Picture taken by William Lauer/Lincoln Journal Star
Monday, September 29, 2008
Picture taken by William Lauer/Lincoln Journal Star
Friday, September 26, 2008
The first area of concern is, will Ganz force any balls into what has always been an aggressive secondary and turn it over? Joe is the ultimate game manager when it comes to this offense, but he's also thrown some W-T-F was-he-thinking balls, which can cause concern when Macho Harris and company are lining up on the other side. I don't think this will be as big of an issue as some have made it out to be, mainly because I suspect our running game to continue the improvement it showed against New Mexico State. Will we get 300+? No, I wouldn't expect that against a team as well-coached as the Hokies. But I do think we will get around 200, which would enable us to open up some play-action and sprint-out for Joe.
I'm thinking Huskers win this one somewhere in the neighborhood of 31-17. Sure, the game will be overshadowed by Georgia/Alabama, but there's still a large portion of the country that will be able to watch this game, and I'm hoping we put on a show and make our first real step back towards relevance.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
First off, let's look at the basics. The thing that the Huskers have struggled with the past few years (meaning: the Cosgrove era) is spread offenses who take our run support out of the box, allowing running lanes the size of a truck to develop. Anyone care to remember this? I didn't think so. The Hokies, however, run a more traditional two-back offense, meaning that Pelini can finally get a break from trotting out 5 to 6 defensive backs this weekend. This, along with Ricky Thenarse coming back, hopefully will give us Husker fans a few breaks from having to watch Larry Asante attempt to tackle people.
The question is, with the lack of depth we have at linebacker and now defensive line, can we hold up against the Hokie rushing attack, one bolstered by Tyrod Taylor's abilities? Will Beamer, having scouted our limitations, implement a few wrinkles that get Taylor in open space, perhaps some zone-read packages? I wouldn't be surprised in the least bit. Particularly with them starting kids a year removed from high school at wide receiver, one would think that the running game is going to be their sticking point. However, my concern is that they'll beat the run into the ground, counting on our safeties to creep up, and that's when they'll get us with a gadget play or play-action. I think they'll get one touchdown because they're lucky, one because they're good, and then a field goal because our defense always seem to be extremely flat at least one drive before pulling their heads out of their ass inside the 20 yard line.
I think the offensive line is starting to mesh at the right time here. Will we get over 300 for the second game in a row? No, but I expect us to get a solid rushing game going against the 72nd-ranked rushing defense, one that thus far hasn't been as effective as units of seasons past. I think Watson will call this game and nail it, and with the Sea of Red in night-game mode, it's going to turn out pretty good for us.
Now, the thing I don't like about Tech is that for the past five or six years (and maybe longer), it's seemed that the Va Tech defense were among the least classy players I have seen in some time. Every seemingly ordinary play was celebrated, it got to the point that I changed the channel during a couple of their games, I was getting so irritated with it. Now, to be honest, I haven't seen much of Tech's games this year, so I can't say if there has been any of it thus far this season. But I'm not too worried about it in our game, I don't think they'll have much to celebrate against our offense.
-Does anyone else who plays NCAA '09 get pissed off with how many plays somehow end at the one yard line or closer? How is it that I've had dozens of long plays go 60+ yards yet they can't go the last 12 inches? Is it a glitch? Some cruel joke by the programmers? This happens multiple times a game......I'm not saying that some plays don't end at the one yard line, but I can't believe the frequency with which it happens. I haven't gotten this frustrated at a video game since my dad discovered the Bills had a secret audible on Madden '92 that was a direct snap to Jim Kelly 25 yards down field.
- So last week in fantasy, I lost by 5 points. You know who was on my bench? Ronnie Brown, who accounted for 5 TD's and 117 yards rushing in the Dolphin's shredding of the Patriots. I'm now 1-2 in the league, but I'm confident that my lineup of AP and Matt Forte will help my rushing game pick up the slack.
