Husker V.S. Texas: Postmortem Exam

Posted: October 18, 2010 in Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

As I sit back to write this post, the taste of my own foot is still fresh in my mouth.  On Friday, in a haze of pre-game fervor, I cranked out an article about how we were going to decimate Texas; grind the heel of our work boots into their overhyped grills like they were a used up Pall Mall.  Whoops.

Turns out, that perhaps we weren’t ready for a quality opponent.  Turns out, we were the ones getting smoked.

Normally when writing about the Cornhuskers, my unfailing optimism can get in the way of reality.  I fear that this past weekend was no exception.  You see, with a team that means so much to so many it is fairly easy to be blinded by your passion for something you care about so much. 

Unfortunately, I think that this season’s team, and the way they were perceived by fans (myself included), is kind of like the kid who despite seeing a C.D. shaped Christmas present under the tree refuses to believe that it’s anything other than a puppy until he unwraps it.  Then he’s devastated when he realizes how foolish he was to ever believe he had a puppy in such a small box.

Make no mistake about it, fellow Husker fans, we were just unwrapped.

The Tackling Was Bad

Any time Bo gets a microphone or a camera shoved into his face you will hear him mention two words with an almost slavish devotion: technique and fundamentals.  He mentions them so much that I’m shocked the reporters don’t bleep them out like swear words, just to get us something different.

Well maybe Bo mentioned them so much that our team became complacent.  Maybe they simply built up such a tolerance to Bo’s mentioning of his two favorite words that they barely noticed when Bo was undoubtedly bringing them up all last week.

Whatever the case may be, the Huskers looked bad on defense.  They made Garrrett Gilbert look like a pigment-altered Michael Vick.  Gilbert, certainly not known for his athleticism and running ability, shredded the Huskers for 71 yards and 2 TD’s on the ground, often times bouncing off two or three Husker defenders on his way to a 6.5 yards-per-carry average.

I haven’t seen a big, unathletic white guy inflict so much damage since “Rocky 5.”

On several occasions safety Ricky Thenarse came flying in and slammed his shoulder into a would-be ball carrier only to have the runner bounce off of him like some burnt orange bumper car and gain more yardage.  His lack of wrapping up the legs of the runners was criminally bad.

There Were Too Many Dropped Passes

The Huskers couldn’t catch the football on Saturday.  It didn’t matter if they were open, covered, in traffic, or completely alone.  The ball simply caromed off their gloves and crashed to the turf to an 86,000-person chorus of “ooooohhhhhh!?!?”

The Huskers dropped 8 passes, 3 which almost certainly would have gone for touchdowns.  Niles Paul, who ended the game with 6 catches and 66 yards, seemed to be the only receiver open for the Huskers and he ended the game with an astonishing 5 drops.

Paul, who has throughout the season called himself a “leader” and talked about how he was prepared to step up into a bigger role in the offense, and his fellow wide receiver, Brandon Kinnie, left Husker fans struggling to figure out if we would ever throw the ball again.

The Coaching Seemed Disjointed

Pelini, who in today’s Big 12 Coaches Teleconference said he was second-guessing replacing Taylor Martinez, pulled the plug on the Freshman QB in the 3rd quarter of the game.  While Martinez was struggling, which I firmly believe had more to do with an offensive line that looked sub-par and was thoroughly out-physicaled at the point of attack, I don’t believe we needed to take him out.

If Martinez is indeed “the guy” for the Cornhuskers than I think that we should give him the opportunity to put a struggling team on his back and see what he’s made of.  Sure, when Lee came in he had a measure of success, but if there was any inkling that he might’ve seen action in the biggest game of the young season than I believe we should have gotten him more than the 33 seconds of playing time he’s seen thus far.

Furthermore, the coaches seemed to have trouble adjusting to the Garrett Gilbert ground attack.  Which is seemingly an easy problem to fix.  Spy his slow ass!?!

The nail in the proverbial coaching coffin was in the 4th quarter when the Huskers had just rejuvenated themselves, narrowing the Texas lead to 7 points after an electrifying 98-yard runback by Eric Haag, and Bo and Co. decided to Onside kick with 3 minutes and 2 timeouts left.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that: with a Blackshirts defense now fired up by one of their own making a tremendous play and a crowd that had just been defibrillated back to life, with Adi Kunalic looking to make up for his last important kick0ff against the Longhorns, and enough timeouts left to stall what was an almost-certainly extremely conservative offensive approach from Mack Brown and friends. . .you should kick it deep and fight for your life.

Instead, Pelini opted to onside the ball.  A play that’s so desperate that statistics show somewhere around a 13% probability that your team will recover.  Even if we had stopped their offense after they recovered they would’ve already been in range for a long field goal that would’ve put the game out of reach once more.

A questionable coaching decision in a game that was riddled with them.  That’s what pains me the most about this game.  The realization that–perhaps, just perhaps– Bo isn’t quite as far along in his coaching development process as we had hoped.

Is he a brilliant defensive mind at times?  Yes.  A fiery leader willing to accept blame when it should fall onto his shoulders?  Absolutely.  Am I still his biggest, rap-making, fan?  Hell yeah.  But I forgot just how painful growing pains can be.

Looking Ahead

The Huskers still have control of their own destiny in the Big 12 north.  However, I feel like we’re back to square one as we head down to an at-times-very-solid Oklahoma State team.

What will define this team is the way in which we respond to adversity.  We’ve recovered before and, I feel confident, that we will rise up again; resilient as ever.

FIN

(*Author’s Note: Weren’t the refs shitty?)

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Comments
  1. a says:

    Apparently T-Magic has a tell. The Texas D ends were reading before each play and apparently they could tell before the ball was snapped what T-Mart was gonna do on the read option because he already has his mind made up. That being said I thought he threw the ball pretty well and niles paul sucks.

  2. Schnizz says:

    I was telling Ben whether or not we should have made up signs that say “Refs, how much did Texas pay you?”
    They missed almost every holding call on Texas.

  3. Sue Tolles says:

    I agree, we were not the team to take the big 12, and very far away from #1 in the nation. it was very hard to watch. And as Amber said “footballs don’t catch themselves”

  4. madhat says:

    It broke my heart to have to see you write this. A sad sign of what happened on Saturday, and how disappointed many of us Husker believers felt at game’s end. Well, there’s always another Saturday!?!?

  5. Hocking Hick says:

    Huh. We know how you feel.

    Love,

    The Buckeyes

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