Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Formula

PYB sits down, ready to make some snap judgments, while watching the Chick-fil-A Bowl and regretting not taking Houston over Florida State and then regretting it more when the Seminoles' quarterback limped off the field and turned a touchdown drive into a field goal. Watching Dumbo Fisher's team fall behind the Cougars 21-3 made us realize the ACC is no AAC, after all.

Anyhow, we'll get right to it, put a cap on a subpar 2015 and hope for a better 2016.

--Nebraska beat UCLA in the Foster Farms Bowl 37-29. The Cornhuskers were the better team. They owned the lines of scrimmage. They ran the ball. They played defense once in a while. They did what fans had begged them to do all season but what coaches had refused to do:
  • Rely on the run
  • Utilize best two running backs (Devine Ozigbo and Andy Janovich)
  • Create manageable second- and third-down situations
  • Limit the passes that NU's scatter-armed quarterback had to throw
  • Extract any Hero Ball hopes from that quarterback's agenda
  • Win
Really, not that hard. Not a complicated recipe for success. Not an Ancient Chinese Secret. Sure, NU Coach Mike Riley droned on after the game about Nebraska having the size matchup against UCLA and that he couldn't guarantee such gameplans against future opponents.

Instead of guaranteeing his team will have an identity in 2016, he foreshadowed more wishy-washy bullshit offense that looks pretty against bad teams, racks up statistics, and yields few wins against quality opponents. Jack of all trades, master of none. Outside of the flukish win against Michigan State this season, NU's last win over a name opponent was 2014 against Miami, when the Huskers ran the ball 54 times. Surely, just a coincidence.

Considering the pathetic level of talent in the Big Ten, wouldn't it be better to run the ball 50+ times a game than to throw caution to the wind and have Tommy Armstrong chuck and duck 50+ times? Even if NU didn't average more than six yards per carry like it did against UCLA, PYB says averaging 3.5 yards or more would keep most games within reach in the fourth quarter. Sprinkle in some choking by aforementioned bad opponents and then a defense that can actually occassionally defend the pass and/or rush the quarterback, and Riley would really be on to something.

Anyway, it was a good fucking win against a name opponent from a supposedly elite conference, so we'll take it. We just don't see any reason it should be so god-damned hard for coaches to see what fans have seen for years now We think they'd want to create a competitive advantage when playing against consistently mediocre-to-poor competition. Silly us.

A few more observations:

--Coaches reined Armstrong in most of the game and did not ask him to throw too many times or to throw low-percentage passes. 19 attempts. 12 completions. 63 percent completion rate. 9.2 yards per attempt. Quality, not quantity, my friends. Remember, it was he who nailed the hottest bitches in college that was coolest. Not he who nailed the most.

--Janovich carried six times for 31 yards. He should have gotten eight to 12 carries every game. His ability to break long runs from the fullback position was rare, and such runs gut opposing defenses from their core. Establish domination on the interior, and the rest falls into place. Especially for teams without top-tier quarterbacks or receivers (aka Nebraska).

--Ozigbo had 20 carries for 80 yards. Nice game for a good-but-not-perfect back. PYB is just glad the coaches had him convinced he wasn't ready to play most of the season. Just like coaches convinced Roy Helu he was injured for 50 percent of his career in Lincoln.

--Terrell Newby needs zero more snaps at running back.

--Jamal Turner had a 22-yard run -- the best play of his career. Following the play, Turner stood up and talked enough shit to make it seem like he'd done it once before.

--Defensively, it was far from pretty but was effective enough. NU's defensive backs, despite playing out of position in some cases (eg, Josh Kalu playing cornerback when he should be a safety), only relinquished 320 yards on 40 attempts by Josh Rosen. Remember, ESPN all but guaranteed Rosen would win a Heisman someday. Once they got done saying the same about USC's Cody Kessler, that is.

Yes, that's the same Kessler who last night threw for 221 yards on 32 attempts against Wisconsin. That's four more yards than his counterpart, Joel Stave, threw for in the same game. Anyway, our point is that the Blackskirts' effort was not horrible, considering how horrible they'd been most the year.

--De'Mornay Pierson-El had two tackles, according to the box score the day after the game. We're pretty sure that must have been Michael Rose-Ivey, NU's other number 15. We're not sure if Rose-Ivey can get any fatter before being required to move to defensive tackle. 36-24-36.......only if he plays Nebraska.

That's all we have. Not a lot of in-depth analysis needed. Run the ball, play defense, and win. Used to be NU's model in the 1990s. It's worked for Alabama for 20 years. Hopefully it will be good enough for Nebraska once again. If so, maybe they can crack the Top 25 soon. If not, we'll hopelessly hope for a different result and act disappointed when we're again disappointed twelve months from now.

PYB moves on with some non-Nebraska football thoughts:

--Is NU basketball coach Tim Miles just a fucking fraud that can't coach, or is he still stocking the cupboards with what he needs to produce consistent results? All we know is that despite the names changing and the players with those names looking better than most players the past 20 years, the results are the same.

Yesterday's second-half meltdown against Northwestern was a horrific display. No perimeter defense, as NU continually relinquished uncontested three-point shots. No rebounding, as Miles' bunch gave up 14 offensive rebounds and a 28-point, 12-rebound stat line to a freshman playing his first college game, blew a double-digit second-half lead, and lost its Big Ten opener.

Considering that Indiana visits this weekend and then the schedule toughens, the disappointment isn't as much in this one loss as it is with the fact that its another lost season and NU fans have to wait another year until they get a chance to believe again, only to be duped by another team with the same shortcomings.

As for NU's tremendous facilities upgrades: Pinnacle Bank Arena generated some early buzz, but each bad loss pours a little more water on what spark is left in the program. Outside, of the anomaly and NCAA tournament berth two seasons ago, the wins/losses are the same. Once t
he staff ran off Terran Petteway (who put up 36 in an NBA D League game last week), the offense is back to a stand around and chuck up a last second shot style, this time without a pure scorer to take most of those shots.

And the practice facility that "would be the best in the NBA" still hasn't attracted enough top-tier recruits (or even one solid big man) to significantly increase the program's talent level. It's put up or shut up time, we're afraid.

--Speaking of frauds, let's head southward to Texas. Another TCU player is in trouble -- and this time it's starting quarterback Trevone Boykin, who 'allegedly' punched a police officer in a bar brawl. (Side note: Anyone else have as much trouble as we do thinking these guys are tough when they do their 'perp walks' wearing skinny jeans?)

Questions abound: How is a starting QB dumb enough to get into a bar brawl two days before a game? How is he dumber enough to leave and then come back to fight patrons as a terrible bar in a dump of a town (San Antonio). How does TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson keep getting a free pass for having no control over his players?

Anyone else remember the marijuana distribution ring in 2012? That was swept under the rug in quick fashion, only to resurface last year? Then, of course, we have the 'addiction woes' of Casey Pachall, his related DWI arrest, who then naturally threw his old mates under the bus after he left campus. For good measure, how about a little robbery to spice things up in 2015?

All the while, Patterson skates by without much national scrutiny while bettering lives of his student athletes in Fort Worth.

Happy New Year. Enjoy the rest of bowl season.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Hero Effect

Nebraska football fans got another bad-tasting dose of Hero Ball Friday, as Tommy Armstrong served up a shit sandwich of monstrous proportions while gifting Iowa its final chapter in college football's worst 12-0 season on record.

Despite turning the ball over four times, netting negative yards on one punt and spotting the Hawkeyes all 28 of their points, NU lost by just eight. Said more accurately, Armstrong lost another game all on his own. He's now entered and resides in a territory of wild futility that was formerly reserved for his pathetic predecessor, Taylor Martinez.

Opposing coaches now know they can game plan around the fact that NU's quarterback will (once again) eventually fuck up so badly and so often, that they literally don't have to try to score. Stay the course, and points will comes in bunches. And Husker fans will be choking on another footlong piece of shit. Open up and say aaaah, you dumb motherfuckers....

Let's roll right into another ramshackle list of observations. Time is short. We've got graduation-rate percentages to calculate, and a Pinstripe Bowl party to plan.

--Temperature at kickoff was 25 degrees. The wind was blowing out of the North at 19 mph, translating to a wind chill index of nine degrees. Nebraska fullback Andy Janovich had averaged 6.5 yards per carry going into the game. He got zero touches Friday. Armstrong had 45 pass attempts. Makes perfect sense.

--Mark Banker's Blackshirts limited Iowa to 250 total yards. Not too shabby for a defense that was one of the nation's worst for most of the season. We'll forget the fact that Iowa rarely tries to score offensive points.

Either way, PYB thinks his quotes about his defense being 'fucking creased' and 'needing a drink to make the pain go away' were ill-advised, especially considering he's coaching 18-23 year-old players (some who aren't of legal drinking age) and his current dumbass quarterback was recently quoted as saying he was partying late into the night on a night where someone at the party claimed to have been raped.

