Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hitting the Wall

PYB ventures off to Lincoln today for some pre-game tailgating. Still undecided on whether we actually attend the game, we ponder the below:

--Minnesota runs the ball well. Nebraska is terrible at defense. How is NU a 10-point favorite?

--To be fair, after looking at a preseason poster, the Blackskirts are playing this entire season without Charles Jackson, Michael Rose and Leroy Alexander because of injury. Aaron Curry also chose to leave to a better program in TCU right before the season started. Either way, that's four starters that aren't there to miss tackles and blow assignments. Tough to overcome.

--Straight from the "Are You Shitting Me Department": DeMornay Pierson-El has five total targets in the last three games. Considering he's one of two offensive playmakers NU has (and the other one has been injured), PYB thinks an 'offensive genius' would find a way to get him the ball more.

--After too many recent puff pieces, Tom Shatel hits the mark in today's Omaha World Herald. It's all 'big picture stuff.'

--Jay Gruden will likely get axed as the Washington Redskins by the end of this season, but we love that he keeps calling out his pussy-assed quarterback. R! G!! 3!!! By the way, why is Redskins insenstive but Chiefs is not?

--While we're talking about pussy-assed superstars and historically bad teams from Washington. Queen James took her talents and her new court to DC last night and got smashed by the always-lethal John Wall/Bradley Beal combination.

Blame the coach for not understanding the game. Blame Kyrie Irving for not playing point guard well enough while having his new small forward dominate the ball. But it was the Queen who stacked her team. Who shot 8/21. Who ran back home with her tail between her legs. Not so easy to produce without two top-tier All-Stars in Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

That's all we have. Just a few quick shots at most of our favorite targets. Time to shower and run to the Star City -- for better or likely for worse.

PYB

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pinelli's Greatest Hits

PYB is scared. Scared to watch the rewind of another nationally televised Nebraska disaster. Mind you, we're not scared to watch the carnage -- as we've seen it countless times before. The scars we already have minimize much of the pain. Not scared to admit that our beloved alma mater is a nationwide joke and has been for at least 13 years. Not scared to witness the Blackshirt tradition wither, under the guidance of an Ohio State Buckeye, into a brittle, laughable, farce of a concept that continually turns opponents' stars into superhuman beings recording never-dreamt-of records.

No, not scared of that at all. We came to grips with that long ago. We are scared, however, of the lack of any sort of leadership in Lincoln. The acceptance of futility. The dismissal of giving up 49 straight points to a mediocre team as "big picture" stuff. The refusal to tend to the small details that make up said "big picture." Most of all, we're scared that nobody is willing or capable of doing anything about it.

We sat with you, dear readers, and hoped this time would be different. Hoped the early 17-3 lead wasn't a mirage in a desert of meaningful wins that spans 10+ seasons. It felt different, briefly. It felt different until Melvin Gordon ripped off his first big run. Then a long touchdown run, complete with missed assignments, missed tackles and a patented Corey Cooper belly flop. The bed was pissed. And the rout was on. Call the bookie. Time to double up.

What is wrong with Nebraska? How much time do you have? PYB could go on for hours. Paragaph after paragraph. Of course, any of the faults we pointed would be techniques described in any Coaching Football book at the public library. What's the point? Read back through the last few years' worth of columns. Same disaster, different Saturday.

Luckily, we got pulled to a party with friends at halftime. Sure, the game was on at the party, and we could keep ourselves apprised of the latest hail-mary interception, false start, botched quarterback-running back exchange, missed block, whiffed blitz pickup. Friends consoled us. Told us it was still a game. We knew better. We knew this was another bad Nebraska joke. We didn't have to look at the scoreboard, which rolled upward on the Wisconsin side like a progressive jackpot in Las Vegas.

This wasn't just one 'off day' in the "big picture". This was more basic than that. Readily apparent to even the most untrained eye:

--NU has played two above-mediocore teams this year. Both teams have blasted NU. Outside of a first- and fourth-quarter fluke in those games, Michigan State and Wisconsin outscored Nebraska 62-10. Neither the Spartans or Badgers has a quality win this season, and their best games are losses to Oregon and Ohio State, respectively. Welcome to the Big Ten, Nebraska.

--Nebraska cannot, will not, or is incapable of, properly filling gaps on defense. These aren't just minor misses. These are complete fucking breakdowns, resulting in long run after long run after long run. How can Western Illinois do it, but Nebraska can't seem to so ever since Mark Vedral met Colorado in 2001?

--After three straight games of not being able to hold the edge against Wisconsin, NU finally 'adjusted' in then second half and brought Josh Mitchell off the corner with his shoulders turned perpendicular to the line of scrimmage. Multiple times. From day one of seventh-grade football practice, any defender responsible for outside containment is told to never do this. Ever. 

