NOT SO GREAT EXPECTATIONS?
In the aftermath of Nebraska's come from behind win at Northwestern Saturday, it has become obvious that the level of play we saw Saturday is pretty much what we can expect the rest of the year and probably for as long as the present coaching staff is in place.
In what has become a weekly "Bloopers" highlight reel, the Huskers look like a cross between the "Keystone Kops" (not be confused with the Keystone Pipeline) and "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight." And this kind of erratic play didn't happen overnight. Remember the 2009 loss to Iowa State in Lincoln in which the Huskers had more turnovers (8) than points (7)? Or the meltdowns at Wisconsin and Michigan last year and Wisconsin and Ohio State this year?
You can wring your hands, scream at your dog, bartender, neighbor, cat (yes!), brother-in-law, boss, wife (not recommended), but it won't help. And compounding the problem is that each week it's a different player or mistake. Kyler Reed running into his O-linemen on a critical fourth down play? A muffed punt by Kenny Bell and AA? A dropped "sure" interception by Stanley Jean-Baptiste? Illegal formation penalties against Jeremiah Sirles and Andrew Rodriguez? Brett Maher shanking a punt? And if that's not enough, you have players and coaches yelling at each other.
This football program seems to put the "fun" in dysfunctional. We had all better get used to it. This team is going to live on that fine line between cheers and jeers and there is nothing we can do about it.
For those of you who can't stand the heat, maybe you should take up a hobby like stamp collecting, scrapbooking or gardening.
But say what you want, just when you think the Huskers are dead in the water (like Saturday), they'll find a way to win. They seldom quit. To be sure, the Huskers can put together time consuming scoring drives or go the length of the field in one or two plays. They can kill opponents with the return game; make spectacular throws and catches into triple coverage and can keep opponents at bay with non-returnable touchbacks and nail 50 yard field goals in pressure situations.
In the fourth quarter comeback Saturday, Taylor Martinez may have played the best football of his career. Sure, he almost had a couple of INTs, but he put the team on his back and never quit. Way to go, #3.
So grab your bottle of Maalox and blood pressure pills. There are at least five more roller coaster games to go...
HUSKER FANS SALUTE THE TROOPS WEEKEND
I watched the game with about 450 of my closest friends in the main ballroom at the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln, the site of our "Fifth Annual Husker Fans Salute The Troops" celebration. Some highlights of the weekend:
1.) Having former Husker greats Mike Beran, Frosty Anderson, Bill Kosch and Adrian Fiala accompany our guests on the buses going to Memorial Stadium
2.) Seeing a bus load of wounded warriors arrive at the hotel from Ft. Riley, Kansas
3.) Shedding tears with some Viet Nam veterans over how they were "greeted" when they returned home
4.) Meeting one of my former cub scout buddies Larry Forman (I hadn't seen him in over 40 years) and his family including his son-in-law Mike who had been deployed in the Middle East
5.) Visiting with several troopers who had received Husker Care Packages from Husker Dan's Army
6.) Seeing John Bishop (http://1620thezone.com/page.php?page_id=91) (the MC at our Watch Party) leading the crowd in cheers during the dark moments of the Northwestern game
7.) Clapping to the music of the Husker Alumni Band during time-outs
8.) Meeting tons of veterans and their family members
9.) Hearing the inspirational words of former Husker great, Trev Alberts at our Sunday brunch
10.) Experiencing the very moving color guard ceremony at the brunch
11.) Getting verklempt hearing about the bake sale Jamie, Kylie et al held in Grand Island earlier this year in order to raise money for "Salute"
12.) Seeing Jen Babcock (wife of the publisher/owner of the new Husker magazine "Hail Varsity" www.hailvarsity.com) selling subscriptions Saturday and offering to donate $10.00 to "Salute" for each one that is sold using the special promo code (T2ASAL)
13.) Seeing the results of a year's worth of effort by our board payoff
14.) And last, but definitely not least, getting a commitment from David Fiala (for the sixth year in a row) to sponsor 100 rooms for next year's event
50 YEARS AND COUNTING
November 3, 1962 (My first Husker TV game)
Missouri at Nebraska
Bob Devaney's first team at Nebraska entered the game with a perfect 6-0 record but ended up losing to the Tigers, 16-7. Although Nebraska lost, it was the beginning of the Huskers' record of consecutive sell-outs that is 322 and counting.
I remember Mel Allen had come all the way from New York City to do the PBP. Pressure may have been too much for this young Husker football program, but Nebraska finished the season at 9-2. Nebraska won its first ever bowl game by defeating the Miami Hurricanes in the Gotham Bowl in NYC.
You may contact the writer at HuskerDan@cox.net