I knew it. It was too good to be true. I just knew it. As Chris Jones took the ball into the endzone in the first quarter to give Nebraska a 17-0 lead, I knew that what I was seeing was not reality. I would have loved nothing more than to watch my beloved Huskers steamroll a quality conference opponent. To really stick it to someone for all to see. It looked promising. But I knew it was not to be. From that point forth the Huskers offense collapsed, while the special teams wilted and the defense fought its ass off to stay alive. Don’t get me wrong, a win is a win. I’m very happy with being 6-0 and really enjoy the resolve this team shows. This team has a lot of intangibles you really can’t teach.  That’s the good news. The bad news is this was an extremely uneven performance that should not have resulted in a W.

I’m just going to say it. The Husker offense was utter garbage for a large chunk of this game. It was absolutely putrid. But don’t take my word for it. Lets look at the drive chart. Between the Terrell Newby TD in the first quarter and the outrageously lucky Stanley Morgan TD in the 4th, the drive chart goes as follows: punt, safety, punt, interception, end of half, punt, punt, punt, interception. In case you weren’t counting that is 5 punts, 2 Ints, and a safety. 4 of those punts were the result of drives that lasted less than 5 plays.  Good grief. It was some of the worst NU offense I have seen in a very long time. The Huskers had no answer for the Hoosiers swarming defense. None. Short passes didn’t work. Neither did long passes, nor screens. The run game was all but abandoned for the better part of the afternoon. Nothing worked and the line is largely to blame. The patchwork line was awful for the better part of Saturday afternoon. There were no holes for runners and the pass protection was just as poor. Time after time Tommy Armstrong was running for his life. But lets not let him off the hook either.

Tommy was bad. Really, really bad. His numbers appear fairly pedestrian. 10/26 for 208 yards 1 TD and 2 INTs. Typically, mediocre numbers like that don’t warrant a skewering. This was not a typical performance. The 2 Ints were both completely unacceptable. One of which was a total jackpot, toss up that you might see at your local elementary school. Thats not hyperbole, check it out yourself. I expect better decision making from my senior 4 year starter. Much better. The yardage is also deceiving. 72 yards came on a total keystone cop moment by the IU defense. 3 defenders collided while Stanley Morgan caught the ball and went to the house. 45 more came on a miracle catch by Brandon Reilly that should have been a pick. Take those 117 yards out and you get 91 yards on 8/24 passing. Awful. One particular time Alonzo Moore got free deep. A TD would have went a long way toward securing the W. Tom missed him, badly. I don’t know if Tommy isn’t healthy or if the Hoosier defense rattled him. Frankly, it’s irrelevant. QB play that poor gets you beat. It’s that simple. Armstrong has to be better. I’m sure he would be the first to tell you that.  He is a major cog in this offense. If he plays like that the rest of this season could have several long afternoons.

Well, that feels better. I needed to vent about the offense. They were infuriating. By all rights this unit should have cost NU the game. But there is a silver lining.

The beleaguered and much maligned Nebraska offense took the field with 8:26 to go and nursing a very tenuous 2 point lead. Somehow, NU found a way to run the ball. For the 2nd straight game Terrell Newby was a stud. He avoided a near fumble that was as close as it gets and churned out yards to salt this thing away. Along the way Mike Riley went for it on 4th and short near mid field. The NU offense had no consistent push, but Riley made the call. That call took considerable onions. Riley deserves credit for such a bold call. After that conversion the Nebraska offense gets a FG and milks the clock to under a minute. The drive may go down as a season definer. Despite the monumental struggles of the Husker offense, when the chips were down this unit came up with a 15 play, 60 yard drive that burned an astonishing 7:41 off the clock and all but assured a Husker victory. That deserves kudos, even if the rest of the day was largely hot garbage.