--Nebraska trailed Wisconsin just 24-17 near the end of the first half. After relinquishing 21 straight points, and saddled with a quarterback that is completing less than half his passes in conference play, most coaches would kneel the fucking ball, head to the locker room and adjust. Not Bo Pinelli. Our favorite Private thought it a good time to flip the switch, as he always does in panic time, to Beck Mode. (See drive chart below). 

Most coaches would realize a seven-point deficit means that just one touchdown and extra point ties the game. Get to halftime. Take a deep breath. Decide on a second-half strategy. Demonstrate leadership. Execute chosen strategy.

The Youngstown Brain Trust, however? Run the ball to a third and three. Take a sack. Fake a punt in the first half of a seven-point game (yeah, We're Fine, and feel confident our defense can stop Wisconsin but we're faking a punt deep in our own territory down one score in the first half. Anyone think Wisconsin noticed that?). 

As lucky as it was to convert the fake punt, NU collected a personal foul penalty that pushed it back to its own 25-yard line, one yard from where it began the drive. That said, surely the coaches would now take the air out of the ball and run clock. Nope! Tim Beck dialed up bomb after bomb after bomb, throwing caution to the wind and risking interceptions and fumbles with each rendition. 

NEBRASKA drive start at 03:24.
1-10 NEB 26 Timeout Nebraska, clock 03:24.
1-10 NEB 26 Armstrong Jr. rush for 5 yards to the NEB31 (Caputo, Michael).
2-5 NEB 31 Abdullah, Ameer rush for 2 yards to the NEB33 (Trotter, Marcus).
3-3 NEB 33 Armstrong Jr. sacked for loss of 8 yards to the NEB25 (Trotter, Marcus). (Editor's Note: RUN THE FUCKING BALL)
4-11 NEB 25 Timeout Wisconsin, clock 02:05.
4-11 NEB 25 Foltz, Sam rush for 14 yards to the NEB39 (Jordan, A.J.), PENALTY NEB personal foul (Editor's Note: Panic time.)
(Hannon, Zach) 15 yards to the NEB24.
4-12 NEB 24 1st and 10.
1-10 NEB 24 Armstrong Jr. pass incomplete to Bell, Kenny, PENALTY WIS holding (Shelton, Sojour) 10 X8 (Editor's Note: Run the FUCKING BALL!)
yards to the NEB34, 1ST DOWN NEB, NO PLAY.
1-10 NEB 34 Armstrong Jr. sacked for loss of 6 yards to the NEB28 (Jean, Peniel). (Editor's Note: Run the FUCKING BALL!)
2-16 NEB 28 Armstrong Jr. pass incomplete to Bell, Kenny, PENALTY WIS pass interference (Shelton, X9 (Editor's Note: Run the FUCKING BALL!)
Sojour) 15 yards to the NEB43, 1ST DOWN NEB, NO PLAY.
1-10 NEB 43 Armstrong Jr. pass incomplete to Bell, Kenny. (Editor's Note: Run the FUCKING BALL!)
2-10 NEB 43 Armstrong Jr. sacked for loss of 11 yards to the NEB32 (Schobert, Joe;Goldberg, A.).(Editor's Note: Run the FUCKING BALL!)
3-21 NEB 32 Armstrong Jr. pass incomplete to Bell, Kenny.(Editor's Note: Run the FUCKING BALL!)
4-21 NEB 32 PENALTY NEB false start (Kalu, Joshua) 5 yards to

Maybe we just don't understand, not being steeped in that Youngstown tradition. Sometimes, it's all about perspective. Remember, football is just a game and it takes a true genius like Beck to put fans back into the proper frame of mind.

Despite being castrated on national television for approximately the 20th time in a decade, there's plenty left for NU to achieve. Senior Day. FUCKING SENIOR DAY?? A crappy game on a frozen field against a crappy Iowa team. A middle-of-the-pack-in-the-worse-division-of-the-two-in-a-terrible-conference finish again in 2014. Silly PYB -- remember, if you aim for the turds, you're sure to end up with the maggots!

From stem to stern, this was another Vintage Pinelli effort. Two weeks of preparation, or lack thereof. Failure to capitalize on early opportunities. Lack of ability to cope with adversity. Mental breakdowns ensue at rapid pace. National bottle blasting proceeds. Records broken. Another year wasted. A cold winter on the plains with little warmth in site.

This, hopefully, was the grand finale for Private Bo Pinelli's Greatest Hits in Lincoln. Like most bands pushing forth a cash-grab compilation, he's washed up and his drummer and guitarist (Beck and John Papuchis) are severely overmatched. In music terms, they went from playing roadside shitholes in Topeka to Madison Square Garden and never had a fucking chance.

