The Nebraska Cornhuskers got off to a great start to the season today, beating the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles 49-20 at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was a dominating performance by the offense, led by Taylor Martinez and his 354 passing yards and five touchdowns.
Defensively, however, it was a completely different story. The Huskers were in decent form, but if this were a B1G 10 game, the Huskers would have been steam-rolled defensively.
The Golden Eagles ran the ball 47 times for 185 yards, averaging 3.9 yards per rush. While that number is not anything spectacular, it was absolutely appalling how many holes the Eagles opened up against the Husker front four.
Baker Steinkuhler, Chase Rome, Thad Randle, Jason Ankrah, Cameron Meredith, and the rest of the Husker front four were pushed out of the way time and time again to make room for the plethora of Golden Eagles that ran the football.
The Huskers were able to get some tackles in the backfield, especially late in the game, but they had five or six runs for over ten yards.
The Husker pass rush was not much better. Without the blitz, the front four was hardly able to get pressure on the quarterback. The three Southern Miss quarterbacks had a lot of time to throw the football.
Thankfully, for Husker fans, the passes they threw were not on the money, or the Eagles easily could have had more than 75 passing yards they did.
When defensive coordinator John Papuchis dialed up the blitz, the blackshirts were able to get to the quarterback. However, Nebraska has to have their front four get in the backfield without the help of the blitz.
On all levels of the defense, the Cornhuskers once again had issues tackling the runner. Will Compton was especially guilty of this, as he overran the play a number of times. While Southern Miss didn’t make the Huskers pay like better teams would, the Huskers have to shore up this part of the defense.
They also really need to get to the backfield a lot more. Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, really every team in the B1G 10 who the Huskers play can run the football. The Huskers are going to see a steady dose of it, and will have to defend it.
Thankfully, this is just week one for the Huskers. While no first game is perfect, the Huskers need a lot of improvement.