Offense Under Bo Pelini
Husker fans have been understandably critical of Bo Pelini's defense after the game against UCLA. As he put it, it was a team loss. The offense managed just six points in the second half with two turnovers and a safety. NU held the ball for less than 10 minutes of the entire second half and managed just 127 yards. While some will quibble about what this outing means for the defense for the rest of the year, it's the offense that's been a more persistent problem in the Pelini era. What does a bad half on the road tell us about this unit it 2012?
There's certainly an argument that it is harder to generate consistent offense than consistent defense. If a defense gives up 28 points, that might mean they got 10 stops in a game out of 14 drives. It also may not require as much to get it right on defense. It's not an uncommon sight in college football to see a quarterback overthrow a wide open receiver or for a receiver to drop an easy pass. Or to see a team dig a hole with a false start penalty or illegal formation. A single pass rusher can often end a play early with a sack, hurried throw, or by drawing a holding penalty even if other members of his team might have made mistakes.
That said, you can't really say that any Pelini offense for any full year after 2008 has been anything to be pleased about. If the Husker offense managed to top just 17 points in each defeat (all else equal), they'd have erased three losses from 2009, and the fourth would have only required 25 and eliminating one costly fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Likewise in 2010, 21 points a game in the losses would have erased three of four defeats and 24 would have taken care of the fourth. 2011 was a different story. While the offense certainly played a role in each loss, 31 points a game would have only erased two of the defeats. Likewise, it might have taken 37 total points (or more) to outscore UCLA last Saturday. With the exception of the South Carolina game, the common thread in the losses from 2011 and last week is a substantial disadvantage in time of possession. Perhaps that's an indictment of the hurry-up approach to offense. When it doesn't work, it can really put your defense in a bad spot. Against Michigan in 2011 for example, Nebraska had just 11 first downs and held the ball for just over 18 minutes.
You'd have to be blind not to think the defense doesn't need improvement from what we saw Saturday. But the offense will have to be more consistent as well for Nebraska to win games.