Tuesday, November 10, 2015

.500 or Bust

In another Rugged Big 14 classic Saturday night, Nebraska beat Michigan State by a single point and rekindled its Pinstripe Bowl hopes. It was the stuff special, 6-6 , seasons are made of and is what helps make the conference the worst by far of the Power Five.

That said, Nebraska Football Coach Mike Riley now has more "Signature Wins" after nine games than his predecessor, Private Bo Pinelli, had in seven seasons in Lincoln. It was NU's first win over a rated team since 2011. That's four fucking years. That's pathetic.

We'll get to to our usual nitpicks soon enough (you're not really satisfied with 4-6, are you?). For now, we'll call it what it was. A great win. Not in form. Not in function. In the result alone. Things could be worse. NU could be 3-7. You could be an NFL fan with Blaine Gabbert as your new starting quarterback. You could be Lebron James, who just willingly sported a Hitler / Michael Jordan mustache. You could be the Washington Nationals, who just brought in Dusty Baker to manage a stable of young arms.

So, regardless of the botched non-call by another overmatched Big Ten officiating crew. A crew led by that Frankenstein-looking motherfucker who's usually signalling unfavorable calls against the Cornhuskers. For one night, at least, luck was with Nebraska.

They're taking the win. They're running with it. Just like a 20-year-old, drunk and stumbling out of a college dive bar
at 2 a.m. with a skank -- one that he'll surely be fucking and will surely hope to never see again. She wasn't pretty. But she had big tits.

Let's get to it:

--Nebraska made early headway by using -- GASP!! -- the power running game! Imani Cross ran for 98 yards on 18 carries. (almost 5.5 yards per carry) Andy Janovich got double the carries he did against Purdue -- 4. He averages more than 7 a pop. After nine games, Janovich looks like Nebraska's best back by a wide margin. Power. Moves. Toughness. Elusiveness. Somebody please provide a valid reason why he does not touch the ball more.

--Given the fact that the power game was working, can anyone explain why neither Cross or Janovich touched the ball inside the five yard line on two separate second-half possessions? The first resulted in an awful Tommy Armstrong interception. The second milked 40 extra seconds off the clock late in the fourth quarter and forced NU to burn its first timeout.

Considering there were just two minutes left in the game, a pretty big deal. If only NU had been so successful at running clock a few weeks ago in Champaign. Ill. To make sure the horse is completely beaten to death, PYB will once again ponder aloud how coaches making millions of dollars can continually butcher such elementary skills.

--Speaking of elementary, going for two points with 13 minutes remaining and trailing 31-26 was a horrifically bad move. Believe it or not, all scores within a game are interrelated and can impact the outcome of the game. Had NU kicked the extra point, it would have had 27 points. Then, when scoring another touchdown, that would have made 34. Then, following their last touchdown, they would have had 41 points. ABC's Brian Griese stammered in amazement at Riley's rookie move.

Remembering that NU has a shitty fucking defense and that Michigan State nearly got into scoring position (had the Poor Man's Kirk Cousins not shit the bed) in just 17 seconds, a field goal would have only tied the game. It would have prevented another Husker loss for at least a couple overtime possessions.

--PYB would also like to ask why Nebraska's special teams guru elected to squib the final kickoff and relinquish position near midfield? Drew Brown had booted every kick going that direction through the end zone. We never played college football, but we've always been under the impression that it is better to have an opponent start from its own 25 with 17 seconds to go 50 yards than it is to start from midfield and have 17 seconds to go 30 yards. Maybe we're all wet. Anyway, it's the little things that kill. Play calling. Clock management. Fundamentals. No biggie.

--Mixing in some positive notes. It was a good fucking thing that Michigan State's secondary was nearly as bad as Nebraska's. Joe Ganz called it in his radio segment Friday. Said #44 for MSU was so bad that Jordan Westerkamp should get 200 yards receiving. Had he not gotten hurt four different times, it likely would have happened.

--It was also a good fucking thing that Connor Cook (is there a bigger pussy name than Connor?) apparently thought he was playing a big game and sucked in the first quarter. Nine yards. PYB also liked it when Mark Dantonio pulled a red-hot (translation: realized NU's defense was brutal) Cook in favor of the running quarterback.  Al Golden loved the move.

--It was a good thing that the Spartans wasted 34 running attempts while gaining just 143 yards. Considering they were passing at will and could have won by three touchdowns given NU's inconsistent coaching and playing, it was a pathetic move.

--The last and best good thing was when Michigan State dropped the game-losing interception that Armstrong tried to throw on the final drive. Had they held on, it would have been another disastrous result of his Hero Ball mentality. Enough is enough, and as a third-year starter, the continued bullshit errors and forced passes need to stop.

