Ball Control Offense vs Tempo Offense There has been a lot of discussion about the merits and the problems of running a tempo offense versus a ball-control offense, and there have been a lot of comments about the value of the Time-of-Possession statistic. There really are two sides to this question, and you can find both by looking at Nebraska's teams in the '90s. Be careful what you think that means, though.... Whenever we talk about the Nebraska teams of the 90s, pretty much everyone is thinking about the teams from '93 onward. What about the '90, '91, and '92 teams? We weren't so fond of our ball-control offense back then. If you really want to drive the point home about the limitations of a ball-control offense, go watch some of the bowl games from the 80s and early 90s. Year after year after year, Nebraska would come into the bowl game with the leading rushing attack in the country, future NFL players in the O-line, studs at I-back,... and we'd get beat ... over and over again. When it was Miami, it was not even a close game. A ball-control offense is great if you have the following a defense to stop the opposing offense; a lead. When a ball-control offense gets behind early, especially by multiple touchdowns, they're as helpless as a walrus climbing Mt. Everest. If you go back and watch those games, you'll have to be focused to notice, but Nebraska usually did wear out the defenses of Miami, Florida State, et al. in the 4th quarter, but it was meaningless by then when Nebraska was already down by multiple touchdowns. Is Wisconsin copying Nebraska's 1990s script? Wisconsin sincerely looks like Nebraska ... from 1990 or 1991. They have a great offensive line, NFL running backs, great TEs, muscled up FBs, and defenders that want to knock your helmet out your bunghole.... They also have a QB who isn't a threat to make plays when they get off the script. They also lack team speed. They also have difficulty on both sides of the ball with teams that have playmakers across from them. The one year with Russell Wilson at QB was the only time that top-level defenses were overly stressed about stopping Wisconsin's offense. For the life of me, I can't understand why they don't do a better job of recruiting top quality dual-threat QBs, but I'm thankful that they don't. Once Osborne plugged in Tommie at QB, defenses suddenly had to defend the whole field. Those Schlesinger FB traps that everyone remembers weren't so effective in the early 90s when defenses had 9 guys in the box and 2 other D-backs ready to fill. Wisconsin also doesn't have enough NFL caliber talent/speed on the back-end of the defense. Nebraska had some very good d-backs in the 80s and 90s, but rarely did they have 4 on the field at the same time. They had to move Tyrone Hughes to CB in the '92 Orange Bowl because they didn't have enough speed to cover the Miami receivers. Wisconsin looked a lot like that on Saturday. I bet that their D-backs coach would have liked to raid a couple players from their offense, too. The same was and is true for pass rushers. The switch to the attacking 4-3 defense in '93 and the recruitment of NFL caliber rush ends made that Nebraska defense into the nasty Blackshirts that you remember, but they weren't very good at stopping aggressive, attacking offenses before that (in big games, at least). Nebraska had a lot of good defenders before that--Broderick Thomas, Neil Smith, Kenny Walker, and many others--though they seemed to always be a step slow against the top-level teams. Also, those teams could simply gameplan around them and attack somewhere else--where the speed and talent didn't match. Once Nebraska changed that and all of the above, the table was set to feast. Wisconsin also is now able to produce a JJ Watt, but they presently aren't able to put together a front 7 that strikes fear in the hearts of Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama, or Oklahoma. What to think of Nebraska's defense? Anybody remember when Nebraska fans wanted Osborne to fire his defensive coaches in the late 80s and early 90s? Tom Osborne was steaming mad because Nancy told him about how the fans sitting near the coaches' wives were telling George Darlington's wife that her husband was an awful coach, and that he needed to be fired. Apparently they said it with a little more color than that. They also verbally abused Charlie McBride's wife. Almost every week there were letters to the OWH calling for the heads of McBride (DC) and Darlington (DBs), and sometimes John Melton (LBs until his retirement) and Kevin Steele (LBs after Melton). There were times when I thought the same ... and then they switched their base defense, changed their DBs' coverage techniques, recruited better and faster athletes, and went on a holy terror through the mid-90s' opposing offenses. Give Chinander some time. I was at the Huskers high school coaches' clinic in the spring, and I got to hear him explain what they're doing and why, and I got to see the defensive staff dive into some of the basics of what they coach, why, and how. These guys are really good coaches, but even a legendary coach can't make chicken salad out of ... you-know-what. We don't have the weapons on defense, right now. Look at the handful of guys that UCF put into the NFL over the past couple drafts and show me where Nebraska has similar talent, right now, on the field. I don't know whether it's accurate, but there was some talk that Tre Neal would not have started at UCF this year had he stayed for his senior year, yet he is one or our top safeties. Caleb Tannor, Cam Taylor, and their fellow freshman class will hopefully raise the bar, but they'll need more of all of the above types of players (and a lot more) to get where we all want to go. Unless they're really good at camouflaging their talent, I don't see any high NFL draft picks in the current starting lineup. Barry and a couple others will probably play some on Sundays, but they're not 1st round draft picks. Chinander's defensive principles are built on doing four things very well: lining up correctly (which includes understanding their leverage and responsibilities), tackling (especially in space), forcing turnovers, and getting sacks. They took a beating at times against an Auburn offense that took both Alabama and Georgia's defenses to the woodshed last November, but they came up with sacks, turnovers, and stops on crucial plays when needed. Nebraska doesn't have those kinds of playmakers on the field, right now. I have a ton more to say, but I've already written a novel, so ... fire away.