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Lessons from the 90s when we remember ALL of the 90s

Discussion in 'Football' started by Middle-aged_Ball_Coach, Oct 11, 2018.

  1. Middle-aged_Ball_Coach

    Middle-aged_Ball_Coach Recruit

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    Ball Control Offense vs Tempo Offense
    There has been a lot of discussion about the merits and the problems of running a tempo offense versus a ball-control offense, and there have been a lot of comments about the value of the Time-of-Possession statistic. There really are two sides to this question, and you can find both by looking at Nebraska's teams in the '90s. Be careful what you think that means, though....

    Whenever we talk about the Nebraska teams of the 90s, pretty much everyone is thinking about the teams from '93 onward. What about the '90, '91, and '92 teams? We weren't so fond of our ball-control offense back then. If you really want to drive the point home about the limitations of a ball-control offense, go watch some of the bowl games from the 80s and early 90s. Year after year after year, Nebraska would come into the bowl game with the leading rushing attack in the country, future NFL players in the O-line, studs at I-back,... and we'd get beat ... over and over again. When it was Miami, it was not even a close game. A ball-control offense is great if you have the following
    1. a defense to stop the opposing offense;
    2. a lead.
    When a ball-control offense gets behind early, especially by multiple touchdowns, they're as helpless as a walrus climbing Mt. Everest. If you go back and watch those games, you'll have to be focused to notice, but Nebraska usually did wear out the defenses of Miami, Florida State, et al. in the 4th quarter, but it was meaningless by then when Nebraska was already down by multiple touchdowns.

    Is Wisconsin copying Nebraska's 1990s script?
    Wisconsin sincerely looks like Nebraska ... from 1990 or 1991. They have a great offensive line, NFL running backs, great TEs, muscled up FBs, and defenders that want to knock your helmet out your bunghole.... They also have a QB who isn't a threat to make plays when they get off the script. They also lack team speed. They also have difficulty on both sides of the ball with teams that have playmakers across from them. The one year with Russell Wilson at QB was the only time that top-level defenses were overly stressed about stopping Wisconsin's offense. For the life of me, I can't understand why they don't do a better job of recruiting top quality dual-threat QBs, but I'm thankful that they don't. Once Osborne plugged in Tommie at QB, defenses suddenly had to defend the whole field. Those Schlesinger FB traps that everyone remembers weren't so effective in the early 90s when defenses had 9 guys in the box and 2 other D-backs ready to fill.

    Wisconsin also doesn't have enough NFL caliber talent/speed on the back-end of the defense. Nebraska had some very good d-backs in the 80s and 90s, but rarely did they have 4 on the field at the same time. They had to move Tyrone Hughes to CB in the '92 Orange Bowl because they didn't have enough speed to cover the Miami receivers. Wisconsin looked a lot like that on Saturday. I bet that their D-backs coach would have liked to raid a couple players from their offense, too.

    The same was and is true for pass rushers. The switch to the attacking 4-3 defense in '93 and the recruitment of NFL caliber rush ends made that Nebraska defense into the nasty Blackshirts that you remember, but they weren't very good at stopping aggressive, attacking offenses before that (in big games, at least). Nebraska had a lot of good defenders before that--Broderick Thomas, Neil Smith, Kenny Walker, and many others--though they seemed to always be a step slow against the top-level teams. Also, those teams could simply gameplan around them and attack somewhere else--where the speed and talent didn't match. Once Nebraska changed that and all of the above, the table was set to feast. Wisconsin also is now able to produce a JJ Watt, but they presently aren't able to put together a front 7 that strikes fear in the hearts of Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama, or Oklahoma.

    What to think of Nebraska's defense?
    Anybody remember when Nebraska fans wanted Osborne to fire his defensive coaches in the late 80s and early 90s? Tom Osborne was steaming mad because Nancy told him about how the fans sitting near the coaches' wives were telling George Darlington's wife that her husband was an awful coach, and that he needed to be fired. Apparently they said it with a little more color than that. They also verbally abused Charlie McBride's wife. Almost every week there were letters to the OWH calling for the heads of McBride (DC) and Darlington (DBs), and sometimes John Melton (LBs until his retirement) and Kevin Steele (LBs after Melton). There were times when I thought the same ... and then they switched their base defense, changed their DBs' coverage techniques, recruited better and faster athletes, and went on a holy terror through the mid-90s' opposing offenses.

