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.