Friday, September 22, 2006

NU Re-View: USC 28, Nebraska 10

Sorry for the delay, recovery took longer than expected.

THE GOOD ...

- THE POINT SPREAD: Hey, at least Nebraska made sure USC didn’t cover. Still a little sad to think that the ‘Husker program is still at a place where that is a “good.”

- NEBRASKA’S RESILIENCY: On a serious note, you can tell a lot about a football team by the way they play late in the game when they are losing. I didn’t see any quit at all from the boys in Scarlet and Cream. What that tells me is that the team really has bought into the coach. And that is progress.

- THE NATIONAL RESPONSE: This game really was a measuring stick for the national perspective of the Nebraska program under Bill Callahan. National perspective in college football matters, both for recruiting and for poll rankings. A Texas Tech-style blowout would have set the program back two years. But when ESPN’s noted ‘Husker-basher Mark May says NU is “on the right track” after analyzing the game, then no damage was done.

- TORNADO’S TIMING: In the third quarter, a tornado was sighted within about 10 miles of my house, and I ended up under the staircase in the basement for about a half hour. After Marlon Lucky’s fumble on Nebraska’s first possession of the second half, I wanted to go there anyway, so it was nice to have an excuse.

THE BAD ...

- NEBRASKA’S SECONDARY: I know, Captain Obvious strikes again. But the real turning point in the game was Nebraska’s inability to handle USC’s receivers. Nebraska did pretty well in handling USC’s running game. But whenever they needed yardage, it was right there for the taking. I was a little surprised I didn’t see more safety help, particularly against Jarrett, but it’s hard to tell on TV if it was there or not.

- THE GAME PLAN: While I suspect there was a method behind the madness, it was very frustrating to see a game where the score was close and Nebraska not take the reins off a passing attack that looked very crisp and efficient earlier in the season. I understand the competition, and I think I understand the reason why, but it’s still frustrating.

- LAY OFF POOR ANDRE, GUYS: Yes, Andre Jones made a guarantee of sorts that Nebraska would beat USC. Yes, he got torched on Jarrett’s first touchdown. But really, ABC/ESPN, was it necessary to mention that guarantee EVERY time number 25 in red showed up on the screen? We get it already, move on.

... AND THE DISTURBING

- TROJANS PART TWO: This Saturday, the OTHER men of Troy come to Lincoln with a new spread offense, and an increase in talent level and confidence. Troy led Florida State in the fourth quarter, and was right there with Georgia Tech until fourth quarter turnovers allowed the Yellowjackets to pull away. Plus, Troy’s spread offense with emphasis on quick passing takes away the Blackshirts’ strength (pass rush from the front seven) and into their weakness (coverage in the secondary). This is a dangerous, dangerous game for Nebraska if they are at all not in the proper mindset.

THE BIG PICTURE

This game was billed as a measuring stick for Nebraska, and it was. We now know that Nebraska is not in the same league, talent-wise, as USC. That’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s clearly the truth. I think Callahan knew that as well, and knew that the only thing that would be harmful from this game was a blowout. That’s why he “pounded the rock” so much, even though it clearly wasn’t working. I think Callahan’s thought process was to “take the air out of the ball,” run the ball and keep the clock moving, and by doing so keep the game close into the fourth quarter and hope for the best. If he puts the ball in the air a bunch in the first half, and gets turned over or quick three-and-outs, then USC could get an early 14 or 21 point lead and cruise to a blowout. As I said, while it was frustrating to watch, I understand why he did that, and I really don’t have a problem with it. But I suspect Zac Taylor will throw the ball more than 16 times against Troy.

THE NEXT GAME

Troy (+18) @ Nebraska. Yeesh, that’s a lot of points. The Trojans lost by seven at Florida State and by 15 at Georgia Tech. They have an offense that plays into Nebraska’s weakness. There’s a lot of reasons to take the points in this game. But Nebraska’s going to have something to prove after coming home from the Coliseum. More on instinct than on smart playing, I’ll take Nebraska and give the points.

