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Second Half Adjustments for the 2012 Huskers Appear Offensive
The wins have been laced with dazzling plays, the losses have been simply devastating After watching Nebraska’s trip to Ohio State, many have left this version of the Huskers for dead, but sitting at 1-1 in conference is hardly being down and out. Few see them being a threat for the league crown, but with a strategy so unlike anything associated with Bo Pelini, Nebraska could not only rebound, but shock their conference.
Looking over the schedule, it’s hard not to wince if you’re a fan of the Big Red, especially thanks to the sickening loss dealt courtesy of Urban Meyer. The idea of handing out the coveted black jerseys every Nebraska defender craves is mocked, but focus on the mythical fabric has caused the Huskers’ true strengths to go overlooked.
This team has the best offense in the Pelini era. While Taylor Martinez has his flaws, he has improved both as a passer and overall leader. A stable of running backs and arguably the deepest wide receiver corps in the Big Ten provide for a potential scoring explosion.
On the flip side, aside from Eric Martin, there’s no true standout defensive lineman. Baker Steinkuhler has his good days, but everyone’s waiting for Caveman to show up on a game-to-game basis. The linebackers have disappointed and the secondary can’t handle the workload of a busted front seven.
The 2009 Cornhuskers won games with defense and mind-numbingly poor offense. A flip of the coin might be the best way to go. Is that admitting defeat or making a legitimate correction?
Obviously what’s been tried thus far by Bo Pelini isn’t working, but there is one team that gives up points by the bucketful and can’t get enough love from both fans and pundits – West Virginia.
If you sit down to watch the Mountaineers play, you know two things: you’re going to see fireworks and any defense played is completely by accident. If Nebraska decides to take a similar offense-first approach, they have the talent to make life hell for the opposition in a slower-footed Big Ten.
The toughest pill to swallow for players, coaches and fans is that they have to acknowledge that they’re going to hear the opposing fight song played a few times.
Point to Taylor Martinez’s 1-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio in losses to UCLA and Ohio State if you must, but if focus is shifted to the offense, he’ll gain precious seconds to (ideally) make better throws.
Work with the offensive line and running backs to pass block. Drill everything Steve Calhoun sends across the wire into Martinez’s head three more times per week. Most importantly, hand the offense entirely over to Tim Beck and do not disturb.
This is his second year of actually calling plays and his offense is ranked No. 6 and No. 10 in rushing yards and points scored, respectively. Scoring defense, what ultimately wins and loses games, is ranked No. 75, a stark contrast to 2009’s top ranking.
Bo Pelini didn’t forget how to coach overnight, but he doesn’t have the cultivated defensive talent to rely on like in the days of Suh. Nebraska has two options for the rest of the year: Lean on the offense’s talent or try to stay balanced.
Taylor Martinez doesn’t need to be Geno Smith, he simply needs to be efficient. Throw every offensive lineman, tight end, running back and the kitchen sink at oncoming defenders. Let Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa, Jamal Turner and the rest do their thing.
A 45-38 win is still a win. The Mountaineers aren’t upset that people are talking about national title aspirations and a Heisman trophy winner despite having a scoring defense ranked No. 102. It seems worth a shot. What does Nebraska have to lose? Besides six more games, that is.
Follow Brandon on Twitter: @eightlaces