Saturday, November 21, 2009
Weekend Football And Open Thread
In case you didn't hear or you've been reading the Grand Island Independent Message Board and got confused Nebraska beat Kansas State 17-3 and secured a trip to Arlington Texas to play in the Big XII championship game against Texas. So why after a division deciding win that locked up the goal the team had set at the start of the year would some fans be so upset? Some of it is guilt by association. The hatred is geared toward offensive coordinator Sean Watson who was brought in by Bill Callahan. Last year Nebraska had a very good offense and while there were still some who hate Watson because of that fact most didn't express it because the offense was working. This year there has been New QB's, a below average wide receiving corps, a thin backfield that has battled injuries and an average offensive line the numbers haven't been there and it's allowed the "Watson is a Callahan guy" hatred to come to the surface.
There is another reason why some Nebraska fans are so upset even after the big win last night. Nebraska won 17-3 a 14 point spread. Late in the first half Nebraska blew a scoring opportunity throwing an interception in the end-zone. Had Nebraska thrown the ball away and kicked a field goal there they probably win 20-3 and you wouldn't see near the complaining. Would 3 points have made that much difference in the game or made Nebraska's performance any better? Nope but it would have given them a 17 point win in a game where the spread was 16 points. So if you're wondering why so many people who profess to be "happy" are bitching like Clint Eastwood telling kids to get off their lawn losing money can take the fun out of a big win. Of course if you were dumb enough to put money on a bad offense with that big a number you deserve to be miserable. Oh an of course the same people bitching that Nebraska didn't win big enough against a bad team are the same people who swore Nebraska wouldn't even win the game 3 weeks ago. Funny how that works.
Before I give my grades why was Erin Andrews wearing a parka and a scarf last night when the temperature was in the 50's? I have to ask.
Offense: C. I think after Nebraska got up 17-3 early in the third quarter they put it in the tank to be honest with you. Figuring that Kansas State wouldn't dent Nebraska for 14 points they just called plays that couldn't result in big mistakes that would let KSU back in the game. They got very conservative. In the first half Nebraska moved the ball well but with both teams eating up the clock that only meant a 10-3 lead. Then they made their only "big" mistake. Zac Lee Threw it late over the middle in the end-zone and instead of going up 13-3 or 17-3 the lead stayed 10-3 at half. Zac Lee didn't have a good game IMHO. His numbers were fine but his decision making seemed to revert back to early season after two weeks of managing the game well. On third down on the mentioned possession he rolled out and took a sack when he should have thrown the ball away. On the next play he threw the pick. Before the end of the half he could have ran for a first down and kept the drive alive but he threw an incomplete pass instead. Bo Pelini ripped into him for that one as he came off the field. Lee got blown up on a blindside blitz on an option pass. Credit KSU for a perfect defensive call but Lee should have been able to read it and checked to another play.
Roy Helu had a tough day churning out 95 yards on 25+ carries but he also had a touchdown. For better or worse Nebraska's tight-ends and receivers were what they have been all year. Drew Young, Mike McNeil and Nyles Paul had nice games but rest were once again MIA. Are Gillylen, Holt or Brooks still on the team?
Defense: B+ Last week Kansas scored 17 points and people wondered what was wrong. This week Kansas State scored 3 points and people wondered what was wrong. KSU moved the ball some especially in the first 3 quarters but as you can see they didn't score much. In fact after kicking a field goal on their opening possession they didn't score again. After Nebraska got up 17-3 they twice threatened to score in the third quarter. The first drive ended 1 yard from Nebraska's goal-line when Larry Asante hit a KSU player forcing a fumble just before he crossed the goal-line. the ball rolled free from several players before Nebraska fell on the ball at the 6. The second threat ended when a 32 yard KSU field-goal went wide-right. In the 4th quarter one got the impression Kansas State wouldn't have scored if the game was another 3 hours long. Fittingly on senior night it was the seniors Suh, Turner, Asante, Dillard etc who took the game over in the 4th quarter. Great way for them to go out. You didn't hear O'Hanlon's name much and given the position he plays that's a good thing. I'll miss that kid. So will this team.