--Nate Gerry recorded a team-high 14 tackles, masking the fact that he was once again awful in the secondary. His coverage gaffes gave up at least two touchdowns. What, outside of point shaving, could explain his precipitous fall from pretty good to horrible? Point shaving sound extreme? Watch this video. A brutal 7.5 minutes, indeed.

--PYB chuckles at the Twitterers who continue to whine about Nebraska not pressuring any opposing quarterback. Let's remember, pressure usually comes defensive ends. After Randy Gregory left the program for better weed and the NFL, the NU administration booted the only decent player remaining at the position - the crank-shotting Avery Moss (remember, they fucked him around for more than a year before cutting ties). The ends garnering almost all the playing time currently are known best for having a stupid fucking mustache and for killing a raccoon. Good luck with that.

The only other way to pressure a quarterback consistently is via the blitz. Considering the secondary can't cover anyone and that there is a speed deficit combined with poor timing on said blitzes, it's a dangerous cocktail.

PYB, can't you just enjoy the victory? Why are you so negative? Yeah, we enjoyed it and were likely jumping around like every other washed-up, 40-year-old Nebraska fan in the country during the comeback. We were happy.

But overlooking the litany of problems and inefficiencies will do Nebraska no good, if it really hopes to be great once again. Admitting even the smallest weakness and fixing it is the only way to excellence. Being OK with being mediocre ensures two things: more mediocrity and a shitload of blog fodder for fools like us.

Expect to be great, dear readers. Or expect more losses than wins.

On to New Jersey, where the Big 14 brought in Rutgers to capture that New York City market. Surely, New Yorkers will stop everything they're doing Saturday to watch this game.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Let It Go

PYB was suprised Saturday. Not surprised that Nebraska found new ways to lose to another awful team. But surprised that NU fans and media were surprised that it happened and surprised that they all clamored about being shocked and dismayed by this 'new low.' Anyone who didn't see this coming had their head in the clouds the last 10 years. All we saw was the Purdue money line and a big fat +280.

Starting a quarterback who had looked overwhelmed in very limited mop-up duty that past two seasons. What could possibly go wrong?? NU's 'better passing quarterback' had thrown for 1921 yards in just 12 games as a senior at Grand Island High. Won't miss a beat, they said, when in reality it's a formula for having a team hang half-a-hundred on you while winning their first Big 14 game since 2012.

Let's work down our list of arbitrary observations, as any evaluation about what the Nebraska football program is or what it wants to be is a waste of time that could be spent reading the emergency evacuation instruction card on our current flight to Phoenix.

On with the show, that is hopefully better than the ESPN broadcast that features countless examples of missed camera work and even more mispronunciations. Hell, even Anna from Frozen got no love:

--Purdue was bad. Probably the worst team PYB has seen Nebraska succumb to in the last 30+ years. Slow. Unathletic. Poorly coached. BUT, they did hang close to Michigan State. They had to smell a turd in the water, knowing Nebraska was circling the toilet bowl long before Ryker Fyfe was named the starter in place of the injured Tommy Armstrong. Even the worst teams can get up for one game. When that game is against another bad team, with no talent, leadership, pride or direction -- the only thing left is another embarrassing L and a set of brown streaks on the white porcelain.

--Injuries: Why so many? Are the players just pussies? Is it bad luck? That would seemingly be the only explanation when the team's one playmaker blows his knee out simply jogging behind a teammate who just scored a touchdown. Is it a result of the horrendous 'strength and conditioning' program under Bo Pinelli -- Slower, Fatter, Weaker? (Editor's Reminder: The last S&C coach "didn't believe in 40 yard dash times." Is it bodies breaking because they were soft and now required to train like real athletes? PYB's conclusion: Who the fuck knows?

--Darrell Hazell is a shitty fucking coach and should be fired. He was inept, in an Al Golden type of way. Going for it on fourth downs instead of punting. Passing for two straight drives with a three-score, fourth-quarter lead and keeping NU in the game. Nice guy or not, he and his Dukes of Hazzard hat bill are
an embarrassment to Division I coaching.

--Speaking of embarrassments, Nate Gerry wins the award as the Huskers' LVP. A player who showed All-Conference promise now blows countless assignments and coverages. Looked his worst against the Boilermakers. Video even showed him elbowing Daniel Davie off coverage of a Purdue receiver. Conpsiracy, Twitter nerds asked? PYB doubts any member of the Blackskirts defense is talented enough or smart enough to execute such a premeditated act. Another awful play? Damn right.

--Davie: Outright disaster. Guy couldn't stay within seven yards of a South Alabama wide receiver, so Mark Banker rolls him out Saturday during conference play. Strong. The worst starting cornerback PYB has seen at Nebraska, and that includes Erwin Swiney.

--Fyfe: Racist Nebraska fans got their wish Saturday, when the White walkon got his first start. They saw the result, which as all too predictable for anyone who's watched sports for more than three weeks. Division II players make Division III plays in Division I games. The botched recovery of the botched shotgun snap was proof of that. Panic at the Disco, it was.

