Dear Husker fans,
I have a confession to make before I go into my blog this week. I didn't wake up till the second quarter and instead of going with the jersey I wore a black Nebraska t-shirt (yes, I will be wearing it again this week). Also, before going into this past week and talking a bit about UCLA I want to take a moment on the passing of UCLA WR Nick Pasquale. Not too unlike what happened at PSU almost 2 years ago (has it really been that long) this happening puts football in its proper place. I think we as fans can learn something else as well. We have to realize these are young men 18-22 years old still wet behind the ears and for the most part have a full long life ahead of them. They are prone to make mistakes and you better believe it when I say they will learn and grow from those mistakes. Win or lose this week, next week, next year, into the future we have to remember these are young men growing, learning, and trying to find their place in this world. BugahaWest sends its condolences to the UCLA family and the Pasquale family.
Now onto S. Miss. Out of this game I think that as fans we can say that there were improvements made in all departments except the dreaded penalties. However, each improvement made can be followed up by the following line, it was Southern Miss it wasn't UCLA. S. Miss hasn't won a game since 2011 and to be quite honest I don't believe they have been too much of a handful for their opposition in that stretch. There is one thing though, you can learn from a game like this, the team can take the good and bad and improve on each of them. So, let me take a few pieces and we'll go from there.
#1. The Blackshirts. If they put up anything close to this kind of performance against UCLA then I think we are seeing the beginning of something special. 4 yards rushing given up through 3 1/2 quarters. 4 INTS with 2 of them being pick-6s. A few tackles for losses. Improvements by the young d-line in getting pressure in the backfield. If you want to nitpick anything it would have to be when the 2nd and 3rd teamers came in the D lost some of the intensity. That is something to work on.
#2. The Husker running game. Abdullah averaged nearly 7 yards a carry as he went for 114. The New Guy Terrance Newby added 60 yards himself as I think he may be in line for a few more touches. However I am nervous that Imani Cross only had 4 carries this past weekend and he had fewer rushing yards than King Frazier. I think as we head into UCLA and continue on this year the 3 headed monster of AA, IC, and TN all need to be significant carries and yards.
#3. 3rd down conversions. 7 of 12 for NU, 4 of 13 for S. Miss. You have to be able to stay on the field as an offense and defensively you have to suck it up and get that last stop and get the ball back. I know that people preach total defense, penalties, turnovers, even first downs, but if you want to get another good measure of a team this is one. Offensively you want to keep the 3rd downs to a min and you want to have a high conversion rate. 7 of 12 is a good rate but there are too many 3rd downs there. Defensively you want to force the team into 3rd and longs and you want to make a big stop and get the ball back. 4 of 13 for the Blackshirts is great, need numbers like that as the year goes on.
Game Balls: Defensively it has to go to SJB. Another INT and this one returned for a TD. Thing is, I think he slowly becoming that big time corner we need in the back 7. He's not quite there yet. Offensively I would have to go with Abdullah. I mentioned the 114 yards earlier and he took 2 of those carries in for a TD. Keep on trucking young man.
Well, now its time for UCLA. This time its in our house and the team is wearing the black alternative jerseys. Wear your Blackshirts with pride this weekend and cheer loudly for our beloved Huskers. See you next week. God bless and Go Big Red.