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    by Published on 10-01-2015 11:45 PM     Number of Views: 8899 
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    2. Football

    I've had enough.

    Nebraska's uninspiring 2-2 start has me wondering just what is going on with our beloved program. Yeah, I hear you say that they are two plays away from 4-0, but to me that is the same as telling me I'm a $1 lottery ticket away from being a millionaire - irrelevant.

    I've seen enough football to know when something isn't working - and friends, this ain't working.

    We need changes. And we need them now.

    Where should we begin? Let's start with defensive coordinator Mark Banker. Hello? Have you seen the passing defense? Even Kevin Cosgrove is embarrassed by this defense. You say that his rush defense is actually pretty good? I don't care. Nebraska plays in the Big Ten West, a division so dedicated to rushing offenses that the forward pass is still a novelty. But Joel Stave, Mitch Leidner, and whoever plays quarterback for Northwestern are going to throw for 450 yards against Nebraska, probably in the fourth quarter alone. Get Banker out of here - now.

    While we're at it, let's get rid of secondary coach Brian Stewart. You know the problem with Daniel Davie this year? Nobody is yelling at him. I believe that for Davie to be an effective cornerback, he needs a coach willing and able to scream at him on national TV. You know Riley is too soft to get the job done, so that puts it on Brian Stewart. Apparently he's not up to the task either, so he's got to go.

    And don't get me started on the front seven of this defense. Everybody says that Trent Bray is this hotshot up and coming linebacker coach, but he can't get three starters on the field at the same time. Instead he's playing guys like Chris Weber. Did you know he's not the Chris Webber from the Michigan Fab Five team? No, this Chris Weber is some white kid from Elkhorn.

    Up front on the line, I have no idea what is going on. Maliek Collins has yet to become an all time great player like Ndamukong Suh. Heck, Collins may not even be the best player on the line this year. That would be a former tight end. Hank ...
    by Published on 09-30-2015 10:45 PM  Number of Views: 4063 
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    2. Football

    The Big Ten conference schedule kicks off in full this weekend, which means it's time to predict how the teams will finish within their division. I purposefully wait to make my picks until the non-conference schedule is over, so I can have a better idea of who is a contender and who is a pretender. Given my prognosticating history, I need all the help I can get.

    Once conference play gets rolling, I'll do a weekly ranking of Big Ten teams 1 through 14, but for the initial round we'll keep it East and West. As we'll discuss, the two divisions could not be more different this year. Let's start with the East...

    East Division

    The second edition of the Big Ten East reminds me a lot of the Big Eight of the 1980s. Ohio State and Michigan State play the role of Nebraska and Oklahoma - legitimate national championship contenders, ...
    by Published on 09-28-2015 01:29 AM  Number of Views: 4058 
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    2. Football

    As I settled into my seat Saturday morning, my buddy Nate posed an interesting question:

    What if the Miami game happened in reverse?

    In other words, instead of Nebraska getting mounting an exciting fourth quarter rally to take the Hurricanes to overtime, what if Nebraska had gotten out to a comfortable lead and allowed the Canes to rally? Would we still feel good about the game or would the fan base be more concerned with how it played out?

    At the time, I thought it was nothing more than a good hypothetical question. Little did I know that Nebraska was going to give us the opportunity to discuss it in a decidedly non-hypothetical situation. This time, NU had the big lead, even while settling for field goals, but left the door open for the other team to make it competitive down to the final offensive play.

    Let's set aside the talent factor. Miami is easily a better team than Southern Miss, and NU was playing with more able bodies in south Florida last week than they ...
    by Published on 09-21-2015 11:36 PM  Number of Views: 3979 
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    In 1984, Nebraska plays for the win and loses in heartbreaking fashion. Thirty-one years later, Nebraska plays for the tie, goes to overtime, and then loses in heartbreaking fashion. Some things just never change.

