14 November 2009

Bullets from a Big Red Believer: NU-Kansas Review

A great win for the Cornhuskers tonight in Lawrence, Kansas, against a team that is one hell of a lot better than its record suggests. This game should have been for the Big 12 North - how it wasn't will be one of the ongoing mysteries of the season for me. A fun game to watch, except for the final 5 minutes or so if you're a Jayhawk fan.

This week's thoughts, presented in no particular order:
  • Tackling continues to be mostly excellent, better than I've ever seen Nebraska tackle before. The few misses I saw tonight were mostly due to top-level athleticism on the part of Kansas, in my opinion.
  • This week's unsung hero: Tyler Legate. Hell, let's give him last week's Unsung Hero award, too, since I didn't do it then. I saw at least three plays where he made the key block to bust Roy Helu, Jr. for a big run, including that 3rd down sideline squeaker on the second-to-last drive. Now, can someone explain to me how we're not giving this guy the ball at least once or twice per game? The kid deserves a carry or two just for being the stellar blocker he is, and I fail to see how completely eliminating an option from the playbook is a good thing.
  • As I saw it, this was the best-called offensive gameplan since Virginia Tech. There were only one or two "WTF?" moments that I could remember. One that stood out was the option on 3rd and 12 early in the 4th quarter, but that could have been an audible.
  • Not to play the "getting back to Nebraska football" card, but the drives where Nebraska looked best were also the drives where Nebraska most closely resembled the NU offense of the 1990s. In particular, I enjoyed seeing the play-action option pass that went big to Niles Paul. Reminded me of Brook Berringer running it against Colorado in '94 and hitting Eric Alford for that big touchdown catch.
  • How about a thumbs-up for Zac Lee? I was never convinced he was the problem with the offense, and I was really glad to see him playing the entire game and playing well.
  • The most likely explanation for Lee playing well was the stellar effort of the NU offensive line. I remember only two penalties on the interior five, and there were a lot of seams getting opened up for Helu in this game. Pass blocking was also excellent - I think we only gave up one sack. Kudos to Barney Cotton and the line for their best game since Virginia Tech.
  • Our campus ministry runs a concession stand at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, so I spent most of the afternoon at the ISU-Colorado game. I caught about three or four minutes of the game while scarfing down a hot dog on my break. Seeing a game live and then coming home to watch a game on DVR, I was struck by how little of the action I could see on television. It would be nice if TV games kept the angles wider so we could watch plays develop a bit more - you don't always have to follow the ball, do you?
  • Speaking of Colorado...well, no - let's just not.
  • Marcel Jones' afro is a thing of beauty. Just sayin'.
  • What a tough way for Todd Reesing to go out. This kid played his guts out every single game, and I'm sorry to see him go. I was especially sorry to see Larry Asante cheap shot him on a slide in the first half - it was one of the few ugly moments of the game
  • Speaking of ugly and not-so-much, how good, hard-hitting, and clean was the competition in this game? Back to back games against quality, sportsmanlike opponents are a good thing, and I wish we'd see more of it in this conference. I'm looking at you, Missouri, Colorado and Kansas State.
  • I love the effort Niles Paul gives on every play. I just wish he'd tuck the damn ball away, because the dog doesn't like it when I'm grabbing at the air to remind Paul to take care of the rock.
  • Could someone explain to me how Kerry Meier does it? I get the feeling that he's STILL open on a crossing route.
  • How wicked were the NU crackbacks on that wide handoff play? Niles Paul and Brandon Kinnie did some serious ear-holin' this afternoon.
  • Would it be a stretch to say you'll develop a pretty thick skin playing for this guy?
  • Nice to see Mike McNeill get back into the offense tonight. I think we're going to see quite a lot of that zone read bootleg in coming weeks.
  • In the end, I think what makes me most satisfied is knowing this was a total gut-check game, one we had to take away from Kansas, and we were able to do it. This team is growing up as the season goes on, something Callahan's teams never did, and it's going to continue to pay dividends down the line. Big 12 North on the line against the Mildcats next week - can't wait!
Keep the faith - Go Big Red!

This is just a cool damn picture of the NU drumline. "This reminds me of a..."

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