Sunday, September 30, 2012

Better Mo' Blues...

Nebraska turned what should have been a 17-point win into a  narrow 30-27 victory over Wisconsin Saturday night, allowing the team and its fans to bask in false confidence for one more week. The same things we've seen out of Bo Pinelli's troops for years are the same things we saw Saturday.  Fumbles, bumbles, and blunders were abound in Lincoln and nearly cost the Cornhuskers the game. Fortunately, the Badgers are a bad football team -- a bad team whoses weaknesses happen to play to Nebraska's few strengths.

PYB will do this week's game recap a little differently, recapping thoughts that we noted this morning while watching the contest a second time. Going position-by-position would be a waste, as we've said it all a hundred times. It's all just a bit too familiar....

--The game got off to an inauspicious the Huskers cemented themselves as certified chokers within minutes. Ameer Abdullah returned the opening kickoff to the 11-yard line against the slow-footed Badgers, and then T Vagic promptly fumbled on the first play. Anyone who's watched NU the last five seasons knew this was the sign of a vintage Bo Pinelli bright-light effort. One poor throw later, it was a three and out and a punt.

Within three plays, Wisconsin was deep in Husker territory after completing a lob ball on a jump ball over Josh Mitchell. In short order, the NU defensive line was bullied back on its heels and the Badgers were up 7-0.

--Daimion Stafford's propensity to blow assignments is concerning. Again this week, we saw him fail to help his corners over the top, fall out of position while trailing Wisconsin's only good receiver over the middle in zone coverage and forget to turn around while helping another defender, drawing a crucial pass interference penalty.

--Even Nebraska's normally reliable players find ways to choke in high-profile games. Apparently, the fear from their head coach filters down to their level. This time, Rex Burkhead fumbled after bumping into a brain-dead offensive lineman who got in his way after hesitating on a pull assignment. Seconds later, it was 14-3 Wisconsin.

--Taylorina Martinez continued his streak of being called Tyler by the television announcer and is at five games running. He also continued his streak of making enough innacurate throws to either lose the game or keep a bad team in the game. Tim Beck continued his amazing streak of trying to mold Martinez into Joe Montana, pocket passer extraordinaire.

--Abdullah returned the next kick 83 yards, and NU got a field goal to cut it to 14-3. On their next possession, Brett Maher continued his season-long role as close-game liability and missed a field goal attempt.

--Nebraska had SIX fucking fumbles. Lost two. Luckily, they played a bad team last night. When they play a below-average team, that just won't fly. A mediocre team on the road...and look out...we'll see next week in Columbus.

--After the missed FG attempt, Sean Fisher forgot to cover Montee Ball out of the backfield. Fortunately, for Fisher, Ball dropped the ball and NU fans will forget this gaffe because he made seven tackles against a shitty team. (Note: After a horrendous penalty by a sleepwalking Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Wisconsin still ended up scoring a TD on this drive and making the score 20-3 after Josh Mitchell got outleaped to the ball and safety PJ Smith was nowhere to be found).

--PYB wants to point out that the Badgers are so damn bad that the Huskers dominated their offensive and defensive lines. NU's linebackers made plays and looked quick to the ball in certain situations. They were able to overpursue the play, because Ball isn't capable of cutting back and the Wisconsin quarterbacks are immobile.

--Before dismissing the last sentiment as unwarranted negativity, keep in mind that UW rushed for 168 yards vs. Northern Iowa, 35 vs. Oregon State, 156 vs. Utah St., and 213 vs UTEP.  Hell, they axed their offensive line coach after two games. Bad line, bad team.

--Surprisingly,Thad Randle got hurt.

--NU blew its first defensive timeout at the 13:01 mark of the second quarter and blew another before halftime. The only thing that resembles Frank Solich more than Pinelli's clock management, is his dumbfounded looks after being outwitted and outcoached by every opposing coach.

 --Down 20-3, NU got to midfield, only to have Taylorina end a drive prematurely by missing a wide open receiver on third down. He has a new throwing motion but left it at home last night, because he was playing a BCS-conference team.

--Mitchell, at 5'9" and 165 pounds may be NU's best tackler, but is too small to make plays on the ball when guarding a larger receiver--which is every receiver. Mo Seisay will need to develop quickly and play more.

--Despite his success as a running back and kick returner, Abdullah has regressed as a punt returner. He fumbled one Saturday, misread another, fair caught another at the six-yard line, and fair caught yet another when no Wisconsin defender was within 15 yards. Jamal Turner deserves a shot here. Better yet, PYB would like to see both Abdullah and Turner back at the same time.

--Taylor Martinez runs like a pussy. Whether tip-toeing, or cradling the ball with two hands, or turtling to avoid contact, it's downright embarrassing to watch him. A clueless football player with no IQ for the game.

