The truth is, it feels like I could just plagiarize myself from any selection of three previous losses for Nebraska in this blog. The Huskers have been in the lead or tied within the final minute of every game this year. Yet, it’s gloomy in Husker Nation, because the Big Red is 2-4.
How have we gotten to this point? What reasons lead to the latest last minute loss? These are the questions most Husker fans are asking themselves.
Let’s start with the close losses as a theme, and then dive into the 23-21 loss at the hands of the Badgers.
When you lose close games repeatedly, it’s easy to shrug your shoulders and just say, “We’re snake-bit.” However, I think that’s an irresponsible way to approach it. The Huskers lost these games for a reason. Things happened that put them in this predicament.
#1 – Clock Management. In two of the four losses (BYU and Illinois), the Huskers could have done a better job managing and milking the clock late in the game. I am not very critical of the Huskers clock management against Wisconsin; they ran the ball late, didn’t convert the 1st down, and gave Wisconsin another chance.
#2 – Defensive breakdowns late. In 3 of the 4 losses (BYU, Illinois, and Wisconsin), Nebraska gave up an explosive pass play on the final drive.
Those two things are really the primary culprits. Nebraska CAN fix those two things. However, this season is slipping away in a big way.
The good from this past weekend:
Chris Weber – This kid can flat out play football. I am so impressed with him as a person and as a player. He has a chance to be a good one.
Marcus Newby – The young linebacker is doing some very good things, and showing off his athleticism. When you think about Dedrick Young, Marcus Newby, Chris Weber, Josh Banderas, Michael Rose-Ivey, among other names at linebacker… it’s easy to conclude that this could eventually be the deepest position on the team in another year.
Alonzo Moore – His ability to “go get it” when the ball is in the air is so, so improved. Alonzo is really starting to turn the corner and let his production match his ability.
Andy Janovich – As hard as this season has been on Husker fans, the fact that “Jano” keeps toting the rock is one of the big bright spots.
Nebraska has to start creating turnovers if they are to win games against quality teams. It’s just not happening right now. They also need to take advantage of short fields when they get them. Too often Sam Foltz has flipped the field and the defense has actually gotten a stop, only for the offense to not take advantage of the short field.
At 2-4, the concern now is on whether the Huskers can get to bowl eligibility or not. That means a minimum of 4-2 finish over the last half of the season that includes home games against Northwestern (5-1), Michigan State (6-0), Iowa (6-0), and road games at Minnesota, Purdue, and Rutgers. All three road games are very winnable, and Nebraska is more than capable of winning two of the three home games. However, improvement needs to be made in key areas or the Huskers will be home for the holidays.