- Va Tech and NU play in a split telecast, with Illinois and Penn State being the other game. Naturally, being in Minnesota, I'll be stuck with the Big 10 game, even if it is a mildly decent one. At least the Gophers will finally lose so I can stop hearing about them from my friends. No state has as many bandwagon jumpers as Minnesota.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
This year our big one was Virginia Tech, though they are not as good as many hoped they would be before the season. However, with Pelini and Osborne making a renewed commitment to finding exciting non-conference games, it shouldn't be long before we are getting College Game Day stopping by campus more regularly. Look at the hype created by games pitting teams like OSU and USC against each other (I would talk about our games versus USC, but I hate to bring on flashbacks for all of us). Big time games mean big time ratings, which bring in more recruits and get more publicity for the program. Plus there's the added benefit that by 2014 we hopefully will be back to competing regularly for national titles (I'm saying we'll be a juggernaut or anything, but hopefully at least back to 10 wins regularly and then make a run every 3 or 4 years at a title).
See, I know we have a game this weekend. But am I really getting that pumped for it? Sure, I'll go to a watch site, and I'll cheer like I always do. But what I really want is some electricity, the anticipation of a huge game, and I'd like to not have to wait a month into every season to get it. My ideal scenario would be to schedule a patsy (La-Lafayette or something like that), one decent non-BCS opponent (Southern Miss, Fresno State), then get the big-time game against a good program (Miami, UCLA, Tennessee, etc), and then finish off with another mid-level opponent to beat up on heading into conference play. Looking at the future schedules, this seems to be what Pelini and T.O. are gunning for, so I'm excited for the next decade of Husker football.......not that I wouldn't have been anyway....
Some other quick thoughts heading into the weekend:
-Just a reminder, Kansas plays South Florida tonight on ESPN2 tonight at 7:00 central, in case anyone is looking for something to watch while pre-drinking for evening festivities.
- Anyone else see Rutgers get annihilated by North Carolina last night? I know UNC and Butch Davis are supposed to be on the rise, so I want to give them some credit, but the real reason I mention this is to point out how bad Rutgers is struggling right now. Anyone remember a couple years ago when ESPN and the eastern media were ready to anoint the Scarlet Knights as the next big thing? It just goes to show that while there might be some upstarts now and then with all the parity that is present in college football, there will always be the traditional powers to keep things in balance for the most part. USC, Ohio State, Texas, and hopefully Nebraska, to go with a handful of others, will always be the top dogs, no matter how many challengers step up to try to fill the gap when a few of the big boys struggle.
-Did ESPN really have to give the OSU/USC clash a monkier as stupid as "The Coliseum Collision"? I mean, doesn't a game between two top-5 teams market itself? I can't stand how the media feels the need to give every weekend a nickname.
- Can the Huskers please, PLEASE establish the run this week? I'm thinking the Huskers win by 24, despite having little idea as to what the Aggies are going to throw at them.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Now that the realization has begun to set in that he's actually awful, it's been an especially fun week for me to read the morning papers, nothing beats seeing homer sports writers have to eat crow. Still, they are stressing patience, that it's only one game, that he'll rebound and be fine. Which is hysterical, because they still haven't fully accepted the fact that they wasted a 2nd round pick on an erratic passer who does better running the ball than he does throwing it. I hope Vikings fans are ready for a year of Adrian Peterson getting 30 carries a game and watching a terrifying 2-headed QB monster of Gus Frerotte and Jackson cost them the division.
And speaking of Jackson's nickname, shouldn't there be some official rule that you can't have a nickname if you're just downright terrible? The same thing happened a couple of years ago when Michael Olowokandi played for the Wolves and everyone was calling him the Candyman, even though the guy played like a 7-foot tall cardboard cutout. Which is why we called him Candi-puke. Creative? No, not really. But fitting nonetheless, considering a cardboard cutout probably could have outplayed him.
Anyways, with that round of Viking-bashing out of the way, on to some college football thoughts from this week.
