Saturday, November 24, 2012

What's in Your Wallet?

PYB chimes in on Nebraska's impressive victory over Iowa Friday in Iowa City, after skipping a week of analysis following the win over Minnesota. We didn't deem the win over the Gophers worthy of a recap, with the only notable occurrence being Bo Pinelli's butchering of the clock and a final scoring chance in the first half.

Today, we offer a quarterly report of quick hitters. Not much detail one can expound on, in an event-less Big 16 game. But here goes anyway:

Quarter 1
--Tim Beck's red-zone playcalling continues to be horrendous. NU took the ball right down the field on an eight-minute drive to open the game, before predictably settling for a field goal. On a day where the temperature was 40 and it was windy, and where the television announcers pretended the game was being played inside the Arctic Circle, they needed to score seven points and KO the voluntarily moribund Hawkeyes from the jump.

--Braylon Heard made a cameo appearance, got the Huskers right down the field, got pulled as usual. Drive stalled. Nice personnel management.

--The Cornhusker defense was getting gashed on inside runs early, as its pedestrian base defense showed little fire early. Had the Iowa offense shown any desire to score by taking advantage of Porky Meredith and Sean Fisher being on the field, it could have spelled doom for NU.

Quarter 2
--Predictably, Ameer Abdullah fumbled another punt return. He should have been relieved of those duties eight weeks ago but was back deep again yesterday with 25 mile-per-hour winds swirling through Kinnick Stadium.

--Predictably, given those 25-mph winds, Tim Beck felt it the right time to dust off the lateral passing game.

--Predictably, T Vagic had two fumbles in the second quarter. Both were of the "I'm-not-paying-attention-because-I'm-stupid variety."

--Predictably, Nebraska's turnover margin by halftime was -2 and should have been -3 if not for a dropped interception after Taylorina forced a ball into triple coverage.

--One play after the should-be interception, T Vag got happy feet in the pocket and got sacked. The Big-Game Blues were definitely setting in for NU.

--Predictably, and luckily for Nebraska, Kirk Ferentz pulled a page from the Pinelli Journal of Clock Management and fucked up Iowa's shot at scoring late in the half and to go up by two possessions.

Quarter 3
--Unpredictably, Rex Burkhead came in to start the second half at I-Back.

--Predictably, he was a stabilizing force and pretty much won the game for his team by being the first one to show some balls on the road.

--Mark Pelini came in for the injured Justin Jackson at center and promptly whiffed on two assignments.

--Beck showed no verticality the entire game, choosing the "we hope to win by running sideways" offense instead. Vertical doesn't necessarily mean going deep 15 times. It means moving forward.

--Ron Brown's running back rotations are shit, with players being pulled mid-drive every game just as they're getting rhythms going.

--Glad to see the Diamond Formation used Friday, especially since it averages 15 yards per play. As stated multiple times here at PYB, it should be used a minimum of 15 times per game....unless, of course, one thinks it a bad idea to have Heard, Abdullah and Burkhead on the field at the same time.

--The NU defense failed to make a crucial stop on Iowa to end the third quarter, which would have forced the Hawks to punt into the wind. We're pretty certain the thought never occurred to anyone on the Husker sideline.

Quarter 4
--Nebraska set a Pinelli-Era record, by waiting until 12:28 in the fourth quarter to burn a defensive timeout.

--With Burkhead, pushing piles of 10 players forward for four to eight yards on numerous plays, Tim Beck thought it a good idea to go to the air on two separate, and equally crucial, third-down-and-short situations. Please quit trying to show us how smart you are. We know you're a fucking genius because you're from Youngstown. Just give the fucking ball to Rex Burkhead, and keep your brain and Taylorina out of the equation when the game's on the line.

--Diamond Formation sighting in Q4. 15 yards gained.

--PYB found it humorous, that on NU's final offensive possession, T Vagic showed his wiles by snapping the ball with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock. The ensuing possession, with Iowa trying for the go-ahead score and less than two minutes remaining in the game, Captain Kirk and Company couldn't get the ball snapped with more than 12 seconds left on the play clock. Guess several million dollars a year can't buy what it used to. Shit, $49.95 and a couple weeks of Madden '94 bought us better clock management skills than either of these coaches possess.

Well, that's all we got. NU travels to Indy to take on a Wisconsin team with nary a QB and a running game that has gotten better as the year wore on. A power running game that makes its money on the inside, where the Blackshirt defense is soft and got softer as Baker Steinkuhler is doubtful to play next week. If UW can expose that soft underbelly, trouble will be on the horizon.

Still, the Badgers are no UCLA. Will Private Pinelli and Taylorina be able to handle the bright lights? There's no reason they shouldn't score 35 points against the cement-footed Wisconsin defense. If Beck stays out of his own way and relies on Burkhead, Abdullah, Kenny Bell, Jamal Turner, Heard and Kyler Reed, a victory is likely. If he turns the game into a high-school type showcase for pea-brained Taylor Martinez, all bets are off. Add to that a twist of special-teams calamity, an NU trademark, and it's curtains for certain.

The choice is there: a shot at a 12-2 record and a Rose Bowl trophy, or another date with a middle-of-the-pack SEC team in a faceless bowl somewhere in the middle of Florida. Show some progress by winning a conference championship and a major bowl game, or wallow in more nothingness by failing to seize a golden opportunity. Point one finger skyward after a victory, or point the thumb.

Will Private Pinelli finally become a Corporal on Saturday? That's uncertain. But with the cheaters (Ohio State) and molesters (Penn State) out of the picture this year, what is certain is that he'll never have a better chance to earn that promotion.

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