    Give Chinander some time. I was at the Huskers high school coaches' clinic in the spring, and I got to hear him explain what they're doing and why, and I got to see the defensive staff dive into some of the basics of what they coach, why, and how. These guys are really good coaches, but even a legendary coach can't make chicken salad out of ... you-know-what.

    We don't have the weapons on defense, right now. Look at the handful of guys that UCF put into the NFL over the past couple drafts and show me where Nebraska has similar talent, right now, on the field. I don't know whether it's accurate, but there was some talk that Tre Neal would not have started at UCF this year had he stayed for his senior year, yet he is one or our top safeties. Caleb Tannor, Cam Taylor, and their fellow freshman class will hopefully raise the bar, but they'll need more of all of the above types of players (and a lot more) to get where we all want to go. Unless they're really good at camouflaging their talent, I don't see any high NFL draft picks in the current starting lineup. Barry and a couple others will probably play some on Sundays, but they're not 1st round draft picks.

    Chinander's defensive principles are built on doing four things very well: lining up correctly (which includes understanding their leverage and responsibilities), tackling (especially in space), forcing turnovers, and getting sacks. They took a beating at times against an Auburn offense that took both Alabama and Georgia's defenses to the woodshed last November, but they came up with sacks, turnovers, and stops on crucial plays when needed. Nebraska doesn't have those kinds of playmakers on the field, right now.

    I have a ton more to say, but I've already written a novel, so ... fire away.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
  2. inthedeed

    inthedeed Red Shirt 5 Year Member

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    great job
     
  3. 4evrHusker

    4evrHusker All Big 10 10 Year Member

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    Well said Middle-aged_Ball_Coach, while that is a long post, it is on point. Patience is a virtue we as fans have not demonstrated, as a whole, not necessarily individuals, that needs to happen. Give this staff time to work their magic, and good, if not great, things will start to happen.
     
  4. Paramus

    Paramus Travel Squad 5 Year Member

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    Exactly. This is the main reason why we are struggling. We don't have enough good players. If you add players like Suh, Lavonte David, Shaquem Griffin, and Grant Wistrom to this defense then Chinander would be looking like a genius.

    Our recruiting rankings have been amongst the best in the B1G West, but dominant players are not showing up.

    More time under this coaching staff along with more game experience will help the execution of the schemes, but we need better recruiting and more player development before we can be great again.

    Right now I'd say 2 of our 5 best players are true freshmen. Can SF recruit Florida speed & talent to Nebraska? I hope so. Since leaving the Big 12 our Texas recruiting has pretty much dried up. California here we come?

    As a team, UCF looks terrifically fast. Will we be able to get there? I am not sure. UCF is in the heart of talentville. NU is not.

    Could any of our players start for Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State or Clemson? Do we have anyone who could start for Michigan's defense? I can't think of any other than AM having a chance to start for Clemson.

    Regardless, it will be fun to see how things develop under SF. It is definitely going to get better. We have the right guy at the helm. However, patience may be required.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
  5. NUinID

    NUinID Red Shirt 2 Year Member

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    MABC I agree with your whole post. I remember going to the 1989 Orange Bowl. Miami won the game 23-3 and it really wasn't that close. I think NU had about 140 of total offense in the game.

    I still wouldn't mind having Wisconsin's team and record over the last 7-8 years though. :D
     
  6. Vinosker

    Vinosker Recruit 2 Year Member

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    Outstanding!! I would just add that Tre Neal was working with 2nd team in Spring as staff knew he was going to graduate in the summer and most likely transfer. Chin is going to be a great DC for Nebraska.
     
  7. Vinosker

    Vinosker Recruit 2 Year Member

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    Amen, brother!!!
     
  8. Vinosker

    Vinosker Recruit 2 Year Member

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    Talent and effort. Think I have said this before, but watch the effort of the UCF defensive line when they get blocked to the ground and how hard the fight to get back up and get back into the play. Don't think I've seen that from our guys yet. When we do, look out!!
     
  9. FeelLikeAStranger

    FeelLikeAStranger Keeping it Brockmire 15 Year Member

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    TL;DR

    JK

    Good post.

    Sorry, having editing issues on quotes. The part about Chin’s D being predicated on 4 things lines up well with what Foreman said this week.

    He said that they were in the right place 95% of the time on D on Saturday, which is obviously an improvement over the early games. That’s step one. OK, we’re there.

