Wednesday, October 11, 2006

NU Re-View: Nebraska 28, Iowa State 14

THE GOOD …

- RETURN OF THE BLACKSHIRTS: After a week of analyzing the most uncomfortable win in the history of the Nebraska football program, the Blackshirts came up with a big performance against a very potent offense. They held NFL-caliber receiver Todd Blythe in check the entire first game, silencing him in the first half with effective bracketing coverage. They had creative player personnel movements, such as moving Adam Carriker to DT from DE to add pressure on the quarterback. And they actually played a dime package, less than a week after secondary coach Phil Elmassian ridiculed the concept of a nickel package.

- ROAD WARRIORS: Lost in the shuffle was the fact that Nebraska won only its’ third road conference game in the Bill Callahan era. One of the signposts of progress in Nebraska’s conversion is their ability to be successful on the road. Faced with questions and doubts from a scary performance against Kansas, Nebraska went a place they hadn’t won since 2000 and dominated a legitimately talented Cyclone squad.

- THE QUAD SQUAD: Looks like Callahan wasn't kidding when he said that all the I-backs would get equal time. Up until this game, Brandon Jackson was an afterthough and Cody Glenn was suffering from a mysterious post-game hamstring injury announcement. So who would have expected to see those two used almost exclusively against the Cyclones? Obviously, it was a good call, as the two physical backs wore down Iowa State's defense. Once again, Callahan creates a game plan to attack a team's strength instead of their weakness (only one deep pass against a very suspect ISU secondary), but it worked. Now we can have a mathematics test about the number of possible permeutations of Nebraska I-backs in the game ...

THE BAD …

- OFFENSIVE CONSISTENCY: Nebraska played extraordinarily well on offense in the first half, including a gutsy call to throw deep as time was expiring in the second quarter. But Nebraska got conservative in the second half, accepting a lot of three-and-outs and not putting Iowa State away when they had a chance. There was not a time where the ‘Clones felt close to taking the game back in the second half, but Nebraska let them hang around enough to leave that door open.

- OFFICIATING: From what I’m told (see below), the officials gave Nebraska a real gift in ruling Austin Flynn out of bounds on a potential touchdown in the third quarter. However, throughout the game the officials made rulings and called penalties without any kind of announcement to the stadium as to what was called. Very confusing and very frustrating.

- HILLSIDE “SEATING”: For the fourth consecutive time, I made the road trip to Ames. Evidently ‘Husker Nation is feeling better about things, because it was a LOT harder to get tickets this time. I ended up having to stand on a hill and watch the three-fourths of the field that I could see. On the plus side, though, my ankles got a pretty good workout standing at a 50-degree angle for three hours.

… AND THE ANTICIPATED

- INTO THE CAT’S LAIR: Nebraska travels to the Little Apple to take on Ron Prince and the Kansas State Wildcats. Manhattan has been another house of horrors for the Big Red, with Nebraska being winless there since 1996. However, this year’s Wildcat squad is in the first year of transitioning to a new offense, and will have freshman quarterback Josh Freeman at the helm. You all remember Josh “Drama Queen” Freeman, the Nebraska recruit who announced his de-commit to K-State to the coaching staff via text message. Kansas State is 4-2, and a bit of a mystery. They have a one-point squeaker win over 1-AA Illinois State and a fourteen point loss to Baylor on their resume, but also an impressive come-from-behind win over Oklahoma State and a game effort against #8 Louisville.

THE BIG PICTURE

Nebraska’s performance in Ames makes their defensive show against Kansas look more like an aberration, but it’s hard to put those demons to rest. A strong showing against K-State this weekend will definitely demonstrate Nebraska’s ability to go on the road and play well in conference play. This is always a difficult situation for any team, to go on the road and win a game you should win against a team that is particularly jacked up for you. K-State fans have a special loathing for Nebraska, and the game will be at night allowing some extra lubrication for the purple faithful. As with the Iowa State game, a strong start will be crucial for Nebraska’s ability to control the game.

THE NEXT GAME

Nebraska (-11 ½) @ Kansas State. Nebraska has better athletes overall than Kansas State, and K-State is in year one of a radical offensive transformation. The Wildcats are also starting a freshman quarterback in only his second college start. Freeman engineered a great comeback against Oklahoma State last week, but that comeback was necessary because of his poor performance early. Nebraska should be able to move the ball consistently on the Wildcats’ defense and get turnovers from the freshman. Take Nebraska, give the points. And don’t call me a homer, either, Nebraska is 6-0 against the spread this year.


GBR, baby.

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