Under the bright lights, they froze. They blessed us with the following. Sing along, friends, and remember the good times:

Track List
Missouri 52 - NU 17 (2008)
Oklahoma 62 - NU 28 (2008)
Texas Tech 31 - NU 10 (2009)
Iowa State 9 - NU 7 (2009)
Texas 20 - NU 13 (2010)
Wisconsin 48 - NU 17 (2011)
Northwestern 28 - NU 25 (2011)
Michigan 45 - NU 17 (2011)
Ohio State 63 - NU 38 (2012)
Wisconsin 70 - NU 31 (2012)
UCLA 41 - NU 21 (2013)
Minnesota 34 - NU 23 (2013)
Michigan State 41 - NU 28 (2013)
Iowa 38 - NU 17 (2013)
Wisconsin 59 - NU 24 (2014)

Hidden Tracks
Michigan State 27 - NU 22 (2014)
South Carolina 30 - NU 13 (Live from Orlando, 1/2/2012)

Maybe NU should take a page from Queen James and disallow football. It would save the state of Nebraska the embarrassment of being proven to be softer than Dwight Howard every time it appears on national television.

Somehow, the Huskers are a 10-point favorite over a smarter, tougher, better-coached Minnesota team this Saturday. There's no way they win on Hawkeye turf the day after Thanksgiving. We get an 11 a.m. kickoff in each game, with hopefully fewer witnesses to this rattletrap program on the road to ignominy.

We'll be drunk by noon, but that's OK.
NU will be relevant some day
Load the box, and still can't stop shit
It's Pinelli's Greatest Hits,
It's Pinelli's Greatest Hits.....

Respectfully Yours....PYB

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tick Tock

PYB kept a log of the good, the bad and the ridiculous so far this week, as we while away the work week and await another big-game, road-game for Nebraska and wonder how we missed the fact that Blake Griffin got traded to the Arizona Cardinals:

--The NU offensive line has it figured out and can be as good as it decides to be. Heard that before? Just flip the switch, like Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. No problem.

--The Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel is a two-trick pony. Trophy names and food. Branch out, or retire, Tom. Nobody gives a fuck about naming every crappy Big 14 matchup, and nobody gives a fuck less about about your fondness of nachos, wings, steaks and ice cold domestic tap beers.

--Things will change in Madison this year....right? NU's best player is hurt, and the outlook for his status got cloudier Monday thanks to another PR nightmare by Private Bo Pinelli. Oh yeah, Melvin Gordon ran for 216 on nine carries last time he matched up against Nebraska's 'defensive mastermind.'

Teammates say Ameer Abdullah is looking good. Propaganda? Likely. PYB knows that the next time we see a running back look crisp and explosive two weeks after a knee sprain will be the first.

Wisconsin is favored by six points. Somebody, please give us--one good--reason....how NU can cover, much less win?

--sCam Newton. Over/under on when he'll be out of the NFL? We say 7/1/2016.

--Tim Beck says the return of tight end Cethan Carter could impact the game at Wisconsin. Wouldn't passes have to be thrown to tight ends for them to impact games? We didn't know fast and athletic were the two most important attributes for blocking tight ends. Need we go on?

--Lastly, Nebraska fans and players were saddened Tuesday when the latest college football playoff rankings were published. Thoughts:

1. Who cares? NU isn't going to be good enough to crack the top four, regardless.

2. If Nebraska did make the playoff, a high-profile, televised embarrassment would be a certainty.

3. Every time NU complains or crows about rankings -- it gets killed. That began with a home bottle blasting by Texas Tech in 2009 after a one-loss team slithered back in to the top ten and waxed poetic about its national hopes before Niles Paul fumbled the game away in the first quarter.

4. Feel free to beat a good team before stumping for more respect and a higher ranking. Either that, or feel free to dominate any of the nine shitty teams on your schedule.

That's all we have for now. Back to work. We're hoping for the best in Madison, but given recent history, expecting the worst. Either way, we'll be fine.

PYB

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Good, The Bad, The Normal

PYB watched Nebraska play Purdue Saturday. PYB saw what it's seen countless times before. NU fans saw what they'd seen for more than 15 years running. Keeping up with our civic duty, we took notes and hoped to share some striking revelations with our readership. That won't happen today, as this tired storyline lurches forward, jumps backward, veers sideways and ultimately goes nowhere. Here goes:

--Nebraska Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck laid another turd against the Boilermakers and admitted afterward that he was too cute with his play calling. He admitted what NU fans have known and complained about for years -- that his teams have no identity and instead work on countless nuances for even the shittiest opponents. Even as his offensive line appeared to wear down Purdue with power runs, Beck refused to keep at it. Apparently, he learned nothing from this season's Miami game.

Beck kicked off the festivities early, helping fuck up a few early series and turning a 17-0 lead into a 7-0 game. Instead of compiling said fuckups into a cogent collection of thoughts, we'll copy straight from our notes on a drive-by-drive basis:

1st down & goal after starting at the Purdue 15:
-Run for two yards
-Rush to line on second down, gain one yard
-Run with no offensive line push for no gain
-Fumble snap on 4th down. Drive over. No score
-Ameer Abdullah injured.

