I'm not sure if I can recall a three-week period in recent Husker history when the fate of the Husker football program had swung so dramatically as has the last three weeks.
Following the Huskers' double-digit loss at Minnesota October 26th (it still pains me to write those words), Nebraska's football season seemed to have hit rock bottom. Not since 1960 had the Cornhuskers lost to a Minnesota football team. Many of those games since then were Husker blowouts, including the last two won by Nebraska by a total of 51 points.
Sure, the Huskers had lost in '09, 9-7 to lowly Iowa State at Lincoln, but losing to Minnesota? It was an unfathomable.disgrace. Even with the struggles the Huskers have experienced this fall, most figured the program should be able to handle the rodents.
To add insult to injury, after the game Husker fans were heard saying, "We were outcoached and outplayed." That hurts.
How could that be?
The rest of the season hung in the balance. Would Bo be able to keep his job? More than that, would the Huskers win another game this year?
And then the following week (November 2nd) the Huskers went from the outhouse to the penthouse with the "Halo Heave" (the "Spiritual Spiral"?) thrown by a third-string QB ( Ron Kellogg III of all people) and snatched out of the chilly night air by a RFr. receiver, Jordan Westerkamp, for a dramatic, unbelievable 27-23 home miracle win over Northwestern.
CATCHY NAME? (GROAN)
(Someone sent me with what I think is the best name for the play: "The Kellogg Corn-Flick"!
All of a sudden and despite the loss to the Gophers, Nebraska was back in the race. All their goals were still achievable. Even a B1G crown, 11-win season and a BCS bowl. One catch, one miracle. Next up was the daunting challenge of winning at Michigan. Daunting, because Michigan's home record under Brady Hoke is 19-0.
Beating Michigan in the Big House was more than I would not have predicted. But guess what, in the past six quarters of football, Nebraska may have found a good defense. From the ashes of the Minnesota loss three weeks ago, the Blackshirts (and we can start calling them that again) have emerged to once again to be a force to be reckoned with.
In what is starting to resemble the Huskers' '09 D that led the nation in scoring defense that year, the Blackshirts have begun to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. The Blackshirts' progress should not be that surprising. Their raw talent has been there all year, it's just taken until now to mature.
And mature it has. Players are making plays: Randy Gregory is a one-man wrecking crew. Teams are going to have to double team him, but in doing so, they are leaving themselves open for Avery Moss, Thad Randle, Greg McMullen and Jason Ankra. Pick your poison. And we get Gregory for another two years. Think of how good this kid might be by then. And he'll be in contention this year for all-conference attention.
The bad news concerns all the injuries to the offense, especially to the O-line. I do think, barring any more injuries, the O-line has enough depth to pick up the slack.
Of course, we'll find out this Saturday when Michigan State comes to Lincoln.
NO GOING BACK
On the wall of the Professional Drum Shop in LA, there was (maybe still is) a sign that says "You Are Now Entering The Big Time." The message was supposed to encourage aspiring young drummers such as I was many years ago.
In the pursuit of anything difficult, there are moments that define a player, artist, inventor etc. These moments are like lines drawn in the sand. Once you've gone over the line, you can and never will go back. These are defining moments in one's career.
And that's what I saw with Tommy Armstrong, Jr. on his 75-yard, six-minute drive that led to the winning touchdown with about two minutes to go in the Michigan game. In my opinion, Tommy will never be the player he was before that drive.
It was a crucial drive in a hostile environment. But TA was posed, calm and made one the best offensive plays this season when he delayed to the last moment his pitch (pass as it turned out) to Ameer Ab-"zippity"-dullah on a four-yard TD that won the game for the Huskers.
Tommy, welcome to the Big Time.
HUSKER DAN'S ARMY
Many of you wrote me after I asked for names of troopers deployed in the Middle East who would like to receive Husker Care Packages. We unfortunately ran into a few snags that delayed the sending of those packages. All boxes have been sent and I want to apologize for the delays.
For the past 10 years, HDA has helped bring a touch of home to 100s of troopers stationed in the Middle East. The packages are full of Husker goodies: media guides, sweatshirts, T-shirts, caps etc. We can also arrange with the help of UNL and HuskerVision for game day DVDs to be sent to overseas.
The packages are sent via The Red Zone in Omaha and at no charge to any trooper.
Here's the information we need:
BRANCH OF SERVICE
LENGTH OF DEPLOYMENT
TIES TO NEBRASKA
If the trooper wants game day DVDs, we'll also need authorization from his/her CO.
Please allow a couple of weeks for processing. Send the information to me at HuskerDan@cox.net.
Veterans Day was Monday. Here's a tribute to all our men, women and their families who have sacrificed so much for our great country.
You may contact the writer at HuskerDan@cox.net