Exhausted yet?

--Offensive Coordinator (aka the Maestro of NU's Pull and Pray offense) Danny Langsdorf, said that Armstrong's decision to throw a fade route on 4th and 1 'wasn't the worst decision ever.' He's right. His decision to throw the ball on a game-losing third down at Illinois was the worst. Yesterday's decision was the second worst.

PYB maintains that unless Calvin Johnson plays for your team, a coach has no business running a fade route in the red zone. Especially with a bad quarterback and an average receiver. Perhaps the play was actually a quarterback sneak that got tagged as a fade pass.

Yeah, we know. There were other routes on the play and Cethan Carter was wide open on the left side. So, NU coaches really believe and wants fans to believe that they expect Armstrong to make a good decision when he's a third-year starter known for making bad ones and most of his good plays come as a lucky result of another bad decision? Sure.

--Speaking of bad plays, Armstrong had nice balance across his four interceptions. Two were the garden variety "I didn't see the linebacker or defensive back dropping into the zone coverage because I'm not a good quarterback" interception and two were the "Chuck and Duck Moonshot into the Wind" type.

--Apparently, Armstrong was not to blame for the interception that was returned for a touchdown. It was Alex Lewis' fault. OK, that makes more sense. Relying on an unreliable lineman to make a cut block and on a quarterback who is one of the game's worst screen passers to throw a screen pass, all inside one's own 10-yard line. Got it. Our bad for thinking otherwise.

--Sean Eichorst pulled his best Jerry Jones yesterday, and stood on the Nebraska sideline during the game. Micromanagement, anyone?

--Speaking of poor management, PYB still appreciates Mike Riley's clock and wind management. Throw over and over when going into the wind, lengthening the quarter. Dilly dally in quarters where the wind is at his team's back, reducing the number of possessions where the wind would actually help propel a kicked or thrown ball forward.

--After the game, Iowa coaches spewed the company line about not listening to those outside the program who questioned the team's schedule, or lack thereof. Iowa players then proved that was a fucking lie, by making excuses for a slate of games that would make even Ohio State blush. Quarterback C.J. Beathard said the Hawkeyes can't be blamed, as they don't 'plan the schedule.' Well, we're pretty sure your athletic department did 'plan the schedule' and that it's called a schedule because somebody planned it.

Any-fucking-way......are the Hawkeyes in danger of dropping in the rankings, because they only beat Nebraska by eight points? PYB thinks they should be.

--Nate Gerry got ejected for breaking up a pass play where his shoulder hit an Iowa player in the head, because Beathard threw a bad pass and receiver Tevaun Smith extended himself trying to catch it. So this begs the question: are defenders supposed to not defend passes and let receivers catch them? Smith did his best job of faking an injury, before returning two plays later.

If the powers that be in college football are so fucking concerned about player safety, PYB thinks that players who make unsafe hits on their teammates should also be penalized and ejected. One Hawkeye defender knocked a teammate out cold yesterday, after piling onto a nearly completed tackle and hitting his counterpart in the side of the helmet for no reason at all.

--Iowa linebacker Cole Fisher was especially happy that his Hawkeyes beat Nebraska. The Omaha native was apparently still butthurt that Nebraska didn't recruit him, as legacy scholarships are apparently a God-given right for players who played low-level high school football and want a D-I free ride. Apparently, he forgot that his brother Sean was a total flop in Lincoln. Apparently, even Bo Pinelli was smart enough to avoid that repeat effort.

--In all seriousness, anyone that doesn't realize how big a piece of shit Pinelli was needs only to look at the Nebraskans on the Iowa roster that get satisfaction from kicking NU's ass and could have contributed to the Drive for .500 in Lincoln.

--Tim Dwight and Johnny Rodgers stood midfield during a timeout in the first half and were announced as co-sponsors of another contrived Big 14 award. This one for returners. PYB says there also needs to be an award for best freshman returner, best newcomer returner and also a Panico-Westerkamp Fair Catcher of the Year award.

We will also be petitioning the SEC to add the Blaine Gabbert Award, given annually to the quarterback with the combination of most passing yards per game and lowest average yards per pass attempt while accruing those yards. (Side note: did anyone else see that Gabbert was the only person to show up to his own press conference this week in San Francisco? This warms PYB's black heart.)

Second, Gratuitous side note: Rodgers ran his streak of being honored on the field for some gratuitous, non-reason or another to 41 seasons.

In the end Friday, Armstrong's continual bed shitting and Nebraska's myriad of other problems were too much to overcome. A lucky win against Michigan State and a second straight against Rutgers were a temporary elixir that masked what was a bad football team with little talent in the coffers. Coaching that ranged from bad to inconsistent-at-best magnified that lack of physical ability.

A field general that refused to learn from past transgressions was like a machete to the jugular vein, and no amount of GI Joe Band-Aids was going to fix it. The fake excitement at the possibility ruining Iowa's undefeated season and qualifying for a lame bowl game fizzled and wasn't enough to overcome the Hawkeyes' tortoise act. The hare-brained hare lost again.

Another opportunity lost at the hands of a signal caller that refuses to play sound football and put his team's goals above his desire to look good. A Hero Syndrome, indeed. The effect is plain to see, and there is nary a backup option.

Drop the Heroes Trophy, Huskers, you're stuck with a zero.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Business Trippin'

PYB chimes in to wish its readers a Happy Thanksgiving and to provide a quasi-preview of Nebraska's regular-season finale against Friday against Iowa. We'll stick to reality, while the Omaha World-Herald's sports staff strokes its collective cock about the 'history and rivalry' within the series. Please.

And please don't hold it against us for failing to do a post-mortem of the win at Rutgers. The team did what it should have. Beat a bad fucking team on the road. Got the W. Left. Business trip.

Find 'em, fuck 'em, and flee -- we always say.

--A couple points before we move forward and talk about NU's next step in its Drive for .500.
  1. The game at Piscataway became needlessly close, thanks to Tommy Armstrong's three pointless interceptions. Those gaffes turned a blowout into a temporary nailbiter, with NU's fans, players and coaches knowing full well that the Cornhuskers were capable of blowing the game. Armstrong made similar momentum-crushing plays against Michigan State, and had the game not ended on the upside of his Hero Ball teeter totter, we'd be discussing a seven-loss football team. Sure....ifs and buts.  But we know two things: Armstrong is a third-year starter and consistent huge mistakes won't work, and Iowa won't be as generous as the Spartans and Scarlet Knights. A classic tortoise and hare situation. Either way, TA, you're on notice. Fail to develop into a smarter, consistent player by year four and you'll enter the Taylor Martinez zone. PYB has the hammer cocked and ready.
  2. Either Rutgers is that freaking bad, or NU is getting better. Or both. A pass rush and blitzes getting home, with six sacks to show for it. Two interceptions. What is this world coming to? We'll find out tomorrow if there has been real progress or if this is just another nugget of Fool's Gold.
--That said, at least Armstrong and his boyfriend Jordan Westerkamp didn't get charged with rape. PYB is glad that Nebraska's quarterback, and supposed leader, was quoted in the newspapers saying that they were "partying" at his house after he got back from New Jersey at 1230a. Does PYB condone partying? No. We actually encourage it.

Do we condone having an inconsistent starting quarterback (on a 5-6 team) dumb enough to go on record admitting it. Fuck no. But had his ill-advised behavior cost Nebraska a chance at one more win and a .500 record AND a bad bowl game, we'd have been really pissed. UNL must have broken out its big-time lawyers for this one. We're just hopeful that we'll never have to see that piece of shit house on anymore. Too many memories from our own college days --  frigid winters and bad hangovers. Depression, anyone?

 --In the meantime, Iowa has moved into a college football playoff position with an 11-0 record. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz is going to try to follow up his long-running attempt to win games without actually trying to score points by trying to go undefeated without playing (or beating) one quality opponent. Good luck, coach!

--Unfortunately for Nebraska, Iowa won't beat itself. They'll plod ahead and do what they do. NU will have to play its best game of the season to win. The Huskers won't need to play better than they have during the good times this season, but they'll have to avoid the inevitable quarter-long siesta that has become their trademark. Considering they haven't done so all year, that will be a tall order. Good luck, Coach Riley.

--PYB's weekly sign that college football is 'fine': A national-championship 'contender' is playing a crappy 5-6 team on the road in the season's final week and is a one-point favorite.

--Iowa's starting quarterback, C.J. Beathard, has to be one of NU's biggest worries. PYB watched him scramble some the last couple weeks, and considering he's a much better runner than the stiffs from Northwestern and Purdue that gashed the Blackskirts defense, it's a huge concern.

