LINCOLN, Neb. — Here comes No. 4 Missouri, with its 54-point-per-game offense and Heisman-hopeful quarterback Chase Daniel.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini seems plenty worried.
Pelini says his team is making too many "bonehead" errors and needs to clean up its act to stick with the Tigers (4-0) on Saturday. Last week, the Cornhuskers (3-1) allowed Virginia Tech's offense to run up season bests in points and yards in a 35-30 loss.
The coach said Monday that his defense got away with blown coverages in its first three games against lesser competition. The Hokies took full advantage, and who knows what could happen if the high-powered Tigers are able to do the same?
"We're not executing as consistently as we would like to," Pelini said. "A lot of that is coaching. We're giving up too many big plays and making bonehead errors."
Virginia Tech finished with 377 total yards, and Tyrod Taylor, not known for his passing, was 9-of-15 for 171 yards.
"He had open receivers on ones he didn't complete," Pelini said. "We dropped some coverage. We played undisciplined football, with too many missed assignments. It's pretty easy to complete balls when that happens."
Missouri poses big problems as it looks for its first win in Lincoln since 1978. The Tigers are second nationally in both scoring (53.8 points) and total yards (595.5 yards). On the season, Daniel is 101-of-133 for 1,412 yards — 353 yards per game — and 12 touchdowns. Receiver Jeremy Maclin and tight end Chase Coffman are averaging more than 90 yards per game, and tailback Derrick Washington is running for more than 90 a game.
"They're good across the board," Pelini said. "They have a good running game and a good passing game, but it starts with the quarterback. Then you throw in Maclin. You can't focus on stopping one guy or you'll get killed."
Daniel lines up unusually deep in the shotgun in Missouri's spread offense, making it difficult to pressure the quarterback. Daniel has been sacked once in four games.
"You're not going to sack him a lot, but you have to try to affect him some, get some push up front, collapse the pocket and make him uncomfortable," Pelini said. "They line him up deep back there, and he's good at getting rid of the football and making quick decisions. They do a nice job as far as how to handle him and how they go about it."
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said Pelini, a defensive coordinator at his previous stops, is capable of making quick adjustments to get his defense playing at a higher level.
"He has his mark," Pinkel said. "They're disciplined, well-coached, physical, tough - all of the above. Their biggest test was against Virginia Tech, and Virginia Tech is very good up front. He (Pelini) is good at what he does. I expect their defense will improve and get better each week, so it will be a real challenge for us."