It sure wasn't the best day to be a Pelini.
Former Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini resigned from his post as head coach at Florida Atlantic Wednesday after being confronted about illegal drug use.
And little brother Bo could very well be on his way to the unemployment office with big brother if Nebraska's season continues down the path it's currently on.
In Bo Pelini's sixth season at the helm, there has been little to no overall progress. Sure, the offense is leaps and bounds better than it was in Pelini's first two years, but for as much as the offense has progressed, the defense has taken an evenly drastic nose dive.
Still, this Nebraska team should not be losing to Minnesota. The Huskers are more talented than the Gophers, but talent only takes you so far.
Good football teams tend to be mentally tough.
What I saw on Saturday was a Nebraska team devoid of that mental toughness needed to counter after being dealt a nasty blow. Minnesota's sideline was lively, excited, pumped up and passionate. Nebraska's was plain depressing -- there were hanging heads, pouting players and no tangible signs of enthusiasm.
As soon as something didn't go Nebraska's way, it looked like the players knew where the game was headed.
And on the field, Nebraska's offense was difficult to watch with Taylor Martinez making his return. The Husker attack seemed to lack cohesiveness and even an identity. After the first series, which resulted in a touchdown, there was no rhythm.
The offensive line played poorly for the most part, and the wide receivers dropped way too many passes, but why were so many passes thrown in the first place?
Martinez isn't what most would call a polished passer, so why kill drives with consecutive incompletions while your running back is averaging nine yards a pop?
In the days since losing to Minnesota, Nebraska coaches have maintained that they threw the ball because that's what the defense was giving them.
Again, Martinez isn't exactly Peyton Manning inside the pocket, so why try to force a square peg into a round hole because it's there?
And whatever happened to the days when Nebraska ran the ball no matter what the defense gave them? The Huskers used to take what they wanted, not what they were given.
Nebraska has used the run game fairly well over the last few years, but it seems to go away from it at the most inopportune times. With a 15-0 record when rushing for over 300 yards, Pelini would be wise to just hand the ball off to his talented stable of backs.
You have free articles remaining.
Martinez, whose best asset has been his running ability, rushed for just 16 yards on eight carries at Minnesota. After stating for weeks that he would only play Martinez when he was 100 percent, Bo sent him out there far from it. Martinez was still hampered by two injured toes and was dealing with a bum shoulder going into the contest. He said as much after the game, stating he wasn't fully comfortable pushing off that hurt foot.
So why play him? And if you're going to play him, why not replace him with a healthy Tommy Armstrong Jr. after seeing that he is in fact struggling to get it done?
Because Pelini believed Martinez when he said he was good to go. He looked him in the eyes and said he was good to go.
That must have been the only time Pelini looked at Martinez because it was painfully obvious he wasn't fully healthy and was in fact a hindrance on the offense.
But Pelini's problems go much deeper than being married to a specific player, come hell or high water.
His assistants have drastically underperformed up until this point.
Tim Beck can't seem to get out of his own way when calling plays, and John Papuchis' outfit was thoroughly embarrassed by a predictable Minnesota offense.
Much like in the UCLA loss, Beck inexplicably abandoned the run after falling behind in the second half, leading to multiple three-and-outs and short possessions -- not exactly putting NU's young defenders in a position to succeed. Beck wanted to take shots in the passing game because Minnesota was playing man coverage on the outside and loading the box to stop the run.
That would be a great strategy … if he had either Armstrong or Ron Kellogg III under center. It doesn't seem like Beck was playing to his team's strength by having Martinez, who hadn't played a game in five weeks, chuck it all around the yard.
And the defense never seemed to get a handle on what Minnesota was doing, which wasn't very complicated. The Gophers ran it down the Huskers' throat, daring them to stop it.
They never did.
I'm not saying Pelini, Martinez, Beck or Papuchis need to get the dreaded pink slip, but the ice they are collectively standing on is getting pretty thin.
But with a new Athletic Director, now is not the time to put your worst foot forward.
Dylan Guenther is the sports editor for The Columbus Telegram. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments and story ideas. Or follow the Telegram Sports Staff on Twitter at CTelegramSports.