NEBRASKA OFFENSE VS. ARKANSAS STATE DEFENSE
Perhaps this segment should be the Nebraska offense vs. the Nebraska offense. “We’ve got to get past us,” sophomore receiver Kenny Bell said. “The team that we fear most on our schedule is ourselves.” So, can Nebraska clean up the familiar mistakes that cropped up during the second half at UCLA? Those self-inflicted problems haven't been as pronounced in home games, and the Arkansas State defense surrendered 50 points to Oregon — in the first half.
NEBRASKA DEFENSE VS. ARKANSAS STATE OFFENSE
Arkansas State at Nebraska
Nebraska’s defensive troubles have been well-documented all week. We know of the tackling and miscommunication issues, and the promise of some personnel changes. Will it make a difference? Arkansas State has a veteran quarterback in Ryan Aplin and is coached by a notable spread offense coach in Gus Malzahn, so the Red Wolves represent a quick turnaround challenge for Nebraska. Defensive improvements can be expected, if only because it can’t get much worse (right?). But to think Arkansas State won’t score a few points would be silly.
Edge: Arkansas State
Nebraska improved its kickoff coverage last week, but could be tested by David Oku, who should he get the opportunities. Oku transferred from Tennessee, where he led the Vols in kickoff return yardage as a freshman and sophomore. NU kicker/punter Brett Maher showed signs of emerging from his early-season funk last week, but still wasn’t up to par.
There have been references this week to Ball State 2007. You remember. Nebraska was in hangover mode after a loss to USC, barely beat the Cardinals, 41-40, and was never the same thereafter, finishing 5-7. This team, by all accounts, has better chemistry and leadership that should prevent such a meltdown. And for the most part, Bo Pelini’s teams have performed well following head-scratching losses, when the doubters are out in full force. Look for a better showing today, but not without challenges.