If Fyfe's sidearm delivery resulted in four interceptions against one of the nation's worst defenses, we shudder when imagining the carnage on Saturday against MSU's Spartans. At least the whole nation will get to witness it in this weeks' prime time kickoff.

--Danny Langsdorf: Or if you work 11am games for ESPN9, Danny Langsford. One would think that an offensive coordinator, knowing he's got a more-subpar-than-usual quarterback, would tighten things up a bit. Throw fewer than 40 times. Work a little power running game. YES, we know the offensive line sucks. But, we also know that Andy Janovich has looked like NU's best back this season and has gotten two carries in each of the last two weeks.

We know that running twice and having a manageable 3rd-and-medium (hell, we'd take a 3rd & 8 most drives if the clock was running) is better than risking 40+ passes with a bad quarterback. We know that shortening the game and not giving away frivolous scores to a bad team keeps the score close. We know that bad teams (like Purdue....and Nebraska) choke in pressure situations when the score is close. NU could eventually back into a win or two with such a strategy. We know that the New York Giants won a Super Bowl or three doing so.

But we think we know, after nine games of this hemorrhoid-inducing ride, that this coaching staff is more concerned with validating their system than they are about winning immediately. There could be no other explanation. PYB says finding a happy medium of new system tweaked around current level of pathetic talent could mean a 5-4 record. Still awful, but not as crippling as 3-6 will likely be for this programs long-term psyche.

For now, we're back to square one and staring down the barrel of a 3-9 season. A state wonders on how much time a staff like this deserves to flounder in a historically bad conference. A million Chicken Littles do their best to place blame at the feet of a chancellor and an athletic director, while local media mainstays throw vague assertions of the same like chum in the water.

The same writers who made no mention of such rifts immediately following the Mike Riley hire now drop weekly dimes of this nature, complete with a twist of I Told You So. In a time when newspapers are going the way of Nebraska football conference championships, this sad story is their golden ticket to relevance. A nasty cycle of domestic violence that, each time, tastes a little more familiar. A little more cold.

Bring it on, one more time. The cold never bothered us anyway.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

So Caught Up, NU

Nebraska football fans are stuck in the past, and the only thing they're more likely to do than reminisce about the 1995 college football national championship team being the best there ever was is to attend a concert by a 1980s band at least 25 years past its prime while posting countless pictures on Facebook and pretending that band is a still a legitimate entity. Def Leppard, Elton John, .38 Special -- take your pick. They're so caught up, on NU, that they keep expecting satisfactory results when the team shows as much potential as Motley Crue does on its most recent, "final" tour.

The latest leg on NU's 2015 Ineptitude Tour was a 30-28 home loss to Northwestern in yesterday's 11am "Pam Ward Game." Making matters worse was the fact the 1995 team members attended the game and were honored at halftime. Tommie Frazier looked unhealthy, and reminded us all the nobody outruns Father Time. Clester Johnson, Tony Veland and Chris Dishman reminded us that Nebraska high schools used to produce Division I football talent. Both linemen and skill players. Both black and white.

Damon Benning wore aviator sunglasses, and pretended to be the ring leader of the group and pretended that he was a factor on that team. Lance Brown did Fireball shots off an ice luge and reminded everyone why he was known for being an idiot more than anything he did on the field. And Terrell Farley made us smile briefly, then cry, because he was fucking awesome. And then gone. And Lincoln has seen nothing like him since.

As for the NU Wildcats, they did little, if anything, to win the game. Nebraska effectively played against the computer -- and still lost. It was a turd of epic proportions, right up there with the eight-turnover, I'm-so-proud-to-be-your-coach Iowa State job. Another for the annals of this 'woe is me' season of so many close losses. Never mind that they've been completely self-inflicted and to teams like Miami that got bottle blasted 58-0, at home, to Clemson yesterday.

NU and Mike Riley likely sealed their fate as bowl outsiders. They did so as a member of the nation's worst "Power Conference" and subjected their fans to 12 more months of self-loathing, turned to spinning by Spring football, turned to Summer delusion. By August 2016, the Cornhuskers will once again be on-paper tigers.

One week after a near-blowout win on the road at Minnesota, Nebraska fell back to Earth by doing nearly everything wrong. Or actually nothing at all. PYB will roll roughshod during today's entry, Dear Diary. If NU can't bother to build a coherent game plan in a full week of practice and can't manage to build an identity in nearly two decades, why should we?

--We should have expected another stale effort in Lincoln Saturday. ESPN began the proceedings with its latest bad installment of College Gameday, this time from the campus of James Madison, as it looks to squeeze a few nickels from the FCS coffers while commercializing and ruining one more tier of college football. Multiple hours of hype and nonsense, ending with game picks from its weekly celebrity (Dierks Bentley - the country singer that went to the University of Vermont), two ESPNers that cannot put two sentences together for different reasons (Lee Corso -- stroke/old age. Desmond Howard -- idiot) and a holier-than-thou Kirk Herbstreit -- a guy who abstains from picking any games which he'll announce later that day while gladly taking blowjobs from campus co-eds who aren't his wife.

