It was a stomach punch game, one that undoubtedly doubled over many players as well as Husker fans. We HAD IT. Everything that NU had to do to steal a win was there, but unfortunately for anyone with an "N" on their apparell, the Huskers also brought the gun to Lubbock. You know, the gun that they've shot themselves in the foot with for countless games over the past few years? It's the one that LeKevin Smith used against the same Red Raiders when he fumbled away a win in 2005. It's the same gun that Terrence Nunn used against Texas in the 2006 snow game. Yet again, we found a way to lose a winnable game. Two consecutive holding penalties pushed us out of field goal range before half, taking away an opportunity for 3 points that would have eventually won us the game. Joe Ganz, playing lights-out, gets sacked trying to get rid of the ball, but because of the man wrapped around his legs, the ball goes directly to a defender. For 10 years, we got the breaks. Now, it seems that they are dead-set against us.
During the 3rd quarter, I mentioned to my brother, "You know, you'd think that after the past 5 years, especially our games against Tech, that maybe football karma will go our way this time." I could not have been more wrong. The interception was especially painful, but you shake it off because without Joe Ganz, we aren't even in position to win this game. But the real ammunition for the shoot-our-foot gun was once again penalties. I can't remember seeing a less-disciplined Nebraska offensive unit in my lifetime, it's simply astounding how many drive-killing penalties one team can have. Really, you take those away, I think we win this game, and I know I'm not the only one.
The one thing that all of us know though is that wouldas, shouldas, and couldas don't count for a damn thing in the standings. All that matters is the W or the L, and no matter how much hope NU may take out of this game, the bitterness all of Husker Nation is tasting today will not reside for some time. I had a coach once who told me that at the end of the day, winners make plays, plain and simple. We were one play short, and that's all that people will see when they look at our record at the end of the season, not two "shoulda" games against Va Tech and the Red Raiders.
Some more quick-hit thoughts on NU/Texas Tech:
- Attn: Nebraska Safeties
RE: Coverage Responsibilities
Guys, that guy running free behind you? Yeah, you should cover him instead of letting him jet by unimpeded. Thanks.
- The spot was questionable, but my real question about Castille's carry on 4th down at the TT 30 was this: how does a massive man like Q get literally stopped on a dime? Once he was hit by that guy, he went straight down. I figured that a guy that big would take at least two or three feet to stop, but apparently even the biggest of trees can be taken down in one fell swoop.
- Todd Peterson was BOC in the 4th quarter. For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym, he was Balling Outta Control.......talk about some clutch catches, my hat's off to you Petey.
- For a guy whose defenses were known for creating turnovers, we haven't seen much from Pelini's unit this year. Tech was the 3rd consecutive game without one (and we REALLY needed one this time). That aside, it's hard to get interceptions when nobody is covering the opposing team's receivers.
-The lack of depth was never more apparent when we realized that a true freshmen walk-on was our starting inside linebacker. If you're a recruit looking for immediate playing time at a tradition-rich and desperate school, look no further than the University of Nebraska.
I don't even want to discuss this game further, let's just get to ISU on Saturday.
Some assorted non-Husker thoughts from the weekend:
-Star Tribune's main headline on the sports page Sunday morning: "The Toast of Champaign". It went on to say that Minnesota's win over a 3-3 Illinois team was a "defining" victory for Brewster's crew, which is hilarious because despite the win, the supposedly "much-improved" defense still gave up 500 yards of offense to Juice Williams alone. The Gophers newfound success, coupled with NU's struggles, is making this season just as hard to stomach as last year. And yes, this is just a bitter man trying to nitpick a team's rapid improvement over a season ago. Congrats to the Gophs for your success. Next year, if Nebraska is smart, they'll make sure ALL of their non-conference games are complete patsies, and then go into the hapless Big 10 to continue their success. Seriously, the Gophers have played one decent team thus far (Ohio State) and have one decent team left to beat (Wisconsin). One of the weakest schedules in the country in my opinion, thanks to the garbage Big 10 (Penn State excluded, of course).
- Was Okie State's win over Mizzou an abberation, or Zac Robinson and Co. that good? All of a sudden, the North isn't looking as strong as it did before the season. Colorado (like I predicted in the preseason) is still a year away, NU obviously has issues, Iowa State and K-State are nothing special, and Kansas is not near as good as they were last year on the defensive side of the ball. I still think the Big 12 is barely below the SEC, but I'll be shocked if we have anyone left standing at the end of the season, because this conference is a meatgrinder. I think that with rare exceptions (meaning teams from weaker conferences like the Pac 10/Big 10), we won't see many undefeated national champs anymore. One loss will be far more common in the current college football climate.
- The Red River Shootout was quite a game to watch, and it was crazy to see Gunslinger 2.0 out there. Colt McCoy, rebounding off last year's disappointing campaign, is bigger and stronger than he was a year ago and has mastered the offense. I really hate when people go to college and somehow keep growing another two or three inches. Why is it that I stopped growing at 6'1" in the 8th grade? McCoy has grown 2 inches since he arrived in Austin, and his game is rising in turn.