Friday, September 05, 2008

NU Re-View: Nebraska 47, Western Michigan 24

THE GOOD ...
- FIRST QUARTER ENERGY: The 'Huskers came out early and took control of the game. After the Winter of Discontent that the program has been through, it was really important to get things established early. Nebraska did just that.
- DEFENSIVE INTENSITY: Game One (OK, OK, technically Game Two) of the Pelini Era had the defense look like you would think a Pelini defense would look. They played fast and aggressive, and at times overly aggressive. The effort is definitely there. Now we need to see if the coaches can rein in that effort to make it smarter.
- WHERE WERE THESE GUYS?: Cody Glenn looked better at LB than anyone Nebraska had on the roster last year. It says a lot about Glenn, and also says a lot about the LB depth that a guy can switch positions in the middle of camp and be the best player at the position. Joe Ganz looked like a playmaker, as well, making things happen with his arm and his legs.

THE BAD ...
- INSUFFICIENT POUNDAGE: Nebraska's running game, particularly power running, was curiously absent from this game. In large part, that was a result of WMU stacking the box and daring Nebraska to throw. Oops. But still, it looked like Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson does not have enough confidence in the running game to stick with it for extended periods of time.
- UGLY YELLOW THINGS: Western Michigan's first scoring drive was largely set up by foolish penalties against the we-can't-call-them-Blackshirts-yet. That lack of discipline, coupled with the overreaction to play action that burned the safeties throughout the game, shows that the NU defense hasn't yet learned the balance between playing aggressive and playing smart.
- POORLY SCHEDULED FANTASY DRAFTS: I had to listen to the second half on the radio as I did my Man's League fantasy draft. The good part is that I didn't have to listen to the FOX pay-per-view color announcer any more. Worst. Announcer. Ever. The bad part is that I couldn't pay as much attention to the game as I wanted. The worst part is that I'm left with relying on 49ers QB J.T. O'Sullivan as a scoring option. I am SO doomed.

... AND THE DEBUT
Seasons change, and after the Winter of 'Husker Discontent, the Autumn of Pelini is upon us. (I thought the "Fall of Pelini" might not sound right). I was extremely nervous about this game, given that WMU was a legit opponent. Even with the lapses in the second half, a comfortable win over a solid opponent definitely buoys my confidence for the upcoming campaign.

THE BIG PICTURE
Nebraska is 1-0 and filled with confidence. The cliche is that the biggest improvement is between weeks one and two, so we will see on Saturday if the problems against WMU can be corrected or not. The 'Huskers have out-performed expectations to this point, and have a schedule in place to continue to rebuild and repair the program's image.

THE NEXT GAME: San Jose State @ Nebraska (-26 1/2): Dick Tomey brings in his Spartans after needing some last-second heroics to beat UC-Davis. SJSU operates a Texas Tech-style spread offense, putting four and five wides on the field constantly and throwing a bunch. Expect to see NU in a lot of nickel and dime coverages, which actually puts Nebraska's best athletes on the field. NU should be able to move the ball effectively against the Spartans, and SJSU's lack of playmakers on offense should keep the score in check. Take Nebraska, give the points, and expect a four-hour game at minimum with all the passing that will be seen in Lincoln on Saturday.

GBR, baby.

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