Friday, October 7, 2016

27 Shots to the Dome

Thanks to Hurricane Matthew and some cancelled work travel plans, PYB is able to offer some random thoughts following last week's Nebraska-Illinois football game. Hopefully, it provides some off-week filler for a weekend where NU sits idle while preparing for its monster showdown against Indiana on October 15.

-Michael Rose-Ivey continued his four+-year career as a program mouthpiece early in the week, making a seven-minute statement about his choice to kneel during the national anthem prior to his team's mediocre effort at Northwestern. Since making that choice, he's logged eight tackles, prolonging his penchant for providing more meaningless talk than he does impactful results.

PYB would prefer he make more plays on the field, and tweet fewer mid-week platitudes off it. But hey, everyone has a right to free speech in America - fuck yeah - regardless of how inconsequential that speech is to actually impacting the bottom line.

As for the statement itself, it was uncomfortable bordering on disastrous, read at breakneck speed, eyes down, with one respite made to slosh water all over the podium during an impromptu water break. PYB would think that NU's Sports Information Department would have provided its student-athlete with more training prior to making such a high-profile appearance, at least enough so that the awkward moments didn't detract from the valid points Rose-Ivey made. It would have also been wise for the SID and the player to validate the blanket statements that MR-I made that painted the entire university and state of Nebraska as racist entities. Better luck to them both next time.

Moving on to the game itself, and away from shunning independent thought and using athletes and movie stars as our political and civil rights role models.....

-Chris Jones again dubbed himself "Lockdown U," despite not being very good at cornerback and continuing to not make plays against subpar competition. The media and meaningless award-hander-outers joined in the fray. Early season All-American teams sound like a good idea. What 'analytics' could this group possibly have that would allow them to evaluate every player on all 110+ teams in one month? Did they watch the Wyoming game? Jones has 13 tackles, four passes broken up and two interceptions in five games against teams with a combined 9-14 record.

Using this methodology, could we name Bo Van Pelt a 40-time 'early PGA tournament champion'? The Atlanta Braves a 10-time 'early season World Series Champion'? Ben Roethlisberger a two-time 'early rape' convict? Possibilities abound....

-Mid-game, PYB received a Twitter education from one Damon Benning, former Elementary Education major, who claimed that Terrell Newby was being 'sudden' in the hole -- whatever the fuck that means.

Benning, the same person who claimed on national television that Lawrence Phillips was framed for a 2015 murder in a California prison, bristled at our innocuous reply to said tweet, exposing a mental softness that is likely the reason he couldn't stay on the field as a player while at Nebraska.

The only evidence he provided was a video that showed Newby make one cut and fall forward for a six-yard gain. The video also showed a hole to the left that an elite back with good cutback ability would have seen and darted through for a long gain.

Benning also said that he preferred the way Newby ran through holes over the way Pittsburgh Steeler Le'Veon Bell did so. That's the same Le'Veon Bell that ran for 144 yards on 18 attempts a night later against the Kansas City, an NFL team. That's the Chiefs, not Illini -- but that's another racist story for another day. That's eight yards a carry. That's also the same Le'Veon Bell that ran for nearly 1800 yards his senior year at Michigan State.

Newby ran for 140 yards on 27 carries, a 5.2-yard average. Without Illinois Head Coach Lovie Smith reminding everyone why he got fired from two NFL jobs and punting the ball down just one score with three minutes remaining and gifting Nebraska a final possession , it was 77 yards and 2.96 yards per carry.

As we've often stated, PYB holds no ill will toward Newby and roots for the kid. He's an outstanding pass catcher, hampered with a quarterback who had not been able to complete a simple screen pass for three seasons until this season -- and this season only about 60 percent of the time.

But, for Benning to portray Newby as having elite abilities is both disingenuous and dishonest, and signals that he has an ulterior motive. Damon, please tell us you brought more to the table to prop up an argument that anyone who's watched Newby the last 3.5 seasons can tell has no merit. You'll need more than that, and a thinly veiled "I can discount your opinion with some smarm and vague psychological references, because I was a third-string running back in college" strategy. Hell, Desmond Howard won the Heisman Trophy and is a weekly laughing stock due to his weak analysis and ridiculous prognostications on each ESPN College Gameday episode.