1st down at Purdue 31
-Long bomb with wind. Overthrow. Obvious that throwing deep would be tough for the day.
-2nd & 10. Run. No blocking. Short gain
-3rd & 7. Dropped WR screen. (Somewhere around the 20th drop of the year)
-Missed FG (Potential 17-0 lead stuck at 7-0 and guess what....it's a game!)

1st down at NU 40
-Pushed back to NU 30 with senseless holding penalty on punt return
-Abdullah gets no blocks on sweep and falls to the turf. Leaves game for good.
-2nd & 15. Four-yard pass route to one wide receiver with a second receiver within a couple yards.
-3rd & 10. Incompletion to narrow window near sideline between cornerback & safety, as Kenny Bell alligator-armed his catch attempt due to potential contact by defender. He has an Afro and a lion tattoo, though, so it's all good.

1st down at NU 39
-Imani Cross two-yard gain. Looks to be running in mud.
-Awful pass attempt with Trey Foster and Bell within two yards of each other on routes
-3rd & 8. Missed pass attempt as receiver ran deep and Armstrong expected short route.

Those are the wasted drives from the first half. We'll address the second half later. We could rail on about Beck for hours, but will take a short hiatus as we share some other thoughts. We categorized them for your ease of reading:

The Good

Two blocked punts: That's more in one game than NU has had in the last decade. DeMornay Pierson-El (or, if you're Ed Cuntingham, DeMornay El) even ran another punt back to the the 15. Nebraska capitalized for a grand total of seven points on the two blocks and El's return. We're just glad that NU went out of its way to get Pierson-El three touches on offense. When your best player gets hurt, find ways to not get the ball to your second most dynamic player -- or so the old saying goes.

Nate Gerry: He can run, hit, tackle, cover receivers and actually make a break on thrown passes. Nebraska should recruit more defensive players like him.

Corey Cooper: Had a tackle for loss AND a pass break up! And no embarrassing whiffs! A banner day for Cooper -- we just hope he wasn't sandbagging and storing up his misses for November 15 as he chases Melvin Gordon.

Cuntingham: Only forced us to listen to two five-minute lectures on tackling safety and concussion-testing protocol, instead of his normal three-hour diatribe.

 Mike Patrick: Proclaimed any of the top four teams in the SEC West would win any other conference in the land, prompting Cuntingham to laugh and say "Yeah, maybe Conference USA", prompting Patrick to restate his embarrassing claim with more confidence the second time.  Likely the only worthwhile exchange we heard from the duo the entire season.

Georgia: Somehow rated in the top five to start this season after losing to NU in a bowl game, the Bulldogs got throttled by a shitty Florida team. We received text messages asking how UGA would react to its demotion from 11th to 14th in the upcoming Top 25 rankings.

Private Bo Pinelli: Was composed and honest about NU's sloppy play during both his halftime and postgame interviews. We admire that personal growth and the fact that he can recognize and admit to his team's shortcomings. We would now like for him to do something about fixing them and gaining control of his offensive coordinator's disheveled strategies.

Blackskirts: Maybe Purdue is just that bad, but we saw NU's defense do things it hadn't done in 17 years. Defend the wide receiver screen. Defend the running back screen. Cover running backs in the flat after play fakes. Stay close to receivers downfield and play the ball. Limit the opponent to 340 yards on 78 plays -- 4.4 yards per play -- while getting no help from its offense. We'll take it, regardless of how bad the opponent it.

The Bad

Randy Gregory: Had four tackles and three QB hurries but was largely MIA.

Abdullah injury: This is really bad. NU thought it had something by recruiting its third straight back that can somehow still gain yardage despite getting no blocks. Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead were the first two. When Abdullah went down, so did Nebraska's hopes of being a legitimate offense. If he's not 100% by the Wisconsin game, chalk up a minimum of three lossess for the season.

Cross and Terrell Newby did a decent job of replacing the "Heisman candidate" (who, by the way, has no chance because he  was third in his own conference in rushing yards entering Saturday's game.), but those two backs require holes to run through and can't reverse field or cut back 45 degrees at will like Abdullah. Going to be hard times in Lincoln in upcoming weeks.

The dropoff was immediate and drastic. NU gained just 297 yards for the game, even after spending most of the first half in Purdue territory.

The Worse

Center-Quarterback exchange: For a second straight week, it was a fucking disaster. Even when Armstrong went under center after the shotgun SNAFUs continued, he fumbled. Shades of Michigan State in 2013.

Ball security: Three fumbles, one lost. Two interceptions thrown. Lost the turnover margin 3:2. At home. To Purdue. Taylor Martinez loved the performance.

