Monday, October 31, 2005
OU reaction and analysis
THIS TIME, the lack of pass rush wasn't Coz's fault. He was calling blitzes, but Nebraska could not get to Bomar even with extra defenders. There were several plays Bomar beat the blitz and one-on-one coverage, which is probably why Coz didn't blitz much on OU's late drives. This is understandable. As for Peterson's running...the Blackshirts missed several tackles and Peterson is just a great back. It happens...it is nobody's "fault".
The fake FG was a coaching error. It was logical to allow OU to kick into a strong wind and play it safe...that was the only major coaching error I saw in defense/special teams.
Offensively...not so good. Too many long-developing pass plays. Not enough short/quick passes until later in the game. The script isn't working at the beginning of games; not enough screens and draws (again). Opponents are going to continue to blitz until Nebraska re-establishes the running game or punishes defenses with more quick passes, screens, and draws.
I've ripped the coaches at times, but this loss wasn't their fault, at least in terms of strategy. The gameplan was solid, particularly on defense. OU just played better. This loss hurts, but at least Nebraska isn't getting blown out like last season. I still think a 2-1 finish is likely if the team keeps its collective head up (I don't see much chance of winning all 3, particularly at CU).
Still, objectively...have you notice Nebraska plays better the further away from the beginning of the game and halftime? It's as if, the further away from the coaches' input they get, the better they play. The 2nd and 4th quarters have been Nebraska's best quarters all season. Why? This concerns me deeply. If Nebraska manages to somehow win the last three, this season should still be considered a relative success. If Nebraska wins 2 of 3, I think the level of improvement from last season would be acceptable. If Nebraska wins 1 of 3 and barely makes it to a bowl game, this team will have underachieved badly. If Nebraska loses all 3 of the final games, ending on a 5 game losing streak and missing a bowl for the second straight year...it would be time to talk about changes. Not in terms of Callahan, but on his staff and in the AD's office. If Nebraska does miss out on a bowl game for the second consecutive season, Steve Pederson, the man who created this situation, should have to answer for it after gutting a 10-3 football team in 2003.
Friday, October 28, 2005
The other side of the ball is where I'm worried. OU's defense is possibly the most talented Nebraska has faced. OU is excellent against the run; they've given up more than 98 yards rushing only once all season...against Texas. OU's pass defense, however, has been suspect; they've given up less than 226 yards passing only once all season (to Kansas, so that barely counts)! I believe the key is to exploit OU's secondary while keeping the pressure off Taylor. I'd like to see an offensive gameplan featuring short, quick passes...similar to against ISU.
I really hope Callahan and Coz don't outsmart themselves in this one. It looks pretty simple: make Bomar beat you with his arm and attack the OU secondary. My fear is that the coaches will decide they need to "outsmart" Stoops and display their "genius" by going against logic and trying to run the ball 50 times against the Sooners or play extremely soft or aggressive on defense. If the coaches simply install a logical gameplan and stay out of the players' way, Nebraska should win a low-scoring game. I think the coaches will do just that.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
BIG XII Power Ranking this week
2. Texas Tech - whupped by 35 points and still #2?? Well, name a BIG XII team (other than Texas) that will obviously beat Texas Tech.
3. Colorado - just good enough to go back and get trampled in a Bevo stampede.
4. Missouri - if the Tigers go into Lawerence this week and LOSE, expect Pinkel to be unemployed by January. But, if I were a betting man, I'd take KU and the points.
5. NEBRASKA - suppose the coaches learned anything last week? How about last year - like 'deep six' the hillbilly comments?
6. Texas A&M - Aggies seem to be rollin' along now - up until they play Texas.
7. Oklahoma - OU is looking at this weekend's game with the Huskers as 'The winner goes to the Alamo Bowl, Loser goes to Shreveport.
8. Baylor - at 4-3, Baylor still has a lot of work to do to get bowl eligible.
9. Kansas State - Wildcats will still be in the BIG XII North race IF they upset Colorado this weekend.
10. Iowa State - things just haven't gone the Cyclones way this season. So far, the only BIG XII game they've won was against OSU!!
11. Kansas - defense is carrying the Jayhawks and the offense is carrying Mangino (if you can imagine that) to an interview for a new job.
12. Oklahoma State - 9 interceptions in the last 2 games. Any other questions about "who's #12"??
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Missouri reaction: What was with the gameplan?
1) Terrible, horrible game plan by Nebraska's coaches on both sides of the ball.
