Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bill of Fair

Nebraska went into Ryan Field Saturday night and leaked oil the entire first half against a decidedly mediocre Northwestern Wildcat team. The Cornhuskers did what Bo Pinelli teams do for at least part of every football game. Nebraska made some rare mid-game adjustments and dominated the second half in a come-from-behind 38-17 victory.

That's not something Pinelli teams always do. So, regardless that the game was a slightly above average performance, and that NU wore its faggoty all-white uniforms, it's a win. Move on. Next crappy opponent Saturday at 11am. At least it won't be played on crab grass. As far as analysis, here's ours:

--Tommy Armstrong: Far from perfect. Can't hit a screen pass to save his ass. Misses wide-open receivers when not reading all five routes every pass play. Still accounted for 281 yards in a road game and racked up another win to run his record to 13-3 as a starter by our unofficial count. (Anyone else remember Taylor Martinez starting and losing at Minnesota last year after Armstrong began his career 3-0? We're fine).

On a macro level, Armstrong is completing 53.5 percent of his passes this season. A shocking statistic Saturday showed his receivers has dropped 17 passes this year. Add nine of those 17 as catches and he's at 58 percent. Add all 17, and it's 63%. Ten touchdowns. Five interceptions. 6-1.

Proof that the QB doesn't have to do it all and can rack up wins by taking opportunities as they come and not laying it on the ground 47 times a season. PYB asks a simple question when gauging whether NU has made progress over its previous starter at the QB position: Are we embarrassed to watch NU play offense because its leader lacks any semblance of fundamentals and looks like a pussy? The answer to that question is no, so the answer to the first question is a resounding YES.

--Ameer Abdullah: Emerged from his six-quarter 'slump' to prove that if he has a line that doesn't constantly blow assignments and kill drives with boneheaded penalties that he's a stud and will rush for well over 100 yards.

--Kenny Bell: Five catches for 89 yards. Four drops in the first half alone. The positive here is that he didn't fake any injuries after said drops. PYB would love to see him on the field the rest of the way, using his game-breaking skills and not writhing on the ground in FIFA-style pain or begging for a pass interference call.

--DeMornay Pierson-El: From day one, a natural football player with the 'it' factor. His raw talent showed first on punt returns. On Saturday, he showcased his receiving and running skills along with his passing touch. Despite getting little opportunity in the return game, he completely altered Northwestern's punt game for the worse -- and to Nebraska's advantage. Who knew special teams could be so important when playing at an opponent's stadium?

--Offensive Line: The backups came in and revolutionized the run game, allegedly. Either way, NU ran the ball well for the first time since the Illinois game. If true, it took the coaches seven games to find out their backups are better than their starters. Something doesn't add up. We'll go more in depth on the tape this week.

That said, Jake Cotton ruined the opening drive by failing to line up on the line because he had to pull his fat ass on the play, turning a 2nd and 2 into 1st & 15 and forcing an eventual punt. Not to be denied, he ruined another first-half drive that started at the Northwestern 43 by negating a long first-down run by Abdullah. Cotton Era ... tick, tick, tick...

--Special Teams: Drew Brown missed a 39-yard field goal after one of Bell's drops and kept the score 7-0 Northwestern. NU botched four consecutive squib kicks. The kick return unit should have adapted to the strategy after the first time. Apparently, all the concentration on punt returns this season has come at the expense of other special team units.

--Tim Beck: Stayed out of his way, for the most part, in Evanston and helped NU get what it needs more consistently against sportingly terrible road opponents (aka Northwestern). Establish the run game. Achieve a 60-40 run-pass split. Avoid turnovers. Mix playmakers into the pass game at opportune moments. Win the game -- in boring fashion if necessary. Leave town.

Outside of three-pass-and-out series at midfield in a tie game late in the first half, there were generally fewer Tim Beck "What the Fuck?" moments. Commendable progress.

--Andy Janovich: Looked great on a couple lead blocks on Abdullah touchdowns. Looked the same to PYB's un-Ohio-trained eye two years ago as a freshman. Heard absolutely nothing from him last year. Speaks volumes for the programs consistent model of inconsistency.