This defense turned in a performance Husker fans can be proud of. Despite the offense consistently laying a steaming pile in their lap, this unit answered the call time and again. Coming in I was concerned that the NU rush defense would allow Indiana RB Devine Redding and his powerful frame to run wild. That never materialized. The NU rush defense held the Hoosiers to below 3 yards per carry despite a 33 yard TD run in the 3rd quarter. The pass defense was also largely terrific. Chris Jones Josh Kalu and company were all over the place. Did they allow some yardage?  Sure. But this is a pretty crafty offense. They will distribute more than their share of headaches before this season is over. Still, Indiana was held to less than 6.5 yards per attempt passing. That is pretty damn good. The defense had a ton of looks thrown at them and they adjusted nicely. Of Indiana’s 4 scoring drives, 2 were started deep in Husker territory due to turnover or special teams play. Otherwise Indiana had difficulty putting points on the board. Another bright spot was the pass rush which created pressure without the blitz. That was super encouraging to see. Lets hope that continues as the season progresses. In general my aggravation with the Husker performance had little to do with the defense. This group hung tough in difficult circumstances for the majority of the afternoon. They earned their stripes Saturday. They are the reason that NU wins a tough game on the road and improves to 6-0.

There is no doubt that 6-0 feels great. It’s been a long time coming. This team has managed to navigate the various potholes of the schedule to this point. That fact should not be overlooked. There is a certain team directly to the East of NU that wishes it could say the same. But they can’t. Still, one cannot disregard the various shortcomings of this squad. Today it would have been great to absolutely squash Indiana. The Big Red had the chance. Up 17-0 early, the opportunity to break their spirit with another score presented itself. Unfortunately, the Huskers could not capitalize. That is a problem. Great teams bury their opposition in situations like that. Let’s make no mistake, there are a couple great teams forthcoming. If Nebraska plays like it did Saturday, they will get absolutely curb stomped. Indiana is a good team, this might be NU’s best win to date, but the likes of Wisconsin and Ohio State will trailer park slap the Huskers with a performance like that. Those dates should loom over this team like a dark cloud. Get better or else.

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5 thoughts on “Offensively Challenged

  1. Nephew you need to learn to be more forgiving. Indiana’s defense made a lot of big play’s. Sometimes you just have to give the other unit credit it’s not always the offensive team’s fault per say that they don’t get the yardage you want or the touchdowns you want. But the first thing you should of noticed early was that NU was in a Defensive game plan, and yes that includes the offensive side of the ball also. Riley’s staff came up with a beautiful defensive game plan that had Indiana confused the entire game. They mixed up there coverages, hid their blitzes, and when they did blitz it was over the right guard because Indiana’s AA right guard was out. Armstrong’s first interception was a tip by Cotton but it was still a safe play in regards to down and distance and field position. Cotton tipped it and Indiana made the play. That’s College Football nephew. I told you a month ago that this was the game I was worried about. Playing in Bloomington is just not easy any more. Tommy was not bad, the offense was not garbage either. The Huskers were never going to go in there and dominate like a great team BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT A GREAT TEAM! Nephew you really need to get a reality check if you think this team is great, and even if you think that Ohio St. or Wisconsin is great. The Huskers have a good team, not a solid team or extra solid team (there are 2 extra solid teams) but no great teams anywhere. Nephew you have to be more accepting, and take this team as they are, not as you would like them too be.

    Questions, do you read the SAGARIN ratings? Did you see the Northwestern game? I know no you were watching the Huskers. I watched both at the same time. Do you record any of those Big Ten in 60 shows? I record all of them and watch them. Same for the SEC teams also.

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    1. So nice to hear from you uncle Rick. You did warn me about this game and I was guilty of overlooking Indiana. In my own defense, Indiana is playing much better ball in that span. I do give them credit, especially on offense. They are a pesky, pain in the ass team to stop. I thought our D was fantastic. Ill be interested to see how they fare the rest of the way. Offensively you cannot convince me that they were anything more than garbage for the bulk of the game. How can you defend Armstrong’s play? He was running for his life for most of the afternoon. But there were plenty of times when there was an open receiver and TA just missed. The INT you speak of when the ball careened off of Cotton is absolutely on Armstrong as well. He throws it high, and hot. Thats not a great pass. Tommy does that all the time. He cant throw a change up. Everything is a fast ball, which is why passes to the flat are such an adventure. I am a big fan of Armstrong, but Im pretty through making excuses for performances like the one we saw Saturday. I have no illusions that this is any kind of incarnation of the NU championship era. I will say NU is a good team. You just dont get to 6-0 in this league without being good. I will also call both Ohio State and Wisconsin great teams. Its going to be rough in a few weeks. But College Football is a week to week sport. Win this week and move on.