2) Coz needs to junk the 3-man line...forever. The worst thing, when he went to a normal front in the 2nd quarter and brought pressure, Missouri got nothing. So what does he do in the 2nd half? Go with the 3-man line almost exclusively. Even when Missouri started gashing Nebraska mostly with the run, he stayed with it. How do you expect the DB's to cover receivers when the QB has all day to throw? How to you expect the D-linemen to get pressure when they're rushing 3 on 5? Why is your defense designed to ask your middle linebacker to cover a wide receiver 50 yards down the field when there's no pressure on the QB? The defensive gameplan was a joke, and the lack of adjustments in the 2nd half were worse. Terrible.
3) Offensive game plan was almost as bad. Missouri came in with the worst rushing defense in the Big 12, and Callahan abandoned the running game early. Also, if Cally insisted on passing, why not go with some screens and quick throws to combat the pressure? He's going to get Taylor killed. Which leads me to...
4) Zac Taylor is lucky he's not leaving Missouri on a stretcher...and I'm being serious. Callahan's decision to throw so often and with so many deep drops put a bullseye on Taylor. Thomas was getting eaten alive by MU's defensive end and Callahan refused to run the ball or run draws and screens to slow down the rush. At the very least, the coaches should have given the o-line more help with RB's and TE's. Horrible.
5) Despite all the mistakes by the coaches, I think Nebraska would have won if Nunn hadn't fumbled after the long catch. We had the momentum and would have scored to take the lead. The WR's are just dropping too many passes. How many key drops did our WR's have?!
6) Taylor threw some bad passes, but I don't blame him. When he's almost literally getting hit on every play and having receivers drop passes or fumble so many times, he's going to start pressing at some point. He got so little help it is sick.
This was the type of stubborn, "our brilliant game plan should work so we're not going to change it"-performance we saw against ISU last season. Let's hope it was just one bad game and just a blip. Back to the drawing board...
Husker's Coaching Staff has some 'splainin' to do
The Huskers played pretty good for about 15 minutes.
The Tigers played pretty good for about 45 minutes.
The referees were pretty good to the Tigers.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - OUT!!
Friday, October 21, 2005
Basketball main topic in Okie Land
You've all heard that old adage "You can throw the playbook out the window, blah, blah". Well, over at OU, they threw the playbook at the window - AND MISSED!! Current rendition of an offense is run, run, pass, kick. Baylor comes to town this week to test OU but just ain't there yet - OU by 13.
OSU heads up to snake bitten ISU - Good NEWS - this game ain't on TV!! ISU finally wins one without overtime - ISU by 14.
Texas A&M is favored by 3 at Kansas State - I don't think so - KSU by 6.
Kansas takes it defense into Colorado this weekend with high hopes their offense makes the trip. If KU wins this one, look to see if there's a fork lift handy to hoist Mangino in the air - note: every one's safe!! - CU wins it by 17.
Texas Tech takes it's well designed offense into Texas this week looking to put their brand on Bevo - well, Bevo maybe a steer but he's mean - UT by 10.
Tulsa stays home this week (so the locals will get to see some actual OFFENSE) against SMU. This game may be closer than most think - TU by 6.
Since the HUSKERS are playing at Mizzou this week, the mighty prognosticators and the local sports jocks are picking the Tigers by 3. These guys are all looking toward next weekend (OU @ NU) as John Blake's Revenge and must figure the Huskers are doing the same - WRONG!! The Husker players and coaches know they ain't good enough to be looking ahead - HUSKERS by 9.
I don't remember a regular season NFL game ever being played on a Friday night but I also don't remember a hurricane season like this one. The suits at the NFL moved this one up to tonight in order to escape Wilma - but, I don't think it's going to help the Dolphins any more than Ricky will - KC by 7. I didn't BOLD that one cause I really don't give - ahem - .......
Monday, October 17, 2005
Huskers' mid-season report card
O-line: C+. The line was horrible early in the season, but they've really improved. Yards per rush is still only 3.3, and Taylor has taken a lot of hits at times. However, the line is improving, hence the "+". I still think the o-line played better in 2004. This is the only area of the team to not improve on last season.
QB: B+. I happen to really like Zac Taylor, so I resisted bending to emotion and giving him an "A". He's set a school record by almost 100 yards, shown excellent leadership, and made some really nice throws. He's also shown the ability to pick up 1st downs when he runs. I have complete faith in ZT at QB. He has missed a few throws and had a few turnovers, but it's his first season as a starter, and what QB doesn't miss throws?
RB's: B. Ross is playing well but has fumbled a few times; Glenn is an outstanding short-yardage back; Lucky has shown signs but hasn't dazzled yet. Not much from BJax. Solid performance, not great.