- I was glad to see Frank Solich's Bobcat team play the vaunted Buckeyes of OSU so tough last Saturday. In my hungover fog I cheered along with other Big Red backers as Ohio played tough only to lose the upset bid. With USC looming, the question is this: Did Ohio State just sleepwalk through the game, or is the Big 10's most vaunted team destined to blow it again this year? Obviously the loss of Beanie Wells hurt the Buckeyes, but even without their stud tailback, one would think that there is enough talent in Columbus to put away a solid MAC team. If the Trojans were coming to Ohio Stadium, I would give the Buckeyes a slight edge. But having to travel across the entire country to face USC in the Coliseum doesn't bode well for Jim Tressel.
There will be 92,000 salivating (and mostly fair-weather) fans in attendance, though 20,000 or so of them might be Buckeyes. I'm sure USC is pumped for their 25th or 30th consecutive home sellout (such passionate fans down in Troy!), so it should be a fun game to watch. I'm still betting on the Trojans, mainly because I think that Ray Maualuga and Brian Cushing will neutralize Wells and make the Buckeyes' passing game beat them. Since that won't happen, I'm going with the Trojans by two scores. The opinion of many is that the loser of this game will still be able to play it's way into a national title game bid, but as Pat Forde of ESPN points out, that's probably wishful thinking:
"Look at the top nine teams in the USA Today coaches' poll. You'll see USC at No. 1 and Ohio State at No. 5. The other seven? They're all from the SEC and Big 12, which are considered the nation's two best leagues (by a mile).
If, come December, voters are choosing between a one-loss champion of either the SEC or the Big 12 and the once-beaten Buckeyes or Trojans, you know where the nod will probably go. (Especially if the choice is between an SEC team and its pinata from Columbus.) So the loser of this game will need a bloodbath in those conferences to clear its comeback path to the BCS National Championship Game."
Forde also points out something that made this game even more watchable to me: two of the nation's best middle linebackers, Maualuga and James Laurinitis of OSU will both be showcasing their abilities. Should be fun to watch.
- Congrats to Skip Holtz and ECU for beating West Virginia. I hope the Pirates enjoy the ride this season, because I've got 20 bucks that says Holtz will be elsewhere by the time camp starts next year.
- You know, I wanted to talk some s*it about the Big 10 winning all it's games last weekend, because the media up here touted it as some indicator that maybe the conference isn't so terrible after all. Then I read that the Big 12 did the same thing for the first time in conference history last weekend.....so yea, I guess I can't say much there except congrats to both conferences on the feat. Though I did find the opening sentence of Gophers coverage Sunday morning to be downright hysterical. The Gophers ran away from Bowling Green last Saturday, though at one point it was close, with the Gophers needing to convert a key 4th down to keep a drive going. They converted, went on to score and obviously win.
So I sit down the next morning, expecting the media to fawn over Brewster and his 2-0 team. They didn't disappoint: "You can call Tim Brewster a gambler. You can also call him 2-0." The article, by the Star Tribune's Jack Youngblood, is the standard homer crap that I am subjected to every time a Gophers or Vikings team does something remotely impressive. I know, we have the same thing down in Lincoln. The difference is that at one time the Huskers were actually good, whereas the Gophers haven't been nationally relevant since the 50's and the Vikings haven't been to a Superbowl since the Carter administration.
- I was intrigued when I read that the Huskers have scheduled 3 games with Fresno State, known for Bulldogs coach Pat Hill's insistence that they will play anyone, anywhere, anytime. The thing is, I think the time for him to be saying that has passed. I've never viewed the Bulldogs the same since Reggie Bush single-handedly won the Heisman by running roughshod over them in 2003. Anyone else remember that? The Bulldogs had the lead, but Bush put up 513 all-purpose yards and led the Trojans back. I think that was Fresno State's best chance to get over the hump and trumpet their arrival, and it was squandered when Bush went into human highlight mode. Besides, these games against the Huskers are scheduled for 2011, 2014, and 2016. Who knows if Hill is still going to be there that far down the road?