Yardage: Outgained 340 to 297. At home. To Purdue

Beck: Reverted to his well-known big-game panic form and continued to force passes as his team's lead dwindled in the fourth quarter, (We all remember Taylor Martinez passing down after down after down with NU trailing by two scores at Wisconsin, turning a run-of-the-mill road loss into an epic bottle blasting). This may have been worse. Nebraska, despite playing poorly and being without its best player, had a 28-7 lead. Time to run the fucking ball, get the FUCK outta Dodge and hope to regroup during its off week.

Beck, instead, bucked any semblance of common sense and blessed us with the following fourth quarter leadership (still leading 28-7, mind you, at the start of this comedy of errors). He asked his run-first quarterback, who was obviously not at his best and was obviously affected by the wind, to keep throwing downfield. Play. After play. After play. For absolutely no reason.

Here is a random sampling of some of Beck's offensive fourth-quarter mastery:

3rd & 8. 30 mph wind at back. 12 minutes remaining.
-Instead of playing percentages, goes with five wide, receiver drops ball and stops clock.
-40 yard punt. 23 yard return that could have been longer if Purdue returner hadn't blown ACL.
-Purdue scores, cuts NU lead to 28-14

1st & 10 on next possession. NU starts at own 40 yard line with 10:10 remaining
-Armstrong three-yard run
-2nd & 7. Another pass on a deep slant route. Interception.
-Possession takes 38 total seconds
-Purdue goes four and out on next possession but still ran twice as much clock as NU did its preceding possession.

Two drives later, starting at the Purdue 20 yard line:
-Botched snap, three yard loss.
-15-yard penalty on the NU sideline (Private Pinelli reporting for duty)
-Two yard run
-Forced pass to the sideline for another near interception which would have been returned for TD.
-Beck apparently attempting to terminate his employment on the spot.

In case you're counting, that's seven drives that Beck butchered throughout the game. NU had 15 total possessions. For you math wizards, that's pissing away 47 percent of your offensive opportunities. For anyone looking to gain fewer yards, at home, than Purdue -- this is a good place to start.

Cuntingham was incredulous as he watched this insanity unfold. We, for once, could not disagree with him. If ever there was a time for Beck to play it close to the vest, this was it. Still, he could not make himself do it. For $800,000 a year, he could not use an ounce of common sense. He admitted so after the game. He admitted what every casual football fan from Pawnee City to Gering has known for a long time. That in itself is mortifying.

That's one reason that the trip to Madison in two weeks won't be a pleasant one. A team that can't outgain Purdue, at home, won't win at Wisconsin. Especially with a horrible offensive coordinator. A bad line. A shaky quarterback who's continually asked to be Tom Brady when he's just Tommy Armstrong. A leaky defense.

Add that to the fact that the Badgers are hitting their stride. Gordon is a stud. Madison fans are drunk. Nebraska coaches and players can't handle big crowds or pressure. It all sets up for a classic bottle blasting. The good news is that the game still may kick at 11am, so at least it won't be in prime time for all the world to see.

So, enjoy that NU has gained its highest ranking in several years, because it won't last for long. A second-tier bowl and nine months of self-loathing await. Nothing has changed. And unless Pinelli makes a change at the top of his offense, it's the unfortunate long-term reality.

Win at Wisconsin, you say? LOL.

PYB

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Odelay

The biggest news out of the Nebraska football camp this week was that everyone thought that Taylor Martinez was a sniveling cunt in his four years at Nebraska, and they're glad he's gone. They're much happier to be playing for a flawed-but-tough Tommy Armstrong. That is the most meaningful story from last week in Lincoln and includes the 42-24 win over Rutgers Saturday.

In short, there's no true news to report. Another hit-and-miss win against a mediocre team. NU plays another scrub team this week -- Purdue. At least it's not at 11am, and no crab grass in sight. We've got some quotes from Tim, and he can tank all night. As an aside, NU gave out 16 Blackshirts even though it has about five good players. 16 - 5 = 11.

Anyhow, we put a few notes on paper after watching the game on DVR. A game vs. Rutgers lost out to a round of golf on a Top 25 course. For now, we'll wait until Nebraska plays an average Wisconsin team in Madison to see if it has made any true progress.

On with the show:

Tim Beck: Just doesn't get it. He doesn't understand.  Why? Why? Why? This excerpt from the Omaha World Herald tells you why:

Beck: “No. You think every time we hand him the ball, he’s gonna run for 50? What if he runs for 2? Should they get frustrated, too, ’cause he didn’t run for 50? Is that the line’s fault then? Or is it his? Did he miss it? Or is it a bad play call because we should’ve ran the other way?

