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.

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