--NU Offensive Coordinator Danny Langsdorf has taken a lot of valid criticism this season for his Pull and Pray Offense. When in doubt, go deep. When you finally hit one deep, do it more. PYB has been a regular critic. This type of offense has as much consistency as the Pull and Pray method of birth control, and comes complete with the next-day regrets and unintended, mostly-very-negative consequences.

But Saturday, Langsdorf was given little choice, as the Nebraska offensive line had its worst performance of the season by far. Better said, it was a fucking joke. Zach Sterup whiffed more than Alfonso Soriano in an MLB playoff series. Stop passing, fans said, and run the fucking ball. The numbers tell another story:

By PYB's count, NU had 34 first down plays. NU ran on 19 of those. NU netted 51 yards on those 19 tries. That's 2.68 yards per carry, and average of 2nd & 8. That won't cut it -- not even in the rugged Big 10. Against bad teams. That got blasted in successive weeks by Iowa and then Michigan with Iowa's castoff quarterback.

Do we think Langsdorf could use quarterback Tommy Armstrong's running ability better (anyone else see the option run for a touchdown)? Do we think he could protect Armstrong more, by calling at least a few passes he could actually complete? Do we think Andy Janovich, who's averaged seven yards a carry this season, should get more than two afterthought carries? Do we think 48 passing attempts is too many, whatever the circumstance? Do we think the Hero Ball mentality does more harm than good, where one long, lucky pass completion often breeds 10 more bad throws? The answer is Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes.

But, the cupboard is bare. On the offensive line. At running back. At receiver, where the star (Jordan Westerkamp) is a number-two receiver who's surrounded by a bunch of number-threes. As a group, they had at least five drops yesterday, including two potential touchdowns and at least 75 yards in unrealized yardage. At quarterback, where the staff ignores Armstrong's limitations. And he continues to make too many errors, use poor mechanics, take too many risks and underthrow every deep ball by a several yards. Could he be an effective college quarterback, with the proper management? We say absolutely, but two-thirds of the way through his college career, it appears we'll never know.

Another disheartening note was Riley's game mismanagement. His use of a timeout before Northwestern's 3rd and 3 late in the fourth quarter rendered his last two timeouts useless once his Blackskirt defense relinquished a first down. Eight games into his Nebraska career, his amateurish grasp of the clock and wind has been bad enough to make Frank Solich blush.

PYB received some requests to cover certain topics this week, mostly due to our laziness following the Minnesota game, and because we asked for ideas since we have little to say that hasn't been said 100 times.

Terrell Newby: He's the Anti-Abdullah. Doesn't fumble. No vision. No jukes. No running through tackles. No yards after contact. No cutbacks. Needs blocking to gain yardage. Could be a nice third-down option in an offense with a quarterback capable of throwing screen passes. As it stands, he's Exhibit A as to just how shallow NU's talent pool is. (Side note: Has anyone seen how bad the Detroit Lions offensive line is? Abdullah spends more time running for his life than he did in Lincoln).

Alonzo Moore: Has made some athletic plays on jump balls. As for his potential as a legitimate wide receiver, we won't know until he has a quarterback who can lead his targets on deep balls and consistently hit them coming out of breaks. Looks like a long strider who would only excel with a pure passer at the helm. For now, it appears we'll get glimpses of his alleged talent followed by games like Northwestern where he's not a factor. One catch, seven yards. As for his utility as a weapon on the jet sweep -- scrap it. Doesn't work. Not shifty enough.

Jordan Stevenson: Not  much commentary is needed here. His performance speaks for itself. One would think he'd have broken one for more than 20 yards by now by accident. Not so. Can he play running back? Can Devine Ozigbo? If none of these guys can steal reps from Newby -- what does that say?

So, maybe the 1995 team members stood horrified on the sidelines, wondering how in the world Solich tazed the program into a 18-year-and-running stupor. Maybe they exhaled, relieved they never had to be part of a such a disaster.

Whatever and however it happened, it's reality. And looking back to the glamour era won't help anything. It will only ensure more morning kickoffs on ESPNU. More embarrassing losses. And more depressing winters in Lincoln, where the only glimmer of hope comes on days when a washed-up rock band rolls into town to extract a few more dollars from fans still holding on to memories of better times.

Holding on, loosely....


Sunday, October 11, 2015

One for the Thumb?

PYB never played college football. But, while watching Nebraska gift another win to another awful Big Ten (redundant) opponent, here are some things that may help turn two-point losses to bad teams into wins against bad teams.


 Use them. Or in Nebraska's case -- use him.

