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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Zac Talor = Peyton Manning...hahahahahahahahahahahaha:)