NEBRASKA CITY - Damon Benning, a color analyst for the Huskers Radio Network, told the Big Red Buzz audience in Nebraska City Thursday that Nebraska’s football team remains in a positive position mentally, but talent issues are a factor going into the final five games of the regular season.

Benning: “They should be paying Coach Joseph, Coach Busch and the staff extra just for the belief factor.”

Coach Mickey Joseph was named interim head coach in September ahead of Oklahoma’s 49 to 14 route of the Huskers. Coach Bill Busch was named defensive coordinator after the Oklahoma game.

 Benning: “Three weeks ago his team was all but left for dead coming off the Oklahoma game in terms of psyche.”

Benning, who broadcast his first game alongside Greg Sharpe in the 43 to 37 loss to Purdue, said there is improvement in the team’s mentality. He said he does not believe there was any point in the game when the Nebraska players did not feel like they would win.

However, Benning said talent issues are more of a factor than they have been in recent years.

Benning: “The linebacker corps is decimated.”

He said Eteva Mauga-Clements, who started in place of the injured Luke Reimer, is struggling and an injury to the versatile Nick Henrich could keep him off the field for “substantial time.”

He said linebacker Ernest Hausmann, a true freshman from Columbus, is still a little undersized, but there is no question about his toughness.

Benning said Nebraska coaches are reminded of close losses in recent years, when available talent was not the primary issue, with each close loss now, when they are “severely undermanned.”

He said Nebraska’s offensive coaches are tasked with figuring out how to be patient with the run game even when it’s not working and how to work around the offensive line.

Benning said a 3-2 record to finish the year could provide convincing  evidence to retain the coaching staff led by Joseph.