Will Nebraska Ever be Perfect in Pelini’s Eyes?

BY TODD NEELEY

So far we’ve seen plenty of flash from Nebraska football early in 2010.

NU has found a playmaker at quarterback, its defense is as good as advertised, and Head Coach Bo Pelini has entirely changed the mood of the program in a short time.

Two games, two wins, and Pelini still is not happy with his team. In a way it’s refreshing. In a way it has become cliche’ to see a ticked off coach even after a win.

In three seasons Nebraska has evolved from the attitude that ‘well, a win’s a win, we made mistakes but it’s a long season,’ to ‘we stunk it up because we didn’t play a perfect game.’

Bo was visibly upset in front of reporters after the 38-17 win against Idaho.

He showed up to the podium red-faced and his intensity picked up the more he talked about how bad his offense played — I get the feeling the Husker locker room was a very bad place to be Saturday.

He even cracked out his usual snide, ‘well, what do you think? It was pretty clear out there,’ when asked about the performance.

Makes you wonder if it’s really perfection Pelini is expecting, or is just it something better than eight fumbles, 10 penalties for 123 yards (mostly on the offensive side), and missing wide open receivers in the passing game.

It was an interesting contrast between the tailgate parties outside Memorial Stadium, and a postgame mood that seemed as if Nebraska had just had its tail kicked around.

In fact, NU left reporters waiting for a good half hour between Pelini’s appearance and bringing star players to the mike. At one point reporters were desperate to interview anyone, even the ball boy.

Pelini has to be happy about something. There’s plenty to be excited about with this Nebraska team. Sure, there are going to be mistakes made when you’ve got a young team.

First, how in the world so many teams missed out on recruiting Taylor Martinez is difficult to explain. NU now has its best offensive playmaker since Eric Crouch. If you watch film comparing the two players Martinez is the better all-around athlete.

While Martinez clearly has speed to burn, I don’t think we’ve seen him hit high gear yet.

On the long touchdown runs against Western Kentucy and Idaho he was two steps faster than anyone on either defense. In the 67-yarder against the Vandals Martinez practically jogged to the end zone on the last 10 yards.

Nice.

Against Idaho we finally saw what we hoped the offense would feature — Roy Helu running hard and making big plays, and Rex Burkhead making big plays both running and receiving.

On defense Nebraska put it all together against Idaho and is clearly at mid-season form heading to Washington Saturday. NU forced five turnovers including two interceptions for touchdowns, seven sacks and the communication problems against Western Kentucky were non-existent.

So, if Nebraska played the perfect game at Washington what would that look like?

How about this for starters. Commit no more than three penalties, commit no turnovers, rush for 300 yards or better and pass for 150. On defense, keep Jake Locker from making big plays with his feet. We hear a lot about how Locker is the prototypical NFL quarterback with a big arm, but he runs a 4.5, 40-yard dash — scary for a guy who’s 6-5, 240.

I’m guessing Pelini might be happy on special teams if we don’t allow a single return on kickoffs, find a way to score on defense and special teams, and don’t give up any big plays.

What’s more, a perfect game would include getting an early lead on the road to take the bite out of the home crowd.

Even then, I wouldn’t expect Bo to crack a smile anytime soon.

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Posted on September 12, 2010, in Bo Pelini. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I think Washington has to play the perfect game on Saturday.

    Should be a great match-up, one that should go deep into the 4th quarter.

    I think both defenses will have a tough time shutting down both quarterbacks.

    It’s going to come down to critical mistakes at critical times. Martinez needs to protect the ball, and Locker can’t give the ball to the Nebraska defense.

    With Vegas calling it 6 points for Nebraska, you know it’s going to be close.

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