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    by Published on 11-20-2014 11:50 PM  Number of Views: 2331 

    The days following Nebraska's blowout loss at Wisconsin have been anything but dull. One of the prevalent themes I've noticed are fans and media reacting (or in some cases, overreacting) to things said by coaches and players. Here are four quotes that have been triggered the most reaction this week:

    From Josh Mitchell on if NU should wear their Blackshirts in practice this week*:

    "Personally, no I don't think we should (wear them). I think they stand for something better than we put out on film. I think it would kind of just be a disgrace to the former players who earned the right to wear them if we went out and wore them at practice this week."


    *It is worth noting that Mitchell was one of a handful of defensive starters who wore their Blackshirt to practice later the same day, which certainly played a big role in this quote getting legs.

    From Jake Cotton on why the offensive line tends to commit false start penalties in big games:

    "You're just so dialed-in to what you're going to do during the play. You gotta take this footwork, you gotta do this, you gotta do that. And so I think when you're thinking about all that stuff, you kind of get tunnel vision, and that's when it hurts you.


    "The lack of concentration isn't that we were just thinking about class or girls or anything like that. It's that we were thinking about the play ...

    by Published on 11-19-2014 08:51 AM  Number of Views: 5864 
    1. Categories:
    2. Football

    Well, that sucked.

    Again.

    In retrospect, it is probably very telling that when the score got to 17-3, one of the thoughts to go through my head was "I wish we could just call it right here." I'm guessing there may have been some folks on the sideline in all white who felt the same way.

    We'll get into the game itself down below and try to make heads or tails of what went wrong and why things stopped going right. But let's start by looking at the big picture.

    There is no doubt that this is a "big picture" loss. The kind of defeat that makes everybody - coach, player, fan, administrator, commentator - step back and look at what is going on. The kind of defeat that makes people ask uncomfortable questions. So with that in mind, here is my question:

    During the game, I saw Derek Hernandez of NoCoastBias.com tweet that the Nebraska program under Pelini is in purgatory - or "Bogatory" as Hernandez called it. Pelini's teams are too good enough to get him fired, yet bad enough that they may never win - or even compete for - conference and national championships. I'm not necessarily sure I agree that NU is some sort of nine-win waiting room, but we can all recite the pattern:

    Win the games you "should" win, even if the outcome is ugly or closer than the experts think. Get a loss - or a big-time scare - from a team that is nowhere close to NU in talent. Tease fans with hope, progress, and potential. Lose four games, including one or two embarrassing performances on a national stage. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    I say these things not to attack Bo, his staff, or the players. I respect the things he has done at Nebraska. As much as some may want to deride him for it, he has brought in guys who represent Nebraska very well. They get good grades, avoid the police blotter, and are good role models. ...
    by Published on 11-15-2014 02:31 AM  Number of Views: 4127 
    1. Categories:
    2. Football

    The weather is cold, but the takes are hot:

    A teenage boy makes grown men lose their minds.
    There has been much hand-wringing over a certain high-profile running back recruit potentially decommitting from Nebraska. One report said it was a done deal. Another said not so fast. A third said "beats me, I have no clue".

    All of this uncertainty, left those who passionately follow recruiting twisting in the wind. Sadly, the reactions were predictable: When it appeared as if this kid was not going to honor his verbal pledge to Nebraska he was trashed on message boards and Twitter. Who needs him? Then when word came out that he was not necessarily leaving, folks backtracked and started proclaiming him the heir apparent for Ameer Abdullah. ...
    by Published on 11-14-2014 10:16 AM     Number of Views: 1972 
    1. Categories:
    2. Football

    So, you may have read/heard that I'm on record saying Ameer Abdullah will not win the Heisman Trophy.

    I believe and will stand by what I wrote, but if I've learned anything being a college football fan it is this: you never say never until the game is over. Ameer could win (or, more realistically, be invited as a finalist), but it's not as simple as just playing up to the very high standard he has shown throughout his Nebraska career.

    And no, the answer is not blowing up Twitter with the #FearAmeer hashtag, sending out another batch of AA batteries to voters*, or another marching band formation. The Heisman Trophy cannot be won by social media savvy alone. Ameer Abdullah and the Athletic Department's media folks will need to follow ...
    by Published on 11-14-2014 09:46 AM  Number of Views: 2262 
    1. Categories:
    2. Football

    Author's note: I had most of this completed prior to Ameer Abdullah getting injured early in the Purdue game. Since he likely will return to action against Wisconsin - and I'm optimistic that he'll be close to his old self - I'm going to publish it.

    * * *



    Ameer Abdullah is not going to win the 2014 Heisman Trophy.

    There. I said it.

    Husker fans, before you get out your cyber pitchforks and start spewing hot fire at me, know this simple, indisputable fact:

    I love and respect Ameer Abdullah. ...
    by Published on 11-10-2014 12:05 PM  Number of Views: 4434 
    1. Categories:
    2. Football

    Nebraska and Wisconsin unveiled the "Freedom Trophy" that both teams will play for on Saturday. The bronze trophy has a football stadium (half of Nebraska's Memorial Stadium, and half of Wisconsin's Camp Randall) with a giant American flag blowing above it. It is breathtaking in its generic beauty, forced patriotism, and lack of meaningful connection to the two schools.