Special Teams A+. I ask this every week. How fucking great is Alex Henery? Twice he put punts out inside the two yard line. He made his field-goal of course. He's the best kicker Nebraska has ever had by a fair margin. Even Kansas State coach Bill Snyder gave Henery special praise. Adi Kunalic was great with his kickoffs as usual and this game that was particularly big because Kansas State had a great kick returner in Brandon Banks. Henery and Kunalic kept Banks in check all night. Only once after Henery's lone bad punt did Banks have anything close to a good return all night. Nebraska's kicm coverage was super all night long. If there was anything close to a negative Nebraska's kick and punt return teams were only "adequate".
Overall A. Nebraska won 17-3. It certainly wasn't pretty. It never is. Neither was it easy. When is it ever? But it was a win. In the first half you got the impression Nebraska was going to put the game away and didn't. They started the second half with a touchdown to go up 17-3 and you thought they had control then Kansas State threatened to score twice fumbling at the one on the first threat. It wasn't until there was about 8 minutes left you began to feel comfortable and about 3 minutes left when you said "we've got this" But with this team could it be any other way?
For all the complaining about Sean watson being impressive enough and the team not scoring enough and your boss at 7/11 up your hours and whatever else the people are bitching about this team is 8-3 and going to the Big XII Championship game. That's the bottom line. Next Friday Nebraska plays Colorado. it's a short game and a travel day and funky shit happens when Nebraska plays CU. This game scares me to be honest with you. Of course when you expect a tough game against Colorado that's when you beat them 30-3.
Around The Big XII
Oklahoma State 31 Colorado 28. Playing on the road against a top 25 team Colorado almost pulled a win that would give them something to smile about in what has been a disastrous year. Oklahoma State turned the ball over 4 times, gave up a kick return and was down to their 3rd string QB and still Colorado couldn't except prosperity. Friday is more than likely Dan Hawkins last game and seeing as how it's Nebraska you can count on CU being their usual skeezy selves. Nebraska's 8-3 Colorado is 3-8 and if Nebraska wins by more than 10 i'll be shocked.
Texas Tech 41 Oklahoma 13. I talked about Missouri and Colorado's play depending on whether or not they took their Tegratol what about Oklahoma? Has a team ever looked so different on the road as they do at home? Bob Stoops may need to hire a Psychologist to figure out why this team can't play on the road. This has been a nice season for Goober Leech and Texas Tech. A win over Baylor puts them at 8-4 which I am not sure was expected.
Texas 51 Kansas 20. Texas is the best team in the conference, Kansas is a Shakespearean tragedy, this wasn't hard to see coming. 6 weeks ago Kansas was ranked 15th and thought to be the sure Big XII north champions, 6 losses later it doesn't appear as if Mark Mangino will have his job at the end of the week. You've got coaches fighting administration, players fighting coaches, players fighting other players, The sudden and disastrous fall at Kansas has been the story of the year in the Big XII. Mangino has gone from being thought of as one of the best coaches in America to almost certain unemployment.
Missouri 34 Iowa State 24. Even though Iowa State is bowl eligible they still maybe on the outside looking in. It doesn't take away from the magnificent job Paul Rhoades has done here with this team. After losing to Baylor at home Missouri seems to have righted their ship somewhat. A win Saturday over a Kansas team that will probably have an interim coach will give Missouri and 8-4 record. Not bad.
Texas A&M 38 Baylor 3. How did Missouri lose to these guys? Texas A&M is also a team that seems to play when it feels up to it. getting blown out by KSU one week and blowing out Texas Tech the next. They are now bowl eligible and that might buy Mike Sherman another year but I can tell you now Aggie fan out it will end and it isn't pretty. After officially being out of a bowl game Baylor must have mailed it in.