That's all we have as we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving once again. Family duty calls. Enjoy all the quality NFL action. With the following slate of starting quarterbacks, exciting action is sure to follow: Gabbert. Keenum. Taylor. Fitzpatrick. Tannehill. Dalton. Flacco. Manziel. Hasselbeck. Bortles. Hoyer. Mariota. Osweiler. Alex Smith. E. Manning. Sanchez. Cousins. Cutler. Stafford. Ryan.

That's 20 of the league's 32 quarterbacks who are either shaky and young, confirmed to have topped out as mediocre, or completely fucking awful. Considering we didn't including Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Andy Dalton or a benched Peyton Manning in that group -- that's generous. Here's hoping to a speedy influx of talent from college to the professional ranks. Maybe the ABC announcers were actually on to something when they discussed Armstrong's 'next-level potential' about two seconds before one of his horrific interceptions against Michigan State.

Either way, it's football to watch and we don't have to work. See you on the other side on Saturday.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

.500 or Bust

In another Rugged Big 14 classic Saturday night, Nebraska beat Michigan State by a single point and rekindled its Pinstripe Bowl hopes. It was the stuff special, 6-6 , seasons are made of and is what helps make the conference the worst by far of the Power Five.

That said, Nebraska Football Coach Mike Riley now has more "Signature Wins" after nine games than his predecessor, Private Bo Pinelli, had in seven seasons in Lincoln. It was NU's first win over a rated team since 2011. That's four fucking years. That's pathetic.

We'll get to to our usual nitpicks soon enough (you're not really satisfied with 4-6, are you?). For now, we'll call it what it was. A great win. Not in form. Not in function. In the result alone. Things could be worse. NU could be 3-7. You could be an NFL fan with Blaine Gabbert as your new starting quarterback. You could be Lebron James, who just willingly sported a Hitler / Michael Jordan mustache. You could be the Washington Nationals, who just brought in Dusty Baker to manage a stable of young arms.

So, regardless of the botched non-call by another overmatched Big Ten officiating crew. A crew led by that Frankenstein-looking motherfucker who's usually signalling unfavorable calls against the Cornhuskers. For one night, at least, luck was with Nebraska.

They're taking the win. They're running with it. Just like a 20-year-old, drunk and stumbling out of a college dive bar
at 2 a.m. with a skank -- one that he'll surely be fucking and will surely hope to never see again. She wasn't pretty. But she had big tits.

Let's get to it:

--Nebraska made early headway by using -- GASP!! -- the power running game! Imani Cross ran for 98 yards on 18 carries. (almost 5.5 yards per carry) Andy Janovich got double the carries he did against Purdue -- 4. He averages more than 7 a pop. After nine games, Janovich looks like Nebraska's best back by a wide margin. Power. Moves. Toughness. Elusiveness. Somebody please provide a valid reason why he does not touch the ball more.

--Given the fact that the power game was working, can anyone explain why neither Cross or Janovich touched the ball inside the five yard line on two separate second-half possessions? The first resulted in an awful Tommy Armstrong interception. The second milked 40 extra seconds off the clock late in the fourth quarter and forced NU to burn its first timeout.

Considering there were just two minutes left in the game, a pretty big deal. If only NU had been so successful at running clock a few weeks ago in Champaign. Ill. To make sure the horse is completely beaten to death, PYB will once again ponder aloud how coaches making millions of dollars can continually butcher such elementary skills.

--Speaking of elementary, going for two points with 13 minutes remaining and trailing 31-26 was a horrifically bad move. Believe it or not, all scores within a game are interrelated and can impact the outcome of the game. Had NU kicked the extra point, it would have had 27 points. Then, when scoring another touchdown, that would have made 34. Then, following their last touchdown, they would have had 41 points. ABC's Brian Griese stammered in amazement at Riley's rookie move.

Remembering that NU has a shitty fucking defense and that Michigan State nearly got into scoring position (had the Poor Man's Kirk Cousins not shit the bed) in just 17 seconds, a field goal would have only tied the game. It would have prevented another Husker loss for at least a couple overtime possessions.

--PYB would also like to ask why Nebraska's special teams guru elected to squib the final kickoff and relinquish position near midfield? Drew Brown had booted every kick going that direction through the end zone. We never played college football, but we've always been under the impression that it is better to have an opponent start from its own 25 with 17 seconds to go 50 yards than it is to start from midfield and have 17 seconds to go 30 yards. Maybe we're all wet. Anyway, it's the little things that kill. Play calling. Clock management. Fundamentals. No biggie.

--Mixing in some positive notes. It was a good fucking thing that Michigan State's secondary was nearly as bad as Nebraska's. Joe Ganz called it in his radio segment Friday. Said #44 for MSU was so bad that Jordan Westerkamp should get 200 yards receiving. Had he not gotten hurt four different times, it likely would have happened.

--It was also a good fucking thing that Connor Cook (is there a bigger pussy name than Connor?) apparently thought he was playing a big game and sucked in the first quarter. Nine yards. PYB also liked it when Mark Dantonio pulled a red-hot (translation: realized NU's defense was brutal) Cook in favor of the running quarterback.  Al Golden loved the move.

--It was a good thing that the Spartans wasted 34 running attempts while gaining just 143 yards. Considering they were passing at will and could have won by three touchdowns given NU's inconsistent coaching and playing, it was a pathetic move.

--The last and best good thing was when Michigan State dropped the game-losing interception that Armstrong tried to throw on the final drive. Had they held on, it would have been another disastrous result of his Hero Ball mentality. Enough is enough, and as a third-year starter, the continued bullshit errors and forced passes need to stop.

--Nate Gerry recorded a team-high 14 tackles, masking the fact that he was once again awful in the secondary. His coverage gaffes gave up at least two touchdowns. What, outside of point shaving, could explain his precipitous fall from pretty good to horrible? Point shaving sound extreme? Watch this video. A brutal 7.5 minutes, indeed.

--PYB chuckles at the Twitterers who continue to whine about Nebraska not pressuring any opposing quarterback. Let's remember, pressure usually comes defensive ends. After Randy Gregory left the program for better weed and the NFL, the NU administration booted the only decent player remaining at the position - the crank-shotting Avery Moss (remember, they fucked him around for more than a year before cutting ties). The ends garnering almost all the playing time currently are known best for having a stupid fucking mustache and for killing a raccoon. Good luck with that.

The only other way to pressure a quarterback consistently is via the blitz. Considering the secondary can't cover anyone and that there is a speed deficit combined with poor timing on said blitzes, it's a dangerous cocktail.

PYB, can't you just enjoy the victory? Why are you so negative? Yeah, we enjoyed it and were likely jumping around like every other washed-up, 40-year-old Nebraska fan in the country during the comeback. We were happy.

But overlooking the litany of problems and inefficiencies will do Nebraska no good, if it really hopes to be great once again. Admitting even the smallest weakness and fixing it is the only way to excellence. Being OK with being mediocre ensures two things: more mediocrity and a shitload of blog fodder for fools like us.

Expect to be great, dear readers. Or expect more losses than wins.

On to New Jersey, where the Big 14 brought in Rutgers to capture that New York City market. Surely, New Yorkers will stop everything they're doing Saturday to watch this game.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Let It Go

PYB was suprised Saturday. Not surprised that Nebraska found new ways to lose to another awful team. But surprised that NU fans and media were surprised that it happened and surprised that they all clamored about being shocked and dismayed by this 'new low.' Anyone who didn't see this coming had their head in the clouds the last 10 years. All we saw was the Purdue money line and a big fat +280.

Starting a quarterback who had looked overwhelmed in very limited mop-up duty that past two seasons. What could possibly go wrong?? NU's 'better passing quarterback' had thrown for 1921 yards in just 12 games as a senior at Grand Island High. Won't miss a beat, they said, when in reality it's a formula for having a team hang half-a-hundred on you while winning their first Big 14 game since 2012.

Let's work down our list of arbitrary observations, as any evaluation about what the Nebraska football program is or what it wants to be is a waste of time that could be spent reading the emergency evacuation instruction card on our current flight to Phoenix.

On with the show, that is hopefully better than the ESPN broadcast that features countless examples of missed camera work and even more mispronunciations. Hell, even Anna from Frozen got no love:

--Purdue was bad. Probably the worst team PYB has seen Nebraska succumb to in the last 30+ years. Slow. Unathletic. Poorly coached. BUT, they did hang close to Michigan State. They had to smell a turd in the water, knowing Nebraska was circling the toilet bowl long before Ryker Fyfe was named the starter in place of the injured Tommy Armstrong. Even the worst teams can get up for one game. When that game is against another bad team, with no talent, leadership, pride or direction -- the only thing left is another embarrassing L and a set of brown streaks on the white porcelain.

--Injuries: Why so many? Are the players just pussies? Is it bad luck? That would seemingly be the only explanation when the team's one playmaker blows his knee out simply jogging behind a teammate who just scored a touchdown. Is it a result of the horrendous 'strength and conditioning' program under Bo Pinelli -- Slower, Fatter, Weaker? (Editor's Reminder: The last S&C coach "didn't believe in 40 yard dash times." Is it bodies breaking because they were soft and now required to train like real athletes? PYB's conclusion: Who the fuck knows?