- I know nobody cares, but my fantasy team, Boats & Ho's, is now 1-0. My genius was on prominent display as two of my sleeper picks, rookies Matt Forte of the Bears and Chris Johnson of the Titans, both had over 100 total yards and a touchdown. It also helps that I have Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson. My only weakness is wide receiver, where I have Steve Smith (out because he punched a teammate) and Roy Williams as starters with a crap-tastic tandem of Devin Hester and Issac Bruce to back them up. Hester's QB is Kyle Orton and Bruce is like 55 years old......so here's to hoping that my starters don't get hurt. (One more thing about my fantasy team: if you don't understand my team name, you have to go see the movie Step Brothers. Ferrell's best effort since Talledega Nights, by far. )
- Did anyone else realize that Notre Dame and Michigan play each other this weekend? It's comical how far this rivalry has fallen. I know that Husker fans aren't in a position to tout supremacy right now, but still, it's especially satisfying to me to see two of my least-favorite programs struggling so mightily.
Seven years ago today, I was sitting in my Wars in American History class when someone came in, interrupted our class, and turned on the TV. I've never forgotten that moment, and it forever changed the history of both our country and the world at large. We saw both the terrible depths and soaring peaks of humanity that day, a cowardly act of terrorism followed by incredible displays of courage. Seven years later, none of that unity remains. In a time when yesterday is old news, September 11th recedes farther from people's memory each day. We'll see the usual tributes, the presidential nominees will stop their ridiculous sniping and bickering and put on their patriotic face to honor those who were lost. But tomorrow, the world will go on, and we'll go back to the grind until next year's ceremonies. It's a shame that something so tragic can so easily be pushed to the outer reaches of our consciousness, but I guess that's the time we live in. I still remember watching highlights from the first NFL games after the tragedy, stadiums full of people chanting U-S-A! U-S-A!, and swelling with pride and emotion that the terrorists had only strengthened our nation's resolve and that we were more unified than ever. We no longer are, and that pains me. You can blame it on time, a war some say we shouldn't be fighting, or a laundry list of other causes. No matter who is to blame though, I wish that we still stood in defiance as we did in the weeks following the attacks. My longing for national unity aside though, let us still honor those who were lost that sunny Tuesday morning seven years ago. God Bless them, they will always be missed.
Monday, September 8, 2008
The running game was supposed to be a strength this year, something that would enable us to keep all those lethal Big 12 offenses off the field and allow our thin defense to get some rest. Now, we're not so sure. If it wasn't for Niles Paul going untouched for 85 yards in the 4th quarter, we might be looking at a loss right now. Sure, we ended up winning going away, but I doubt anybody was very optimistic when the score was narrowed to 14 to 12 on a SJSU field goal with just over 12 minutes to play. When Niles split the sea of red blockers, it's as if the team collectively reached back and pulled their heads out of their asses and decided to play. The thing is, we won't have that luxury against better teams. If we play like this against Mizzou, Kansas, OU, or any of the other landmine games we have on this schedule, it's going to get ugly pretty quickly. Some other thoughts from Saturday:
- Did anyone ever teach Larry Asante to tackle? When he arrived on campus as a JUCO, he was supposed to be this head-hunting freak who would be a difference maker. Now he just looks like a matador who apparently doesn't know that it's perfectly legal to use your arms when tackling. If I was an opposing ball carrier, I'd be looking for him every time I got to the second level of the Husker defense. We need Ricky T back, and sooner rather than later.
-I'll say it again, it peeves me that much: 99 yards on 30 carries. Not acceptable by any means, and the whole team knows it.
- Great job by the defensive line. Sure, in the first quarter opposing ball carriers were getting to the second level way too easily. But Potter and company kept fighting, and came away with some big plays. Suh's nifty interception, along with Potter's, helped the morale of the team tremendously, and Pierre Allen's stat line helped ease the pain (not much, but a little)of losing Barry Turner for the year.
