Sunday, September 14, 2008

Game 3: Nebraska 38, New Mexico State 7 (Special End of the Exhibition Season Edition)

The big talk during the week regarding Husker football had to do with the impressive list of non-conference opponents on the schedule for future years. Who knows what things will look like in 2014, or who will still be around (the smart money suggests this blog isn't one of those things). We do know that 2014 will mark the 30th anniversary of Tom Osborne's signature moment (the decision to go for 2 points and the win instead of the extra point to tie the game in the 1984 Orange Bowl), and it's also the year Nebraska has Miami scheduled for one of their non-conference opponents. I cannot wait to have Michael Irvin and Ray Lewis as special guests on the visitor's sideline at Memorial Stadium.

This was a hot topic because last night was simply going to be an easy tune up, as the Corn would be sharpened and focused following last week's lackadaisical effort. The first three games of the 2008 non-conference schedule have been a rebuilding program's wet dream. How the Corn got these three consecutive games at home, mixed in with a bye week to get ready for the start of the "real" season and Virginia Tech, is something we really need to have explained. I'm very confident that if Bo Pelini and Steve Pederson were ever to cross paths, Pelini would immediately curb stomp Stevie P's pompous mouth. But after he counts how many teeth he knocked out, Pelini should thank him for this comfy little three-game set-up for his first head coaching gig.

So here sits a Husker Nation, with a feel for their new football team in the same way a fan would feel after their NFL team goes 4-0 in the Pre-Season. Sure, it feels good, but you really don't have a fucking clue going into the real season. And make no mistake, that's what Virgina Tech at Nebraska will be in 2 weeks. It's Pelini & the Corn's first real test. The second half of last week's game was no "test", no matter how anyone's trying to spin things. Nobody outside of Lincoln gives two shits about what's happened the last 3 weeks at Memorial Stadium. Beat Va Tech, for a matchup of unbeatens when Chase Daniel and a wild Missouri army come to town, and then you'll have everyone's attention.

The last three weeks again showcased how much of a hard on this new regime has for wanting to merge with the marvelous Huskers of yesteryear. Many former players went on record about how much of a disconnect they had during Billy C four years of loitering. So Osborne and Pelini have made it their point to not only let basically any former player run free through Memorial Stadium on game day (I wouldn't have been the least bit surprised if Grant Wistrom was allowed to actually play on a few series last night), but remind everyone of how great things once were and what they could be again. And this mentality has spread EVERYWHERE. The last three games have all been on pay-per-view, with color commentary from a former player known for saving Osborne's final season, and the only commercials during these games have been advertisements for the UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA. Promos complete with TO getting carried off the field after winning his first National Championship and Johnny Rodgers finally getting his diploma. Seriously, if you're the University, you've already making a nice chunk of money from everyone ordering these games. You could have printed money by selling a few commercials during the games, no? Don't try to say there was no interest or time available. During half-time last night, sideline reporter Larry Punteny interviewed former Blackshirt Jason Peter for what had to be 10 minutes, and he was able to show off his book -- TWICE. We got the memo, everything's back to normal in Husker Land, but can we please take Don Draper's advice and move in one direction, forward?

But does the embracing of the old school mean this team has to run the fucking option? Because this offense has made it fairly clear that they have no desire to ever run one again. Joe Ganz can certainly run, but he looks about as comfortable trying to make an option play work as Dan Fouts would. That's not suggesting Ganz is only an asset throwing the ball (because last night proved he can go receiver if need be), it's not even a knock on him at all. This isn't an option offense. The option isn't only a play, it's the name of your entire offensive identity if that's what you choose. Osborne and even Solich teams ran effective option plays because that's what they DID. Their entire philosophy was built around that. You need no further proof of this than to have a flashback to Joe Dailey trying to navigate Billy C's West Coast Offense. Dailey and that entire team was made to run an option offense. So if Pelini and/or Shawn Watson really want to excite Husker fan with an option play, they'd better change and build the entire ship to go in that direction. But if running a few option plays is something just to satisfy some of the old guard, cut the cord now.

So with a much needed bye week, we still don't know what to expect. The Corn could very easily get embarrassed in their next three games. The smart thinking is that Nebraska will beat Virginia Tech (Pelini and staff with an extra week to prepare will make all the difference), play Missouri closer than expected but lose to a very good Tigers team, and then lose in a wild shoot out at Texas Tech (a tough draw for your first road game). Another thing we've learned over the past three Saturdays is that we're all relatively patient with Pelini. Sure, he had everyone scared shitless at the start of that 4th quarter last week. The lollipops and roses came right back last night. That happens when you get what you want, which is finally seeing something that resembles a sort of running game. At this point, the main concern for Husker Fan should be keeping a wild group of Missouri fans quiet when they come the Lincoln.

I do love how pissed off Pelini gets whenever somebody brings up a "name" for an offense for any team. He doesn't like the term "Spread" offense. He really doesn't want to give any offense any sort of name. He just wants to move the football by whatever means necessary, which makes for fun theater when a media rep brings up a name for any sort of offense.

Another fun aspect of the Huskers "exhibition" season: Watching Joe Ganz slowly realize he doesn't have to come running to the head coach after every single play, something Billy C infamously did with Joe Dailey.

Before I forget, why did I just now learn that Clarence Thomas of all people is a Husker fan? How did this happen? (I know now, his wife grew up in Nebraska, forgive me for being the only person who didn't know that little tidbit of information). Not only is he a fan, but he got to be an Honorary Coach last night, and he showed Ekeler-esque levels of enthusiasm after some plays. What does Anita Hill think of all of this?

You have to feel better about being a Husker fan than an Ohio State fan right now. The Buckeyes are officially where the Huskers were in the late 1980's. The only difference is TO didn't have that National Title that Jim Tressell reminds everyone he won in his second year as head coach. And Nebraska didn't have a national voice to hype them further like the Ohio State University does with Kirk Herbstreit. But really who cares now when the Corn has Clarence Thomas roaming the sidelines?


Anonymous said...

Tressel should have never won that title in 02. The pass interference call against the Canes is one of the worst calls in college football history.

Anonymous said...

Mac G said...

I missed the last 2 games because I refused to cough up extra money even though I already have the college football plan.

V Tech put the sick athletic QB Taylor back in and I do not think the Skers will have an answer for him on defense. Mizzou and TTech will put up 50 on this defense.

Do not drink the kool aid and I know you do not but this team lacks serious talent to compete with the big boys of the Big 12.