I live in Kansas City, Mo., so whenever I am blowing up my eight foot inflatable Lilí Red (living in the Show-Me state and I show a lot of red) in my front yard or wearing a Nebraska polo at work these Missourians ask me, ďHow are your Huskers going to end up this season?Ē
Well to be completely truthful I have no idea.
I know coming into this season I thought we have a young and talented defense. I still think that. The secondary is pretty stellar in my opinion -- we are fifth in the country for most interceptions. The defensive line is getting better every week. Avery Moss and Randy Gregory are making quarterbacks at least know they are around. Iím hoping as the season progresses those quarterback hurries will turn into sacks. The biggest glare on the defense to me is just the missed tackling, which seems like it is the biggest fault every year. I donít see how this never seems to get fixed. Honestly, some of the best tackles I have seen all season have been by Kenny Bell on special teams. That shouldnít be the case on a team led by a defensive minded coach, but Iím holding my breath that with each week that passes this defense grows a little more.
I also came into the season thinking I was going to see touchdown, after touchdown, after touchdown. I figured with Ameer Abdullah and Taylor Martinez running around combined with Jamal Turner, Bell, and Quincy Enunwa in the receiving corps. that scoring wouldnít be an issue. Since Taylorís running has been limited (averaging 34 yards a game), teams have been able to force Taylor to beat them with his arm, and against UCLA he just couldnít keep pace.
Now we are entering October coming off a bye week and we arenít even sure who our starting quarterback is. Ron Kellogg III and Tommy Armstrong Jr. both looked great in a game against an FCS team whose defense isnít anything to brag about.
Nebraska is entering conference play against Illinois and people are beginning to talk of a possible upset. The Illini have put up some impressive offensive numbers to start the season and took No. 15 Washington to the wire, losing by 10. Now they come into Lincoln only a 10-point underdog.
I know when I first looked at the schedule I didnít think any game in October would be in question. The Illini have lost their last 14 conference games. Now itís October 1st and we are little nervous about challenge number one.
I think the biggest reason it is so hard to predict how this team will do week-to-week, let alone for the remainder of the season, is because there is a lack of an identity. Are the Huskers a ground and pound team with Abdullah and Cross? If a team takes away the ground game can they keep up consistently throwing the ball? (Depends on who our quarterback is, if you ask me). On defense are you going to continue to challenge teams in the passing game? If Nebraska keeps up the pick parade, they have to be able to stop the run.
For what itís worth, I think Nebraska takes this game in strong fashion. They are facing one of the conferenceís top passers, but I do think the secondary shuts him down and I donít think the Illini have the rushers to keep up with Nebraska's offense no matter who the quarterback is. I do think if Armstrong gets to run the show this week and performs well, Bo Pelini will have to really think about what he does at the position going forward.
So if I get stopped in the elevator with my Nebraska shirt on this week. Iíll call for the win, but that is as far as Iím going. There will be no looking ahead for this team. Itís one week at a time because who knows what will happen next.
I am curious what the rest of you think. Do you have a clear picture of how Nebraska will do in the coming weeks? Has your outlook on the season changed from preseason? Or are you in wait and see mode like me, just taking it week-by-week?
Brian Bosiljevac is a freelance writer and Omaha native now living in Kansas City, Mo. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. New to Twitter. Follow him at @brianbosiljevac. Thanks for reading.