Prairie Band Casino

Passive Without the Aggressive

Nebraska’s 41-21 loss to UCLA resembled the crowd’s blackout effort – half was there, and the other half looked like they hadn’t ever heard of black shirts. Or Blackshirts.

At least more than half the crowd wore black. Nebraska let UCLA start its five unanswered touchdown run with less than three minutes left in the first half. I don’t think any of Doc Sadler’s teams gave up a 35-0 run.

It’s hard to tell exactly where the blame lies, because it’s certainly in several spots. That might be the worst problem for the Nebraska football team – There’s not enough fingers on that coaching staff to plug all the holes in this levy.

It’s hard not to put the loss on the coaches, nearly all of whom admitted the same thing about UCLA in the second half.

“It’s nothing magical,” Bo Pelini said. “It wasn’t anything that really they hadn’t done in the first half. You can’t go out defensively…you can’t go out and miss tackles, miss games and play undisciplined.”

Sounds familiar. Sounds like “they didn’t execute” again. Sounds about like you’d expect out of a team that gave up 28 points and 236 yards in the third quarter, after building a 21-3 lead with halftime at their fingertips.

“To be a good tackler, a lot of it is about your willingness to want to be involved in a tackle,” defensive backs coach Terry Joseph said of the second half. “Just because player A is in a tackle, we got to get B, C, D and E around the ball also because that way the guy who’s out there can be more aggressive because he feels his helps around him.”

It gets worse.

“I think what happened was we saw so much space out there that we got passive. Against a team like that, that’s the last thing you want to do is get passive because they have great athletes in space.”

Passive, as it is, might be the key word for Nebraska. There’s not many other words to describe a team able to surrender five straight touchdowns drives, including a 89-yard grinder and two explosive drives that each took four plays or less.

“There was a deflated look on the sideline,” John Papuchis said of his defense after halftime. “I think they were a little shell-shocked. Like I said, we were up 21 to 3, 21 to 10 and half and all of a sudden, boom, within a second minutes of that third quarter we’re down ten.”

Boom is right. Boom to the tune of seven plays of 20 yards or more. You’d think those kind of booms would knock a guy out of passiveness.

“We were fighting to keep our intensity up at halftime, saying ‘OK we’re not gonna let these guys bounce back,’ but we let ‘em. We gave ‘em it,” Spencer Long said. “We didn’t execute when we came out on that first drive; we needed to score a touchdown and it didn’t happen.”