The Nebraska Cornhuskers will not begin fall practice for weeks. They will not play a game for months. And the time until a respectable opponent (no offense to Wyoming and Southern Miss, who combined for four wins in 2012) comes to Lincoln is even longer.
And now that bowl season, recruiting season and spring season have all wrapped up, there is nowhere to look but forward to the 2013 season. Just like last year and the year before that, this is a dangerous proposition.
Nebraska was preparing for its Big Ten debut. Coming off two consecutive trips to the Big 12 Championship Game, expectations could not have been higher for the Big Red.
Taylor Martinez and the rest of the offense were maturing. The defense was returning loads of star power with Jared Crick, Lavonte David and Alfonzo Dennard. And Nebraska’s early-season matchup with the Wisconsin Badgers was billed as a sure preview of the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis.
Well, that it did not quite pan out. Nebraska sputtered through their non-conference schedule and suffered embarrassing losses at Wisconsin and Michigan.
And then there was 2012.
The Husker team, particularly on defense, looked completely different, but the summer optimism was just the same. Graduating the big three of Crick, David and Dennard, the preseason hype took on a whole new tone.
Defense by committee was the rallying cry. The same voices that called for Nebraska’s dominance in 2011 thanks to a few superstars were now the ones claiming the defense would excel in 2012 because opponents would not be able to key on certain playmakers.
Despite the completely different outlook, Nebraska received similar production. Consistently sufficient defense brought success for most of the season, but a few complete breakdowns in the biggest games overshadowed everything else.
For the second straight year, the Huskers were burned by preseason expectations. But do not think that will deter the same optimism from blossoming this summer.
This year’s theme will not be the overwhelming star power or the lack thereof of the last two seasons. It will be the story of young players thrown straight into the fire. Although this seems like a simple observation, after a few months devoid of Husker news and full of 2013 anticipation, the youth of the defense will become the focal point of optimism and lofty expectations heading into 2013.
Even if you are not yet ready to declare some of Nebraska’s untested defenders the cornerstones of the team, be weary of the next couple months. It is the football-less days of summer waiting for August 31st to come that grow expectations to a fever pitch and place unwarranted expectations on unproven defenses.