Nebraska football: 5 areas that need improvement heading into bye week
Things didn’t go well for Nebraska against old rival Oklahoma.
Mickey Joseph’s debut as interim coach was one to forget.
Saturday’s 49-14 thrashing was ugly. Oklahoma dominated.
Time to rewrite the script heading into conference play.
The Cornhuskers head into a much-needed bye week. Where do the coaches begin?
With work to be done, let’s take a look at the 5 areas Joseph and staff need to focus on heading into the remaining games of Big Ten play.
1) Defensive overhaul
A unit that was good and serviceable a year ago has turned downright offensive in 2022.
Erik Chinander’s job is on the chopping block.
To the astonishment of the media and fans alike, the Nebraska defense has taken a turn south. A unit that kept the Huskers in games a year ago has leaked oil in 2022. The Blackshirts have given up 1,000 yards in the last 6 quarters.
Where has it gone wrong?
Postgame quotes were telling. Tackling continued to be an issue. It won’t be fixed overnight.
Myles Farmer on tackling improving: “It won’t happen overnight, we’ve been tagging off for four years.”
A lot was made about Nebraska not tackling in practice enough before this week.
— Greg Smith (@GregSmithRivals) September 17, 2022
Until the Huskers commit to tackling — in practice especially — the product on the field won’t improve. Numerous times Oklahoma backs broke free in the open field. And several times Nebraska defenders whiffed on tackles. The Sooners ran for 312 yards. It could have been more.
Nebraska must find an answer to its tackling woes. Soon.
2) Offensive line fixes
Nebraska’s offensive line was overmatched Saturday.
Teddy Prochaska was out. It’s a big loss for the Huskers.
Per Mickey Joseph, LT Teddy Prochazka is done for the year, and he'll redshirt. #Huskers
— Steve Marik (@Steve_Marik) September 17, 2022
There was a big mismatch up front. OU dominated. Nebraska quarterback Casey Thompson was under duress. Sacked 4 times. Hurried many more.
Nebraska has holes to fill up front. Anthony Grant was dancing for short gains. Thompson was under heavy pressure.
Turner Corcoran filled in a tackle. Trent Hixson at center. The changes were a mini-bandage on a gapping wound.
Nebraska needs an overhaul. Pressure was constant as the Sooners dominated up front. Following the 1st series, Nebraska couldn’t move the ball. OU coach Brent Venables and his defense had their way.
In order for Nebraska to find its way in the conference, the O-line must improve.
3) Quarterback position
As crazy as it seems, Joseph may have a QB controversy on his hands.
Casey Thompson has been solid. But his lack of running ability has been an Achilles heel.
Enter Chubba Purdy.
Chubba Purdy takes over.
— Sam McKewon (@swmckewonOWH) September 17, 2022
Purdy didn’t shine Saturday. But he did enough to be entered into the QB conversation. The Florida State transfer engineered a 13-play, 82-yard TD drive in the 4th quarter. Yes, he threw a pick. But he also scored his 1st TD on an 8-yard run late in the game.
Thompson wasn’t awful. He finished 14-20 for 129 yards and a TD.
But Purdy brings the “It” factor. Running. Throwing. He can do it all.
Yes, he’s raw. But at this point, what does Nebraska have to lose?
4) Locker room culture
At this point, Nebraska players’ heads have to be spinning.
Joseph fell on the sword following Saturday’s loss.
Mickey Joseph immediately takes responsibility. “This one’s on me.”
— Brady Oltmans 🤠 (@BradyOltmans) September 17, 2022
What a whirlwind they’ve been through. Ireland. Scott Frost’s public shaming and eventual firing. You name it.
These kids need to be kids.
Joseph needs to slow the roll and get everyone reined in. A week off will do wonders.
Expect Joseph and staff to work on cohesiveness. Locker room culture. It all matters.
For Nebraska to move forward, everyone must be on the same page. Rowing the boat forward is a must. There’s still a ton to play for (bowl berth) and Joseph knows he’s auditioning for a full-time job week by week.
If he can get buy-in from the players, expect the results on the field to improve.
5) Buy-in (staff and fans)
Maybe the hardest task Joseph takes on is buy-in.
Fans are exhausted. Players are wondering what went wrong.
With the bye-week coming, Joseph has to circle the wagons. Big Ten games are on the horizon.
For Nebraska to make a push, everyone must be on board.
The start of the season was train wreck. Frost-watch was not only weekly, but daily.
Give Joseph time. Give him a bye week and chance to rally the troops.
Nebraska takes the field again Oct. 1. Indiana comes to Memorial Stadium.
Can the Huskers right the ship? It will take a lot, but is not impossible. If there’s a man for the job, Joseph is he.
Throw out Saturday’s debacle. It is what it is. Oklahoma is better. More talent. More big game experience.
Nebraska needs to start from scratch. Things didn’t go well Saturday. Fortunately, there are 8 more games to be played.
Take a deep breath, Huskers fans. Time to regroup and reassess. Start evaluating again Oct. 2. Who knows what transpires after 2 weeks.
Nebraska fans can only hope for the best.