-DeMornay Pierson-El made one mistake on his first play after returning from injury. He's been banned from punt returns ever since, in favor of Jordan Westerkamp's Panico Method. Nebraska's pedestrian offense and poor passing game are known entities. The team needs some scoring punch. So, coaches are comfortable letting Tommy Armstrong underthrow ball after ball after ball downfield and into the wind at a Gabbertian clip of four yards an attempt, but aren't comfortable giving DPE a chance at redemption after scoring three times in 2014?

Westerkamp has averaged 12.2 yards in four attempts, a nice fill-in job when not fair catching. DPE averaged 17 yards a return in 2014, with a long of 86. Most importantly, he had the knack for making the first man miss and turning a fair catch or no gain into a gain of five to 15 yards. Precious real estate indeed, when your offense is garbage. Mike Riley is turning 'catch-the-ball-kind-of-games' into lose-the-game-kind-of-games.

Offensive Identity

-Find one. Run the ball and minimize mistakes, instead of passing 28 times in swirling winds, against a mediocre team, with an inconsistent quarterback who completed 10 of 31 passes a week prior in swirling winds against a bad team. Rocket surgery, apparently.

Nebraska ran the ball 37 times Saturday for 196 yards. Hardly oustanding numbers, but still more than five yards a carry -- as it has been all season.

Running Back Rotation

Use common sense.

Use your best runners the most. Shorten games. Keep the nation's worst pass defense off the field as much as possible.

Andy Janovich has proven to be Nebraska's best back this year, but got three carries Saturday. Two afterthoughts and then a 56-yard touchdown on which he broke away from the pack. He looks like Nebraska's fastest in-game back, yet still can't get consistent touches. Had 30 yards on six carries on what should have been the game-winning drive against Illinois, but can't get the ball on first or second down on NU's final possession yesterday. OK. What. The. Fuck. Ever.

Terrell Newby is mediocre. His 3.9 yards per carry yesterday sums up his ability as a back perfectly. Good at ball security, and nothing else. Limited vision. Indecisive. Too small and/or weak to break contact and turn three-yard gains into seven-yard gains.

Imani Cross has made some nice power runs this year. Deserves five carries a game. Trucked a Wisconsin defender, to the delight of the Nebraska fans. Should not have carried the ball on first and second downs on Nebraska's game-losing drive.

Devine Ozigbo showed promise in his first significant action against Illinois. Got three carries yesterday. Apparently, NU Head Coach Mike Riley has adopted Private Bo Pinelli's Permanent One-Game Starter system.

Jordan Stevenson burned his redshirt to return one kick for 14 yards and bobble the ball on an 18-yard loss that ended the game. If the kid demanded to play or transfer, shouldn't a coaching staff with 100 years of experience be able to negotiate its way to a better solution than that?

Passing Game

Castrate it.

Gets worse each week. Armstrong is 21/59 the last two weeks and underthrows almost every single deep ball. The Omaha World Herald should have that ugly stat ready for us later today. He can't hit a running back on a screen play, so in crunch time, NU dialed up an even more complex wide receiver screen. Botched.

Armstrong's BFF, Westerkamp, has three catches the last two weeks for 16 yards. Even the good plays are essentially jump balls. Alonzo Moore made a nice catch for a touchdown at the end of the first half. It surely encouraged more bad play calls by Danny Langsdorf and Armstrong's hero complex in the second half. Even worse, the play got Top 10 accolades on ESPN Sportscenter. Style being rewarded over substance. The new age of college football. Fuck that.

Most horrifying is that after NU rushed for nine yards on its first first down of the game, Langsdorf found a way to overpass his offense into 2nd & 10  SIX times the rest of the game while setting the unit up in 2nd & 9 three times. That's NINE possessions begun with little or no gain. That won't work for an offense without any big-play players (besides the fullback).

Situational Football

Learn it.

Riley and company butchered the clock twice more Saturday. Say what you will about whether NU should have fired a pass on its final possession. Maybe so. But PYB knows that bad teams can't piss away chunks of yards multiple times a game by screwing up the most elementary principles of clock and wind management.

  • Pass on 3rd & 4 at the end of the first quarter. Miss. Punt 39 yards into the wind down to the 20-yard line instead of pinning Wisconsin deeper.
  • Take the wind in the third quarter, because Riley said NU 'had the momentum.' Knowing full well that both teams struggle to score points, it was a rookie move.
  • At the end of the third quarter, NU ran the ball on second down and let about 30 seconds tick off the clock so that it had the honor of throwing an incomplete pass on 3rd & 4 and then punting into the wind to start the fourth quarter. 


