Monday, August 29, 2011

Season opener won't tell us much but important nonetheless

The nation is not going to have its eyes glued on No. 11 ranked Nebraska's Saturday matchup against Tennessee-Chatanooga like, say, No. 3 Oregon against No. 4 LSU or to a lesser degree No. 7 Boise State travelling to No. 22 Georgia.

However since Nebraska has to play the game anyhow, the question becomes what will the game tell us? Keep in mind, the Huskers are looking for a fresh start after finishing last season with a 10-4 record that concluded with three losses in its last four games.
Considering that it is a game that the Huskers should win fairly easily by the second half at the latest (given the Mocs total lack of depth on the lines, thin even by FCS standards), the game is a no-win situation for Nebraska. Let's face it, if you win big, it's to be expected. If you struggle like say the 2005 season-opening 25-7 win over D-IAA Maine, the question becomes, what's wrong with the Huskers? On the other hand, you don't want to see a process like the 2004 season-opening 56-17 win over Western Illinois. In that game, the Huskers turned the ball over six times and it proved to be a season long problem on the way to a 5-6 campaign.

That said, from Nebraska's standpoint, being in a position where second and third-stringers getting lots of reps should be expected if for no other reason than to develop your bench players.
Since the Huskers are breaking in a new offensive coordinator (Tim Beck), the objectiives should be getting lined up in order, getting off the snap, avoiding stupid penalties, getting plays off in time, avoid wasting time outs, finishing drives, very few dropped passes, and no turnovers. All of those things plaqued the Husker offense a year ago even wen quarterback Taylor Martinez was healthy I seriously do not think we will learn entirely of Beck's new philosophy because executing base plays will be much more important.

On defense, I want to see defensive ends getting pressure on the quarterback to go along with the good push we have seen from the defensive tackles the last several years. I am also curious to see the ends keep better outside containment. I am also interested to see how much does the secondary miss DeJon Gomes and his tackling along with getting better linebacker play from the likes of Will Compton, Alonzo Whaley and Sean Fisher.

On special teams, I would like to see a solid kicking game which includes pinning the opponent deep on punts. Lastly, I would like to see someone returning kicks, and punts, someone with some decent vision and breakaway speed.

Regardless of the score, I am looking for a 38-10 type game with a lot of room for improvement going into game 2, and as most coaches will tell you most teams improve the most between game 1 and game 2. So let's hope for an injury free game and a glimpse of the talent the team has for 2011.

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