Official Husker Locker Blog
2008 Oct 05
The Tigers won on the third play of the game, when quarterback Chase Daniel stared down a patented Bo Pelini blitz, tossed a short slant to receiver Jeremy Maclin, and watched Maclin do his best Johnny Rodgers impression in bolting 58 yards for a touchdown. Yeah, the Cornhuskers answered the score and hung around for another quarter, but Daniel-to-Maclin had the effect of that first Mike Tyson uppercut: You might get up, but it stings until you finally go down for the count.
And boy, did Nebraska ever go down. Good night. Good luck winning six games.
Take whatever positives you wish out of this debacle. I would suggest that, if you take anything, it’s some scissors to cut the game out of your poster on the wall. It was eerily similar to the beating USC handed the Huskers in 2007, only worse. The Trojans simply packed it in after getting a comfortable lead. The arrogant (and secretly insecure) Tigers did not.
This was a mess, a meltdown. If head coach Pelini had any illusions that his team could “win now” in 2008…well, he doesn’t. His post-game comments – although more emotional than substantive – suggest that he’s aware that if the Huskers play like this too often, there is one game they can truly expect to win, and that’s the Barrel Bowl against Kansas State.
“I've never quit anything in my life,” Pelini said. “I'm a fighter. We're going to come out fighting. I think that we have character in our locker room.”
Oh, yes, the Huskers have character. They have heart. They surely want to win, which is a minor improvement over the 2007 squad. But desire and a quarter won’t buy you any more than a gumball if you don’t have composure, confidence and focus. Missouri once lacked it, until Daniel showed up with that pudgy frame of his and transformed a program. NU is currently looking for it.
Nebraska’s safeties lost Maclin on the third play. Quarterback Joe Ganz got too aggressive on a third-and-long and threw a Pick Six. The Huskers’ offensive line couldn’t run block or pass block. Can you imagine if Sam Keller, and not Ganz, had been the QB last night? The Huskers simply would not have scored.
Pelini’s defense – using three linemen and a rover of sorts, usually end Pierre Allen, the one linebackers coach Mike Ekeler was so “jacked” about – seemed to have absolutely no plan to stop the run. Derrick Washington busted free for a decent gain on his second run of the night and never seemed too harassed. The Huskers couldn’t tackle him, either.
Against the pass, it might have been more effective if Mizzou hadn’t so committed to its no huddle. Daniel, you maybe noticed, messed around a lot less Saturday with the fake snaps, the touching of linemen’s rumps, the chatter between him and his receivers. The Tigers wisely cut all that down and hustled. More than once, I glanced at the television and saw an NU assistant flashing its trademark defensive card just seconds before Daniel took the snap. Nebraska often looked disorganized and confused.
It’s long been said that a base defense, against Missouri’s spread, is a recipe for disaster. Maybe it is. But Nebraska’s been pretty good out of its nickel base, especially against the run.
But worst of it was the penalties. Fourteen of them. Several were costly.
Full disclosure: I hate chippy games. They annoy me immensely. So do chippy teams like Missouri. The Tigers are a bunch of yappers, that was obvious, and because they’re very good they get away with it. Daniel never shuts up. Safety William Moore and linebacker Sean Witherspoon never shut up. They’re outgoing, cocky guys, and they don’t mind showing it. But they, along with a few other Missouri players, got way under Nebraska’s skin Saturday night.
“People were kinda getting frustrated at the end, and little personal fouls started to kick in,” Allen said. “That’s just the fight in us. We’re always gonna fight. A little personal foul here and there, it comes with the game.”
It sounds worse than Allen meant it, but no personal foul is little.
In two games, we’ve seen four of them, and a number of borderline moments, one involving safety Major Culbert and Maclin, that darn well could have been called. Attitude is good and aggression feels great, but the Huskers aren’t being smart enough about when and how to take their shots. It’s a fine line, of course, but Missouri walks it. The Huskers are not.
Daniel said Nebraska was one of the dirtiest teams he had played. Now, that’s Chase Daniel talking, of course, and his mouth sometimes writes checks that even his considerable talents can’t cash. But when Daniel says a player spit on him during pregame? That’s way beneath the spirit of the fans and the program. In a pile, yeah things happen. In pregame? Yuck.Hey, how are ya, here’s some saliva. If it’s true, hopefully Pelini, who believes in accountability, locates that player and disciplines accordingly. Spitting is intolerable.
So was this performance. Clean it up, Huskers. Texas Tech won’t take any breaks.
“We better rebound fast,” Ganz said. “Otherwise we’re gonna get killed again next week. We’d better rebound faster than we ever have before.”
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