Sunday, August 31, 2008

Game 1, Nebraska 47, Western Michigan 24

Notes about the first game of the Pelini era, after we still convince everyone that we were the first to let everyone know how good Cody Glenn, Linebacker was going to be.

Husker fan should be extremely happy with everything right now, even though lack of a running game has a lot of folks up in arms. Considering the head coach openly admits there's a lot of work to do, I'm sure that little problem will be taken care of. What's most impressive as that Joe Ganz appears to be everything you'd want in a quarterback, considering he's had to add some new songs to his playlist. You got the impression that Pelini and Shawn Watson wanted everyone to know that Ganz can actually run the ball in a pre-WCO way in addition to picking up right where he left off from last year's final three games. Which is fine, although Ganz isn't going to run the option like a Tommie Frazier or Eric Crouch. It was almost like some of those option plays were put in as another example of how everything's back to "normal" if that's the word everyone wants to us. Hell, the pre-game video showed old highlights of Husker legends with the Beatle's "Get Back" playing underneath. We get it already. Next week they'll probably play Springsteen's "Glory Days" with more of those old signature moments.

What I'd really like to get my hands on is a video of the already infamous pre-game speech Pelini gave to the team last night. I'm sure no such video or even audio exists, but players were still talking about it long after the game was over. So instead of constantly referencing the return to "normalcy", let's talk about the new stuff Pelini and company are bringing. They don't have to run the option to Husker Fan excited (although that first option play most certainly worked everyone up in a way I haven't seen in quite some time). All they have to do is win. Pelini spent a good portion of his off-season reaching out to everyone. He didn't try to be Osborne, because Bo doesn't have Osborne's personality. All signs suggest the Corn are on the right path, and frankly I like Pelini's way of doing things. He's the new king of the castle, and it certainly appears that he's more concerned about doing his job more than anything else. Obviously this a really good thing.

Bo openly acknowledged any problems from last night. He called out his coaching staff, saying THEY had to do a better job. And this was after a very nice win. Hell, Billy C famously started his post-game presser following the 2004 Texas Tech debacle with, "We saw some very good things out there". What "very good things" come from a 70-10 loss, aside from the game clock finally reaching 0:00, are now just something Billy C and Brett Favre can explain some day. Anything that worried Husker Nation last night is not going to escape Pelini and his staff. My personal favorite quote from Pelini last night: "Not to take anything away from Western Michigan, but most of what they got, we gave them because of our mistakes."

As A.J. Soprano reminded his father in "The Sopranos" final scene, let's focus on the good times here. The Blackshirts had 4 sacks last night. Last year's Chinese fire drill of a defense had a total of 13 for the entire season. Ganz once again threw for over 300 yards, which means he's done that in every game he's started at Nebraska. And that's a Husker first. There are a lot of great quarterbacks in college football this year -- hell in the Big 12 alone -- but Joey Ganz has to be one of the best kept secrets, doesn't he? Everyone focused on Marlon Lucky in the pre-season as a potential All-Everything player (and despite last night, he's still going to have a great season), but the thinking with Ganz was that his numbers would drop off. Ganz actually looks better in throwing the ball now than when he was picking apart the K-State defense last November.

That picture of Ekeler jumping on top of Cody Glenn after a big play? Just another day at the office for him. I'm just waiting for the game when Mike actually decides to run on the field to actually play linebacker for a series. In no helmet or pads either. Seriously, this will happen at some point in the season.

The other big thing to remember, aside from the fact that this was the first game of the season, let alone with this new coaching staff, is that Western Michigan isn't a bad team. It was a not an easy opener. I spent the majority of the day suggesting to the gambling community that there was no way the Huskers would cover that 14 point spread, thinking this game had 31-21 written all over it. An opening day win is still a win, no matter how you cut it. Just ask the depressed fans of Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech.

Husker fan was already batshit insanely happy hours before the game simply because of the Pitt loss. Once that score went final, a bar packed with over 200 people celebrated as if Nebraska just won a National Championship. As if anyone needed further confirmation, Nebraskans really hate Steve Pederson. In fact, hate might not even be a strong enough word. Husker fan wants to capture Stevie P, and torture him all the while parading him down O Street.

I'm expecting the same reaction every time the New York Jets lose this year. This from a die-hard Husker (and in the interest of full disclosure, Packer fan): "Is it too much to ask for to have the Jets go 0-16?"

Nobody is ready to live in a world where ESPN gives Nick Saban 24-hour coverage. After yesterday's Alabama win, it appears the network is already head over heels mad for him.

Speaking of ESPN, something must be done regarding their "Junior Varsity" college football group. I love how the rock star team of Fowler/Corso/Herbstreit gets to go on the road every week and does a great job with their Gameday. However, that's maybe 3 hours of their college football day. The rest of it is covered with that JV team. I get the concept of using the bus driver (Reece Davis, who's improved dramatically over the years), former player (Mark May, who we can get into with his own post sometime this week) and wacky former coach (Lou Holtz, the one nobody in their right mind would ever think to put into any sort of broadcast job) as a way to emulate the madly successful Gameday group. What did anyone do to deserve May & Holtz ruining our Saturdays? Can't Davis do that show by himself?

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