Nebraska held close, then fell upon the self-destruct button as they lost 45-31 to Georgia in the Capital One Orlando Bowl. The final score came pretty close to what my initial predictions were on the game when the match-up was first announced, but the Huskers played hard through 3 quarters, making the loss a bit harder to take.
The 2012-13 Season is in the books. People much smarter than me are/will be calling for coaching changes.
I’ll let them debate the merits of firing Bo Pelini (link to my comments last year, which are very much the same after this year), firing Barney Cotton, firing Tim Beck and/or firing John Papuchis. Everyone has pointed to the 2013-14 season as the year the Huskers will be making a run to the top of the polls. I’ll say this though, Nebraska loses 7 starters from defense next year, and this veteran team is giving up yardage to their opponents like the sun gives us sunshine. Something is broken, and something needs to be fixed if Nebraska is going to make that run.
Nebraska gave 589 yards to a Georgia team that was averaging only 467 yards of offense per game. Turnovers were an issue, but turnovers don’t put yardage on the board.
Offensively, yes turnovers are a concern, but this is only part of the problem. Taylor Martinez has continued to get these losses hung on his head because he is the offensive leader, but many of these turnovers are happening in come-from-behind situations. Times where big plays are in need and the risk/reward factor is high. He has improved dramatically in three years, and is an adequate quarterback and should put up similar – if not improved – numbers next year. Rex Burkhead will be gone next season, but I am encouraged by the depth at running back.
But then there is the Defense that I have mentioned previously. The Bend-but-don’t-break philosophy has failed. Youth will be taking over at key spots and that is troublesome to me. Losing 2/3 of your starting defense – a defense that has been getting blown out of the water – and replacing them from the bench. Big problems. And if there are improvements at key positions that have been sitting on the bench, you have to ask the question “Why haven’t they been starters?”
My brief tally on the season:
Offense Overall: B+
Defense Overall: C-
Run Defense: C-
Pass Defense C+
Special Teams Overall: B
Punt Teams: A
Field Goals: B- (not sure why Maher struggled this year)
Return Team: A
I’m sure I’ll have more to say as I start breaking this game down further. But the season is over. I bleed Husker Red.