2009 was a tale of two teams for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. On one side, the defense was smothering. With the help of All-Everything Ndamukong Suh, the Blackshirts returned to top form, besting even National Champion Alabama in scoring defense. After a punt, though, the offense was… well... just out and out bad.
Ranking 99th overall, Zac Lee led what could’ve been labeled “The Walking Wounded.” Even Lee himself played through injury. It’s no secret that even in the Big 12 Championship game versus Texas that the defense led the charge. Between that game and the Huskers’ eventual trip to San Diego to face Arizona in the Holiday Bowl, something happened.
Wounds healed, new wrinkles were implemented and Nebraska’s finest athletes were utilized in ways never seen all year. The result? A 33-0 shellacking in favor of Nebraska. If this isn’t a case of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it," then I don’t know what is.
Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson has taken quite a bit of heat during his tenure at Nebraska. While some Cornhusker fans wouldn’t mind seeing Watson leave, the vast majority favor the opinion of the head man who sent Blackshirts merchandise sales through the roof. Perhaps Bo Pelini knows something that we don’t.
Watson does have a few things going into the 2010 season that can only play to any solid offensive coordinator’s advantage: A likely second-year starter in quarterback in Zac Lee, a full stable of running backs, the deepest offensive line that Nebraska has featured in nearly a decade and the magic wand that caused the San Diego shutout.
Before Nebraska’s #9 ranking in the first Coaches’ poll of the season causes your eyebrow to rise as you think back to the bumbles and fumbles of 2009, take heart. Shawn Watson very well may have traded in an old jalopy for a far more stylish ride.
I doubt that the nation will see the “true” Nebraska offense until the Cornhuskers travel to Seattle to face the Washington Huskies. While everyone’s eyes will likely be trained on the Blackshirts until that point, Watson could be prepping a fireworks display for Husky Stadium.
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