Sunday, November 21, 2010
Composure Not in Pelinis' Repertoire
As if Bo Pelini's three-hour tirade wasn't enough, his brother Carl got into the act as the Texas A&M dorks celebrated on Kyle Field. Did they have a right to be pissed? Was it the biggest screw job Nebraska has experienced since Penn State in 1982? Did the officials steal the game. Did Ben Cotton get penalized 30 yards after an opponent grabbed his nuts and squeezed. Yes, yes, yes and yes.
But losing composure cannot help lead your team to the greater goal, which is winning the game and the Big 12 North and qualifying for a BCS bowl. Millions of dollars are at stake. If you can't keep calm enough to tell your pathetic offensive coordinator to run the fucking Wildcat formation, find somebody who can. The meltdown on Taylor Martinez is a mystery, but his dressing down of Cody Green after a timeout is unacceptable. Look, Green is not a very good quarterback. Mediocre at best and pretty bad at his worst. But he was the one under center in the first half, and he needs the support of his head coach. He needs a stable force that is backing him, as he's surrounded by 90,000 screaming dweebs and jarheads. No such luck, Cody. Your coach is playing out his high-school basketball coach role on the sideline.
There is not much analysis needed for this game, but let's get to it while we're here. Offensively, NU once again failed to commit to the run game. We've seen it time and time again. When they run consistently, the offensive line starts blowing people up. Gashing open big holes. The Aggies couldn't stop NU when they ran right in the fourth quarter. What does that tell Shawn Watson? Run a keeper to the left with a quarterback who can barely walk.
It also tells Watson to sprinkle in 28 passes between Green's scatter-arm and Martinez's hobbled plant foot. You had to know that was coming. So, the fact that Watson is clueless is no surprise. The biggest surprise is that he ran the Wildcat formation less than a handful of times. Still, it gained four or more yards just like it has every single time since the Iowa State game.
Still, Watson refuses to use it more. He doesn't care about success. He cares about looking good. On his terms. Forget the Big 12 title and the pride of beating Texas A&M AND the zebras in College Station. Arrogance does not become half-wits, Shawn. Remember
Roy Helu, who set Nebraska's all-time single-game rushing record a few weeks back? He got nine carries for 52 yards. Almost six yards a pop. Rex Burkhead, who racked up great numbers at Iowa State two weeks ago...remember him? Eleven carries.
Defensively, the was NU's best game of the season. Great pressure from the front four, as Pierre Allen had seven tackles with two for loss. Nice blitz placement and timing. Sure tackling and lockdown pass coverage. LaVonte David continued his amazing first season with 11 tackles, three for loss.
Too bad the effort was wasted. Not as wasted an effort as last year against Texas, but definitely a candidate for second. There were 16 penalties last night, as we didn't know which yellow box was up on the ABC screen more--the 'Flag' box or the Southwest Airlines commercial box.
But the two penalties that really sealed NU's doom were the pass interference on Alfonzo Dennard and the 'late hit' on Courtney Osborne. One was the poster child for offensive pass interference, as the wide receiver pulled Dennard's shoulder pads to get back tot he ball. The other was the textbook hit, not a tad late. If you expect a player to pull up on that one, you have obviously never played football. Officials that make calls this bad in a hometown rec game on Tuesday would get their asses kicked, no question, by the players they were screwing. Make calls that bad in the Big 12, and you can collect a paycheck the next week and bank on protection for the commissioner's shroud of secrecy. The only surprise to PYB was that Eric Hagg didn't garner a 15-yard penalty for lighting up the A&M receiver earlier in the game. Fucking joke.
But the bottom line is that Pelini refused to see through the haze. Keep a cold eye on the mission at hand. Grab the karma, win the game, and laugh at the officials and the Big 12 leadership as you walk off victorious. In the end, NU didn't lose any of its goals. North title, Big 12 title, BCS game......all still within reach. What the program did lose was some more respect, as Pelini's hothead act got another evening front and center for the nation to see. There is a difference between fire and destructive rage. Breaking cameras qualifies as destructive (so does screwing a booster's wife), and so does acting like an bully to news writers who are just doing their job in publicizing the events that make the coach millions of dollars. Keeping the players off limits is childish, and petty, and teaches them that if things don't go your way you can just take your ball and go home. How about teaching them to be a man, stay focused and answer the tough questions even though it hurts?
Not this night. Not this coach. Will Pelini ever harness his emotions enough to become a truly great leader and coach? Or will he continue to be baited by officials, consumed by rage and distracted by all the outside factors that slow down the also-rans? With many more boorish tantrums like this, Tom Osborne could make him prove it at another school.