Try it, sometime.
  • Nine penalties for 89 yards. An unsportsmanlike conduct on Riley that put his team into 2nd and 25.  PYB thought that's one reason why NU hired a creepy nice guy in place of an asshole. Six weeks into 2015, the Huskers are the nation's ninth-most-penalized team 
  • Another 15-yard flag for a late hit out of bounds.
  • An illegal formation penalty (one of several this season) wiped out a long Armstrong run.
So, another expected loss to another bad opponent, and Riley seems to offer no answers in the interim. Media and fans are now forced to scratch their heads at a 2-4 start and pore over the remaining schedule to look for four possible wins and a shot at bowl eligibility:

Minnesota - Can't score on anyone not named Purdue

Northwestern - Started its yearly meltdown yesterday by getting rolled at Michigan.

Purdue - We are who we thought they were. Terrible.

Michigan State - Overrated after looking bad all year and nearly losing to Rutgers. Too good for NU.

Rutgers - Awful, but so was Illinois.

Iowa - Getting fat on cupcakes and just pedestrian enough to let NU hang itself during the Thanksgiving weekend season finale.

There it is, NU's remaining slate. Six shitty teams and MAYBE two wins. Four wins and eight losses is real. And it's not spectacular.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Talk Soup

PYB chimes in with a short mid-week post. Compelled by the he said-he said fiasco from Nebraska's weekly football press conference Monday, a few thoughts:

--After spending 10,000 words spinning about how great Nebraska did to almost beat Illinois last weekend, Mike Riley finally addressed the 'elephant in the room' by giving a shitty answer about why he and Tommy Armstrong lost the game for their team. Apparently, it was a play that is normally a pass but was 'tagged' as a run. Complete idiocy. Always a good policy to over-engineer what should be the easiest play in the book when trying to close out a road victory, especially considering one's players aren't playing football because they're trying to get Engineering degrees.

Armstrong followed up with an answer just as bad, if not worse. See, he didn't want to lose yardage and get knocked out of field goal range, even though Riley ultimately opted not to kick a field goal when they didn't lose yardage. So, he fired a pass to preserve field position instead of winning the game. Confused? Well, we are fucking confused. Questions abound. Most notably:

  • Shouldn't the fourth-down strategy have been discussed during the timeout preceding third down? All parties should have known the plan. Apparently, such advanced skills only come with coaches making $5 million or more.
  • If your quarterback does not have enough critical thinking skills to make an in-play decision that a 10th-grade quarterback should, is he Division I material in the first place? Armstrong ended by answering a question on how he stays positive after blowing a game. He, of course, stays positive by taking a not-so-hidden swipe at the fans who help pay for his education and fill Memorial Stadium every week for more than 15 years after NU has put an acceptable product on the field! Born leader.
“I’m fine. I don’t let it bother me. I’ve been in tougher situations than this. I’m fine. I’m going to drive on. I play for my team and coaches. I don’t play for anyone else but them. I play for my family. That’s about it. That’s my whole mindset. Those guys are my family. What they think matters. I don’t let any other outside force drive me to play how I am and affect how I play.”
  • Is Armstrong really attributing some blame to Devine Ozigbo for 'dropping' the pass?
  • He also said that if Ozigbo had made the catch, nobody would be talking about the play. Actually, yes people would be. Fans and coaches who knew football strategy would still be laughing at you. Players who have been poorly trained and don't see the disastrous consequences that come from a lack of planning and decision making are blind to it. 
  • The blame game would not have been complete without a final dig at Cethan Carter for not going into motion. (Side note: PYB thinks Carter needs give up the Chronic until his eligibility expires) Remember, the quarterback of a team is allegedly the field general. But, TA is playing for his teammates. Of course he is.
With so much sports fodder available yesterday in Lincoln, the Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel mailed it in Monday after actually showing some balls in his Sunday column. Said all the right things? Please. Just stick to the Nacho Report, Tom.

Fear not, Husker fans. This week is a good matchup for NU, according to the Blackskirts themselves. PYB has watched Joel Stave and Wes Lunt. Both are bad quarterbacks, but we give Stave the edge in this comparison. Also, we remember the fact that Nebraska's secondary can make anyone an All-American for a week.

Anyway, the Huskers are circling the wagons and using the 'playing for pride' mantra three weeks early this season. Badgers 31-10.

Finally, Irving Fryar is going up the river for five years for a mortgage scam. He's a pastor. If he needed the money, couldn't he have just tricked his congregation into donating 10% of their earnings?

All we got. Enjoy your week.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Repeat After Me

PYB is shocked, yet unsurprised, at the level of futility that the Nebraska football team achieved Saturday against Illinois. Shocked, that an alleged veteran coach, made such an unforgivable error at the end of NU's eventual loss in Champaign. Unsurprised that this pathetic team found yet another way to shit the bed. Saddened, that no matter how bad this next chapter of ineptitude is, and how bad it is bound to become, there seems to be no way out.

On with the post-mortem:

-Nebraska passed 31 times in windy conditions and completed 10 of them.

-NU ran for more than five yards an attempt, again, and lost to a bad team.