GBR, baby.

More from Olbermann

After MSNBC fired Jonathan Alter, I'm wondering if Keith is putting these out in greater number just to get as many in before he gets the axe, too.
-----
Bush owes us an apology

The President of the United States owes this country an apology.

It will not be offered, of course.

He does not realize its necessity.

There are now none around him who would tell him or could.

The last of them, it appears, was the very man whose letter provoked the President into the conduct, for which the apology is essential.

An apology is this President's only hope of regaining the slightest measure of confidence, of what has been, for nearly two years, a clear majority of his people.

Not "confidence" in his policies nor in his designs nor even in something as narrowly focused as which vision of torture shall prevail -- his, or that of the man who has sent him into apoplexy, Colin Powell.

In a larger sense, the President needs to regain our confidence, that he has some basic understanding of what this country represents -- of what it must maintain if we are to defeat not only terrorists, but if we are also to defeat what is ever more increasingly apparent, as an attempt to re-define the way we live here, and what we mean, when we say the word "freedom."

Because it is evident now that, if not its architect, this President intends to be the contractor, for this narrowing of the definition of freedom.

The President revealed this last Friday, as he fairly spat through his teeth, words of unrestrained fury directed at the man who was once the very symbol of his administration, who was once an ambassador from this administration to its critics, as he had once been an ambassador from the military to its critics.

The former Secretary of State, Mr. Powell, had written, simply and candidly and without anger, that "the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism."

This President's response included not merely what is apparently the Presidential equivalent of threatening to hold one's breath, but within it contained one particularly chilling phrase.

"Mr. President, former Secretary of State Colin Powell says the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," he was asked by a reporter. "If a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former secretary of state feels this way, don't you think that Americans and the rest of the world are beginning to wonder whether you're following a flawed strategy?"

“If there's any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it's flawed logic,” Bush said. “It's just -- I simply can't accept that. It's unacceptable to think that there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective.

Of course it's acceptable to think that there's "any kind of comparison."

And in this particular debate, it is not only acceptable, it is obviously necessary, even if Mr. Powell never made the comparison in his letter.

Some will think that our actions at Abu Ghraib, or in Guantanamo, or in secret prisons in Eastern Europe, are all too comparable to the actions of the extremists.

Some will think that there is no similarity, or, if there is one, it is to the slightest and most unavoidable of degrees.

What all of us will agree on, is that we have the right -- we have the duty -- to think about the comparison.

And, most importantly, that the other guy, whose opinion about this we cannot fathom, has exactly the same right as we do: to think -- and say -- what his mind and his heart and his conscience tell him, is right.

All of us agree about that.

Except, it seems, this President.

With increasing rage, he and his administration have begun to tell us, we are not permitted to disagree with them, that we cannot be right, that Colin Powell cannot be right.

And then there was that one, most awful phrase.

In four simple words last Friday, the President brought into sharp focus what has been only vaguely clear these past five-and-a-half years - the way the terrain at night is perceptible only during an angry flash of lightning, and then, a second later, all again is dark.

“It's unacceptable to think," he said.

It is never unacceptable to think.

And when a President says thinking is unacceptable, even on one topic, even in the heat of the moment, even in the turning of a phrase extracted from its context, he takes us toward a new and fearful path -- one heretofore the realm of science fiction authors and apocalyptic visionaries.

That flash of lightning freezes at the distant horizon, and we can just make out a world in which authority can actually suggest it has become unacceptable to think.

Thus the lightning flash reveals not merely a President we have already seen, the one who believes he has a monopoly on current truth.

It now shows us a President who has decided that of all our commanders-in-chief, ever, he alone has had the knowledge necessary to alter and re-shape our inalienable rights.

This is a frightening, and a dangerous, delusion, Mr. President.

If Mr. Powell's letter -- cautionary, concerned, predominantly supportive -- can induce from you such wrath and such intolerance, what would you say were this statement to be shouted to you by a reporter, or written to you by a colleague?

"Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.”

Those incendiary thoughts came, of course, from a prior holder of your job, Mr. Bush.

They were the words of Thomas Jefferson.

He put them in the Declaration of Independence.

Mr. Bush, what would you say to something that anti-thetical to the status quo just now?

Would you call it "unacceptable" for Jefferson to think such things, or to write them?

Between your confidence in your infallibility, sir, and your demonizing of dissent, and now these rages better suited to a thwarted three-year old, you have left the unnerving sense of a White House coming unglued - a chilling suspicion that perhaps we have not seen the peak of the anger; that we can no longer forecast what next will be said to, or about, anyone who disagrees.

Or what will next be done to them.

On this newscast last Friday night, Constitiutional law Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, suggested that at some point in the near future some of the "detainees" transferred from secret CIA cells to Guantanamo, will finally get to tell the Red Cross that they have indeed been tortured.

Thus the debate over the Geneva Conventions, might not be about further interrogations of detainees, but about those already conducted, and the possible liability of the administration, for them.

That, certainly, could explain Mr. Bush's fury.

That, at this point, is speculative.

But at least it provides an alternative possibility as to why the President's words were at such variance from the entire history of this country.

For, there needs to be some other explanation, Mr. Bush, than that you truly believe we should live in a United States of America in which a thought is unacceptable.

There needs to be a delegation of responsible leaders -- Republicans or otherwise -- who can sit you down as Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott once sat Richard Nixon down - and explain the reality of the situation you have created.

There needs to be an apology from the President of the United States.

And more than one.

But, Mr. Bush, the others -- for warnings unheeded five years ago, for war unjustified four years ago, for battle unprepared three years ago -- they are not weighted with the urgency and necessity of this one.

We must know that, to you, thought with which you disagree -- and even voice with which you disagree and even action with which you disagree -- are still sacrosanct to you.

The philosopher Voltaire once insisted to another author, "I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write." Since the nation's birth, Mr. Bush, we have misquoted and even embellished that statement, but we have served ourselves well, by subscribing to its essence.

Oddly, there are other words of Voltaire's that are more pertinent still, just now.

"Think for yourselves," he wrote, "and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too."

Apologize, sir, for even hinting at an America where a few have that privilege to think and the rest of us get yelled at by the President.

Anything else, Mr. Bush, is truly unacceptable.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Olbermann strikes again

Keith's message to the President about 09/11. It speaks for itself and does so very well.
------
Half a lifetime ago, I worked in this now-empty space. And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter.
All the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in the planes and -- as I discovered from those "missing posters" seared still into my soul -- two more in the Towers.
And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more, as our ancestors.
I belabor this to emphasize that, for me this was, and is, and always shall be, personal.
And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft,"or have "forgotten" the lessons of what happened here is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante and at worst, an idiot whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.
However, of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast -- of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds -- none of us could have predicted this.
Five years later this space is still empty.
Five years later there is no memorial to the dead.
Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminals.
Five years later this country's wound is still open.
Five years later this country's mass grave is still unmarked.
Five years later this is still just a background for a photo-op.
It is beyond shameful.
At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial -- barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field -- Mr. Lincoln said, "we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.
Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. "We cannot dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground." So we won't.
Instead they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all.
Five years later, Mr. Bush, we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir, on these 16 empty acres. The terrorists are clearly, still winning.
And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.
And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city, and in the fabric of our nation. There is its symbolism of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution.
The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.
Those who did not belong to his party -- tabled that.
Those who doubted the mechanics of his election -- ignored that.
Those who wondered of his qualifications -- forgot that.
History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.
Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.
The President -- and those around him -- did that.
They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."
They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaida as much as we did.
The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do' with 9/11 is "lying by implication."
The impolite phrase is "impeachable offense."
Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space, and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.
Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11.
Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated, that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible for anything in his own administration.
Yet what is happening this very night?
A mini-series, created, influenced -- possibly financed by -- the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be televised into our homes.
The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted; the whole sorry story blurred, by spin, to make the party out of office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office, seem like the only option.
How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death, after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections? How dare you -- or those around you -- ever "spin" 9/11?
Just as the terrorists have succeeded -- are still succeeding -- as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero.
So, too, have they succeeded, and are still succeeding as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.
This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from March of 1960. But as Disney's continuing sell-out of the truth (and this country) suggests, even television programs can be powerful things.
And long ago, a series called "The Twilight Zone" broadcast a riveting episode entitled "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."
In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm. Suddenly his car -- and only his car -- starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man's lights go on. As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced. An "alien" is shot -- but he turns out to be just another neighbor, returning from going for help. The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials are seen manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there's no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, "they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it's themselves."
And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight: "The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.
"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own -- for the children, and the children yet unborn."
When those who dissent are told time and time again -- as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus -- that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American...When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"... look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:
Who has left this hole in the ground?
We have not forgotten, Mr. President.
You have.
May this country forgive you.