--Darrell Hazell is a shitty fucking coach and should be fired. He was inept, in an Al Golden type of way. Going for it on fourth downs instead of punting. Passing for two straight drives with a three-score, fourth-quarter lead and keeping NU in the game. Nice guy or not, he and his Dukes of Hazzard hat bill are
an embarrassment to Division I coaching.

--Speaking of embarrassments, Nate Gerry wins the award as the Huskers' LVP. A player who showed All-Conference promise now blows countless assignments and coverages. Looked his worst against the Boilermakers. Video even showed him elbowing Daniel Davie off coverage of a Purdue receiver. Conpsiracy, Twitter nerds asked? PYB doubts any member of the Blackskirts defense is talented enough or smart enough to execute such a premeditated act. Another awful play? Damn right.

--Davie: Outright disaster. Guy couldn't stay within seven yards of a South Alabama wide receiver, so Mark Banker rolls him out Saturday during conference play. Strong. The worst starting cornerback PYB has seen at Nebraska, and that includes Erwin Swiney.

--Fyfe: Racist Nebraska fans got their wish Saturday, when the White walkon got his first start. They saw the result, which as all too predictable for anyone who's watched sports for more than three weeks. Division II players make Division III plays in Division I games. The botched recovery of the botched shotgun snap was proof of that. Panic at the Disco, it was.

If Fyfe's sidearm delivery resulted in four interceptions against one of the nation's worst defenses, we shudder when imagining the carnage on Saturday against MSU's Spartans. At least the whole nation will get to witness it in this weeks' prime time kickoff.

--Danny Langsdorf: Or if you work 11am games for ESPN9, Danny Langsford. One would think that an offensive coordinator, knowing he's got a more-subpar-than-usual quarterback, would tighten things up a bit. Throw fewer than 40 times. Work a little power running game. YES, we know the offensive line sucks. But, we also know that Andy Janovich has looked like NU's best back this season and has gotten two carries in each of the last two weeks.

We know that running twice and having a manageable 3rd-and-medium (hell, we'd take a 3rd & 8 most drives if the clock was running) is better than risking 40+ passes with a bad quarterback. We know that shortening the game and not giving away frivolous scores to a bad team keeps the score close. We know that bad teams (like Purdue....and Nebraska) choke in pressure situations when the score is close. NU could eventually back into a win or two with such a strategy. We know that the New York Giants won a Super Bowl or three doing so.

But we think we know, after nine games of this hemorrhoid-inducing ride, that this coaching staff is more concerned with validating their system than they are about winning immediately. There could be no other explanation. PYB says finding a happy medium of new system tweaked around current level of pathetic talent could mean a 5-4 record. Still awful, but not as crippling as 3-6 will likely be for this programs long-term psyche.

For now, we're back to square one and staring down the barrel of a 3-9 season. A state wonders on how much time a staff like this deserves to flounder in a historically bad conference. A million Chicken Littles do their best to place blame at the feet of a chancellor and an athletic director, while local media mainstays throw vague assertions of the same like chum in the water.

The same writers who made no mention of such rifts immediately following the Mike Riley hire now drop weekly dimes of this nature, complete with a twist of I Told You So. In a time when newspapers are going the way of Nebraska football conference championships, this sad story is their golden ticket to relevance. A nasty cycle of domestic violence that, each time, tastes a little more familiar. A little more cold.

Bring it on, one more time. The cold never bothered us anyway.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

So Caught Up, NU

Nebraska football fans are stuck in the past, and the only thing they're more likely to do than reminisce about the 1995 college football national championship team being the best there ever was is to attend a concert by a 1980s band at least 25 years past its prime while posting countless pictures on Facebook and pretending that band is a still a legitimate entity. Def Leppard, Elton John, .38 Special -- take your pick. They're so caught up, on NU, that they keep expecting satisfactory results when the team shows as much potential as Motley Crue does on its most recent, "final" tour.

The latest leg on NU's 2015 Ineptitude Tour was a 30-28 home loss to Northwestern in yesterday's 11am "Pam Ward Game." Making matters worse was the fact the 1995 team members attended the game and were honored at halftime. Tommie Frazier looked unhealthy, and reminded us all the nobody outruns Father Time. Clester Johnson, Tony Veland and Chris Dishman reminded us that Nebraska high schools used to produce Division I football talent. Both linemen and skill players. Both black and white.

Damon Benning wore aviator sunglasses, and pretended to be the ring leader of the group and pretended that he was a factor on that team. Lance Brown did Fireball shots off an ice luge and reminded everyone why he was known for being an idiot more than anything he did on the field. And Terrell Farley made us smile briefly, then cry, because he was fucking awesome. And then gone. And Lincoln has seen nothing like him since.

As for the NU Wildcats, they did little, if anything, to win the game. Nebraska effectively played against the computer -- and still lost. It was a turd of epic proportions, right up there with the eight-turnover, I'm-so-proud-to-be-your-coach Iowa State job. Another for the annals of this 'woe is me' season of so many close losses. Never mind that they've been completely self-inflicted and to teams like Miami that got bottle blasted 58-0, at home, to Clemson yesterday.

NU and Mike Riley likely sealed their fate as bowl outsiders. They did so as a member of the nation's worst "Power Conference" and subjected their fans to 12 more months of self-loathing, turned to spinning by Spring football, turned to Summer delusion. By August 2016, the Cornhuskers will once again be on-paper tigers.

One week after a near-blowout win on the road at Minnesota, Nebraska fell back to Earth by doing nearly everything wrong. Or actually nothing at all. PYB will roll roughshod during today's entry, Dear Diary. If NU can't bother to build a coherent game plan in a full week of practice and can't manage to build an identity in nearly two decades, why should we?

--We should have expected another stale effort in Lincoln Saturday. ESPN began the proceedings with its latest bad installment of College Gameday, this time from the campus of James Madison, as it looks to squeeze a few nickels from the FCS coffers while commercializing and ruining one more tier of college football. Multiple hours of hype and nonsense, ending with game picks from its weekly celebrity (Dierks Bentley - the country singer that went to the University of Vermont), two ESPNers that cannot put two sentences together for different reasons (Lee Corso -- stroke/old age. Desmond Howard -- idiot) and a holier-than-thou Kirk Herbstreit -- a guy who abstains from picking any games which he'll announce later that day while gladly taking blowjobs from campus co-eds who aren't his wife.

--NU Offensive Coordinator Danny Langsdorf has taken a lot of valid criticism this season for his Pull and Pray Offense. When in doubt, go deep. When you finally hit one deep, do it more. PYB has been a regular critic. This type of offense has as much consistency as the Pull and Pray method of birth control, and comes complete with the next-day regrets and unintended, mostly-very-negative consequences.

But Saturday, Langsdorf was given little choice, as the Nebraska offensive line had its worst performance of the season by far. Better said, it was a fucking joke. Zach Sterup whiffed more than Alfonso Soriano in an MLB playoff series. Stop passing, fans said, and run the fucking ball. The numbers tell another story:

By PYB's count, NU had 34 first down plays. NU ran on 19 of those. NU netted 51 yards on those 19 tries. That's 2.68 yards per carry, and average of 2nd & 8. That won't cut it -- not even in the rugged Big 10. Against bad teams. That got blasted in successive weeks by Iowa and then Michigan with Iowa's castoff quarterback.

Do we think Langsdorf could use quarterback Tommy Armstrong's running ability better (anyone else see the option run for a touchdown)? Do we think he could protect Armstrong more, by calling at least a few passes he could actually complete? Do we think Andy Janovich, who's averaged seven yards a carry this season, should get more than two afterthought carries? Do we think 48 passing attempts is too many, whatever the circumstance? Do we think the Hero Ball mentality does more harm than good, where one long, lucky pass completion often breeds 10 more bad throws? The answer is Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes.

But, the cupboard is bare. On the offensive line. At running back. At receiver, where the star (Jordan Westerkamp) is a number-two receiver who's surrounded by a bunch of number-threes. As a group, they had at least five drops yesterday, including two potential touchdowns and at least 75 yards in unrealized yardage. At quarterback, where the staff ignores Armstrong's limitations. And he continues to make too many errors, use poor mechanics, take too many risks and underthrow every deep ball by a several yards. Could he be an effective college quarterback, with the proper management? We say absolutely, but two-thirds of the way through his college career, it appears we'll never know.

Another disheartening note was Riley's game mismanagement. His use of a timeout before Northwestern's 3rd and 3 late in the fourth quarter rendered his last two timeouts useless once his Blackskirt defense relinquished a first down. Eight games into his Nebraska career, his amateurish grasp of the clock and wind has been bad enough to make Frank Solich blush.