-Nebraska hoped to get a boost from its only offensive playmaker, as De'Mornay Pierson-El returned from injury. He muffed his first punt return attempt. Illinois recovered. Pierson-El never came back as a returner. NU settled for fair catches from Jordan Westerkamp the rest of the game. So, Pierson-El can have four punt return touchdowns in 2014, prove himself as one of Nebraska's biggest playmakers in 20 years, make one mistake, and then ride the pine for time everlasting? Makes perfect sense -- especially for a team that racked up 13 points against an awful Fighting Illini squad.

-NU's defense did a good job for three quarters, then pissed the bed when it mattered. Up 13-0, the Blackskirts began giving up completions. Completions that had been missed by scatter-armed Wes Lunt and his far-from-elite receivers up to that point. Nate Gerry does what he does to prevent from becoming an all-conference player -- tanked an assignment -- and let a receiver get behind him for a 50-yard gain. It led to the game-losing touchdown.

--Mike Riley's coaching staff will have to withstand a monsoon of negativity this week. Deservedly so. Fans will need to realize they're stuck with this staff for a while, and crushing Riley & Co. this early will only alienate the players even more, especially if they bought into the bullshit that Bo Pinelli taught them about the fan base being the enemy. PYB still can't fathom a veteran coach, much less one with NFL experience, can not realize that any road win at any level of football is a good one. Time to get out of Dodge.

The coaches, on the other hand, need to gain the public's trust. Not necessarily by winning every game but by teaching their pupils to play error-free (or at least smart) football and by not consistently tanking games with poor fundamentals, bad play calling and pathetic clock management. A junior-high error such as Saturday's will take years to overcome, in terms of getting fans to buy back in. And it may never be possible. Sad, indeed.

--Another sad reality is the softness of NU's players. Alex Lewis finds new ways to act like an idiot and finds no ways to be a good offensive lineman. Tommy Armstrong cried on his dad's arm after the BYU loss and ditched his media obligations on Saturday. That's one third of your 2015 team captaincy in action. Another (Gerry) blew a coverage at the worst time possible. Jordan Westerkamp had -1 receiving yard. Maliek Collins, was the only leader to make a difference against Illinois. That won't cut it.

--Those who didn't want Scott Frost hired last fall as NU head coach said he wasn't ready for the spotlight. Lacked experience as the top dog. Does he know enough to run the ball with 55 seconds remaining, deep in the opponent's territory, when that opponent is out of timeouts? PYB thinks so.

--How long until we get to hear the "our goals of winning the Big 14 West are still intact" platitude? Or was that just a favorite of the Pinelli regime.

--Geronimo Allison, who caught the 'game-winning' touchdown Saturday, is a JUCO transfer from Iowa Western -- a school an hour from Lincoln that Pinelli's regime made a point to ignore for reasons unknown. A little more salt for a gaping wound. Pride comes before the fall.

--With its late meltdown, Nebraska's Blackskirts still hold the title as the nation's worst pass defense. Both stylistically and statistically.

--PYB watched the NU and Ohio State games simultaneously Saturday, along with a neighbor/Buckeye fan. The numbers and his opinion prove that Tim Beck is well on his way to trashing one of the nation's most high-powered offenses in a matter of weeks. Great job, @CoachTimBeck! Our neighbor said he feels the OSU offense spends more time trying to be 'cute' than it does feeding one of the nation's top running backs. Sound familiar?

That's all we care to have at this point. Board up the windows for a bad media week in Lincoln and another loss when Wisconsin and its moribund offense rolls into town. Jump around.


PS -- The St. Louis Rams got the ball yesterday against Arizona, leading by two points and with less than a minute left. Arizona had no timeouts. Coach Jeff Fisher made sure his team ran the ball and the clock ran out and the Rams won.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Golden Shower

PYB awakes and apologizes, kind of, for not writing a Southern Miss recap until now. We'll keep it short, because everyone can see the glaring problems within the 2015 Nebraska football team. They're more 'multiple' than a Bo Pinelli offense.

-Tommy Armstrong is racking up yardage at quarterback, but the offense still can't control a game. Inconsistent line. No gamebreakers at wide receiver. Its best runner is a fullback. And Armstrong still misses enough throws to force NU to settle for a missed field goal attempt or a punt. He may be the worst screen passer ever, which is a bad thing in an offense that relies heavily on the screen pass.

-At running back, Terrell Newby has trouble hitting creases made by a line that can't produce holes. Imani Cross is terrible and nearly fumbled the game away. Andy Janovich looked better than both of them, and the racist fans in Memorial Stadium collectively jerked off every time he got a carry. Was it nice to see a fullback tearing up a defense from the inside out? Sure. Will that be there every game, especially in the rugged Big 10 that excels only in having fat, slow guys in the middle of the crabgrass field? No.