    Step 2 is tackling which wasn’t good. Turnovers...nope. Sacks...meh.

    Foreman essentially said that the guys now need to progress beyond just being in the right place and thinking that’s enough.
     
  10. Middle-aged_Ball_Coach

    Middle-aged_Ball_Coach Recruit

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    I would agree with all of that, but I'd again stress patience with the staff. I'm a football coach, and I happened to have just spent the afternoon practice working on tackling technique and form at a very basic level with some very young and inexperienced players. I don't think that the average fan has much grasp for how long it takes and how hard it is to correct poor technique and break bad habits. Lots of people have been talking about the Reed hit where he was celebrating while the RB was still running, and that's the perfect example. I'll bet that Reed had never had that happen before at any level, even though probably every coach since Pop Warner has been telling him to wrap up/grab some cloth, drive your feet, etc. Sometimes the best high school athletes have the worst college habits because they had been able to coast on talent, ability, speed, etc., for so long.

    It takes time to develop solid tackling fundamentals, but--again like both Wisconsin now and Nebraska in the 90s--once that culture takes hold, the older players teach it and enforce it with the younger players. It's very hard, though, to get the older players to have that mindset when they haven't had it, seen it, or experienced it. I've for some reason made it a habit to coach in schools with horrible football teams, and I've seen both success and failure in building/flipping a culture, and it's the same basic idea as what needs to happen at Nebraska, and it's what happened at Wisconsin under Alvarez and at Nebraska under Devaney: you start at whatever level is coachable, and you build around them. To build a good high school football program, it's necessary to overhaul the jr. high program first, build it up, and then move that culture up with those players as they advance through the ranks. It's very difficult to keep them away from the poison/cancer of the more senior players who only know how to lose and make excuses, and who usually lack both ambition and accountability. That's the natural state of human nature. That's why probably most of the guys reading this drink too much beer and don't exercise enough. Once the people with the right attitude get anchored into the senior leadership positions, you need to have some success on the field to justify all of their work and effort. Get that, and you can build a solid program.

    This is where Nebraska is at, right now. Frost has brought in the equivalent of the jr. high guys, and he's trying to figure out how to both develop them and protect them from both failure (from playing too soon) and bad influences (from the older players). A Devine Ozigbo is a god-send, showing all levels that there is a reward for anyone who goes all in. At CFU, the guy that most exemplified that was Shaquem Griffin. If only the young guys are the focus, the older players will check out even more, and worse, they'll often passive-aggressively undermine all that you're trying to do.

    Turnovers will come with more athleticism, better technique, and more reps. The same can be said for sacks, but I'd rather have an uber-talented D-lineman with poor technique than a statue with perfect technique. You can gameplan a few sacks, but consistent pressure on the QB will have to be recruited.
     
    N2FL, Vinosker, AzHusker and 2 others like this.
  11. Middle-aged_Ball_Coach

    Middle-aged_Ball_Coach Recruit

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    For the record, I was drinking a beer while I typed that, and I don't exercise enough. I'm a spade, and I know it, so don't take that one personally.
     
    Vinosker likes this.
  12. The_CornTorch

    The_CornTorch Recruit 2 Year Member

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    MABC – I'm old enough to remember a lot of this too. Also remember that dreadful - what was it – 7 year stretch where we'd plow through the paper tiger Big 8 schedule (aside from OU), only to run into some kind of buzzsaw bowl game matchup. Took a while for TO to figure out the riddle, but he eventually did.

    That's why we just need to be patient and let SF do his work. There's plenty of it to be done.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
  13. ColombianHusker

    ColombianHusker Throw the damn bones! 2 Year Member

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    Great post MABC. As Vino said, talent and effort! In mid 90’s, lack of effort would have gotten a 20 yard blindside reminder.
     
  14. anotherdumbprediction

    anotherdumbprediction Recruit

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    We will get the players to make this D dominant as soon as we move the school to Florida.
     
  15. CrabHusker

    CrabHusker Varsity 5 Year Member

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    Great post and matches my opinions nearly 100%.

    I'd also add that at no time during my forty eight years of Nebraska fandom have ALL Nebraska fans been happy with the goings on surrounding Nebraska football. There are a select few that bitched during the early '70's run as well a '94-'97 run but now look back on those years longingly.

    The team has a long way to go and it will not happen overnight. I hope the 0-5 start has helped those who didn't understand how much has to go right for an extended period of time understand the process.

    Better days ahead.
     

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