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Nebraska Defense Fails Team, Taylor Martinez Again, Who's to Blame?

Oct 26, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers Bo Pelini looks on during pre game before a game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Erin SorensenContributor IOctober 18, 2016

The Nebraska defense has run out of excuses.

There have been plenty of excuses, too. Since the Huskers first game of the season, head coach Bo Pelini has been reminding fans that the Blackshirts are young.

He's not wrong.

In fact, Nebraska's defense was faced with replacing many seniors after the 2012 season. A period of growth was expected.

However, that time has passed.

Coming into the matchup with Minnesota, the Huskers knew that the Golden Gophers like to run the ball. Yet, the Blackshirts looked confused and lost several times against Minnesota's run.

By halftime, the Gophers were averaging 8.1 yards on first down plays.

That approach was physical and relentless. Minnesota knew it would only require lots of pre-snap motions and jet sweeps to put pressure on the Huskers. In fact, it was very reminiscent of Wisconsin's approach to Nebraska's defense in the Big Ten Championship last year.

There is simply no other way to put it. The Blackshirts were over-powered time and time again.

Due to the defense's struggles, Nebraska's offense found itself backed against a wall over and over. Senior quarterback Taylor Martinez made his return to little support.

That support has less to do with the offense, though. While the offensive line and wide receivers had their fair share of struggles, it ultimately came down to the Blackshirts.

Martinez wasn't fully to blame. In fact, very little blame should be placed on Martinez.

In the third quarter, Martinez was finally given a designed run. It resulted in 35 yards and a spark that the Huskers desperately needed.

The drive ultimately resulted in a touchdown, only for the Nebraska defense to struggle against Minnesota once again.

The Gophers have talent. One of those talents is junior running back David Cobb. He became virtually unstoppable for the Blackshirts.

However, Cobb should not have had so much control over the Nebraska defense. Inexperience and the fact that the group is young mean little at this point.

To survive November, that cannot be a fall-back excuse for the Huskers any longer.

So, who is to blame for this loss?

Many fans on Twitter have said it falls to defensive coordinator John Papuchis. Others have said it's a combination of both Papuchis and offensive coordinator Tim Beck.

A good majority, however, are clear that full blame rests with Pelini.

At the end of the day, the blame truly does fall on Pelini's shoulders.

As head coach, it is Pelini's responsibility to prepare his staff and team.

Before heading into the locker room prior to halftime, Pelini eluded to that fact that his team had possibly not prepared as they should have.

The Lincoln Journal Star's Steve Sipple warned about overlooking the Gophers.

It appears that happened anyway.

The disappointing part comes down to a specific thing that Sipple said in his game preview:

Nebraska has a sizable advantage in overall talent and should control the game, especially if the Huskers' defense holds firm against the Gophers' relatively physical running game.

The Huskers did have a sizable advantage in overall talent. Minnesota has its fair share of talent, but Nebraska far outweighed the Gophers in that department. So, what happened?

It's hard to tell at this point. Pelini is the man to blame, though.

There are plenty of other factors that played into today's loss for Nebraska, but the head coach is always at the forefront.

It's going to be a long November for Pelini and his team. The excuses are long gone, though.

The Blackshirts are no longer inexperienced. Poor play cannot be blamed on age.

Pelini said post-game that the team has a lot of soul-searching to do.

He better be a part of that search.

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