    But the current Freedom Trophy was not the only design considered by the Big Ten's Nondescript Trophy Committee. They also considered several other freedom-inspired trophies including:

    • A 40 pound bronze bust of Husker freshman tight end Freedom Akinmoladun.

    • Free tuition awarded to any Wisconsin or Nebraska student who can correctly spell "Akinmoladun".

    • A slightly used cassette tape of George Michael's "Freedom '90" from Barry Alvarez's glove box.

    • A bald eagle wearing ...
    by Published on 11-07-2014 12:40 AM     Number of Views: 2755 
    1. Categories:
    2. Football

    I know the opponent on Saturday was the Purdue Boilermakers. Yet, I kept having flashbacks to the game at Michigan State last month.

    I saw repeats of what the Huskers did in East Lansing: There was Nebraska wasting amazing field position time after time. There was the offense trying to find production without Ameer Abdullah carrying the team. Here was a bad snap from the center causing problems. There is the defense playing a very strong game. Here goes De'Mornay Pierson-El with another big punt return.

    But I also saw the Huskers trying to emulate what the Spartans did: There are the Huskers taking their foot off the gas pedal and allowing Purdue to mount a minor comeback attempt. Where are the fans? Like at Michigan State, the stands were really starting to thin out in the 3rd and 4th quarters.

    Aside from the punt return, Nebraska needs to stop trying to replay the Michigan State game. The game against Purdue could have (and probably should have) been a 30 point blowout. Nebraska squandered amazing field position and gift-wrapped opportunities to put Purdue away early. Instead they let them hang around while the Huskers plodded into the second bye in need of an offensive jump-start.

    And they'll need it - otherwise the trip to Madison could also resemble the loss to the Spartans.

    ...
    by Published on 10-25-2014 12:28 AM  Number of Views: 1980 
    1. Categories:
    2. Football

    Note: As is my custom, the winner of the Nebraska-Northwestern game unofficially earns the right to use "NU" for the following year. Therefore, any references to "NU" in this piece will refer to Nebraska.

    This game was a true tale of two halves. In the first half, NU was sloppy on both sides of the ball. There was poor tackling, bad pursuit angles, and a defense that seemed determined to make Justin Jackson (the NW RB, not the former Nebraska lineman) look like an All-American. The defense could not get stops on 3rd down, which led to sustained drives down the field.

    Offensively, it felt more like Beck was throwing plays up against the wall instead of executing a game plan. Ameer Abdullah struggled to get established and the line looked subpar once again. The team was unable to convert third downs, including some bad drops. Despite coming to life late in the half, NU was lucky to be down just three points at halftime.

    In the second half, everything changed. The defense shut down the run and made Northwestern one-dimensional. Trevor Siemian is not very mobile when he's healthy, and he looked beat up. The defense was able to pressure ...
    by Published on 10-22-2014 12:00 AM     Number of Views: 5511 
    1. Categories:
    2. Football

    A heaping helping of hot takes to get you through until Halloween...

    Bo Pelini thinks the ESPN / SEC relationship is "bad for college football".
    I won't argue Bo's point, as it remains to be seen just how much ESPN's love affair with the SEC impacts the game. But I hate to see the coach give fuel to the message board conspiracy theorists who believe every announcer hates Nebraska, and ESPN disrespects the Big Ten and every other conference north or west of Columbia, MO.

    Look: You and I may sometimes forget it, but I guarantee that ESPN always knows the "E" in their name stands for "Entertainment", not Ethics, Equality, or anything else. ESPN wants viewers (which leads to higher cable fees and more ad dollars). They get those viewers by promoting and talking about winning teams. And right now, the SEC (as a whole) is widely viewed as a winning team.

    This is nothing new. Before their love affair with the SEC began, ESPN fawned all over USC. And Texas. And Boise State. And other top programs before that. As some of those teams have fallen on hard times, ESPN quickly moves on to the next big thing. For the most part, this is decided as much by the results on the field as it is by any financial implications ESPN may see from a team or conference's success.

    Remember, ESPN has a big, big stake in Texas's Longhorn Network, so if the "ESPN only promotes what they own" conspiracy ...
    by Published on 10-09-2014 11:40 PM     Number of Views: 5485 
    1. Categories:
    2. Football

    At halftime, I was not feeling all that confident about Nebraska's chances for a comeback. NU was down 17-0, had wasted several scoring opportunities, and was doing very little on offense.

    Then ABC showed a stat that gave me an odd sense of hope: The last time Nebraska was shut out in the first half was the 2009 game at Missouri.

    The similarities, both on the field and personal - were striking.

    As you may recall, that '09 Mizzou game was a night game, on the road, and the weather was a factor (an obvious understatement, but stay with me). Nebraska looked helpless on offense and it appeared to be a matter of time before a strong defense collapsed.

    Ditto on Saturday. A road night game, played in a chilly, windy rain. The defense had made given up some big plays, but they were doing their best to keep Nebraska in the game. The offense had no answers for Michigan State's defense.

    But the biggest similarities were personal. I watched that 2009 game from a hotel room outside Tampa, Florida with my wife and then 11 month old daughter sleeping next to me. It was so surreal to experience an exciting comeback victory knowing that if made any noise I would have a crying baby and a crabby wife.

    I watched the Michigan State game from a hotel room in Kearney with my two youngest children (2 ...