PYB received some requests to cover certain topics this week, mostly due to our laziness following the Minnesota game, and because we asked for ideas since we have little to say that hasn't been said 100 times.

Terrell Newby: He's the Anti-Abdullah. Doesn't fumble. No vision. No jukes. No running through tackles. No yards after contact. No cutbacks. Needs blocking to gain yardage. Could be a nice third-down option in an offense with a quarterback capable of throwing screen passes. As it stands, he's Exhibit A as to just how shallow NU's talent pool is. (Side note: Has anyone seen how bad the Detroit Lions offensive line is? Abdullah spends more time running for his life than he did in Lincoln).

Alonzo Moore: Has made some athletic plays on jump balls. As for his potential as a legitimate wide receiver, we won't know until he has a quarterback who can lead his targets on deep balls and consistently hit them coming out of breaks. Looks like a long strider who would only excel with a pure passer at the helm. For now, it appears we'll get glimpses of his alleged talent followed by games like Northwestern where he's not a factor. One catch, seven yards. As for his utility as a weapon on the jet sweep -- scrap it. Doesn't work. Not shifty enough.

Jordan Stevenson: Not  much commentary is needed here. His performance speaks for itself. One would think he'd have broken one for more than 20 yards by now by accident. Not so. Can he play running back? Can Devine Ozigbo? If none of these guys can steal reps from Newby -- what does that say?

So, maybe the 1995 team members stood horrified on the sidelines, wondering how in the world Solich tazed the program into a 18-year-and-running stupor. Maybe they exhaled, relieved they never had to be part of a such a disaster.

Whatever and however it happened, it's reality. And looking back to the glamour era won't help anything. It will only ensure more morning kickoffs on ESPNU. More embarrassing losses. And more depressing winters in Lincoln, where the only glimmer of hope comes on days when a washed-up rock band rolls into town to extract a few more dollars from fans still holding on to memories of better times.

Holding on, loosely....


Sunday, October 11, 2015

One for the Thumb?

PYB never played college football. But, while watching Nebraska gift another win to another awful Big Ten (redundant) opponent, here are some things that may help turn two-point losses to bad teams into wins against bad teams.


 Use them. Or in Nebraska's case -- use him.

-DeMornay Pierson-El made one mistake on his first play after returning from injury. He's been banned from punt returns ever since, in favor of Jordan Westerkamp's Panico Method. Nebraska's pedestrian offense and poor passing game are known entities. The team needs some scoring punch. So, coaches are comfortable letting Tommy Armstrong underthrow ball after ball after ball downfield and into the wind at a Gabbertian clip of four yards an attempt, but aren't comfortable giving DPE a chance at redemption after scoring three times in 2014?

Westerkamp has averaged 12.2 yards in four attempts, a nice fill-in job when not fair catching. DPE averaged 17 yards a return in 2014, with a long of 86. Most importantly, he had the knack for making the first man miss and turning a fair catch or no gain into a gain of five to 15 yards. Precious real estate indeed, when your offense is garbage. Mike Riley is turning 'catch-the-ball-kind-of-games' into lose-the-game-kind-of-games.

Offensive Identity

-Find one. Run the ball and minimize mistakes, instead of passing 28 times in swirling winds, against a mediocre team, with an inconsistent quarterback who completed 10 of 31 passes a week prior in swirling winds against a bad team. Rocket surgery, apparently.

Nebraska ran the ball 37 times Saturday for 196 yards. Hardly oustanding numbers, but still more than five yards a carry -- as it has been all season.

Running Back Rotation

Use common sense.

Use your best runners the most. Shorten games. Keep the nation's worst pass defense off the field as much as possible.

Andy Janovich has proven to be Nebraska's best back this year, but got three carries Saturday. Two afterthoughts and then a 56-yard touchdown on which he broke away from the pack. He looks like Nebraska's fastest in-game back, yet still can't get consistent touches. Had 30 yards on six carries on what should have been the game-winning drive against Illinois, but can't get the ball on first or second down on NU's final possession yesterday. OK. What. The. Fuck. Ever.

Terrell Newby is mediocre. His 3.9 yards per carry yesterday sums up his ability as a back perfectly. Good at ball security, and nothing else. Limited vision. Indecisive. Too small and/or weak to break contact and turn three-yard gains into seven-yard gains.

Imani Cross has made some nice power runs this year. Deserves five carries a game. Trucked a Wisconsin defender, to the delight of the Nebraska fans. Should not have carried the ball on first and second downs on Nebraska's game-losing drive.

Devine Ozigbo showed promise in his first significant action against Illinois. Got three carries yesterday. Apparently, NU Head Coach Mike Riley has adopted Private Bo Pinelli's Permanent One-Game Starter system.

Jordan Stevenson burned his redshirt to return one kick for 14 yards and bobble the ball on an 18-yard loss that ended the game. If the kid demanded to play or transfer, shouldn't a coaching staff with 100 years of experience be able to negotiate its way to a better solution than that?

Passing Game

Castrate it.

Gets worse each week. Armstrong is 21/59 the last two weeks and underthrows almost every single deep ball. The Omaha World Herald should have that ugly stat ready for us later today. He can't hit a running back on a screen play, so in crunch time, NU dialed up an even more complex wide receiver screen. Botched.

Armstrong's BFF, Westerkamp, has three catches the last two weeks for 16 yards. Even the good plays are essentially jump balls. Alonzo Moore made a nice catch for a touchdown at the end of the first half. It surely encouraged more bad play calls by Danny Langsdorf and Armstrong's hero complex in the second half. Even worse, the play got Top 10 accolades on ESPN Sportscenter. Style being rewarded over substance. The new age of college football. Fuck that.

Most horrifying is that after NU rushed for nine yards on its first first down of the game, Langsdorf found a way to overpass his offense into 2nd & 10  SIX times the rest of the game while setting the unit up in 2nd & 9 three times. That's NINE possessions begun with little or no gain. That won't work for an offense without any big-play players (besides the fullback).

Situational Football

Learn it.

Riley and company butchered the clock twice more Saturday. Say what you will about whether NU should have fired a pass on its final possession. Maybe so. But PYB knows that bad teams can't piss away chunks of yards multiple times a game by screwing up the most elementary principles of clock and wind management.

  • Pass on 3rd & 4 at the end of the first quarter. Miss. Punt 39 yards into the wind down to the 20-yard line instead of pinning Wisconsin deeper.
  • Take the wind in the third quarter, because Riley said NU 'had the momentum.' Knowing full well that both teams struggle to score points, it was a rookie move.
  • At the end of the third quarter, NU ran the ball on second down and let about 30 seconds tick off the clock so that it had the honor of throwing an incomplete pass on 3rd & 4 and then punting into the wind to start the fourth quarter. 


Try it, sometime.
  • Nine penalties for 89 yards. An unsportsmanlike conduct on Riley that put his team into 2nd and 25.  PYB thought that's one reason why NU hired a creepy nice guy in place of an asshole. Six weeks into 2015, the Huskers are the nation's ninth-most-penalized team 
  • Another 15-yard flag for a late hit out of bounds.
  • An illegal formation penalty (one of several this season) wiped out a long Armstrong run.
So, another expected loss to another bad opponent, and Riley seems to offer no answers in the interim. Media and fans are now forced to scratch their heads at a 2-4 start and pore over the remaining schedule to look for four possible wins and a shot at bowl eligibility:

Minnesota - Can't score on anyone not named Purdue

Northwestern - Started its yearly meltdown yesterday by getting rolled at Michigan.

Purdue - We are who we thought they were. Terrible.

Michigan State - Overrated after looking bad all year and nearly losing to Rutgers. Too good for NU.

Rutgers - Awful, but so was Illinois.

Iowa - Getting fat on cupcakes and just pedestrian enough to let NU hang itself during the Thanksgiving weekend season finale.

There it is, NU's remaining slate. Six shitty teams and MAYBE two wins. Four wins and eight losses is real. And it's not spectacular.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Talk Soup

PYB chimes in with a short mid-week post. Compelled by the he said-he said fiasco from Nebraska's weekly football press conference Monday, a few thoughts:

--After spending 10,000 words spinning about how great Nebraska did to almost beat Illinois last weekend, Mike Riley finally addressed the 'elephant in the room' by giving a shitty answer about why he and Tommy Armstrong lost the game for their team. Apparently, it was a play that is normally a pass but was 'tagged' as a run. Complete idiocy. Always a good policy to over-engineer what should be the easiest play in the book when trying to close out a road victory, especially considering one's players aren't playing football because they're trying to get Engineering degrees.