Nobody is saying Ameer Abdullah will score every time he touches that ball or that every run play should involve him. What they are saying is that after scoring easily on two long runs is that the next two drives should not be sacrificed in the name of the downfield pass. Use the tight end over the middle of the field. Use Imani Cross and Terrell Newby, who had 15 total carries, more. Get DeMornay Pierson-El a touch or two instead of zero. Keep moving forward. This team is not good enough to move without purpose and waste a full series (or two).

Drew Brown: Missed another routing field goal. Moving deep into the season, that's a glaring concern.

David Santos: PYB didn't watch the game live, but read tweets and texts saying how awful Santos was. Well, watching the game afterward and looking for it, it's obvious the kid is hurt and probably shouldn't be on the field.

Jake Cotton and Alex Lewis: Annoying penalty machines -- still.

Shotgun Snaps: Became a problem out of nowhere Saturday, as Mark Pelini decided to rocket the ball sideways for a while. Pelinis keep Nebraska fine. In an interesting side note, Nebraska has scored a touchdown on nine of its last 11 drives with Ryne Reeves at center.

Kenny Bell: Despite our intermittent criticism of Bell's post-drop injuries, we have to give her credit for continued outstanding effort while blocking downfield. Congratulations as well on the all-time receptions record. Niles Paul would have had it if his hands were bigger.

AP Ranking: Despite winning handily Saturday, Nebraska dropped from 16 to 17. Of course, pollsters had to make way for LSU to jump eight spots as a reward for scoring 10 points (at home) on a Mississippi team that made multiple critical strategy errors at the end of the game, including forgoing a chance to kick a tying field goal so they could instead throw an interception. PYB won't complain about that Pelini-esque boner, as it likely saved us thousands of dollars.

By the Numbers: We decided to take a look at the Big 14 football statistics this week, just in case some of our readers thought our posts too subjective. Things that caught our eye:


  • Nebraska is pretty good in all offensive categories, while pretty mediocre (against a bad schedule) in all defensive categories except pass efficiency defense. Apparently, not having many good linebackers or defensive backs will do that to a team.
  • NU is 11th of 14 teams in kickoff returns. Is having Abdullah on the unit still worth it?
  • The Blackskirts are tied for eighth in sacks. Not enough pressure on the quarterback. They'll need extreme pressure to win at both Wisconsin and Iowa. Can Private Pinelli dial up something special for those games? Holding our breath....kind of....
  • NU is 13th in penalty yards per game and still has a penchant for the wrong penalty at the wrong time. 
  • Sixth in turnover margin. Better than dead-fucking-last, we always say.
  • Abdullah is third in rushing yards per game by a large margin, but has the most carries.
  • Armstrong is second in total offense.


That'll do it for now. We'll go through the motions for another week along with the players and fans against a game-but-terrible Boilermaker team. We'll tune in and hope to avoid embarrassment in three weeks as Wisconsin dusts off its "Hits of the Very Early 1990s" CD and decides to Jump Around in Madison. Nebraska will enter that game after being idle on November 8, and hopefully, its coaches will use that as an opportunity to develop a strategy.

Certainly, if NU is paying its "defensive genius" coach $3 million a year, he'll have something brewing by November 15. Right? Right? Seven years in, and nobody can be sure.

Enjoy your week, and How 'Bout Them Cowboys?

PYB

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bill of Fair

Nebraska went into Ryan Field Saturday night and leaked oil the entire first half against a decidedly mediocre Northwestern Wildcat team. The Cornhuskers did what Bo Pinelli teams do for at least part of every football game. Nebraska made some rare mid-game adjustments and dominated the second half in a come-from-behind 38-17 victory.

That's not something Pinelli teams always do. So, regardless that the game was a slightly above average performance, and that NU wore its faggoty all-white uniforms, it's a win. Move on. Next crappy opponent Saturday at 11am. At least it won't be played on crab grass. As far as analysis, here's ours:

--Tommy Armstrong: Far from perfect. Can't hit a screen pass to save his ass. Misses wide-open receivers when not reading all five routes every pass play. Still accounted for 281 yards in a road game and racked up another win to run his record to 13-3 as a starter by our unofficial count. (Anyone else remember Taylor Martinez starting and losing at Minnesota last year after Armstrong began his career 3-0? We're fine).

On a macro level, Armstrong is completing 53.5 percent of his passes this season. A shocking statistic Saturday showed his receivers has dropped 17 passes this year. Add nine of those 17 as catches and he's at 58 percent. Add all 17, and it's 63%. Ten touchdowns. Five interceptions. 6-1.

Proof that the QB doesn't have to do it all and can rack up wins by taking opportunities as they come and not laying it on the ground 47 times a season. PYB asks a simple question when gauging whether NU has made progress over its previous starter at the QB position: Are we embarrassed to watch NU play offense because its leader lacks any semblance of fundamentals and looks like a pussy? The answer to that question is no, so the answer to the first question is a resounding YES.