    If you're like me, you went through a full spectrum of emotions during the four-plus hours of the game. Excitement. Shock. Frustration. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. Gallows humor. Excitement. Shock again. Confidence. Jubilation. Nervousness. Anguish. Devastation. And that was just the first quarter.

    This loss stuck with me much longer - and much harder - than the BYU defeat. On the surface, that seems counter-intuitive. For three-fourths of the game, Nebraska played BYU well enough to win. They led for a large portion of that game, all the way up to the final second when a 1-in-100 play beat them. They "deserved" to win that game.

    Miami, on the other hand, rarely felt competitive. For over 56 minutes, Miami led by anywhere from seven to 24 points - and it often felt like much more. And that is the difference. From the 8:04 mark of the first quarter, when Miami went up 14-0, through the 11:14 mark of the fourth, when they increased their lead to 33-10, Miami had complete control of the game. The odds of a NU rally were about as likely as a snowstorm (or a sellout crowd) hitting Sun Life Stadium. You had given up. I had conceded defeat. The only drama was how bad the final margin would be.

    by Published on 09-14-2015 01:28 AM  Number of Views: 3870 
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    I'll admit it: I went into the game knowing very little about Nebraska's opponent. I incorrectly assumed that South Alabama was a lower tier FCS school along the lines of McNeese State. After some quick Wiki-based research, I found that the Jag-wars (or is it Jag-wires?) are actually a FBS team from the Sun Belt conference playing just their seventh season of football. In other words, their program is younger than my first grade daughter.

    Despite being light on tradition and history, South Alabama has some decent talent - thanks in part to the University of Alabama-Birmingham cutting their football program last year. At least five of South Alabama's starters on offense were UAB refugees, including receiver Josh Magee who had 147 yards and USA's lone touchdown.

    I'm guessing my ignorance of NU's opponent was not uncommon among the 89,822 who watched the game on Saturday - approximately 22 of which were in South Alabama gear. I say this with no disrespect to our guests from...let me look it up real quick...Mobile, but let's face it: This game was ...
    by Published on 09-10-2015 10:36 PM  Number of Views: 4402 
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    2. Football

    From this point forward, I propose that Jordan Westerkamp is involved in ALL end of half / end of game Hail Mary situations - especially those directed at the south end zone. Agreed?

    And before we go any farther, I think it is a good idea to recite the First Game of the Season Pledge:

    I understand this was the first game.
    I understand the things I saw in this game don't necessarily indicate how the season will go.
    If we lost, I will avoid panic and doomsday scenarios.
    If we won, I will try to consume the Kool-Aid responsibly.
    I will not call for coaches to be fired or players to be benched.
    It was just the first game.
    This team will be much different in November than they are today.
    It was just the first game.

    Feel free to repeat that as necessary. Some of you may need to recite it hourly - or before venturing over to the message boards.

    I encourage you to look at this game with a big picture focus. Yes, even if that final pass falls incomplete there are some serious areas of concern for this team, but overreacting to one game is a fool's errand. Instead, let's try to take a rational ...
    by Published on 09-04-2015 01:13 AM  Number of Views: 8863 
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    2. Football

    In taking an in-depth look at what to expect for the 2015 season, we've covered some reasons to be optimistic and reasons to be pessimistic. Between them, you'd think we have a pretty good gauge on how things will go this fall.

    But yet, lingering questions remain.

    Some of these may be evident by the end of the BYU game, while others may not be known until January. Here are some lingering questions, along with my best guess on how they'll be answered:

    Does Mike Riley fully understand what he's gotten himself into? This is a question that I've thought about many times this off-season. As you and I know, Nebraska is a unique place* and our singular focus and passion for the football team can catch outsiders by surprise. For an example, consider the two previous head coaches. I'm guessing each of them had a moment when they thought "Holy crap, what have I done?". ...
    by Published on 09-03-2015 03:22 PM  Number of Views: 290 
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    2. Football

    This is my countdown of the greatest Nebraska Cornhuskers to wear each jersey number, 1-99. For background on the project, click here. We're going to start at #99 and work our way down to #1. For each number, I'll list the best player to wear that number, some of the other memorable Huskers to don that jersey, as well as a personal favorite of mine.

