How many more embarrassing losses can the Nebraska Cornhusker fanbase take? After a very solid first half, the Bruins of UCLA absolutely demolished the Cornhuskers, especially in the third quarter, when the Bruins scored four times to erase an 11-point deficit and take command.
In the Big Ten Championship game last year, the then 12th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers were destroyed 70-31 by a Wisconsin team that entered the game just 7-5. Wisconsin accumulated 640 total yards of offense, including 539 on the ground.
In a 37-34 season-opening win against Wyoming, the defense yielded just over 600 yards again and looked confused on how to even slow down the zone read.
In the loss to UCLA today, the defense was scorched for 504 yards and 41 points. Brett Hundley is an excellent player, but the defense in the second half was downright pathetic.
Does the team have talent? I actually do believe it does. If that's the case, what could be the problem? It's really quite simple: Bo Pelini is unable to even slow down a dual-threat quarterback and defensive coordinator John Papuchis appears to be in over his head.
UCLA is a very talented team, I cannot deny that and I actually enjoyed watching them. They're really good now and going to be even better in a year or two when all those young players really mature and get game experience.
I'm absolutely demoralized right now at the state of the program for Nebraska. I thought Bo Pelini was going to be the guy for the program for the next 20 years, but I really think Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst is going to have to evaluate Coach Pelini and the program closely.
The offense was very disappointing today. There is no question that expectations for the group had skyrocketed, mainly due to the fact that Martinez was coming back and this would be his fourth year starting. Last year, Ameer Abdullah proved he can handle the workload when Rex Burkhead was injured and Kenny Bell and the receiving corps were as talented as any group in the conference.
If Taylor Martinez is 100 percent, I'll be completely shocked. While he's been reluctant to run as much this year, today was the day that he had to lead this team and he didn't—at least not with his legs. Some lower body injury seemed to slow him down. If that proves to be the case, I don't understand why Tommy Armstrong wasn't in the game or even Ron Kellogg.
We covered the offense and the defense. Let's talk about the mental toughness of this team or the lack of it. Two costly roughing penalties by Corey Cooper and Greg McMullen cost the team dearly. On the day, the team was penalized eight times for 70 yards, as opposed to UCLA, who were penalized just three times for 21 yards.
Special teams is an absolute disaster as well. Coach Ross Els appears to be unable to fix the return game, which yielded no returns yards in punt returns. Jamal Turner was eventually replaced by redshirt freshman Jordan Westerkamp. Field position was absolutely dominated by UCLA.
Defensive coordinator John Papuchis is a very energetic coach, who appears to love what he does. However, based on recent history, it appears that the 34-year-old might have been promoted a little quickly. It might be time that Bo Pelini swallows his pride and hires an experienced defensive coordinator.
To be fair, the team does seem more loaded with talent than the last few years. I think defensive end Randy Gregory has all the tools to be an NFL player, especially since he missed all of last year with a leg injury. I like a lot of the young players on defense like Vincent Valentine, Josh Banderas and Nathan Gerry.
Even with the increase in talent, the defensive play-calling is terrible. Play after play, Nebraska plays a basic 4-3 defense and is exposed against the zone read. Regardless of the fact that the defense has more speed and talent, they're completely compromised by a coaching staff that is reluctant to change how they play defense.
With Northwestern and Michigan on the schedule, every Husker fan has to be cringing at the fact that the defense will probably be dismantled by both teams.
I'm disappointed by the loss today, especially since Nebraska was leading 21-3 and UCLA was struggling to move the ball. Less than two hours later and it felt like the Wisconsin debacle all over again.
It won't be long before you hear Nebraska fans start to say they wish Kirby Smart or Charlie Strong would take over the head coaching job. Bo Pelini has shown he can win nine games a year and that's nice, but that's not what Nebraska should settle for.