So that whole I'm-going-to-write-every-day thing hasn't worked as well as I had hoped thus far. It's been a hectic week at work, topped off by finding out yesterday that they are downsizing our branch, which means I have three to four weeks to find a different job. Disappointing to say the least, but I'm confident it'll all work out for the best, I was looking for a new challenge anyways. I am even contemplating moving to Omaha, due to the fact that it is still growing there whereas it feels like the Twin Cities is especially struggling. Plus, below zero temperatures aren't a daily winter occurrence in Nebraska like they are here. Anyways, with that little intro out of the way, I want to look at a couple of articles and bounce around a bit today between the Big Red and some other teams in the Big 12. I originally wanted to post my review of "Hero of the Underground" today, but I want to finish re-reading it to do it justice, I don't want to half-ass a book review.
- Interesting article about Ricky Thenarse in the OWH today. Since his arrival on campus in 2006, he's been an oft-discussed Husker, with a penchant for big hits on special teams and a lack of regular playing time on the defense. For a long time, this rubbed many fans (myself included) the wrong way, as we saw an athlete we thought could contribute more than kick coverage. Well one of the things this article points out is that Ricky hasn't always been so keen on knowing all his X's and O's, which might explain why the last coaching staff kept him off the field for the most part the past couple of years.
In college football, and especially when it comes to playing for someone like Pelini, it doesn't matter how hard you can hit someone, it's a question as to whether you can analyze personnel groupings and tendencies and then using them to perform your specific task. It turns out that until this past spring and the current fall camp, Ricky had to a certain extent been content to just go out looking for hits instead of relying on the schemes to shut down the opposing offense (though maybe he just didn't trust Cosgrove's D and decided he might as well light some people up, it's tough to say). Regardless, the fact that he is settling down and diving into film and the playbook is relief to me and the thousands of Husker fans who have been impatiently waiting to see him trot out with the starters.
- Though it's about a week old, I had to link to SI.com's in-depth article on conference supremacy, which has become the defining debate in college football. No longer can you just argue about individual teams, now you must factor in teams like Iowa State and Baylor when you discuss the sport with your peers. Most shocking: using their rating system, the Big XII is 5th out of the 6 BCS conferences. That's right, second to last. This has a lot to do with the fact that our conference, with the exception of OU and UT, took a gigantic nosedive starting in 2001, and only really started to recover last year, when Mizzou and Kansas finally made the North somewhat relevant again (something I hope they and the Big Red continue to do this season).
One thing Mandel writes about in the article that is especially gratifying for me personally is the slow downward spiral of the ACC. Remember all the press and hullabaloo about the merger that brought in BC and Miami? Well, it hasn't exactly panned out as well as everyone involved had hoped. FSU isn't looking any better this year, though both they and the Hurricanes inked really good recruiting classes last year (though that doesn't figure to help Bowden, whose successor Jimbo Fisher is already waiting in the wings). Being a Husker fan, it's fun to watch these two programs, who for so long in the 80's and 90's were thorns in our side, struggle like they have the past couple of years......of course, I guess they could probably look at us and say the same things...
While he also points out the Big 12's downfall, the best part of the article is where he rips my least-favorite conference, the Big 10. Having to be subjected to countless regional telecasts of Indiana vs. Northwestern and similar matchups the past couple of years, the backlash against this skidmark assembly of teams has reached a fever pitch after consecutive humiliations of Ohio State in the national championship game. With Michigan putting in a new system and Illinois losing their stud tailback Rashard Mendenhall, it will again be on the shoulders of the Buckeyes to somehow redeem their entire conference.....which, even if OSU goes undefeated, I doubt many voters will allow to happen after watching the past two drubbings put on them by SEC teams.
- They might have kicked our ass the past two years, but at least the Huskers aren't suffering from jock itch, which is apparently a problem this fall at USC. Says receiver Travon Patterson simply, "It burns."
- Is anyone else kind of disappointed that thus far no one has supplanted Nate Swift as the #1 punt returner? Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Swift fan, he's one of the few you can count on to catch the ball every time. That aside though, I'd hate to see him get hurt trying to return punts. Of all the kids that came into the program the past couple of years, you're telling me that nobody can provide a spark on special teams? Nobody can catch a ball and run with it? Seems a bit ridiculous to me. Though I will say the chatter coming out of camp is that Khiry Cooper, the freshmen baseball standout, is making waves in practice and could be the main returner by opening day. My question is, with word leaking out that Marcus Mendoza is doing well at tailback (and considering the logjam we have there), why isn't Mendoza getting some looks at PR? He seems like a natural fit.
Back on Monday, everyone have a safe weekend and enjoy it, there aren't many left in the summer.