-At receiver, Armstrong's man crush Jordan Westerkamp had 11 catches for 118 and has shown a constant knack to get open. Several others have shown promise, including Stanley Morgan and Brandon Reilly. None of them stretch a defense or are a threat to take the ball to the endzone at any time. Local media outlets, of course, are lauding DeMornay Pierson-El as the offense's savior as he returns from a fractured foot today in Illinois.

They're forgetting, of course, that Pierson-El was the nation's best punt returner last year but that punt returners rely on planting their feet and cutting to avoid tacklers and that having an injured foot may not help. They're also forgetting, of course, that he was just emerging as a wide receiver by last season's end and was hardly an every-game threat to score on passing plays. They're also forgetting that he's never run a jet sweep for a Mike Riley team. Assuming he will revitalize a mediocre offense with a subpar line is extremely presumptuous.

The defense is a shit show. It's only strength, defensive tackle, has been weakened with the continued absence of Vincent Valentine. Outside of Freedom Akalakboomboom, who makes an occasional play on athletic prowess alone, there are no defensive ends. The linebacking corps is limited by the absence of two oft-injured players who continue to find ways not to make an impact -- Michael Rose-Ivey and Josh Banderas. The unit has to rely on a true freshman that shows some promise but is frequently out of position (Dedrick Young) and a walkon from Elkhorn (Chris Weber).

The secondary is a disaster. Nate Gerry makes plays at times and then shocking blunders at others. Josh Kalu shows athletic promise but limited cover skills every time he's six yards away from covering an eight-yard post pattern. Chris Jones looks like he takes cornerbacking lessons from Daniel Davie. And Jonathan Rose looks like a decent backup cornerback forced to play as the team's best cornerback. The secondary gave up 447 yards against Southern Miss. It's going to be a long season. The offense will need to shorten games to help the defense.

Let's not forget special teams. Drew Brown is 8/9 for the season on meaningless field goals. He's 0/3 on meaningful field goals and nearly tanked a second game against the Golden Eagles. The kick return team inexplicably wasn't ready for an onside kick, let Southern Miss recover, and nearly gave the game away in the process.

There you have it. Yet another effort that left more serious questions and few positive answers. Private Pinelli left no talent, and the poor strength and conditioning of the last few years is showing in the litany of injuries on both offense and defense. NU is a seven-point favorite today in Champaign against an awful Illini squad. PYB would be happy with a win. We're not expecting one. Jammal Lord only knows when this team will finally hit rock bottom and begin improving.

We continue onward with a couple miscellaneous notes:

-Dork Chatelain bragged on Pinelli's ability shut down future NFL quarterbacks while head coach at Nebraska. Apparently, he'd had his head buried in a jar of rubber cement while compiling this drivel. The juggernauts he listed as proof of Pinelli's genius:

Tyrod Taylor - Scatter-armed at Virginia Tech and a temporary project starter in Buffalo, as Rex Ryan tries to turn him into the next Geno Smith.

Blaine Gabbert - Never attempted a pass longer than six yards at Mizzou. So bad that Jacksonville ran him off. Now backing up Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco. One of the biggest pussies in NFL history, Gabbert has a 53% career completion rate and a 5.6 yards per attempt average.

Colt McCoy - While at Texas, faked an injury and his way out of the national title game because he was scared of the Alabama defense. Backing up Kirk Cousins and RGQueen in Washington. Need we say more about his NFL career

Nick Foles - The best of the bunch. Mysteriously traded to St. Louis this offseason. Was overwhelmed by a Pinelli defense loaded with talent that Bill Callahan brought to Lincoln.

Nathan Enderle - Who? Dominating an Idaho quarterback who had zero passing attempts in the NFL was apparently worth listing.

Jake Locker - Constantly injured and bad enough that he lost his job to Zach Mettenberger in Tennessee. Out of the league after four miserable seasons.

Brandon Weeden - Awful in Cleveland. We all saw him tanking last week in Dallas. Completion rate of 57%. 27 touchdowns. 29 interceptions.

Ryan Tannehill - A slightly above average college quarterback who has somehow hoodwinked the Dolphins into paying him like an NFL star when he's average, at best. The Dolphins suck again in 2015.

Great analysis, Dork.

Finally, PYB can't confirm if any of this Iowa State story is true. But we did see Fred Hoiberg take a connecting flight in Dallas while
on his way to Los Angeles for a recruiting trip. He sat in coach. At least he had an aisle seat. If that's too inconvenient for most salespeople making $100,000 a year, we can't imagine a coach making $2 million a year enjoyed it much.

Hoiberg had to know that Iowa State was not committed to being an elite program, especially when Louisville was regularly paying hundreds of dollars for recruits and players to get their dicks sucked at the dorms while he couldn't get a first-class seat or a direct flight. Ouch.

Side note: Louisville coach Rick Pitino was obviously shocked by the allegations, as he was likely too busy prematurely ejaculating into a woman who was not his wife at a local eatery.

Enjoy your Saturday, and don't forget your Power Towel.