Tom's Takes: The Huskers will need to improve — especially in the trenches — to reach a bowl game

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez talks to Noah Vedral during the second quarter.

MINNEAPOLIS — World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel shares his immediate thoughts following the Huskers' 34-7 loss to Minnesota.

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1. Well, at least nobody was talking about the center snaps. But the focus was certainly on the offensive line. Look, this is a tough league for a young offensive line to make progress each week. But this group took a step backward against Minnesota. Is it about another year in the weight room or are there some other issues going on here? Beginning with this bye week, the line needs to find a way to improve and get some momentum. That won’t be easy. Wisconsin and Iowa won’t feel sorry for the Huskers.

2. Noah Vedral made some plays, didn’t flinch, took some shots and kept going. It certainly wasn’t good enough, but there wasn’t room to do much with Minnesota crashing the line. After Wan’Dale Robinson went out in the first half, it didn’t look like Nebraska had any other answers. I thought we’d see a steady diet of called quarterback runs and keeps by Vedral, who is a crafty runner. He seemed to be in the pocket a lot, which doesn’t seem to be his strong suit, especially when that pocket is collapsing. Case in point: After NU got to the Minnesota 26 on its second possession after a 51-yard pass to JD Spielman, Vedral was sacked on consecutive plays that forced a third-and-22. Minnesota didn’t have an answer for Vedral’s runs early. Anyway, second-guessing play-calling is always a little moot when there’s little blocking up front.

3. There are five games and two bye weeks left. Two of those games, Wisconsin and Iowa, don’t look promising. The other three are Indiana and at Purdue and at Maryland. Does Nebraska have two more wins in it to get to a bowl? That’s going to be the narrative the rest of the way. Another year without a bowl game would be brutal. The Huskers will have to play a lot better — especially up front — than Saturday night.

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