--Ameer Abdullah: Emerged from his six-quarter 'slump' to prove that if he has a line that doesn't constantly blow assignments and kill drives with boneheaded penalties that he's a stud and will rush for well over 100 yards.

--Kenny Bell: Five catches for 89 yards. Four drops in the first half alone. The positive here is that he didn't fake any injuries after said drops. PYB would love to see him on the field the rest of the way, using his game-breaking skills and not writhing on the ground in FIFA-style pain or begging for a pass interference call.

--DeMornay Pierson-El: From day one, a natural football player with the 'it' factor. His raw talent showed first on punt returns. On Saturday, he showcased his receiving and running skills along with his passing touch. Despite getting little opportunity in the return game, he completely altered Northwestern's punt game for the worse -- and to Nebraska's advantage. Who knew special teams could be so important when playing at an opponent's stadium?

--Offensive Line: The backups came in and revolutionized the run game, allegedly. Either way, NU ran the ball well for the first time since the Illinois game. If true, it took the coaches seven games to find out their backups are better than their starters. Something doesn't add up. We'll go more in depth on the tape this week.

That said, Jake Cotton ruined the opening drive by failing to line up on the line because he had to pull his fat ass on the play, turning a 2nd and 2 into 1st & 15 and forcing an eventual punt. Not to be denied, he ruined another first-half drive that started at the Northwestern 43 by negating a long first-down run by Abdullah. Cotton Era ... tick, tick, tick...

--Special Teams: Drew Brown missed a 39-yard field goal after one of Bell's drops and kept the score 7-0 Northwestern. NU botched four consecutive squib kicks. The kick return unit should have adapted to the strategy after the first time. Apparently, all the concentration on punt returns this season has come at the expense of other special team units.

--Tim Beck: Stayed out of his way, for the most part, in Evanston and helped NU get what it needs more consistently against sportingly terrible road opponents (aka Northwestern). Establish the run game. Achieve a 60-40 run-pass split. Avoid turnovers. Mix playmakers into the pass game at opportune moments. Win the game -- in boring fashion if necessary. Leave town.

Outside of three-pass-and-out series at midfield in a tie game late in the first half, there were generally fewer Tim Beck "What the Fuck?" moments. Commendable progress.

--Andy Janovich: Looked great on a couple lead blocks on Abdullah touchdowns. Looked the same to PYB's un-Ohio-trained eye two years ago as a freshman. Heard absolutely nothing from him last year. Speaks volumes for the programs consistent model of inconsistency.

--Terrell Newby: Looked spry in his four carries and 23 yards. PYB wishes he got more opportunities, but it's clear he's the second running back after Abdullah -- if we ignore the sympathy carries Imani Cross gets during mop-up duty.

--Trevor Roach: Benched at the end of the first half for missing three tackles on one drive (which followed his QB sack at the 8:07 mark of the second quarter). Replaced by Josh Banderas who missed no tackles the rest of that drive because he didn't get close enough to any of the plays to miss a tackle. That said, two of Roach's misses were against Justin Jackson, who looked pretty darn good and who NU didn't offer a scholarship to after his visit to Lincoln. Private Pinelli mentioned that missing tackles is unacceptable in his post-halftime interview. It's been happening for five seasons. This all makes perfect sense.

--Corey Cooper: Seems to have a solid work ethic and be a team guy, so we'll take it as easy as possible on him. But, his play has been awful -- if you count a minimum of three embarrassing misses per game as awful. Cooper's knee slide into end zone on a missed touchdown opportunity may have been the worst play of many in his career, as he looked like a figure skater finishing her long program with a flourish. Is it safe to say anyone incapable of not being embarrassed by Big 14 offenses is not a legitimate FBS defender?

--Nate Gerry: Huge, momentum-swinging interception in his own end zone on a shitty pass into triple coverage after a shittier personal foul penalty that had the Wildcats a the middle of the field with a 7-0 lead. PYB has liked his play this year, and his whiteness should have racist Nebraska fans crowing with joy for two more seasons.

--Defensive Backs: Annoyingly soft and inconsistent in pass coverage. Few pass breakups. Many near misses. Enough blown or slipped tackles to still drive fans crazy as offensive players gain an extra three to seven yards time and again. Plenty of reasons to make us believe any game against a decent team is capable of getting out of hand at any time.

--Randy Gregory: Still waiting for him to have a breakout game. He's been the target of opposing offenses, so that's surely contributed to his lack of big numbers. That said, his penchant for letting personal confrontations with the opponent take precedence over the game at hand is concerning. So are the nickel-dime injuries that seem to crop up at some point every week -- in a Jadeveon Clowney When-is-the-NFL-Draft-Again? kind of way...

--Defensive tackles: This group seems ready to bust out, and PYB wishes coaches were better at mixing pressure from the back seven defenders. This week was Kevin Williams' turn to shine, and the group's depth and progress make us wish that NU had been able to keep Aaron Curry in Lincoln. There's something about muscular, mobile defensive linemen that we like. Either way, we take away the fact that several new faces have shown up at big moments as a positive.