    I love the disparity of numbers 39 - 30. At one end (39) is a fairly bleak field of candidates, while on the other end (30) you have two of the greatest I-Backs in school history. And with another mixed back of I-Backs, fullbacks, linebackers, corners, safeties, kickers, wingbacks, and others, it makes the picking rather difficult.


    Best Player: Andra Franklin, Fullback, 1978 - 1980
    Other notables: None
    Personal Favorite: Jeff Souder, Safety, 2005

    Comments: A starter in three different seasons, Andra Franklin was a mainstay at fullback in the late 70s. A gifted runner, Franklin averaged over 5 yards a carry during his Nebraska career, while also proving himself as an excellent blocker. Franklin earned All Big 8 honors in 1980.

    Jeff Souder only played one season at Nebraska, and did not do much more than cover kickoffs. But, oh, were those fun to watch. Souder was generously listed at 200 pounds, but that was 200 pounds of excitement, energy, and desire to go blow somebody up. I remember before kickoffs how he would jump around and excite the crowd like it was 4th and Goal with a national championship on the line. Even though his career didn't go as planned, that excitement was real.


    Best Player: Barrett Ruud, Linebacker, 2002 - 2004
    Other notables: Dan Alexander, Steve Forch, Bruce Pickens
    Personal Favorite: Dan Alexander, I-Back, 1996 - 2000

    Comments: RUUUUUUUD!!!! Nebraska's all time leader in tackles, second to Grant Wistrom is tackles for loss, and is on the short list of greatest linebackers in school history. A three year starter, Ruud was a force all over the field. He had a nose for the football on running plays, but also excelled in pass coverage, recording 12 break ups and two interceptions in his career. While he strangely only earned first team All Big XII honors once, he was a three time academic All Big XII performer.

    When I think of Dan Alexander, I think of two things: First, was amazing potential - the gifted athlete, seemingly chiseled from marble who captivated a fan base with his spring game performances - before knee injuries derailed him. And secondly, there is
    by Published on 09-02-2015 01:18 PM     Number of Views: 5891 
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    2. Football

    Let's await Game Day with another edition of Husker Hot Takes:

    Jon Schuetz is in (and then right back out) as public address announcer.

    This fiasco is not a good look - at all - for the University. First off, are they really setting the precedent that all social media posts are fair game, even those made months before you are a candidate for a job? I completely get not saying anything negative while a UNL employee, but the idea that something posted months ago disqualifies somebody from a job is concerning.

    Then, there is the perception that University leadership does not tolerate those who publicly criticize University officials. I am a supporter of Chancellor Perlman, especially for the things he has done for UNL (you know, the actual school - not necessarily the athletic department). But by this standard I'm likely disqualified from ever holding a public-facing job at UNL - as are the majority of people with a Facebook or Twitter account. I don't recall bashing Perlman here or on social media, but the odds are good that somebody could find something they find objectionable.

    Finally, how do you make the hire ...
    by Published on 08-31-2015 11:55 PM  Number of Views: 6765 
    1. Categories:
    2. Football

    Yesterday, the 2015 glass of Big Red Kool Aid was half full. Today, it is half empty.

    Let's face it, there is a lot of positive spin thrown at you during the off-season. Players are healthy and in the best shape of their lives. Coaches have the complete respect and command of their players. The team chemistry is so much better than it was last year. Leaders have emerged and the seniors want to go out on a winning note. The offensive line is poised to play like the Pipeline again.

    It happens each and every year. You read the articles and posts, listen to the radio shows, and talk with your friends and co-workers. Like one of those Magic Eye pictures, if you squint and examine the schedule just right, you can see an undefeated season.

    Then the season starts. Suddenly, the second coming of the 1995 team looks more like the 2002 squad, with flashes of 2007.


    That's our purpose today. We want to avoid the painful sting that occurs when a harsh reality slaps you in ...

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