WR's: C+. They've really improved. Nunn has emerged as a go-to guy, and Swift has shown excellent hands. Hardy has been okay. As a whole, the receivers still dropped too many passes early in the season. Could be a "B" before too long with improvement.
DL: A+. One of the best units in the nation. Period.
LBs': A-. McKeon is probably All-Big 12 right now, Ruud has played well, and the strongside spot has been solid as well. Imagine if Octavien hadn't gotten hurt!
DB's: C. Without a doubt the weakness of the defense. They've been good enough to win. I still think the way to beat Nebraska is to attack this secondary and throw it 40 or 50 times.
Special teams: A+. Remember the "punt return" game last season? This season, Nebraska averages 15.3 per return. That's outstanding. I still think Nunn is better than Grixby, yet it seems Grixby gets more chances. I wonder why? That's nitpicking, though. Congdon has been great for a true freshman, Nebraska has blocked several field goals, and is giving up less than 17 yards per kick return and less than 7 yards per punt return. What a HUGE improvement from last season!
Overall grade at midseason: B+
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Nebraska-Baylor preview and prediction
I don't see Baylor's offense as much of a threat versus the Blackshirts. Baylor's RB is a big, strong kid...but I don't think going right at the Blackshirts is the way to beat them. I don't see how Baylor can run much. Baylor will probably throw often and hit some passes, but the more they throw the more Nebraska's D-line has the opportunity to get to their QB. After facing TT, Baylor's passing game shouldn't be too difficult to contain. I just don't see how Baylor can score enough to win.
The only thing that can save Baylor from a loss are a bunch of turnovers by Nebraska's offense or a bunch of special teams breaks (long returns, blocked kicks, etc.)
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
BIG XII POWER RANKING
1) Texas - leading the conference in Total Offense and Total Defense, 1st in scoring offense and 3rd in scoring defense.
2) Colorado - 2nd in Total Offense and Total defense, 2nd in scoring offense and 1st in scoring defense.
3) Texas Tech - 5th in Total Offense and 6th in Total Defense, 3rd in scoring offense and 6th in scoring defense.
4) NEBRASKA - 4th in Total Offense and 9th in Total Defense, tied for 4th in scoring offense and tied for 8th in scoring defense.
5) Oklahoma - 10th in Total Offense and and 7th in Total Defense, 6th in scoring offense and 10th in scoring defense.
6) Baylor - Tied for 7th in Total Offense and tied for 4th in Total Defense, tied for 7th in scoring offense and 2nd in scoring defense.
7) Iowa State - 6th in Total Offense and 8th in Total Defense, tied for 9th in scoring offense and 7th in scoring defense.
8) Missouri - 3rd in Total Offense and LAST in Total Defense, 4th in scoring offense and LAST in scoring defense.
9) Texas A&M - Tied for 7th in Total Offense and 10th in Total Defense, tied for 7th in scoring offense and tied for 8th in scoring defense.
10) Kansas - 11th in Total Offense and 3rd in Total Defense, LAST in scoring offense and 4th in scoring defense.
11) Kansas State - LAST in Total Offense and tied for 4th in Total Defense, tied for 9th in scoring offense and 5th in scoring defense.
12) Okla. State - 9th in Total Offense and 11th in Total Defense, 11th in scoring offense and 11th in scoring defense.
Statistics after just 2 conference games don't tell you much other than who may have played Texas or Colorado. Both teams scored big in their first 2 games but now Colorado must go into Austin and do a lot better job than they did at Miami.
Baylor is playing VERY WELL so far this season and may have Coach Morriss on the way to being BIG XII Coach of the Year. Nebraska can not afford a letdown after that horrible break against Texas Tech or the Bears will bite them in the Bear Pit at Waco.
TBS is going to show us whether it's Oklahoma or Kansas that stagger out of Arrowhead Stadium this weekend while ABC will televise KSU's visit to Texas Tech. Iowa State heads down to defenseless Missouri while OSU limps into Texas A&M.
I'll leave y'all with this - Nebraska and Baylor each have 4-1 records and seem to have turned 'the corner' heading into the second half of the football season. If both teams keep pounding away and overachieving, they are going to leave a lot of so-called experts red faced by season's end. I'm just hoping Baylor does REALLY well AFTER this weekend - GoBigRed!!
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Heartbreaking loss but NOT DEVASTATING
How deep is the team at wide receiver?? Sure looked like there were a bunch of'em getting banged up out there. Still looks like they need more depth at offensive line, tight end and defensive backs but it also looks like we're gettin' there. I"M STARTING TO BELIEVE - ON TO BAYLOR !!!
