The start of the Big Ten season is upon us, but I want to start with a look back at what we’ve done so far this season. I’m going to look at all of the Nebraska teams that I’ve watched so far.
So where do we start?
This is Nebraska. We always start with football.
Umm . . .
Yeah, that’s my prevailing feeling. I’m not real excited about writing this particular wrap up. Both wins are fairly uninspiring, but a win is a win. Both losses were gut punches, but neither was an embarrassing loss.
I was at the stadium for this game. It was hot. It was fun. It was a kick in the groin. I felt both teams played well enough to win the game, but by default someone has to lose it and that was us. I didn’t think we utilized Tommy Armstrong to the full extent we needed to. Tommy Armstrong is not a statue quarterback and we were making a mistake acting like he was. Having a mobile quarterback is not a negative, and I hate when people act like it is. Running is just another skill. As long as you teach the quarterback to utilize that skill intelligently, there is very little downside to a quarterback run. It makes the defense look one more direction, and you can never have a defense looking too many places. The more places you force the defense to cover, the more holes open up in that defense.
Direction State is never someone you want to play a close game against as a major college football program. States that include a direction are not included that’s just State. The only exception is Southern California. That’s it. There are several examples that are trying to push for exemption status as well, but the only automatic exemption is USC. Every other Direction State is a team you want to put away early and move on to the next game. Against South Alabama, that’s what Nebraska did.
I’ve heard so many varying opinions on this game, it has been so surprising to see the reactions of the fans. I got into a somewhat heated argument on Reddit about hypothetical Bo Pelini’s team getting crushed by this Miami team. I’ll let you decide which side you believe I was on. Suffice to say, emotions ran high on this one. The ending was tough. I don’t have a problem with the play Nebraska ran, because it looked to me and still looks to me like if Tommy Armstrong had thrown the ball far enough, the receiver catches it for a touchdown and no one is near him. Judging the play by the interception, is judging with hindsight and unfair. My dad however, argued that it was unnecessary when we had all the momentum to start overtime. That, I can’t really argue with. I think we could have gone for a couple first downs first, running or short passing and the game ends differently. However, differently doesn’t mean we would have won.
There is only one thing I don’t understand. I’ve seen many references to Nebraska being outmatched athletically by Miami, and I’m sorry but I just didn’t see it. Did we look bad in the first quarter? Sure. Did we look outmatched? Definitely. Did Miami look just as outmatched in the fourth quarter? I sure thought so. In the second and third quarters, did the teams look pretty even? Yeah, I thought so. I didn’t feel like we had a great chance to win at that point in the game, but it look like the teams were fairly even. I just don’t see the supposed huge athleticism gap between the two teams. To me it looked like two offenses who vastly outmatched the opposing defenses.
Remember what I said about Direction State? Yeah. 447 Passing Yards. This is where Nebraska fans start getting really worried. Simply put, we gave up yardage by the truck load against Southern Mississippi. Only passing yardage which might be promising, but it was not good. Big play after big play was given up, and that simply can’t be allowed to happen. We must find a way to lock down receivers and keep the big plays off the stats sheet because big plays win football games. That’s the simple truth.
So, where are we now?
Not where we want to be, but that what happens in football and sports in general.
Our place in the national landscape?
Refer to the previous section. We aren’t where we want to be. However, if Nebraska fans are honest with themselves we knew we weren’t going to be either. This was always going to be a transitional year. This was always going to be a year with ups and downs.
Our place in the Big Ten?
I’m going to change this to our place in the Big Ten West. Why? Because the first goal of the season should always be to win the division. Win the division and you can win the conference. Win the conference and maybe you can win more. But if you don’t do the first thing you won’t get any of the others.
In truth, you can talk me into any of five teams to win the Big Ten West. Every team in the division is eminently beatable. Including us. Could Nebraska win the West? I think so. I think it’s there, but it will be difficult. More than a few things are probably going to have to fall in our favor, but it’s possible. In a transition year, should I ask for more?
The college football blueblood in me says yes. The realist in me says probably not.
How about some Volleyball?
Some better news. Husker volleyball keeps trucking along. As I type this, Nebraska stands at #3 in my own computer rankings and is coming off a big win at Penn State last night. They are currently 12-1 and 3-0 in the Big Ten. The only blemish came at Texas in a five set loss. However there has been a bit of an unsettling trend in the three close games Nebraska has played. In each of Nebraska’s three five set games this year, Nebraska lost the first two sets and put themselves in a deep hole going into the locker room. In two of those, Oregon and Penn State, they were able to not only dig themselves out of the hole, but also win the game. Against Texas, they got out of the hole, but fell a little short of winning. The team is going to have to start quicker if they want to get to where we all want them to go.
I wish Holman had gotten her release because I think they could have been really special this year. The question is, can they be special enough this year? I don’t know. It doesn’t look like there is a dominant team in college volleyball this year. Southern Cal got pushed to five by Stanford who Penn State drilled 3-0. Washington was pushed to five by Washingtion State. Texas beat Nebraska in 5, but lost to Florida in 4. Penn State looked unbeatable until they played Minnesota close, then drilled Nebraska in the first set and then got beat in 5 at home. Nebraska has been down 0-2 to three different teams. It looks like the Big Ten and the Pac-12 are going to reign supreme as conferences, but who will emerge from heap at tournament time is wide open at the moment.
Just a little soccer. For the most part I ignore soccer. It’s great in a two minute highlight clip, but a full match is just boring. However, I’ve always said I would watch Nebraska in a spitting contest if it was available. So, I’ve watched a few of the soccer matches recently and to my uneducated perspective, they look pretty good. Not great, North Carolina proved that, but good. Defense looked nearly smothering at times, no so much at others. Offense has been hard to come by in the matches I’ve watched. Either way, it’s Nebraska and the next time it comes on BTN2GO or BTN Plus, I’ll be watching.
You just interviewed yourself for 1300 words.
Yes I did.