I don't want to get into the whole jimmy and joes vs x's and o's argument, but I do want to touch on some things specific for this NU football team.
imo, offensive scheme can cover up talent deficiencies (to a certain degree). examples are navy with the option/veer and Leach with the air raid. do something different, recruit players for your offense, make it difficult to prepare for you, and you can cause damage on offense.
but, defensively, I don't think there's a scheme that can overcome a lack of talent. no matter what defense you play, you can either cover WRs/TEs, or you cant. you can either withstand a solid OL and rushing attack up front, or you cant. you either have LBs who can run and tackle and make plays, or you cant. maybe, maybe, you can come up with some constant blitz scheme that is hugely high risk, but over time not even that would work.
so, with this NU team, I think we're seeing this play out.
offensively, NU lacks depth across the board, has a frosh QB, and a crappy OL. but, they can move the ball and they can score points and they can generate big plays. of course some of that is talent (AM, Mo, Stan, JD), but some of it is also scheme to create those one on one matchups and get people open
defensively, I don't think NU has a AM/Mo/Stan/JD type of player, and it shows. and even if they did, opposing offenses can scheme away from NU's defensive strength, negating it. NU doesn't have good coverage personnel, they lack speed and athleticism at S and ILB/OLB, and it shows in busted assignments and poor angles and missed tackles and poor pursuit.
the offense will continue to improve with more reps.
the defense will only improve once they get better athletes
I'm hoping we see more things like the staff taking a player like Breon Dixon and moving him to OLB. It sounds like they're doing something similar with Cam Jurgens, who, btw, I think someone mentioned at fall camp that the kid was up to 6-4 270 lbs. that's not a TE anymore, that's an OG. well, not really, apparently that's an OC. I could see him being 285 or bigger by next year's fall camp, the kid is strong, athletic, has good feet, is mobile, etc, and will probably make an excellent OC. let's hope it plays out that way.
now, defensively, the staff needs more players like Cam Taylor. and I hope to see him eventually starting at CB opposite of Bootle this season.
so far this season the offense is getting out of their own way enough to win games, but the defense is a sieve, and isn't getting any turnovers, and I don't think it's going to get any better until there's another influx of new players and another year of S&C development for the young ones that are already here.