Dear Fellow Husker fans,
Yours truly stuck here in the heart of PAC-10 country was stuck listening to the game via internet radio. So, after a night of work, some time on youtube, and a few other sites, I think I am about ready to give my post-game thoughts for game 1 of year 3 of the Pelini Dogma of D.
As most of you know after reading my last blog post, I officially announced I have drank the kool-aid and wen the route of Lee Corso (dang) and other sports talking heads in sayng NU was going all the way to the national title game. With game one in the books complete with the adage "a win is a win is a win" I will stick by it, but there are some things to work on, in fact plenty of things.
The good: Taylor Martinez. I had a funny idea going into this game about the starting QB. In fact, I had two thoughts. My first thought was maybe Coach Pelini was going to go way out in left field on who started the game at QB, you know run some Wildcat, there you go starting QB is Rex Burkhead. Alas, it didn't happen. My second thought was does it really matter who starts? What matters is putting a W on the board and who performs the best. As it was said during the 1995 Orange Bowl, it isn't who starts the game, but who finishes it. Martinez didn't disappoint, 7 carries for 155 yards and 3 TDs, 9-15 passing for 136 yards. Not bad for his first start.
The bad: The rest of the running game. After Martinez the rest of the team went pedestrian 26 carries for 172 yards and 3 TDs. I know some out there will say that's still over 6 yards a carry, but the fact is look back to spring ball and earlier this summer. The prevailing thought was that NU was going to run the ball more. I don't know what I was really expecting but sub 300 yards rushing wasn't it.
The ugly: The Blackshirts vs the run. Bobby Rainey isn't Tre Newton, Danny Thomas, or even Alexander Robinson. Fact is, 30 carries for 155 yards and a TD is quite a bit. Yes, the D held the rest of the guys in check for the most part (299 total offense), but let's face it, WKU is a school that hasn't won in over a year and based on previous performances is one of the worst teams in all of college football (statistically speaking). You can put some of the blame of this lack of focus to Suh's graduation, but I think the brunt has to go to a few things, the loss of Fisher and Compton at LB basically handing the keys to the defense to some inexperienced guys.
Bright Side: This was game #1 and we saw plenty of things to work on but some good things as well. Offensively you like to see Martinez hand it off a bit more on the read option play. D's are going to key on that a run some sort of QB spy, perhaps bring in a big safety to play as a 3rd or 4th LB to spy the QB. A few hand-offs to the RB, mixing it up a bit will be a nice wrinkle. The big thing offensively is consistency and also you want to be able to sustain that heartbreaking 8-12 play drive that chews up clock and ends with points. We didn't get to see that in game 1, but again, it was game 1.
Brighter Side: Lavonte David. Coach Pelini wasn't happy with the Blackshirts even LD. David led the team with 13 tackles but did have mistakes. To see a performance that I personally rank about C+/B- range and have the coaching staff rank it lower only means they expect more which is a good thing. I seen somewhere (perhaps youtube) a guy posting saying the team was at mid-season form. Lets hope not. There is plenty to work on but great things are on the horizon, just need experience and consistency.
Perhaps the Second Hardest "Hit that doesn't really count" in Nebraska football history: Jared Crick nailed WKU's QB Jakes on a incomplete pass. I rank this second after the 1978 NU-OU kickoff return/fumble that was ruled down onthe above mentioned list. I will gave this much credit to Jakes, he got up from being crushed, then having big Crick add insult to injury by pancaking him. Heck, watch the play, Jakes practically disappears under Crick. Martinez ran the hidden football trick on the read option, Crick ran the hidden QB trick on that play. Wow.
A missed call by the officiating crew: Watch the tackle on Tim Marlowe on his kick-off return. It looks like the first half of what Suh did to Jake Delhomme which garned him a 15 yard penalty and $7500 donation to the NFL ref's eye exam plan. It might not have been a facemask, but it sure looked like a horse collar tackle to me.
Game Ball: I'm giving out 3: Taylor Martinez for his offensive performance, Lavonte David for having a nose for the football on D, and Niles Paul for doing everything from WR to punt returns.
News from around the country:
Jackson St upsets Ole Miss in OT. Just taking Ole Miss to OT is huge for JSU.
Texas survives vs Rice (they were favored by 4 TDs)
LSU rolls for 3 quarters, then hangs on against UNC.
Oklahoma hangs on against Utah St.
Well, thats about it from this end. Happy Labor Day to all and enjoy Boise St against V-Tech. God bless and Go Big Red.