There really is no time like the present for the Huskers.
After a 56-13 victory over Southern Miss, head coach Bo Pelini and his crew are as ready as they will get for UCLA’s trip to Lincoln, Neb., next Saturday.
There could always be another game or two to help them prepare. There could always be more practice. For the Huskers, though, this is as “feel-good” as a team can hope for prior to a big game.
In his postgame press conference, Pelini rolled questions about the Bruins off his back like they were nothing. “I haven’t spent any time on UCLA. They’re a good football team. It’ll be a good matchup,” Pelini said quickly before moving on to the next topic.
Pelini may be right that he and his staff haven’t spent much time thinking ahead. If they haven’t, the time has come.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley is being touted as a potential “dark horse” for this year’s Heisman award. He led the Bruins to a 58-20 win in their season-opener against Nevada. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns. Of UCLA’s 647 total yards, Hundley had 337.
There are plenty of other areas for the Bruins, like the secondary, that have some growing to do. For Bruins’ head coach Jim Mora, Hundley makes facing Nebraska a little bit easier.
Will Nebraska be able to keep up with UCLA and, most importantly, Hundley?
After the dominating win over Southern Miss, there is no reason the Huskers shouldn’t be able to.
This was a big win for Nebraska. The four interceptions are the most they've gotten in a single game since 2010, when they had five against Idaho.
The 56 points mark just the seventh time Nebraska has scored more than 50 points in the six seasons Pelini has been head coach.
The most important takeaway for Nebraska, though, is the turnover margin. In 2012, turnovers were a sore spot for the Huskers' offense. Many games were put into jeopardy with fumbles and interceptions.
Against Southern Miss, the Huskers forced four turnovers and committed only one.
That one turnover came on I-Back Terrell Newby’s fumble late in the game. With Newby being new to the Huskers, this is something that can be corrected.
Overall, the turnover margin will receive continued monitoring over the season, but it’s off to a good start.
For the defense to hold Southern Miss to fewer than 300 yards is also a promising sign. For the Blackshirts, it was the feel-good game they needed.
When UCLA travels to Memorial Stadium next week, they will have had an extra week to rest and practice. While some may see that as a benefit, having one more game at home was truly a blessing for the Huskers.
Pelini recognized there is still work to be done, though. “I like the potential of this group, but it’s a work in progress,” Pelini said. “We’ve got to keep working.”
Ultimately, Nebraska is as ready as it can get for the Bruins. While there will be a week of practice to correct small mistakes, the team is in a good position. At the end of his postgame press conference, Pelini summed it up nicely.
“I said it last week, it’s not as bad as you think it is and it’s not as good. … There’s a lot more out there for this team.”
All quotes are via Nebraska’s postgame press conference, courtesy of Huskers.com.