--Chris Weber: Showed up in the box score for Nebraska. Over/under before a local reporter makes a misplaced, roll-your-eyes comparison to Chris Webber -- the one who played at Michigan/in the NBA/ranted on reporters who were asking him about fucking Tyra Banks by bragging about not having any bastard kids? Two weeks?

--Ryan Field: Piece of shit. Did they water it before the game to make sure the footing was impossible and the game stayed at a Big 14 speed level? Another televised embarrassment for this embarrassment of a conference.

On that note, we'll fade into bolivian, but not before saying that any road win in this college football day and age is a relatively good one. Even if it's in the least talent-laden major conference in the game and the performance had more sores than a truckstop skank.

Keep in mind the nation's top five teams includes a team known mostly for cowbells and three-win seasons, one known for racism and Archie Manning going there 50 years ago and two more teams from the same conference that lost to the first two teams mentioned in this sentence. If you don't believe college football is watered down, you're lost.

And if you don't know that ESPN is preparing the menu and setting the table for what it wants you to eat, you're delusional. Take the fact that the nation's 6th-ranked team is one that lost at home to the 15th-rated team that lost to a two-loss USC team at home as proof of that.

Still, rack up the W and enjoy the next serving of mediocrity Saturday against Rutgers. It's what's for dinner.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

TCoB

Nebraska plays at Northwestern today (in football), and PYB awakes early to provide a quick preview and skirt the possibility of providing two posts in one week. Exciting territory, indeed. We'll skip the mundane and spare you from the trite entries about a "Sea of Red" taking the 8:15 into the "Windy City" and enjoying "Chicago Style Dogs" and "Deep Dish Pizza." It's "Their Kinda Town", you'll hear...

Instead, we'll wait to see if Private E-1 Bo Pinelli's crew can go on the road against a less-talented, but dangerous, crappy team and get a win. We'll wait to see if NU can wade through the six inches of crabgrass at Ryan field and keeps its lofty goals of a Big 14 division title intact. We'll find out if Pinelli's troops can earn him a promotion to Private E-2, or if he'll again be outdueled by Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald or if Fitzgerald will hand another game to the Cornhuskers by not being a good coach. In the meantime:

--Corey Cooper, unbeknownst to us and to anyone who's watched him play football this season, is apparently coming into his own in his final season as a Husker. If looking completely overmatched and foolish several times a game means a defensive back is coming of age, we concur. Fluff pieces such as this one by the Omaha World-Herald do nobody any good. We can only hope that Cooper doesn't re-enact his two-hand touch moment from two Northwestern games ago.

--NU Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck finally broke his silence, speaking to the media this week and blaming the players for Nebraska's loss at Michigan State. Of course!! A true leader of men. Sure, his crew made countless errors. We're pretty sure, however, that those players didn't convince him to not develop a backup plan should Michigan State's highly-ranked defense have the foresight to develop a strategy to slow down Nebraska's best player, Ameer Abdullah.

Blame it not on the rain, said Beck, blame it on his unit's hesitancy (Which was most likely borne from another inane 'gameplan'). Blame it on the coordinator not rotating his offensive linemen enough, as he 'got caught up' calling bad plays to develop a good front-five rotation. Best to spread a bevy of junior-high mistakes across eight players as opposed to five, we always say.

--Apparently, BTN is debuting its Brook Berringer tribute tonight after the NU vs. NU game. Here's Sam McKewon's preview. What we'll always remember about Berringer are covering his death for the NU College of Journalism newspaper the night he died. We'll remember Berringer blowing us off for an interview before the 1995 season, following a Saturday morning scrimmage where he'd likely just lost the starting job to Tommie Frazier.

We'll remember finally getting that interview the next week after a mid-week practice, only to be taken aside by Lawrence Phillips so he could ask if we were with the Daily Nebraskan, the campus newspaper he despised after it ran an unflattering cartoon implicating his Ford Mustang was obtained improperly. Didn't Phillips know he could have just borrowed a car with equal-or-better features from any fat girl from rural Nebraska? Anyway, we survived that encounter, although some of you may wish we hadn't.

That's all we have for now, we'll skip College Gameday and three hours of ESPN propaganda and Jameis Winston rape talk. Obviously, the kid is learning to be a man. His offenses are getting less serious each time: from sexual assault, to theft, to just a minor NCAA infraction for signing some autographs. Clearly, he's maturing.

For now, we'll step aside and wait to see how another 'big' test plays out. We've had a full day already. We've thought about Pinelli. We've thought about the Army. We've thought about Nebraska "Taking Care of Business" on the road. Someone, please tell us we're fucking high....

Until tomorrow......PYB