--Terrell Newby: Looked spry in his four carries and 23 yards. PYB wishes he got more opportunities, but it's clear he's the second running back after Abdullah -- if we ignore the sympathy carries Imani Cross gets during mop-up duty.

--Trevor Roach: Benched at the end of the first half for missing three tackles on one drive (which followed his QB sack at the 8:07 mark of the second quarter). Replaced by Josh Banderas who missed no tackles the rest of that drive because he didn't get close enough to any of the plays to miss a tackle. That said, two of Roach's misses were against Justin Jackson, who looked pretty darn good and who NU didn't offer a scholarship to after his visit to Lincoln. Private Pinelli mentioned that missing tackles is unacceptable in his post-halftime interview. It's been happening for five seasons. This all makes perfect sense.

--Corey Cooper: Seems to have a solid work ethic and be a team guy, so we'll take it as easy as possible on him. But, his play has been awful -- if you count a minimum of three embarrassing misses per game as awful. Cooper's knee slide into end zone on a missed touchdown opportunity may have been the worst play of many in his career, as he looked like a figure skater finishing her long program with a flourish. Is it safe to say anyone incapable of not being embarrassed by Big 14 offenses is not a legitimate FBS defender?

--Nate Gerry: Huge, momentum-swinging interception in his own end zone on a shitty pass into triple coverage after a shittier personal foul penalty that had the Wildcats a the middle of the field with a 7-0 lead. PYB has liked his play this year, and his whiteness should have racist Nebraska fans crowing with joy for two more seasons.

--Defensive Backs: Annoyingly soft and inconsistent in pass coverage. Few pass breakups. Many near misses. Enough blown or slipped tackles to still drive fans crazy as offensive players gain an extra three to seven yards time and again. Plenty of reasons to make us believe any game against a decent team is capable of getting out of hand at any time.

--Randy Gregory: Still waiting for him to have a breakout game. He's been the target of opposing offenses, so that's surely contributed to his lack of big numbers. That said, his penchant for letting personal confrontations with the opponent take precedence over the game at hand is concerning. So are the nickel-dime injuries that seem to crop up at some point every week -- in a Jadeveon Clowney When-is-the-NFL-Draft-Again? kind of way...

--Defensive tackles: This group seems ready to bust out, and PYB wishes coaches were better at mixing pressure from the back seven defenders. This week was Kevin Williams' turn to shine, and the group's depth and progress make us wish that NU had been able to keep Aaron Curry in Lincoln. There's something about muscular, mobile defensive linemen that we like. Either way, we take away the fact that several new faces have shown up at big moments as a positive.

--Chris Weber: Showed up in the box score for Nebraska. Over/under before a local reporter makes a misplaced, roll-your-eyes comparison to Chris Webber -- the one who played at Michigan/in the NBA/ranted on reporters who were asking him about fucking Tyra Banks by bragging about not having any bastard kids? Two weeks?

--Ryan Field: Piece of shit. Did they water it before the game to make sure the footing was impossible and the game stayed at a Big 14 speed level? Another televised embarrassment for this embarrassment of a conference.

On that note, we'll fade into bolivian, but not before saying that any road win in this college football day and age is a relatively good one. Even if it's in the least talent-laden major conference in the game and the performance had more sores than a truckstop skank.

Keep in mind the nation's top five teams includes a team known mostly for cowbells and three-win seasons, one known for racism and Archie Manning going there 50 years ago and two more teams from the same conference that lost to the first two teams mentioned in this sentence. If you don't believe college football is watered down, you're lost.

And if you don't know that ESPN is preparing the menu and setting the table for what it wants you to eat, you're delusional. Take the fact that the nation's 6th-ranked team is one that lost at home to the 15th-rated team that lost to a two-loss USC team at home as proof of that.

Still, rack up the W and enjoy the next serving of mediocrity Saturday against Rutgers. It's what's for dinner.

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