Monday, November 8, 2010
Iowa State Summary...
Well let's start this column by saying that any time a team starting its third-string QB goes on the road and wins, it is a success. That's what Nebraska did Saturday in Ames, as it held off Iowa State in a needlessly close 31-30 overtime game. Why shouldn't the game have gone to OT? NU had decent offensive rhythm in using the Wildcat formation, given the circumstances. Why was the game closer than it should have been? Niles Paul and Shawn Watson. Some things never change.
Nebraska began the game with Rex Burkhead at the helm of the offense, and he was making great reads (better than NU's QBs) for nice gains. They were the right reads. They were decisive. The offense was flowing downhill. Hell, Barney Cotton's boys were actually looking like they knew how to run block, and Burkhead was averaging 6.5 yards a carry.
Then, before you knew it, Watson would insert his arrogance into the mix and screwed it all up. Go deep, make it 2nd & 10--a down not suited for Cody Green's skill set--run for two yards. Third & 8. Punt. We're sure you all saw it. Watson only wants to run the power game when he's convinced he's the one who came up with the idea. He should have run Burkhead in the Wildcat 40 times. The Cyclones had no answer.
One telling statistic from the Omaha World Herald says it all: In Nebraska's five possessions where Burkhead touched the ball two or more times, NU scored 24 points. In the SEVEN (yes fucking seven), possessions where Burkhead touched it once or less, NU scores ZERO points. Can Watson go the way of Wade Phillips, soon? Please. This shows both how effective Burkhead was and how clueless Watson was and continues to be.
And then as if one dose of poison wasn't enough, Paul found a way to make his mark on the game. It was almost as if, since he hadn't impacted the game for 3.5 quarters (like most shitty players don't impact the game), he felt compelled to try to make something happen. Too bad 'Wants the Ball Paul' is slow and has no moves and is prone to dropping the ball. Sure enough, he coughed up one of Nebraska's five fumbles and paved the way for ISU's game-tying TD. Bo Pelini will surely have to debate benching him in key situations. He already took him off the punt return game to a large extent. Let's just add kickoffs and offense, and things will be looking much rosier through PYB's glasses.
Pelini was happy that his squad got the victory, and rightfully so. But his clock management at the end of the first half was Solich-esque. Risking a turnover deep in his own territory, he ran the ball three times rather than kneeling it and heading to the locker room to adjust. After making decent yardage, he then let 40 seconds elapse and decided to pack it in without calling his timeout.
If you're stupid enough to risk the turnover on the 10 yard line, why aren't you going to keep trying to make yards when you're at the 40? Not good, especially given his decision to onside kick against Texas with three timeouts remaining. This makes PYB believe his decision against the Longhorns wasn't a gut feeling, but a mistake. It's annoying to even the average fan and will be more annoying when it costs the team a game.
--We'd like to wish a speedy recovery to Alfonzo Dennard, the team's best defender. If NU has to play Anthony West in a a meaningful game, they will likely lose. PYB is not sure how Ciante Evans got benched for giving up one TD (a new CB's first road start can always be rough), but West gets playing time as Evans' replacement despite being absolutely awful for four years? Even worse, we had a Lance Thorell sighting, and you'll be happy to know he's right where he was last time we saw him--trailing the play by five yards.
--Game ball obviously goes to Eric Hagg, who continues to amaze PYB with his endurance and playmaking while covering running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and fullbacks---most times while chasing from awkward positions with his back to the quarterback. Kent Pavelka was surely thrilled when Hagg intercepted that double-extra-point to win the game for the Cornhuskers.
--PYB was sad to see Nebraska join the lamest college football trend, with the oversized flash cards for play signals. It was bad enough when flavor-of-the-week Oregon did it, but Nebraska? Please stop.
--Special thanks to Paul Rhoads for his chickenshit fake double extra point call. If you're scared to go another overtime on your home field, you should have forfeited this game weeks ago. NU will take the gift-wrapped win, and just because your players back you doesn't mean it is a good call. They play for Iowa State, nobody else wanted them, of course they'll back you. It's just like why hookers stay with their pimps.
--Finally, can someone tell the OWH's Lee Barfknecht to take his lips off of ISU's collective knob? First, while the Big 12 dissolved, he lauded ISU's fans for how loud and proud they are despite being perennially shitty. Next, this summer, was his outpouring of support for the residents of Ames because their tired athletic complex got flooded, forcing their volleyball team to play at Ames High School. Can someone tell PYB the difference?
Now, after his darling Rhoads makes a game-losing call against a team playing with its 3rd QB and backup RB splitting reps under center, he awards him Coach of the Year with four games remaining? Definitely a scary kind of man crush.
This, for a coach whose team got blasted by Iowa 35-7, Utah 68-27, and Oklahoma 52-0. But they did beat an awful Texas team. Great logic Lee. Reminiscent of your logic in 1997 while continuing to vote Michigan #1 because they never lost, but how you will drop teams in your weekly Big 12 rankings several spots despite winning.
PS: Congrats to everybody's All-American Blaine Gabbert, who posted another signature performance with his 12/30 for 95 yards against Texas Tech Saturday. That's a whopping 3 yards per attempt, which is bad for even his standard, especially considering Tech was 119th in the nation in pass defense. Most of his throws weren't close. We'll see him playing on Sundays soon. Playing, or holding a clipboard along with Chipmunk Chase Daniel.