Armstrong followed up with an answer just as bad, if not worse. See, he didn't want to lose yardage and get knocked out of field goal range, even though Riley ultimately opted not to kick a field goal when they didn't lose yardage. So, he fired a pass to preserve field position instead of winning the game. Confused? Well, we are fucking confused. Questions abound. Most notably:

  • Shouldn't the fourth-down strategy have been discussed during the timeout preceding third down? All parties should have known the plan. Apparently, such advanced skills only come with coaches making $5 million or more.
  • If your quarterback does not have enough critical thinking skills to make an in-play decision that a 10th-grade quarterback should, is he Division I material in the first place? Armstrong ended by answering a question on how he stays positive after blowing a game. He, of course, stays positive by taking a not-so-hidden swipe at the fans who help pay for his education and fill Memorial Stadium every week for more than 15 years after NU has put an acceptable product on the field! Born leader.
“I’m fine. I don’t let it bother me. I’ve been in tougher situations than this. I’m fine. I’m going to drive on. I play for my team and coaches. I don’t play for anyone else but them. I play for my family. That’s about it. That’s my whole mindset. Those guys are my family. What they think matters. I don’t let any other outside force drive me to play how I am and affect how I play.”
  • Is Armstrong really attributing some blame to Devine Ozigbo for 'dropping' the pass?
  • He also said that if Ozigbo had made the catch, nobody would be talking about the play. Actually, yes people would be. Fans and coaches who knew football strategy would still be laughing at you. Players who have been poorly trained and don't see the disastrous consequences that come from a lack of planning and decision making are blind to it. 
  • The blame game would not have been complete without a final dig at Cethan Carter for not going into motion. (Side note: PYB thinks Carter needs give up the Chronic until his eligibility expires) Remember, the quarterback of a team is allegedly the field general. But, TA is playing for his teammates. Of course he is.
With so much sports fodder available yesterday in Lincoln, the Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel mailed it in Monday after actually showing some balls in his Sunday column. Said all the right things? Please. Just stick to the Nacho Report, Tom.

Fear not, Husker fans. This week is a good matchup for NU, according to the Blackskirts themselves. PYB has watched Joel Stave and Wes Lunt. Both are bad quarterbacks, but we give Stave the edge in this comparison. Also, we remember the fact that Nebraska's secondary can make anyone an All-American for a week.

Anyway, the Huskers are circling the wagons and using the 'playing for pride' mantra three weeks early this season. Badgers 31-10.

Finally, Irving Fryar is going up the river for five years for a mortgage scam. He's a pastor. If he needed the money, couldn't he have just tricked his congregation into donating 10% of their earnings?

All we got. Enjoy your week.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Repeat After Me

PYB is shocked, yet unsurprised, at the level of futility that the Nebraska football team achieved Saturday against Illinois. Shocked, that an alleged veteran coach, made such an unforgivable error at the end of NU's eventual loss in Champaign. Unsurprised that this pathetic team found yet another way to shit the bed. Saddened, that no matter how bad this next chapter of ineptitude is, and how bad it is bound to become, there seems to be no way out.

On with the post-mortem:

-Nebraska passed 31 times in windy conditions and completed 10 of them.

-NU ran for more than five yards an attempt, again, and lost to a bad team.

-Nebraska hoped to get a boost from its only offensive playmaker, as De'Mornay Pierson-El returned from injury. He muffed his first punt return attempt. Illinois recovered. Pierson-El never came back as a returner. NU settled for fair catches from Jordan Westerkamp the rest of the game. So, Pierson-El can have four punt return touchdowns in 2014, prove himself as one of Nebraska's biggest playmakers in 20 years, make one mistake, and then ride the pine for time everlasting? Makes perfect sense -- especially for a team that racked up 13 points against an awful Fighting Illini squad.

-NU's defense did a good job for three quarters, then pissed the bed when it mattered. Up 13-0, the Blackskirts began giving up completions. Completions that had been missed by scatter-armed Wes Lunt and his far-from-elite receivers up to that point. Nate Gerry does what he does to prevent from becoming an all-conference player -- tanked an assignment -- and let a receiver get behind him for a 50-yard gain. It led to the game-losing touchdown.

--Mike Riley's coaching staff will have to withstand a monsoon of negativity this week. Deservedly so. Fans will need to realize they're stuck with this staff for a while, and crushing Riley & Co. this early will only alienate the players even more, especially if they bought into the bullshit that Bo Pinelli taught them about the fan base being the enemy. PYB still can't fathom a veteran coach, much less one with NFL experience, can not realize that any road win at any level of football is a good one. Time to get out of Dodge.

The coaches, on the other hand, need to gain the public's trust. Not necessarily by winning every game but by teaching their pupils to play error-free (or at least smart) football and by not consistently tanking games with poor fundamentals, bad play calling and pathetic clock management. A junior-high error such as Saturday's will take years to overcome, in terms of getting fans to buy back in. And it may never be possible. Sad, indeed.

--Another sad reality is the softness of NU's players. Alex Lewis finds new ways to act like an idiot and finds no ways to be a good offensive lineman. Tommy Armstrong cried on his dad's arm after the BYU loss and ditched his media obligations on Saturday. That's one third of your 2015 team captaincy in action. Another (Gerry) blew a coverage at the worst time possible. Jordan Westerkamp had -1 receiving yard. Maliek Collins, was the only leader to make a difference against Illinois. That won't cut it.

--Those who didn't want Scott Frost hired last fall as NU head coach said he wasn't ready for the spotlight. Lacked experience as the top dog. Does he know enough to run the ball with 55 seconds remaining, deep in the opponent's territory, when that opponent is out of timeouts? PYB thinks so.

--How long until we get to hear the "our goals of winning the Big 14 West are still intact" platitude? Or was that just a favorite of the Pinelli regime.

--Geronimo Allison, who caught the 'game-winning' touchdown Saturday, is a JUCO transfer from Iowa Western -- a school an hour from Lincoln that Pinelli's regime made a point to ignore for reasons unknown. A little more salt for a gaping wound. Pride comes before the fall.

--With its late meltdown, Nebraska's Blackskirts still hold the title as the nation's worst pass defense. Both stylistically and statistically.

--PYB watched the NU and Ohio State games simultaneously Saturday, along with a neighbor/Buckeye fan. The numbers and his opinion prove that Tim Beck is well on his way to trashing one of the nation's most high-powered offenses in a matter of weeks. Great job, @CoachTimBeck! Our neighbor said he feels the OSU offense spends more time trying to be 'cute' than it does feeding one of the nation's top running backs. Sound familiar?

That's all we care to have at this point. Board up the windows for a bad media week in Lincoln and another loss when Wisconsin and its moribund offense rolls into town. Jump around.


PS -- The St. Louis Rams got the ball yesterday against Arizona, leading by two points and with less than a minute left. Arizona had no timeouts. Coach Jeff Fisher made sure his team ran the ball and the clock ran out and the Rams won.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Golden Shower

PYB awakes and apologizes, kind of, for not writing a Southern Miss recap until now. We'll keep it short, because everyone can see the glaring problems within the 2015 Nebraska football team. They're more 'multiple' than a Bo Pinelli offense.

-Tommy Armstrong is racking up yardage at quarterback, but the offense still can't control a game. Inconsistent line. No gamebreakers at wide receiver. Its best runner is a fullback. And Armstrong still misses enough throws to force NU to settle for a missed field goal attempt or a punt. He may be the worst screen passer ever, which is a bad thing in an offense that relies heavily on the screen pass.

-At running back, Terrell Newby has trouble hitting creases made by a line that can't produce holes. Imani Cross is terrible and nearly fumbled the game away. Andy Janovich looked better than both of them, and the racist fans in Memorial Stadium collectively jerked off every time he got a carry. Was it nice to see a fullback tearing up a defense from the inside out? Sure. Will that be there every game, especially in the rugged Big 10 that excels only in having fat, slow guys in the middle of the crabgrass field? No.

-At receiver, Armstrong's man crush Jordan Westerkamp had 11 catches for 118 and has shown a constant knack to get open. Several others have shown promise, including Stanley Morgan and Brandon Reilly. None of them stretch a defense or are a threat to take the ball to the endzone at any time. Local media outlets, of course, are lauding DeMornay Pierson-El as the offense's savior as he returns from a fractured foot today in Illinois.

They're forgetting, of course, that Pierson-El was the nation's best punt returner last year but that punt returners rely on planting their feet and cutting to avoid tacklers and that having an injured foot may not help. They're also forgetting, of course, that he was just emerging as a wide receiver by last season's end and was hardly an every-game threat to score on passing plays. They're also forgetting that he's never run a jet sweep for a Mike Riley team. Assuming he will revitalize a mediocre offense with a subpar line is extremely presumptuous.

The defense is a shit show. It's only strength, defensive tackle, has been weakened with the continued absence of Vincent Valentine. Outside of Freedom Akalakboomboom, who makes an occasional play on athletic prowess alone, there are no defensive ends. The linebacking corps is limited by the absence of two oft-injured players who continue to find ways not to make an impact -- Michael Rose-Ivey and Josh Banderas. The unit has to rely on a true freshman that shows some promise but is frequently out of position (Dedrick Young) and a walkon from Elkhorn (Chris Weber).

