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.


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