--Beck got SEVEN touches combined for Turner, Kenny Bell and Kyler Reed. Not enough. That number should be at least 12-15 per game. BUT, poor play selection and a poor-throwing QB prevent that.

--T Vagic's errant third-quarter throw to Abdullah was completed, but should have been a TD. For a team with blocking and ball-security issues, there isn't room for missing a scoring opportunity in the red zone.

--Taylorina showed that his pocket presence is still as bad as always when he was sacked and fumbled the ball back to Wisconsin. Sure, the left tackle got burned by the defensive end, but Martinez had three yards to step up on the pocket after standing in it for two counts too long. See above...RE: clueless/no IQ. (Side note: this particular 3rd & 10 was caused by Martinez missing a wide-open Bell on second down.)

--Badger QB Joel Stave did his best Jay Cutler impression, hanging up his cleats and donning the headset after taking hard hits from Baker Steinkuhler and Stafford. (Note: the Wisconsin offensive line is so bad that Steinkuhler looked like a legitimate Division I player for two quarters.)

--Beck's playcalling has too many brain-dead moments. For example, rolling a bad-throwing QB to the left (away from his arm side) and having him throw across his body in traffic. For instance, rolling down to the opponent's 30-yard line with one RB, then pulling said RB out for another cold RB with no rhythm for the game. Most puzzling was the change from Burkhead to Braylon Heard as NU tried to run out the clock. Heard hadn't played in two quarters and has zero experience in close games.

--Question: Does NU have the worst-conditioned backs in college football? For several years, any time a Nebraska running back pops a run for more than 10 yards, they're instantly headed to the sideline for a breather. Huh?

--If Martinez had any field vision, he could run out of the pocket down after down after down, move the chains, rack up yards, and blow teams out. And by "blow out", we mean 13 points.

--We saw the Diamond formation for one play. It was hugely successful last year, so obviously, Beck has effectively scrapped it.

--Can we see Burkhead in the Wildcat soon?

--PYB was glad to see Timmy Marlowe show up to the sidelines looking like a five-year-old on Christmas Day. Pelini's Pet donned a full uniform, minus shoulder pads, plus gloves plus a headset. Embarrassing.

--Mike Marrow should never play again. Andy Janovich showed promise as a lead blocker.

--PJ Smith dropped another should-be interception. So did Will Compton.

--Compton is the best Blackskirt defender. That's a scary thought.

--Abdullah had another crucial fumble, only to have his elf of a quarterback save him by recovering it and running for a first down. The fumbling is a huge problem and occurs at the worst possible times.

--College football needs to scrap instant replay. Every week, calls are blown by the men in the booth, or even worse NOT reviewed at all. Quincy Enunwa's catch at the one-yard-line was obviously worth second look. Oddly enough, Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge agreed that the incomplete ruling was a great call. Whatever.

--Nebraska proved still incapable finishing game-clinching drives, getting inside the 20 before using poor play calls and penalties to stall touchdown hopes, settle for a field goal, and give themselves one more chance to lose.

--NU's final possession was worse, as the Cornhuskers converted a first down in two plays, then another in three plays. After that, Beck got scared and ran the same Burkhead sweep that had failed all day, then a zone read, then a nine-yard pattern on 3rd & 8 that Martinez threw seven. Punt.

Question: Being in Wisconsin territory, why not run play action then go deep? Even if the ball is intercepted, it's just like a punt. Answer: We're not from Ohio. We just don't understand.

SO, there you have it...PYB bitching about another win. A win that smells just like the fool's-gold Ohio State win from last year. A win that exposed all of NU's old warts. A win over a bad team that had struggled to beat UNI, USU and UTEP.

But hey, maybe Bo Pinelli said it best to Holly Rowe after the game: "We executed. We made better more plays down the field."

Huh? Committing crucial penalties and fumbling six times is executing?

Instead of forgetting about a horrid first half, maybe the team should learn from the last few seasons and focus on playing with urgency and discpline from the start. Instead of aspiring to beat a bad Big 10 team at home, the team's goal should be to play efficiently. To play without fear. To get up on bad teams, step on the throat and snap the neck. Instead, they flop around for 2.5 quarters and then hope to win at the end.

Bo Pinelli's Cornhuskers are back. Turns out they never left.

1 comment:

  1. You keep raising the bar PYB. Best post yet. Through inside sources, the coaching staff installed a game plan on Monday, scrapped it on Tuesday and was over-coaching all week - huffing and puffing.

    The team plays exactly like their head coach. Bo-Poplar. I mean, bi-polar.

    Calling it now, drubbed by Braxton next week. Lose by the bi-annual 30.