The secondary is a disaster. Nate Gerry makes plays at times and then shocking blunders at others. Josh Kalu shows athletic promise but limited cover skills every time he's six yards away from covering an eight-yard post pattern. Chris Jones looks like he takes cornerbacking lessons from Daniel Davie. And Jonathan Rose looks like a decent backup cornerback forced to play as the team's best cornerback. The secondary gave up 447 yards against Southern Miss. It's going to be a long season. The offense will need to shorten games to help the defense.

Let's not forget special teams. Drew Brown is 8/9 for the season on meaningless field goals. He's 0/3 on meaningful field goals and nearly tanked a second game against the Golden Eagles. The kick return team inexplicably wasn't ready for an onside kick, let Southern Miss recover, and nearly gave the game away in the process.

There you have it. Yet another effort that left more serious questions and few positive answers. Private Pinelli left no talent, and the poor strength and conditioning of the last few years is showing in the litany of injuries on both offense and defense. NU is a seven-point favorite today in Champaign against an awful Illini squad. PYB would be happy with a win. We're not expecting one. Jammal Lord only knows when this team will finally hit rock bottom and begin improving.

We continue onward with a couple miscellaneous notes:

-Dork Chatelain bragged on Pinelli's ability shut down future NFL quarterbacks while head coach at Nebraska. Apparently, he'd had his head buried in a jar of rubber cement while compiling this drivel. The juggernauts he listed as proof of Pinelli's genius:

Tyrod Taylor - Scatter-armed at Virginia Tech and a temporary project starter in Buffalo, as Rex Ryan tries to turn him into the next Geno Smith.

Blaine Gabbert - Never attempted a pass longer than six yards at Mizzou. So bad that Jacksonville ran him off. Now backing up Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco. One of the biggest pussies in NFL history, Gabbert has a 53% career completion rate and a 5.6 yards per attempt average.

Colt McCoy - While at Texas, faked an injury and his way out of the national title game because he was scared of the Alabama defense. Backing up Kirk Cousins and RGQueen in Washington. Need we say more about his NFL career

Nick Foles - The best of the bunch. Mysteriously traded to St. Louis this offseason. Was overwhelmed by a Pinelli defense loaded with talent that Bill Callahan brought to Lincoln.

Nathan Enderle - Who? Dominating an Idaho quarterback who had zero passing attempts in the NFL was apparently worth listing.

Jake Locker - Constantly injured and bad enough that he lost his job to Zach Mettenberger in Tennessee. Out of the league after four miserable seasons.

Brandon Weeden - Awful in Cleveland. We all saw him tanking last week in Dallas. Completion rate of 57%. 27 touchdowns. 29 interceptions.

Ryan Tannehill - A slightly above average college quarterback who has somehow hoodwinked the Dolphins into paying him like an NFL star when he's average, at best. The Dolphins suck again in 2015.

Great analysis, Dork.

Finally, PYB can't confirm if any of this Iowa State story is true. But we did see Fred Hoiberg take a connecting flight in Dallas while
on his way to Los Angeles for a recruiting trip. He sat in coach. At least he had an aisle seat. If that's too inconvenient for most salespeople making $100,000 a year, we can't imagine a coach making $2 million a year enjoyed it much.

Hoiberg had to know that Iowa State was not committed to being an elite program, especially when Louisville was regularly paying hundreds of dollars for recruits and players to get their dicks sucked at the dorms while he couldn't get a first-class seat or a direct flight. Ouch.

Side note: Louisville coach Rick Pitino was obviously shocked by the allegations, as he was likely too busy prematurely ejaculating into a woman who was not his wife at a local eatery.

Enjoy your Saturday, and don't forget your Power Towel.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Miami Unsound Machines

PYB checks in fresh off four hours of sleep, after watching the finish of Saturday's Nebraska-Miami football game of mediocre teams for the ages for the first time early this morning. Stuck on an uber ride en route to an unavoidable anniversary dinner, we watched 33-18 turn into 33-33 and then, inevitably, 36-33. Wild works, at times, against poorly coached teams (See: Miami/Al Golden). Wild doesn't work, as a rule of thumb. On to it, with some snap judgments. A full-blown, microanalysis is both repetitive and pointless, as we all know that Private Bo Pinelli left too many problems to count on his way out
the door.

--Fire Al Golden banners flew above the stadium before the game. They were warranted. Golden took a page from the Pinelli Handbook of Operational Inefficiency, turning a potential 28-0 lead into a 20-3 margin and forgetting to run the ball on three consecutive fourth-quarter drives. When ABC's Rod Gilmore notices, it's fair to say he fucked up. Let's also not forget that he pulled a red-hot Brad Kaaya, who hadn't seen a receiver of his covered all game, in favor of his running quarterback for a red-zone read option package. UM's near-meltdown should begin the end.

--Nebraska has one proven offensive playmaker in De'Mornay Pierson-El. He's out several more weeks. Outside of that, not one other player who can score from distance on a consistent basis -- against teams not named South Alabama. That's not going to work.

--Tommy Armstrong. Game effort. Not a ton of help from his receivers for the first 3 quarters of the game. Still too many missed throws. Still too many big misses that kill drives and/or risk interceptions. Taariq Allen was open on the first play of overtime. The ball was 10 yards underthrown. Turnover. 21/45. 309 yards. 4 TDs. 3 INTs. Armstrong needs a more consistent running game and coaches who will protect him. Neither is likely to happen any time soon. (Side note: NU did average almost five yards per carry for the game).

--Alex Lewis. Penalty Machine. On Saturday, Lewis wasn't happy with his garden variety false starts and holding penalties. He added a game loser in Miami, taking a blatant, stupid cheap shot following the Hurricanes' overtime interception. It put Miami in chip-shot field goal range to start its overtime possession and ended Nebraska's hope of a miracle victory. The lesson here: Lewis is a liability (misses many assignments, racks up penalties and is consistent only in making bad plays) and it's still easier to beat the shit out of a kid outside a bar than to block a Division I defensive lineman. In the words of Paul Silas, C U Next Tuesday.

--Terrell Newby confirmed what we thought we knew. He's a decent running back. Nothing more. Nothing less. Reliable with the ball, thus far. No chance to break the game open. Considering the offensive line play, that won't be enough for this team.

--Imani Cross: After taking some considerable heat from PYB the last couple seasons, he has had some nice power runs this year. Unfortunately, the coaches haven't tried to establish that consistently.

--Mikale Wilbon: Showed flashes against BYU. Perhaps more than any other Cornhusker back this season. Hasn't played since. Huh?

--Brandon Reilly: Proved he's a legitimate major college player Saturday. Had the speed to get past Miami defensive backs several times and held on to the ball after at least two big hits. That's more than can be said for several of his counterparts.

--Stanley Morgan, Jr: Showed flashes. Let's hope he becomes a playmaker, and soon.

--Nate Gerry: NU's only defensive stud. Hits with authority. Hawks the ball, at times. The Blackskirts need five more like him.

--Daniel Davie: Career over. Did the Nebraska coaches really not have enough sample size to know that he was incapable of covering receivers? South Alabama destroyed him, for fuck's sake, a week ago. In essence, they spotted the Canes 17 points (remember: should have been 28 but Golden did his best Frank Solich) and the win. Madness.

--Pass rush: Lack of defensive ends is quite apparent. Neutralize the tackles and make a moribund bunch on the edge beat you. Won't happen. Freedom Akalakaboomboom has shown some promise, but those occasions have been few and far between.

--Linebackers: Still sporadic. A T-shirt of the week, at best. Michael Rose-Ivey hasn't shown playmaking skills against top-tier teams. (No, we're not claiming Miami is top tier, but they have some speed). Banderas was exposed as slow Saturday. Dedrick Young is young and appears to be out of position by just enough enough times to relinquish big gains. Understandable, but yet another point of vulnerability.

--Secondary: Davie was an unmitigated disaster. Josh Kalu has some skills but isn't a fluid cover guy -- needs to be a safety. Jonathan Rose showed some promise. He'll need to continue to grow, or the next nine games won't be pretty. Chris Jones was burned several times. Trai Mosley is rarely used, so obviously doesn't have the coaches' stamp of approval and won't be a major contributor this season, if ever. Byerson Cockring tries, but will never cover good receivers successfully.

--All-White Uniforms: Continued their run of futility. Seriously, if one could find the numbers -- the only thing more staggering than the pathetic Win-Loss record would be the Points For-Points Against column. It's a pussy look. Go Big Red. Come out in all white. Put it to bed.

--Special teams: A smoldering cigarette in a dry forest at all times. Sam Foltz was in his normal big-game form early, with two consecutive near shanks in the first quarter. Yes, we know he's injured. But let's not forget this is his modus operandi, before flourishing late in the game when NU is behind by three touchdowns.

