Saturday, October 17, 2009

NU Re-View: Texas Tech 31, Nebraska 10

- THE DEFENSE IN GENERAL. Yes, Tech put up 31 points, but the Red Raiders only gained 259 yards of total offense. If you would have told me before the game that the still-not-the-Blackshirts would only give up 259 yards, I would have felt really good about Nebraska's chances to win. This was a solid defensive performance, that unfortunately went to waste.
- DILLARD IN SPECIFIC. Phillip Dillard didn't start as the only actual linebacker on the field, but was far more effective than anyone else in the role. Dillard's senior leadership showed through and
- GOING GREEN. Freshman quarterback Cody Green showed no fear after being inserted twice, throwing the ball downfield and accounting for Nebraska's only touchdown of the game. That could be problematic, as he had one interception and could have had more, but given Lee's hesitance Green's moxie might be what NU needs to get things moving.

- CRACK! That's the sound of Nebraska's collective will breaking after going down 14 points early in the first quarter. Up until now, Nebraska has been performing (perhaps over-performing) on its' mental toughness, particularly in the fourth quarter comeback against Missouri. After the scoop-and-score brought the game to 14-0, it seemed that Nebraska ran out of gas completely.
- CLICK! That's the sound of the panic button being pressed early and often by offensive coordinator Shawn Watson. First, Watson only got Roy Helu, NU's best offensive player, seventeen total touches of the ball. That's simply not good enough. Second, by going back and forth between quarterbacks, Watson seemed to be desperately flailing for some piece of magic to make the offense work. No magic showed up, and I worry about the damage caused to the team's confidence as a result.
- TWEET! That's two games in a row where Nebraska had double digits in penalties. NU had more yards in penalties (95) then it did in rushing (70). And, again, penalties kept opponents' drives alive and took NU out of red zone scoring opportunities. If Nebraska is going to consider itself a championship-caliber team, it simply must become more disciplined.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Cody Green era has begun in Lincoln. After being pulled the second time, it's difficult to see how Nebraska can go back to Zac Lee under center. That's going to be a problem, as Green is a true freshman and looked it with his decision making. He threw one interception, but easily could have had two or three more in the limited time he played. On the other hand, Lee looked like he had a terminal case of Sam Keller. He was tentative, had happy feet in the pocket, was reluctant to throw the ball, and chose the short dump-off rather than go downfield. He looked a LOT like how Keller looked in 2007, before his injury and replacement by Joe Ganz.

My, how one game changes things. Before this game, Husker Fan was assuming a North Division title and thinking national championship scenarios. Now, next week's game against a suddenly-not-terrible Iowa State becomes more than a little worrisome. Certainly, any talk of Nebraska "being back" can be shelved for the forseeable future. NU will be very lucky to remain in the top 25 after their performance against Texas Tech. Still, Nebraska's reasonable goals for the season remain intact. NU still controls its' own destiny for the divisional title, and will likely do so even with a loss to Oklahoma. But Nebraska just ate up any margin for error they may have had, and it remains to be seen whether the coaching staff can force-feed some confidence back into an otherwise-anemic offense.

THE NEXT GAME: Iowa State at Nebraska (-19). Don't look now, folks, but the Cyclones are getting better. After a woodshedding from instate rival Iowa, the 'Clones have steadily improved, nearly knocking off the Jayhawks in Lawrence and fairly comfortably beating Baylor in Waco. If NU has a hangover, particularly offensively, from this loss, Iowa State could come to town and pull off a shocker. The line screams sucker play, but Nebraska should have the raw talent to muscle their way past the resurgent 'Clones. Lay the points, drink your lucky juice, and pray that Iowa State doesn't get an early lead.
FEARLESS FORECAST: While Pelini's team apparently hasn't learned how to handle success, they're a proven commodity for playing well after a loss. Iowa State puts up a good fight but gets out-athleted by the end of the game. Nebraska 31, Iowa State 13.

GBR, baby.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great description of the day!!! You are right on!