Sunday, October 21, 2012

One for the Thumb

 “For a second there, I felt like I was watching the film, a replay of last year’s game (against Northwestern).

Hello, Bo Pinelli. Welcome to the club. Welcome to our world, where we've watched your teams for five years, only to see the same missteps, mismanagements and misfortunes game after game after game.

Pinelli and his bumbling Cornhuskers tallied another fools-gold win Saturday in Evanston, as they beat the real NU 29-28. The late-game comeback, the second in three games against a pedestrian team that dropped the game into Nebraska's collective lap, will surely have blind Husker fans exalting their team's heart.

Reveling in a win over Northwestern (yes, Northwestern), they'll surely dismiss the realists as 'haters', only to recoil in horror the next time NU is slaughtered by 30 points against a team that is smart enough to utilize its mobile quarterback and that can hang on to one of several gifted interceptions.

Northwestern did neither yesterday, and Private Pinelli's troops live to fight another day.

Let's get to it:

--We will refrain from documenting all the boners individually. The Omaha World-Herald did a fine job of that this morning. Here. Here. HereAnd here. But, they're worth noting as a whole.

 Taylor Martinez racked up 342 yards passing. Remember, this is the same player who eclipsed 350 passing yards as a freshman against an atrocious Oklahoma State defense. We know he's capable of doing this against bad defenses. This is especially so against teams that drop easy interceptions on multiple occasions. That doesn't happen against top-tier conference teams, even in this year's Big 10. Try it against Michigan next week, and it'll be another 25-point loss

Regardless of the gaudy statistics, Taylorina was at her best in other facets of the game. Misread zone plays, missed receivers, incompletions jammed into triple coverage and a horrible pocket presence. Ignore it if you want now, believe us the next time he's playing against a defense with a pulse.

Offensive Line:
Two penalties for linemen not being on the line of scrimmage. That's not high school stuff. That's junior high stuff. Barney Cotton has gotten a free pass this season, due to all of NU's other catastrophes. But the senseless penalties are again on the rise, and his unit's spotty run blocking forces offensive coordinator Tim Beck to rely too heavily on the pass.

Relying on the pass is not a ticket to victory, when your quarterback is a poor decision maker, your offensive tackles routinely whiff on their assignments and your center is prone to being driven back 10 yards by the opposing defensive linemen.

Running Back:
Rex Burkhead's career at NU is ending in disastrous fashion. Husker coaches should have had the guts to shut him down and redshirt him after the initial injury. Ameer Adullah is a worthy back, but has a fumbling problem on rushing attempts and while fielding punts. Braylon Heard has looked very good, and gets one touch Saturday. Makes sense.

A continued bright spot. This group would be unstoppable if Nebraska had an accurate, smart quarterback who could read defenses. Kyler Reed's fumble was disappointing, but it's part of a Pinelli team's DNA. Kenny Bell was his usual self. Quincy Enunwa had a breakout game, despite talking a lot of shit given that he hasn't done shit over the long haul. Jamal Turner looks ready to explode into a game-changing player, so of course touches the ball three times. Check that, it would have been four if T Vagic hadn't missed him in the end zone in the first quarter.

Hand out the Blackshirts! Or so goes the line of fans who believe a victory over Northwestern means that Nebraska is beginning its run at the Roses. Northwestern's best game is an 11-point loss to Penn State. The Mildcats gave up 41 points to Syracuse and own a resume only slightly better than Wisconsin's. Opposing coach Pat Fitzgerald somehow forgot to use Kain Colter, who shredded Nebraska last year in Lincoln.

Apologists say that the 'Skirts only gave up 221 yards, if you discount the 80-yard touchdown run they gave up. Huh? The run that put the team down two scores doesn't really count, when trying to make a case for how well the defense played? Got it.

Anyway, we also noticed the following:

--Porky Meredith moved to defensive tackle, because he sucks at defensive end and fat players belong at defensive tackle.

--Daimion Stafford continues to be a liability too often. Missed assignments are the norm, and he added a stupid personal foul penalty yesterday that cost the team a turnover.

--Stanley Jean-Baptiste talks a lot of shit as well, for a player who apparently learned his technique from Erwin Swiney and looks lost any time he tries to make a play on the ball. Actually, the entire secondary's continued poor play on long passes is concerning.

--No pass rush. As always.

--There is no doubt that the aforementioned errors are due to coaching. Misalignments, sideline penalties, three lost fumbles, two special teams drops, a shanked punt. Each of those offenses alone will get a team bottle blasted on the road. Put two, much less all, of those ingredients together and the fact that NU won yesterday is nothing short of amazing.

In the end, the players are the ones making the miscues above. However, the biggest error that hasn't been mentioned is the fact that Private Pinelli opted to go for two points after a touchdown, with Nebraska trailing by five -- in the THIRD QUARTER! Amateur hour at its best. Another case of a kid playing Madden 2012 knowing more about game management than a head football coach making $3 million a year.

Had Northwestern's last-second, 53-yard field goal not sailed wide right, Pinelli's gaffe would have cost his team the game. Just an amazing fact in its own right, made even more amazing because nobody has mentioned it thus far.

So, there it is, another shredding of a Nebraska win. Sure, we're happy that the team found a way to win, but this dysfunctional group has too many problems to count. Problems that have existed from day one under Pinelli and continue to exist. We know a solution can't be close, because they don't get better -- only worse.

The formula is in place -- beat some patsies, get overrated and overhyped, get blasted when playing a good team. Justify it. Go back to square one. Beat another patsy. Repeat.

For $3 million a year, don't we all deserve more? Or do we get to keep watching the same replay that Bo Pinelli finally noticed yesterday?

It's time for him to 'point the thumb' and figure it out, or it's time for him to use that thumb to hitchhike out of the Star City for good.

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