Drew Brown made a field goal, but every kick moves hard from right to left and borders on a duck hook. This one just stayed between the trees and landed in the fairway. Jordan Westerkamp has done an admirable job on punt returns, but is obviously not in the same class as Pierson-El.

There you have it. A random summary of just a few of the problems facing Nebraska's football program, as it hopes to Restore the Order and compete with .500 teams on the road once again. Mike Riley inherited a case of gonorrhea from Pinelli and is charged with not only getting rid of it but with starting to bang supermodels once again.  A difficult task, indeed. It's week three and Dennis Rodman ain't walking through that door.....

Nobody will know Riley can move the needle on this jalopy for couple months, at the earliest. If he can do it with a cupboard this bare, it will be an accomplishment. Pinelli made an impact by the end of his first year, gravy training Bill Callahan's NFL talent to go 10-4. Somewhere along the way, the former NFL coach forgot having NFL-level players on college teams was important.

Riley's task won't be as easy. His biggest asset will be not being a high-school bully meathead cocksucker. That's no small trait, considering how mentally abusive Pinelli was.

Here's to hoping, but not expecting, Nebraska football again becomes relevant. The program is countless recruits and even more fundamentals, from that point. The only meaning of NU football Saturdays, at this point, is that it means catching up with rarely seen friends at a tailgate or via group text, as we all gawk in amazement at the latest edition of an unfathomable shit show.



Wednesday, September 9, 2015

That's the Fact, Jacks

PYB checks in after a horrendous loss to BYU and its merry band of hypocritical Mormons. A horrendous loss, that after a second viewing, isn't as horrendous as once suspected but is still a sad reminder of Nebraska's status in the college football food chain. Let's go down the line with some snap judgments:

The Bad

Luke Gifford: Looked foolish on at least three plays early in the game and was the main offender in not defending the final, game-blowing play. Apparently, the preseason word from camp that he 'showed promise' was propaganda. Wayne State or bust.

Alex Lewis: Apparently, it's still easier to beat the shit out of a civilian outside a bar than it is to block opposing Division I defensive lineman. Lewis appears to have traded his reputation as a penalty machine into one as a rag doll. We saw him in the backfield multiple times after missing an assignment or getting railroaded straight backward. Kudos, Captain Alex.

Penalties: Twelve flags. 90 yards. Won't get it done. Private Pinelli would be proud. His process is in place.

Run game: 126 yards. 37 attempts. 3.4 yards per carry. Awful. Even worse was the coaching staff's lack of imagination in getting Tommy Armstrong into the open field. The one option they ran worked well. Even worse was the reliance on the jet sweep (to the short side) on the game's most critical third and short. At least the coaches owned the mistake. Sadly, we all realized how many holes Ameer Abdullah, Rex Burkhead and Roy Helu have covered the last several seasons. Gaining 1500+ yards with no blocking is indeed a gift.

Cornerbacks: Can this be considered bad, if NU doesn't have any cornerbacks? Josh Kalu is a potential star at safety. The coaches have him playing CB, either because they've failed to properly evaluate his skill set or because they have no other options at corner. We wish Pinelli could make him a permanent, one-game starter at corner and move him to safety.

Daniel Davie is incapable of covering good wide receivers. A possible contributor as a dime corner, the fact that he'll be covering the opponent's top pass-catcher every game is horrifying.

BYU Cheap Shot: Safety Jordan Preator took NU tight end David Sutton out of the game and for several weeks with a cheap shot for the ages. That came at the 11-minute mark of the second quarter and was Preator's third dirty play of the game. We shouldn't act surprised. The most self-righteous teams are usually the cheapest. Brawl vs. Memphis, anyone?

So, the awful Big Ten officials shouldn't have been caught by surprise. The only thing more disappointing than the officials not calling the penalty is that Nebraska did not retaliate. This should have been policed on the field, without any coaching. Instead, NU turtled.

The Roster: The lack of depth (not to mention talent) is shocking. Saturday was a true measure of just how pathetic the former staff was at recruiting and player development. No proven running back to replace Abdullah. One healthy tight end. An offensive line with a combined 15 starts going into the game (13 for one player)

On defense, not one proven defensive end. A suspended starting linebacker and another making his first start as a true freshman. A horrendous defensive backfield.

On special teams, the return game was again a non-factor with DeMornay Pierson-El out. Drew Brown wa and is a disaster at placekicker, missing two easy field goals. Sam Foltz hurt his ankle, and there is no backup. We're fine.

Strength and Conditioning: BYU owned the line of scrimmage. Countless Cornhuskers were carted off the field, and in some cases, came back in the game only to get carted off again. BYU was tougher, both physically and mentally (see: no retaliation for cheap shot). This is a direct indictment of the last staff. The team, as a whole, looked lead-footed. Hell, if the team's last strength coach didn't even believe in publishing 40-yard dash times (the standard index for all of football for the last 40+ years), what does that say?

The Not As Bad As We Initially Thought

The Offense: PYB, as many fans likely did, remembered the second quarter and let it taint our memory of the full-game performance. The first quarter was good -- 180 yards and a 14-7 lead. Just 58 yards in the second quarter. Obviously, not optimal, but not as disastrous as suspected. The pass game got slightly off track in the second quarter and stalled a couple drives, as did a fumble near the end of the half. It's the risk of passing 40 times a game with a streaky (at best) passer at quarterback. The staff will have to find the right mix of plays to ensure this doesn't happen regularly.

In the second half, NU used a solid run game and gained 146 yards in the third quarter. In the fourth, the lack of push and third-down conversions hurt and the unit only gained 65 yards. 445 total. Certainly enough to win a home game. But, in the end, if it's taking 41 passes to net 319 yards, those 445 aren't as meaningful as it would be for an offense that's controlling the clock and/or has big-play potential. This group, for now, has no proven home-run hitters.

Armstrong: 24/41. 319 yards. One damaging interception. 58.5% completion rate. He'll never be a great passer but wasn't supposed to be. PYB still maintains the guy could be an above-average quarterback if he had a coordinator that used his full arsenal of talents. His one option run gained 15 yards. Maintaining that threat would open up easy passes to the tight ends and the deeper routes to wide receivers.

He'll need much-improved decision making, whether it be eliminating the crucial interception or simply throwing the ball away rather than trying to perfect the Taylor Martinez "spin away and throw the ball blindly to try to avoid a sack and instead throw an interception or get an intentional grounding penalty" play. Either way, would prefer not to see him crying on his dad's shoulder at the end of the game. If it meant that much, make more plays and fewer errors
the previous four hours.

The Offensive Line: Obviously, not great push or sustained run production. But, considering the unit had only 15 career starts prior (13 for Lewis), we liked that the same five linemen got every rep during the game. Develop a smaller, core group rather than a menagerie of mediocre players. Interesting theory.

Play calling: Despite the aforementioned short-yardage misses, PYB saw glimpses of strategy in the play calling. Progress indeed. The switch to straight-ahead running in the third quarter was nice. We wish the staff had found a way to keep that momentum going.

The Defense: Gave up 511 yards. 293 in the first half. 218 in the second, 81 of which came on two last-gasp, fourth quarter jump ball plays against outclassed athletes (Davie & Gifford).  Outside of that, they controlled BYU in the second half.

The Good

Dedrick Young: The true freshman from Phoenix wasn't perfect and looked to be feeling his way around. Understandable. He was second on the team with seven tackles and should only improve. Let's hope he stays healthy.

Josh Banderas: Showed flashes of what we thought he would two years ago. There's that Pinelli/player development thing again.

Nate Gerry: His third-quarter interception changed the game's momentum. PYB would love him to be more consistent and to be the teams consistent, spiritual leader. (Translation: make a play himself on the game-losing play)

Tackling: The Blackskirts actually tackled offensive players. Even made a few stops in open space. Progress. Let's hope it continues.

Defensive Tackles: Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine led the core of this talented unit, and stabilized the interior of the defense -- especially in the second half. Here' to hoping the rest of the defense can improve greatly in the next couple weeks before a road game at Miami.

So, there you have it. Another predictable punch in the nuts for a team and fan base that didn't need one. Losing on a Hail Mary made it worse, like hitting one's head on the bike rack while falling to the ground after that playground shot to the groin. Hopefully, NU will be able to get healthy and refine some things during a should-be layup against South Alabama this week. Surely, some overmatched BTN announcer will tell us that a team improves most between its first and second games and we'll all rejoice that Nebraska is back and here to stay and ready to take on the Hurricanes.

Reality tells us that the cupboard is widely bare. That Old Mother Hubbard (Pinelli) was too busy bending over and taking the Big Ten's bone to stock up, develop and keep talent in house. Mike Riley is stuck with that reality. We can only hope he's smart enough to make the transition to his offense a gradual one. A 1-2 record after Miami is a cold reality, either way. Should Riley try a full year of square peg/round hole, he can expect a nuclear winter in Lincoln.