Nebraska: Pelini's First Season Could Be Big

SportMonkAnalyst ISeptember 17, 2008

Here at Nebraska, we BOlieve great things will happen. Now that Bo & Co. are in charge, we have faith things will be different than they've been the last several seasons. With senior quarterback Joe Ganz at the helm of the Nebraska offense, we pray it will continue scoring.

After three games, Nebraska's showed much of what it is this season. There were certainly some shaky moments when the offense couldn't score and the defense couldn't get a stop, but those moments seemed to fade and become less frequent as the weeks progressed.

The Huskers this year have a veteran receiving corps, led by seniors Nate Swift and Todd Peterson, providing talented targets for Ganz. The tight ends Hunter Teafatiller and Mike McNeill are both solid blockers and talented receivers. The backfield is ripe with talent--the Cornhuskers have given significant snaps to senior Marlon Lucky and sophomores Roy Helu Jr. and Quentin Castille. With the return of the Huskers' center Lydon Murtha in Week 3, Nebraska had greater protection from the line and was able to be more productive on offense.

The defense, the most problematic piece of former coach Bill Callahan's tenure, shows a new resilience. Despite the season-ending injury of veteran defensive end Barry Turner in Week 2 being a major blow to Nebraska's recovering defense, players (like Turner's replacement Pierre Allen) have stepped up their game. Running-back-converted-to-linebacker Cody Glenn has been everywhere on the field, a great picture of the new defensive philosophy Pelini has brought to Nebraska. 

The next few weeks bring a tough schedule for the Huskers. They host Virginia Tech in Week 5 and Missouri in Week 6, travel to Texas Tech in Week 7 and Oklahoma in Week 10, finishing with Kansas at home in Week 11.

The Big 12 is extremely competitive this year, but I believe the Huskers have a chance to hang with the big guys this year. The Huskers, already 3-0, will finish 8-4 but could go 9-3 if they beat one of the four opponents currently ranked in the Top 25.

To do so, Nebraska must stay strong on the line. The offensive line has to provide Ganz time to make throws and the backs wide holes to run through. The defensive line has to pressure the quarterback and shut down the running game.

Instead of playing timid football and making short passes, Ganz needs to look downfield and not be afraid to take a big shot deep. To help, offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has to make gutsy play-calls and break from the monotonous, predictable run/run/pass scheme of the Callahan era.

If Nebraska can do these things, they'll make a good bowl and be competitive in the North.

And either way, Oklahoma WILL win the national championship and Sam Bradford WILL win the Heisman Trophy.