What if ...

An Alternate September 11 History
by Jonathan Alter

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14753927/site/newsweek/

Saturday, September 09, 2006

NU Re-View: Nebraska 56, Nicholls State 7

THE GOOD ...

- WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN: Nebraska plays a Division I-AA opponent, jumps on them early, and never looks back, just like ‘Huskers of days gone by. A year ago, Nebraska played a Division I-AA opponent and only had nine points at halftime. One measure of the progress of a program is when you do what you’re supposed to do to a lesser opponent.

- ZAC TAYLOR: Evidently he was serious about his 60-70 percent completion rating goal. Taylor was 19-23 for 202 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. He looked sharp, crisp, and completely in charge of the offense.

- HUSKER! POWER!: It's back. After a noticeable absence last week, the "HUSKER! POWER!" chant right before the Tunnel Walk made a triumpant return. When the crowd gets that going, and the echoes thunder around Memorial Stadium, the excitement level really ratchets up a notch. And that just HAS to be a little intimidating to the visiting team waiting to take the field.

THE BAD ...

- THE STADIUM SPEAKERS: OK, when you watch a team win 56-7, it’s kinda hard to find a bad. But why must the Ginormo-tron start showing me racing Pepsi bottles in the middle of “There Is No Place Like Nebraska” after a touchdown?

- KICKOFF RETURN DEFENSE: If anything is somewhat troubling, it’s a continued softness covering a kickoff. Jordan Congdon doesn’t seem to be able to get the ball past the five yard line, and the first wave of tacklers rarely make the stop they need to make.

- TAYLOR'S THIRD QUARTER: No, no, he played just fine. But why was Zac in the game near the end of the third quarter? The game was clearly in hand, yet there he was dropping back and throwing the ball. God love Joey (sorry, it's "Joe" now) Ganz, but I don't really fancy seeing Taylor get his ankle rolled over at the end of the third quarter against Nicholls State and seeing Ganz start against USC next week. It didn't happen, but what was the point of risking it?

... AND THE INTIMIDATING

- NEBRASKA HEADS TO THE COLISEUM: Yipes. This game has been circled in red since Callahan arrived in Lincoln, and now it’s a week away. Nebraska has done everything possible at the start of this season to show the progress they’ve made since 5-6 in 2004. ‘Husker fans have been basking in a pleasant “we’re back” glow since pummeling Colorado last year. But USC will be the first real moment of truth for Nebraska. Come September 17, the Big Red bubble could really burst.

THE BIG PICTURE

Seeing Nebraska act like Nebraska again was refreshing, but there's not a lot to take out of this game looking ahead to USC. The Colonels threw the ball a total of three times on Saturday, so there's no way to tell if there was any improvement in NU's secondary. But we do know they didn't get any taller over the week. It was definitely encouraging to see a Nebraska team that was clearly focused on the task at hand against Nicholls State. However, we still won't find out what this NU team is made of until we see what they do with the Trojans.