- Back when I played in college, the goals were to give up less than 200 passing yards and less than 100 rushing yards. The Huskers gave up 216 passing and 137 rushing, which means in comparison to last year, they are making progress. But if we don't do something quick to fix the missed tackles, we are going to be in for another long season (and my preseason prediction of 9 wins is going to qualify me for learning-disability status). The first San Jose drive was excruciatingly painful to watch, though it warrants mentioning that NU held them to just 30 rushing yards in the second half. Hopefully whatever adjustment the defensive staff made carries over the rest of the season.
- 12 penalties is asinine. I'm thoroughly convinced the three consecutive false starts are responsible for making my hangover worse than it already was at that point.
More on NU and other assorted thoughts tomorrow, I just wanted to vent a little bit of my frustration about Saturday's lethargic start. But all criticism aside, we improved the one stat that matters, and that's the W column.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Due to some issues regarding time constraints and internet access, Husker Guy might not be updated daily like I had hoped. Look for more quick entries and less lengthy stories, but I am still going to make an effort to include some of those as well. I am hoping to have all issues resolved before we get into conference play, but time will tell. My quick thoughts from last week's game:
- Turns out all those rave reviews Cody Glenn was getting weren't just lip service. That guy can flat-out play.
-Glad to see Mason Wald will not be redshirted this year. Kickoffs and punts just became a lot more interesting with "Stone" Mason on coverage.
- Nate Swift: 5 catches, 121 yards and 2 TD's......Just the beginning of what I already predicted to be a breakout year.
- I, like every other Husker fan, am wondering where this supposedly unstoppable running game was. Sure, Western Michigan was giving us the pass to a certain extent, but aren't these the games where we are supposed to just physically wear them down as the game goes on? As Tom Osborne used to say, those 2 or 3 yard runs in the first quarter turn into 7 or 8 yard carries in the 4th. We have to beat the hell out of opposing teams, it's the best way to extend drives and keep the opposing offenses off of the field, something that is going to become even more important once we enter conference play.
- There was only one place in all of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area that had the game showing on Saturday....and not surprisingly, there was a 3 hour wait for seating. Some devoted Husker fans up here. Also, having the Gophers playing at the same time didn't help matters. For what it's worth, it was thouroughly entertaining watching last-in-the-MAC Northern Illinois take them down to the final plays, and even more hilarious when Gopher fans celebrated the victory as if they had just won the Big 10.....I always wonder, now that it's obvious just how tough it is to win at Minnesota, do the Gopher fans ever long for Glen Mason and his 8-9 win seasons? They bitched about him not getting over the hump, but maybe they should have been kissing his ass for the job he did, because in my opinion, that's what Minnesota realistically should shoot for: 3rd or 4th in the Big 10 and a good bowl game. That is their ceiling, not the Rose Bowl.
-Speaking of teams I hate losing, I was ecstatic that Pittsburgh, the annual media darling who never lives up to expectations, once again stumbled out of the gate, losing 27-17 to Bowling Green. Kirk Herbstriet called this upset on Gameday, and it turned out to be a very wise pick. There are some media obsessions that are understandable. USC is good every year, they have history, etc. But for some reason, they fawn over Pittsburgh regularly, and every year it blows up in their face when the Panthers underachieve. We were subjected to this crap through Fitzgerald's time there, we had to deal with constant media BJ's for crap QB Tyler Palko, and then this year they were supposed to break out because they had some decent recruiting classes under Magnum P.I. So can we please not hear about these guys until they show they're worthy of a ranking?
- I wanted to predict East Carolina over Va Tech. But then it became a trendy upset pick, which of course scared me away, because whenever a pick is so trendy that it becomes the expected outcome, then all of a sudden you have to question your upset pick. This makes it twice as frustrating when the trendy upset pick that you shied away from comes true. Whether it be football or March Madness, the lesson as always is, go with your gut. I wish Va Tech had done well in this game, if only to keep the redshirt on Tyrod Taylor, I'd rather not have him under center when the Hokies come to Lincoln.