Anyway, Benning and PYB have planned a film session for the next time we travel to Nebraska. It will be an occasion to behold, as two Nebraska alums in their early 40s get together to talk football and trade differing opinions. We'll come equipped with a notebook and an open mind, as we try to soak up as much knowledge as possible during a rare chance to pick the brain of someone with an 0-27 record as a head football coach. Recapping, that's 27 games and zero wins.

-As mentioned earlier, Smith showed everyone that he was not only in over his head twice as an NFL head coach, but may also be as a college coach. Showing complete detachment from how college and professional football differ, and forgetting that his Illinois team sucks and got blasted by a MAC team a week earlier and that he did not have an NFL defense with Warren Sapp, John Lynch or Brian Urlacher, he actually defended his decision to punt the ball back to Nebraska trailing 24-16 with three minutes remaining in the game. Nice guy, good coordinator, bad head coach. On the bright side, Andy Reid and Frank Solich loved hearing about Smith's late-game call.

-Looking at the big picture, Nebraska has been OK, but not great. Sluggish wins against bad teams like Northwestern and Illinois are unimpressive but would have likely been bad losses against bad teams the past couple years. Concerns, though, are plenty and may provide motivation for NU to ignore its inflated ranking and to concentrate on weekly improvement. PYB's short list of concerns:
  • The Shit-the-Bed Factor - NU finding continued ways to shoot itself in the foot. The Cornhuskers' turnover margin is -2 the last two games, and Tommy Armstrong threw another bad interception.
  • Lackluster competition - Oregon's continued slide downward takes the shine off  Nebraska's win over the Ducks, and struggling into the fourth quarter against Wyoming and two pathetic Big 14 teams is cause for concern.
  • Injuries - The offensive line is dinged, and Nebraska's two most consistent top-level receiving threats, Jordan Westerkamp and Cethan Carter, are out and their current odds of returning soon appear shaky. That said, the team's physical conditioning seems much improved. The players don't look fat and there is not one writhing in pain on the ground after every other play. #BoWasFine
  • Running back - Injuries and ball security issues add more pressure to a group without a top-level, three-down player.
  • Tackling - Has been inconsistent. Is more rugby training needed? How much does the Level II Seminar cost the NU Athletic Department?  Did the team complete Level I?
  • Kicking Game - The legs at punter and placekicker are unproven at best, and more likely a full-blow weakness by season's end.
-All of the above make PYB wary as NU heads to Bloomington next week to play the Hoosiers. Indiana, fresh off an upset win over fading Michigan State, certainly has the wares to beat a Nebraska team that has struggled to various degrees in every game so far against suspect opponents. Enjoy the ride.

Moving on to a few non-Nebraska football one-hitters:

Ryder Cup - Great action over the weekend, coupled with an American team that hit better shots and had more likeable players with some guts. Gone were pussies and known chokers like Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Webb Simpson, and Hunter Mahan. In their stead, and being more clutch, more likeable, or both were players like Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka and Ryan Moore. Hell, even Phil Mickelson joined the fray and played well.

Crime Beat - Boulder, Colo. police shot dead a machete-wielding nut on the University of Colorado campus Wednesday. PYB poses two questions:
  1. Why is the new complex at CU's Folsom Field named the "Champions Center"? Outside of the Colorado State Championship, the Bluffs haven't won anything in more than a decade.
  2. Why aren't losers rioting after the death of this white male in his 20s?
NFL Beat - On a lighter note, PYB is a long-time Philadelphia Eagles fan and New York Giants hater. However, we'll always secretly root for New York's new head coach, Ben McAdoo, in hopes that he keep his job and enables us to continue with a litany of  'Sleeping With the Enemy' jokes for years to come.
Images included here as visual aids, but one really must see a live sideline shot of McAdoo, complete with poorly sculpted mustache and 1980s snap-up windbreaker, in the midst of another Giants beating. Priceless.

Finally, Week 5 of the NFL started in fine form last night. PYB beamed like a proud father, as he watched the G.A.B.B.E.R.T. system spread its way to yet another team. Arizona, led by Drew Stanton, beat the Blaine-Gabbert-led 49ers 33-21. The two quarterbacks passed 59 times for 251 yards -- 4.25 yards per attempt -- less than Le'Veon Bell career 4.4 yards per rushing attempt. Gabbert has been so bad, to noone's surprise, that early-morning radio personalities have penciled in Colin Kaepernick to start San Francisco's next game. We've come full circle.

We're gone. Enjoy your off week. For now, bow down, to the kings in Raider hats...


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