Sunday, September 07, 2008

Game 2, Nebraska 35, San Jose State 12 (Special "Keep A Good Thought" Edition)

The dissection of Game 2 of the Pelini era will be begin right after we get our heads around the idea of Cody Glenn, NFL Linebacker.

You could tell from as early as 8am that this was going to a much different day than last Saturday. Maybe the intensity level of home games can be attributed to how fans have decided which ones really matter. It's become obvious that in Husker Fans eyes, there are only 5 of the 8 home games that matter: Last week, Virginia Tech, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado. That's it, that's the list. Lincoln bar owners, who got kissed with all-day enthusiasm and a license to print money last weekend, were openly disappointed in the smaller crowds yesterday. We talked to at least five different downtown bar owners, and the overwhelming agreement is that they all expect a big kiss for the 8 home games this year after losing their asses from the horrible October of 2007. How anyone can expect record weekends (which last weekend certainly was) every week in this insane economy is unreasonable. But the downtown bar owners are like Husker fans: Don't just win, but win big.

It's also worth noting that on Friday, the big buzz, after San Jose State returned a large portion of their tickets, as that the Memorial Stadium sell-out streak could possibly be in jeopardy. Out of all the games on the Corn schedule, this was the easiest ticket to get. No fear, the remaining seats were gone quickly, but still, if there was a game everyone was going to sit out, this was it.

Which leads us to our actual football game. The entire lackadaisical attitude seamed to reach to the actual team as well. The Corn looked uninspired, sometimes unmotivated, especially on offense. If it weren't for some defensive adjustments, memories of the 2004 Billy C Southern Miss game were coming back. If you take away the two big touchdown returns, a very scary final score of 21-12 would have had an entire Husker Nation up in arms. Not to mention that poor kicker San Jose State trotted out on the field (and they may have just left that kid in Lincoln for all we know). It was an ugly game all around. The thinking going in was that this would be the game where the Corn tried to establish a running game. Didn't happen. Joe Ganz streak of 300 yard passing games ended. But the really big stat from yesterday that has Pelini and company worked up is this one:

12-103. Twelve penalties for 103 yards. Pelini and his staff took the blame for those, promising to fix it after the game. And let there be no doubt they will.

What should have everyone concerned is that the offensive line, as it is right now, is not one constructed to put together a serious running attack against anybody. This isn't one of the glory days "Pipeline" offensive lines. Part of that is the way the old coaching regime constructed it. Which again goes back to how important it is that Shawn Watson stuck around for at least this season. The Corn is going to have to use the best of the WCO mixed in with whatever Pelini wants to add. So the idea that some incredible rushing game needs to be established is going to be serious work in progress. We said early on that we were very underwhelmed about bringing Barney Cotton back as Offensive Line coach. Out of all the things you can point to that need fixing in Lincoln, this one sticks out the most.

We all expected things to turn around on the defensive side, and they certainly are. That was the idea from the start -- get the defense house back in order. I'm not worried there, Bo & Carl and the rest of the defensive staff flat out know how to make defensive adjustments.

The overall mood about an hour after the game was, "Well, at least we're 2-0". That is something, but the 2008 Huskers are supposed to be 3-0 going into Virginia Tech. And then they'll have two weeks to prepare for the Hokies. But yesterday, the "a win is a win" mentality swept through Lincoln. Maybe that's a hangover from all the shit that Husker fan went through the past few years, hell even during Solich's turbulent run. Could be the playing field in all of College Football has leveled a bit. It hasn't leveled THAT much, and the fourth quarter clearly proved that, as Nebraska separated itself from San Jose State. But the lack of crazed enthusiasm that accompanied Bo's first game from the fans can't spill over to the actual team on the field.

Special "What Would Have Happened If Last Year's Staff Were Still Around" Outcome: The defense wouldn't have been in position for that first quarter interception return. The D would have allowed a few more big plays. And it really could have been another 2004 Southern Miss game all over again. NU 27, SJS 23 (and an overly concerned Husker Nation would have breathed a sigh of relief that San Jose State really had no kicking game).

Matthew McConaughey "No worries, no worries, there is a siesta in the making even as we speak" Moment: The Half-time score of NU 14, SJS 9. "They'll make adjustments at halftime" was the rally cry.

The "Time To Panic" Moment: The End-of-the-3rd Quarter Score of NU 14, SJS 9. This marked the official end of the Pelini Honeymoon phase.

Tony Soprano "We're All Fucked" Moment: SJS's new kicker nailing that field goal early in the 4th quarter, making the score NU 14, SJS 12.

Bob Dylan "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" Moment: NU's 21 4th quarter points after that field goal.

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