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Texas Tech aftermath: tough loss but promising performance
Considering Nebraska had five turnovers (including the fumble after the INT ), that was a very promising performance by Nebraska. I know Tech made the defense look bad, but Tech makes a lot of teams look bad...and Nebraska held them without a TD for a long time in the second half. What a game, though! That was the most into the game I've ever seen a Memorial Stadium crowd!
Nebraska showed tremendous heart by coming back from 21-0 and 27-14. I have no concerns about the heart of this team. Now comes the test: how does Nebraska respond to a loss? They need to get over it quickly, because tough road games at Baylor and Missouri are next, with Oklahoma after. I think they'll be fine. Nobody will test the D like Tech did.
I love the offensive performance. They ran, they passed, they used different players' strengths (loved seeing Glenn pound it inside!), they converted tough situations, they scored enough to win and moved the ball all day.
A tough loss...but an encouraging game. Losing the turnover battle 5-1, getting behind by 21, and still almost beat Tech. Remember, this was a 60 point loss last season. A 57-point swing isn't too bad at all.
I don't think Nebraska will play a vastly superior team to Tech, and its doubtful Nebraska will have 1) 5 turnovers and 2) face an offense like Tech's again. I think a split at Baylor and Missouri, a win over OU (best way to beat Nebraska is attacking the secondary and OU's QB isn't all that great), a win at Kansas, a win over K-State at home is unreasonable. Winning at CU will be tough. But, hey, that's 8-3 and a solid bowl. Good effort by Nebraska and the team is improving. I've noticed Cally has toned down the shifting. He's definitely learning. Another example: Callahan is starting to run the ball more on the goal line. I love it! He's also not using so many obvious passing formations on the goal.
The main thing I wanted to see this season was improvement thoughout the season and the willingness of the coaches to adapt. I'm seeing both! On to Baylor...
Blogging the day
Kansas v K State - This is doing no justice to Kansas D. K State is horrible, and it is not just that I do not like them, but K State drives to the Kansas 35, then loses 35 yards on penalties and a bad decision to keep running around instead of just going down. Then on 3rd down, they run a bootleg, broken up as it were, and they throw it after they pass the line of scrimmage. So add another negative yards and a loss of play. Just pathetic, and that is how the whole game is going.
Wisconsin v Northwestern. - Good defensive battle. I saw the Northwestern D just come after Wisconsin and leveled the QB. However the Wisconsin offense has been going and this game is really good.
Texas v Oklahoma - This just started and Texas scored on their opening drive. Oklahoma did not do much with their first drive. But then after texas takes over, Young is waving that football all over the place, and the OU D slaps it out of his hands. Luckily Young recovered his own fumble. This one could be interesting.
Nebraska is up soon. Tech worries me, but I am thinking the Huskers can make it 5-0 now.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Tec h awaits
We will know soon enough what to think of this team. And I speak of either one here.
Iowa State post-game analysis
1) Great gameplans by Callahan and Cosgrove. I loved Callahan's use of the crossing patterns and more spread formations.
2) Cory Ross played a fantastic game. Even his pass blocking was solid.
3) Zac Taylor looked great! Not one pass was a potential interception and he tried to protect the ball with two hands even on his fumble. Given time, he'll hit the receivers.
4) O-line pass blocked much better, although ISU didn't bring many blitzes (but tons of stunts!).
5) I like him with the ball, but Nunn needs to tuck in the ball! Fluellen looked good at times, I think he's ready to contribute. Swift and Mulkey both need to play more...best hands it appears.
6) Our D-line played outstanding! They created lots of pressure without too much blitzing.
7) McKeon is playing at an All-Big 12 level right now.
8) Nebraska's secondary is still a bit shaky.
9) ISU got almost every call!!! I couldn't believe how many times holding wasn't called on their o-line!
10) Zac Taylor is one tough QB, but he needs to learn to protect himself better when he runs.
I came away really impressed from watching the game again. By the way, my Iowa State prediction was: NU 20 ISU 17
Texas Tech pre-game
1) Home field. Tech hasn't played on the road yet, and Lincoln is as tough as anywhere.
2) Competition. Say what you will about Nebraska's schedule, but at least we've played three legit D-1 teams including a ranked team. Tech's schedule is a joke, and you saw how far their production dropped off against a legit team last week.
3) Overconfidence. The Tech kids can't help but be overconfident after last season.
4) Secondary/coverage. Can Nebraska cover Tech's receivers, especially Henderson out of the backfield? Nebraska's D-line is better than Kansas but their secondary is better. How does this play into the matchups?