THE NEXT GAME

Nebraska @ USC (-17 1/2). USC is at home. They have talented, tall, athletic wide receivers to go up against NU's suspect and injury-depleted secondary. Looks like USC's strength plays into Nebraska's weakness. But USC also had to work pretty hard to put away a questionable Arkansas team. They have a quarterback making his second start, facing a defense that who does get to the quarterback well. If the Blackshirts pressure John David Booty, then NU has a chance to keep this game close into the fourth quarter. Might be more a heart bet than a head bet, but take the 'Huskers and, more importantly, all seventeen-and-a-half points.

GBR, baby.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Olbermann on Bush, Nazis

A reprint of Keith Olbermann's pointed criticism of the Bush administration's new tactic of linking their critics to Nazi sympathizers. That Keith, he's dreamy.
-----
'Have you no sense of decency, sir?'

It is to our deep national shame—and ultimately it will be to the President’s deep personal regret—that he has followed his Secretary of Defense down the path of trying to tie those loyal Americans who disagree with his policies—or even question their effectiveness or execution—to the Nazis of the past, and the al Qaeda of the present.

Today, in the same subtle terms in which Mr. Bush and his colleagues muddied the clear line separating Iraq and 9/11 -- without ever actually saying so—the President quoted a purported Osama Bin Laden letter that spoke of launching, “a media campaign to create a wedge between the American people and their government.”

Make no mistake here—the intent of that is to get us to confuse the psychotic scheming of an international terrorist, with that familiar bogeyman of the right, the “media.”

The President and the Vice President and others have often attacked freedom of speech, and freedom of dissent, and freedom of the press.

Now, Mr. Bush has signaled that his unparalleled and unprincipled attack on reporting has a new and venomous side angle:

The attempt to link, by the simple expediency of one word—“media”—the honest, patriotic, and indeed vital questions and questioning from American reporters, with the evil of Al-Qaeda propaganda.

That linkage is more than just indefensible. It is un-American.

Mr. Bush and his colleagues have led us before to such waters.

We will not drink again.

And the President’s re-writing and sanitizing of history, so it fits the expediencies of domestic politics, is just as false, and just as scurrilous.

“In the 1920’s a failed Austrian painter published a book in which he explained his intention to build an Aryan super-state in Germany and take revenge on Europe and eradicate the Jews,” President Bush said today, “the world ignored Hitler’s words, and paid a terrible price.”

Whatever the true nature of al Qaeda and other international terrorist threats, to ceaselessly compare them to the Nazi State of Germany serves only to embolden them.

More over, Mr. Bush, you are accomplishing in part what Osama Bin Laden and others seek—a fearful American populace, easily manipulated, and willing to throw away any measure of restraint, any loyalty to our own ideals and freedoms, for the comforting illusion of safety.

It thus becomes necessary to remind the President that his administration’s recent Nazi “kick” is an awful and cynical thing.

And it becomes necessary to reach back into our history, for yet another quote, from yet another time and to ask it of Mr. Bush:

“Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

NU Re-View: Nebraska 49, Louisiana Tech 10

OK, the name needs a little work. I’d love to hear some suggestions.

THE GOOD ...

- ZAC TAYLOR. Taylor was 22-33 for 287 yards, and had at least four drops which would have made his numbers even more ridiculous. Plus, he really looked in command of the offense. Taylor’s calls and shifts at the line were reminiscent of Peyton Manning in scarlet and cream.

- THE NU RUNNING GAME. Image that, a Nebraska team that can run the ball. Each of the four NU I-Backs looked solid, in different categories. I think Kenny Wilson probably ran the strongest, but also fumbled twice (losing one), so I think we’re going to see the committee approach for a while. Although Brandon Jackson had the best single carry, he also looked like the one getting the least carries, being put in as pass protection most of the time. I think we’re looking at Marlon Lucky and Wilson being the primary threats, with Cody Glenn in for short yardage and Brandon Jackson in for pass protection and a change of pace.

