Sunday, September 20, 2015
Miami Unsound Machines
--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.
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.