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.