- THE OFFENSIVE LINE. OK, it’s Louisiana Tech, not USC. But even so, there were a number of times when Taylor had enough time to eat a sandwich in the pocket before delivering the ball. We didn’t see that a lot last year, so that is very encouraging.

- THE DEFENSIVE FRONT SEVEN. In Louisiana Tech’s first possession, the defensive ends got the two sacks of the game and forced the Bulldogs to go to a three-step offense. Plus, the front seven locked up the Louisiana Tech running game admirably.

- NEBRASKA’S KILLER INSTINCT. For the first time in the Callahan era, it looked like Nebraska saw a team that was reeling and went for the throat. NU had a very impressive drive for a touchdown at the end of the first half, and continued with a similarly impressive drive to start the second half and all but end the game.

THE BAD ...

- THE NEW CLOCK RULES. Now, in college football, the clock starts on an incompletion or out of bounds play when the referee puts the ball in play, instead of when the ball is snapped. Over the first week, it looks like it’s going to cost teams between five and ten plays a game. What’s the hurry? Did someone decide that there’s just too much in a college football game?

- THE KICKOFF RETURN DEFENSE. Louisiana Tech consistently avoided the first hit on each of Nebraska’s kickoffs, hearkening back to Callahan Year One and the problems there. Still, the fact that there were so many Nebraska kickoffs makes this problem a little more palatable.

- FOCUS, DANIEL-SAN. A number of dropped passes, especially in the first quarter, kept Louisiana Tech in the game until the end of the first half. Plus, junior punt returner Terrence Nunn let a punt bounce off his shoulder pads. NU had enough to overcome those problems against the Bulldogs, but those lapses against quality competition will be fatal.

- THE BEAT-NEBRASKA BLUEPRINT. After the first series, Louisiana Tech went to a three-step-drop quick-release offense, and piled up 238 yards of passing offense without a sack. They also provided the rest of the teams on Nebraska’s schedule a blueprint on how to neutralize the Blackshirts’ strength, the defensive line and linebackers, and focus on their weakness, the cornerbacks. Watch out for Oklahoma State, who NU plays in Stillwater, and now employs a Texas Tech-style spread offense that plays right into this new blueprint.

... AND THE FRIGHTENING

- THE ‘HUSKER CORNERBACKS. Yep, that’s the Achilles heel of the team. Andre Jones looked pretty good for his first NU game, but Louisiana Tech made a point of picking on Cortney Grixby. I love Grix, but he’s going to struggle against the elite receivers that Nebraska will be facing. In his “forced fumble” in the second half, Grix was holding on for dear life after being beaten, and was very fortunate that the ball came out. Isaiah Fluellen, the injury-plagued converted wide receiver, tore his ACL on his first play and is done for the season. Titus Brothers, in the limited playing time he saw, was an absolute liability in coverage. Unless the corners get more help from the safeties (who all played extremely well), Nebraska will get carved up by the elite NFL receivers like Garrett of USC, Sweed of Texas, and Blythe of Iowa State.

THE BIG PICTURE

It’s definitely refreshing to see Nebraska put a lesser-talent team away and be able to send in the reserves in the fourth quarter. Year Three clearly shows both the increased level of talent Callahan has brought to Lincoln, and an increased grasp of his version of the West Coast Offense. NU looks demonstrably better than this time last year, but still has enough holes to hold them back from national contention.

THE NEXT GAME

Nicholls State (+30 ½) at Nebraska. Nebraska gets a DI-AA option opponent to warm up for USC. Yes, I know about Colorado and Kansas State last week. Nebraska is at a different place than both those programs. The order, if only for right now, has been restored. Take Nebraska, give the points.

GBR, baby.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Definition of Patriotism

A speech from the Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah. It's long, and it's got some punch, but there's lots I like in it. For your consideration.

http://www.sltrib.com/ci_4263654

Friday, September 01, 2006

Real journalists - not a dying breed

Not often I see something that actually provides hope for the profession of journalism, so this definitely was a nice start to a Friday:

http://www.alternet.org/mediaculture/40803/