Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
Of all the areas bedeviling the Blackshirts, this one is the most puzzling. Take a look at these post-game quotes from Nebraska coaches, from Jon Nyatawa of the Omaha World-Herald:
“It looked like they'd seen a ghost,” said head coach Bo Pelini about the reaction of his team to UCLA’s rally.
“We let the avalanche continue. We helped the avalanche. We might have started it,” said offensive coordinator Tim Beck.
“I get the feeling, at times, that our guys — instead of playing to win — they're playing not to lose,” Pelini said. “That's the wrong way to go about it. I'd like to see our football team turn it loose and have fun. And, I don't know. It's like they — I don't know.”
It’s strange to see a team that got to the Big Ten title game last year on the strength of late-game comebacks would have such mental fragility to not respond to adversity.
Nebraska has a bit of a soft landing in the next four games, facing an FCS foe and three B1G conference opponents that won a total of five conference games in 2012. Whether those games will present the type of adversity that would raise the specters of doubt haunting Nebraska remains to be seen.
But Nebraska will face adversity, and those ghosts will return to NU’s sidelines.
If the secondary—which has the most experience of any Nebraska defensive unit—is not able to dispel those ghosts, NU’s struggles will continue.
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