is only so much you can do when the defenders are on you as soon as you get the snap.
The run blocking had its moments of glory, but even that fizzled out toward the end. Offensive line coaches Barney Cotton and John Garrison have work to do. But hey, at least they still have jobs, unlike Wisconsin...
Two weeks into the season and Nebraska is an even zero in the turnover department. The Husker defense has forced two fumbles, and the Husker offense has fumbled once and thrown one pick.
That's not going to fly.
When you force turnovers, you demoralize the opposing team and put the offense in either a great position to score or you stopped an opponent from scoring.
Remember the days when the Nebraska defense had multiple turnovers in the game? Like Oklahoma in 2009 when Landry Jones was picked off five times, or 2010 when Nebraska had seven interceptions and three pick-sixes in a two-game stretch versus Idaho and Washington. Nebraska needs to return to that.
This one isn't so much change as it is keep it up.
Through two games, Nebraska is practically dead even in rushing and passing yards. Nebraska has 533 passing yards and 538 rushing yards. Nebraska also had five touchdowns passing and five touchdowns rushing. That's pretty good for a balanced attack.
One problem that Nebraska ran into, though, was they seemed to get away from that as the game went on. They were very heavy pass, which did not work. Sometimes they gave up on the run when it was devastating the UCLA defense.
Nebraska needs to keep up the balanced attack to keep the opposing defenses off guard.
Does this really need an explanation?
Hopefully, this will help. Of all the improvements, this is the one that will have the biggest impact. If the Huskers tackled better, they would've beat UCLA and still had a shot at the national title. They can still win the Big Ten title, but only if they tackle better.