5) Defensive coaching. Will Coz attack Hodges or play soft like last season and allow Tech to cut up the Blackshirts? Kansas got to Hodges...Nebraska's defenders can't cover these receivers all day...Nebraska has GOT to beat up their QB.
6) Callahan. He's used a conservative running attack against Pitt and a gunslinger gameplan against ISU. Will we see one of these, a mixed gameplan?
If this game were anywere but Lincoln, I think Tech would win. TT hasn't been tested yet and Lincoln isn't a good place to have your first road game. I think the "real" score of last year's game was about 42-10 (take away Davis being thrown to the wolves). I think Nebraska's defense is at least 2 TD's better. I think Nebraska manages to score 30 points (maybe a defensive score in there somewhere). There's only one catch: if Coz uses the same 3-man line defense he used last season, Tech will score 40 or 50. For anybody not familiar with this, Tech has huge splits between their offensive linemen. I don't think anybody but Tech does it to such an extreme. I believe the main reason Leach uses it is to create passing lanes by default. With all the short, quick passes, Tech can create passing lanes with the splits. It also spreads the DE's so far apart, thus creating a "bigger" pocket. Coz played a 3-man line last season (1 sack all night).
I don't like the 3-man line idea because: 1) it takes a d-lineman off the field when the d-line is our strength right now and 2) I have more faith in one of our d-lineman beating one of Tech's linemen than one of our LB's or DB's covering one of their receivers for a long time. I hope Coz stays with a 4-man line and brings pressure in front of a zone. Kansas had some success with the zone-blitz and I think it's the best way to attack them.
At least with pressure, you force the QB to make quick decisions under fire. I'm really worried about Henderson on draws and especially as a receiver against our LB's I'm quite worried about Bullocks, Green, or Bradley being placed in a position to have to cover man-to-man. I hope Coz uses some zone-blitzes to keep certain defenders out of man-to-man coverage while also creating some pressure. I've also noticed Tech's QB has some rushing yards this season; apparently he's pretty mobile. That adds another thread to Tech's offense.
I really think the best way to attack a spread offense is with pressure. With all the receivers sent into patterns, that's fewer blockers. I'd make Tech pay for sending out so many receivers, like against Florida in 1995. I'm very curious to see how Nebraska handles this. Nebraska should be able to hold Tech to less than Kansas did in Lubbock, and I'm starting to really believe in this team (maybe I'm making this pick more with my heart than my head!).
WEEK SIX - Are we happy yet -??
Huskers showed a lot of improvement last week, raising hopes w/Husker fans everywhere that this will be a MUCH better year than last. But we're all still on the edge of our seats with the RED RAIDERS in our sites. Coaching staff and team seem to have this in the proper perspective but most of us fans remember last year and WE WANT REVENGE!!!! ahem - -
Took a look at the BIG XII match ups this week and was suprised to see only 2 of the XII ranked in the top 25 - Texas @ #2 and Texas Tech @ #15 - Oklahoma's not there and Nebraska's not there - seems very strange.
OK, Kansas is at Kansas State this weekend and the Cats are favored by 6. However, Mr. Bill might have another trick kick up his sleeve - this time there won't be a holder for the extra point-?? UPSET - KU by 1
Baylor is at Iowa State where ISU is favored by 9. This is a "wounds are healing slowly" game after Baylor almost beat TxA&M last week and ISU got Rossified in overtime at Nebraska. ISU by only 3
Missouri, favored by 5 &1/2, is at offenseless Oklahoma State - Tigers maul Cowboys by 14
Texas A&M is at Colorado where the Buffs are favored by 3. Actually, this is a 'toss up' game since each team is a little hard to figure this year. UPSET TxA&M by 3
The Red River Rivalry kicks off in the Cotton field in Dallas where Texas is favored by 14 - I think that's about right. Texas by 14
Now then, Texas Tech brings it's spread offense to Tom Osborne Field this weekend and are favored by 4. TxTech's first away from home game and they're favored by 4 - ?? I HOPE we have these guys "sliced and diced" by the end of the 3rd quarter. I'm probably letting my heart dominate my head but, another UPSET - NU by 10
OK HUSKER FANS, see you after the game!!!
Monday, October 03, 2005
WOW - Another Nail-Biter
I think this was a GREAT win since, in my opinion, a loss may have caused a lot of questioning not only within the multitude of us fans that still cain't get over the change in offense but also among the players themselves. This team appears to believe in the system and the coaches and that means the Huskers could be a 'coin-toss' in the rest of their conference games.
To the players and the coaches - BRAVO.