      Im pleased we played NW when we did. That team gets better every week. That is what well coached teams do. Once again we all see that Fitzgerald can coach. I do record the BTN in 60 games, but I normally dont get to them until mid week or so. Ive got shit to do. Hell, I still havent rewatched the NU game. That is top priority at this point.

      Look forward to hearing from you Uncle Rick.

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  2. I’m not defending his play. I’m just saying you need to be a little more forgiving. His technique has always been a problem. It has improved under Riley as has his decision making. That specific play he was on the run and tried to make a play. I don’t hold a play like that against any QB. It was an aggressive controlled play that would of got them a first down. Yes it was a little high, and hard but if Cotton could of made a play also it would of been a nice down and distance and field position play. Not every pass is going to be perfect. Your wide out’s have to make some plays for any quarterback. He made some very good throws, two plays before the Cotton tip he threw a very nice pass down the left sideline to Morgan that the Indiana defender made a play on and batted it down. Yes he was high a lot of the times but remember he has a bad ankle sprain and when that happens your push off is compromised (his footwork has always been poor) and the ball sails on you. Plus he’s always been to armsy. I would not be surprised if Riley starts Fife Saturday. I do think the ankle is a bigger problem for him then their saying. Also it was obvious he missed Westerkamp, and Carter. Again not defending him just being a little more forgiving, and understanding.

    NEWS FLASH: Ohio State and Wisconsin are not great teams and that’s a period. Their both solid teams. THERE ARE NO GREAT TEAMS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL TODAY. The 2 extra solid teams as I see it is Alabama, and Washington. Neither one is great. What those two teams have is a NFL type front seven defensively. BIG, QUICK, AND DEEP specifically on the line. Ohio State, and Wisconsin are not that much better than the Huskers. We can beat them with the right combination of making play’s and getting turnovers, and limited mistakes on the Husker’s part. I judge a great team being a team that no matter what you did, no matter how many turnovers you get you still have almost zero chance of winning. The last great team to me in College Football was Miami in 2001. I went to the Rose Bowl game (The Championship game) with your Aunt Bunny. She asked me if we had a chance against them, and I said no. If you remember correctly NU got 4 turnovers and still got blown out. Yes I still went even though I knew they didn’t have a chance. Every team this year I can see them loosing and yes that includes Alabama, and Washington. The most overused word in sports is GREAT. The NBA just almost abuses the word. Public relations has invaded sports in a big way. They rely on one simple philosophy, “if you keep telling people the same thing over and over they will inevitably believe in what your saying”. There are two great players in the NBA, and there are no great teams and yes that includes Golden State. I can name about 6 teams that would easily beat them in a best out of seven, and I’m positive your Dad would agree with that. AND JORDAN IS NOT THE GREATEST PLAYER EVER AND YES THAT’S A PERIOD. I can easily give you 7 or 8 players that were better.

    Yes I do understand your time constraints. Fortunately since I’ve retired I don’t. Between Golfing, horses, and football, and political reading and writing (I’ve had 2 articles appear in the NY Times) and 2 quick opinions in the good old G.I. Independent. I keep myself busy. Leaving for Vegas tonight for a couple of day’s. I like to call myself a SPORTING MAN, these day’s. It sounds so intellectual!

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    1. Remind me someday too explain to you why there are no more GREAT TEAMS in today’s sport’s world Professional and or College. And yes I know that covers the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, College football and Basketball. Of course the College Basketball is obvious the one and done takes care of that

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