Published Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 12:01 am / Updated at 9:24 pm
FOOTBALL
NU eyes consistency from high-powered offense

LINCOLN — As the euphoria dissipated from the comeback win against Wisconsin and members of Nebraska's offense began analyzing their slow start last Saturday, one thing quickly became evident: The mental mistakes and fundamental miscues that clogged up a potentially lethal attack for nearly two quarters will be costly next time.

The Huskers enjoyed celebrating their ability to bounce back from the errors and pull out that 30-27 win. But the mood will be different this weekend if that same performance is repeated at No. 12 Ohio State, sophomore Kenny Bell said.

“We'll lose,” Bell said. “They've got too good of an offense and too athletic of a defense to be giving them chances like that.”

The Huskers managed 51 yards on their opening five drives against Wisconsin. They recorded two first downs and fumbled three times, losing one.

They averaged 2.6 yards per carry during that stretch, stalled by the ball carrier's inability to properly read running lanes and the blockers' failure to create them consistently. The fumbles didn't help, either.

Meanwhile, Taylor Martinez and his receivers looked out of sync. A pass sailed out of bounds. Another was batted down at the line of scrimmage. A third short-hopped a target. Martinez twice was flushed out of the pocket, unable to cycle through all of his progressions.

“There's no excuse for it,” junior right guard Spencer Long said. “We can't play 30 minutes of football like we did (in the first half) against Wisconsin or we won't be successful.”

The Huskers hope that the early-game funk was simply a result of an emotional overload. The excitement of the moment evidently overwhelmed the players, and clouded their focus.

But Nebraska's offense had been somewhat streaky in September.

BIG RED TODAY ON FACEBOOK
Join the conversation on the Big Red Today Facebook page.

In the second half against UCLA, the Huskers stumbled on five straight scoreless possessions (68 yards on 18 plays), a sequence that ultimately sealed the loss. A week later against Arkansas State, their first three drives after halftime resulted in a punt and two fumbles.

“Sometimes it's just finding the right play or the right set,” offensive coordinator Tim Beck said. “You just keep plugging away. That's what I'm happy about. Our players, they never quit (Saturday).”

That's because the group is confident it can produce. Martinez said Monday that once NU grabs the momentum and accurately dissects a defense, it “can't be stopped.”

Through five games, Nebraska's offense ranks 10th nationally in scoring (44.8 points per game). Its quarterback has the 10th-best passer efficiency rating (169.6). Only four teams average more rushing yards (305.8) than Nebraska and two squads average more yards per carry (6.4).

Hard to argue that the unit can be machine-like in its precision and efficiency.

“When it catches, it catches. In a big way,” Beck said. “I don't know if we're ever out of a game.”

But in that first half against Wisconsin, the Huskers were wading through self-created sludge that seems to surface at the most inconvenient of times.

That's the emphasis this week. Remove all of that gunk.

Ohio State's defense is full of “a lot of great players,” Beck said. The Buckeyes have shown they're vulnerable, though.

They're giving up 3.6 yards per carry, only three Big Ten defenses allow rushing yards at a higher rate. They're also the league's second-worst pass defense, giving up 275.6 yards per game.

But Ohio State has recorded a conference-high seven interceptions. And Nebraska's 15 fumbles are the second-most nationally, according to cfbstats.com.

“We've got to learn to get out of our own way,” Beck said. “We're our own worst enemy right now.”

Contact the writer:

402-473-9585, jon.nyatawa@owh.com; twitter.com/JonNyatawa

* * *

>> Video: See this week's edition of "The Big Red Today Show":



>> Video: See Tuesday's Husker practice highlights:

Contact the writer: Jon Nyatawa

jon.nyatawa@owh.com    |   402-473-9585    |  

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football and baseball, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008.

PHOTO GALLERY AND VIDEO »

 

< >
SPOTLIGHT »
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Big Ten football recruits
The World-Herald's Big Ten recruiting database contains every football recruit that signed with a Big Ten school from 2002 to 2011, complete with color-coded interactive map representations, player information, high-concentrations recruiting clusters and more.
Devaney Center timeline
Check out a World-Herald timeline to see the evolution of memorable moments at the Devaney Center, complete with photos, videos, memorable quotes and more.
Follow OWHbigred on Twitter
Looking for the latest Husker sports news from The Omaha World-Herald and Omaha.com? Follow us on Twitter!
Husker scholarship distribution chart
Want to see how many scholarships NU has invested at each position? Wondering how the Huskers have appropriated their offers by class? Check out our handy chart to look further into how Bo Pelini has built his team.
Husker Signing Day 2013
The World-Herald's top-notch coverage of the Nebraska football's class of 2013, complete with videos, photos, articles, live recruit interviews, interactive components and more.
Husker turnovers: A slippery slope
Bo Pelini has coached 68 games at Nebraska. When NUís turnover margin is positive or even, the Huskers are 35-2. When they lose the turnover battle, theyíre 13-18. Why hasnít Nebraska joined the nationís elite? More than anything, itís turnovers.
Interactive: Bo Pelini's contract
View an interactive PDF of Pelini's revised contract signed by the NU football coach, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Darin Erstad's contract (2012)
View an interactive PDF of NU baseball coach Darin Erstad's contract released in August 2012, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Tim Miles' contract
View an interactive PDF of Tim Miles' contract signed by the Nebraska men's basketball coach on May 4, 2012, complete with brief legal explanations, comparisons to other Big Ten coaches and more.
Omaha.com's Big Ten coverage
Delivering the best news coverage and analysis of the Big Ten Conference, from Omaha.com and other top news outlets from around country.
Husker Recruiting: Changes shrink NU's sphere of influence
For decades, the Great Plains represented fertile recruiting ground for Tom Osborne's football program. Restoring that lost tradition won't be easy.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Dr. Welbes Natural Health Clinic
$129 for 2 LipoLaser Sessions with Additional Complimentary Services ($605 value)
Buy Now
BRT ON TWITTER »
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT »
< >