I’ll admit it, I didn’t expect it. Heck, not only did I not expect it, I
would have bet darn good money against it. But, come on, not even you, the
all-knowing armchair QB could have sat in your La-Z-Boy/Throne of Omnipotence
and seen even close to the following:
36-55, 431 yards, 2
touchdowns, 0 interceptions
If that isn’t enough, nobody could have seen
Cory Ross: 15 rushes, 37 yards – 8 receptions – 131
Throw in two touchdowns through the air with one on the ground and
statistically, it’s almost ridiculous.
11 receivers for Nebraska against
Iowa State, four with at least five receptions. Seven receivers producing double digits
in yards receiving. Oh, and ala the old commercial saying with a little bit of
a twist: “Where’s the motion?”
Uh-uh, no way, no how could anyone have
foreseen this, at least to this extreme
Callahan break out the "real"|
Ok, first let’s get the conspiracy theorist out of
the way here as there have been some that have said that head coach Bill Callahan has been holding onto the “real” playbook until conference play
They (the coaches) were quite willing to accept the fact that it meant
risking losing at least two of those early games to do that.
Yeah, and I
am sure it was Callahan himself telling Zac Taylor to throw under 44 percent of
his passes complete, just so everyone was convinced.
The passing game
wasn’t working, the running game was…..well, sort of. So when we hear following
the game that approximately 11 of the first 15 plays were scripted passes, you
are thinking that this is either one of the gutsiest game plans you’ve ever seen
based on recent results or simply one of the dumbest.
outcome, I’d say the former is more accurate.
What happened was what I
basically said couldn’t happen or at least, I didn’t think was likely.
Through three games the Huskers had as many rushing touchdowns from the
quarterback as they had passing:
Through three games, the
completion percentage was below 50 percent and actually below the output of Joe Dailey last year, a QB that wasn’t considered suitable for this
This offensive line had given up more sacks than last year at this
point and in three games. Plus, we saw a Husker offense do its best to stop
itself with turnovers in game one, dropped balls in game two and penalties in
It was pretty obvious Nebraska would be ready to set
some all time yardage marks in the passing game against the first “real”
opponent of the season.
In all honesty, about the only thing about
my prediction that I actually got right was the fact that Nebraska would
Quite frankly, I’m baffled.
Normally, this is where I say,
“No, not because I didn’t think it would work, but because……….”.
say that, because I DIDN’T think it would work. Yes, I thought Taylor had some
ability, but up to this point, I had seen a quarterback that was tentative in
the pocket, held onto the ball a little long at times, didn’t exhibit a lot of
confidence in his short throws and wasn’t very consistent overall.
to that the seven sacks, stemming somewhat from his apparent lack of mobility
and some to his offensive line. It was all just too much to ignore.
It was going to be all running in this game with just enough passing
to fool someone into thinking that they could do it on a play-to-play basis.
they ran just enough to tally the eighth lowest rushing total in the history of
the Husker program.
Taylor not only didn’t look tentative in this game,
he looked confident. From the first pass to the last, here was a guy that was
stepping into his throws, delivering most on the dime and when there wasn’t a
play there, he took off.
Not at a 4.4 clip, but at a 4.7 (Ok, that’s
probably being nice) clip that worked, because Taylor knew exactly when to run.
His presence in the pocket was extremely good, possessing that
seemingly ingrained trait to all good quarterbacks in that they feel the
pressure as it’s arriving, step up into the pocket and make a play downfield.
In addition, Taylor got the crap kicked out of him a few
times, but this time around it was somewhat to do with the line, but even more
to do with the coverage down the field.
defense continues to pile up |
In all instances, some a little slower than
others, Taylor got up, went back to the huddle and continued on his record
While I am certainly willing to admit that this could be a
one-time thing and defenses will now not be expecting Nebraska to just run,
because that’s all they can do, I can emphatically say that this young man
proved me completely wrong.
Ok, sunshine is over, now let’s get to some
harsh reality, the kind that you don’t want to talk about when a Husker team
came out with what could be a momentum building game. As if the last one over
Pitt wasn’t enough:
That’s what Iowa State got in the
air and while it’s not 431, it was enough to take what could have been a
convincing win and turned it into an overtime thriller or for the Cyclones,
The secondary that had gotten torched last year by Meyer,
Davis and Blythe, once again got torched by Meyer, but the award for triple
digits receiving went only to one receiver this time around, Austin Flynn
grabbing the honors. And instead of Lornell McPherson getting abused, it was the
converted running back Tierre Green who found himself getting picked on
In fact, the inexperience of the entire secondary showed in
spurts throughout the game.
I hear Texas Tech is coming to
That's all taking into account that the defense did very well, especially at the
line, tallying 6 sacks and an impressive 8 quarterback hurries. Corey McKeon was
once again his solid self, notching two of those sacks, totaling another
double-digit day in tackles with 10.
It seems like the pressure was there, but one reason why
Iowa State still got yards down the field was because of Meyer himself. His
mobility, as you would assume, was a definite factor in him being able to create
from nothing at times. Meyer wasn’t making a lot of runs down the field, but he
was buying himself time in the backfield to deliver to receivers that were able
to eventually get open.
Nebraska did limit him
considerably, though, and stopped him when it mattered most.
I have to tell you that
as bad as it seemed at times, as a Husker fan you have to be pretty thrilled
with how Nebraska came out of this game. Last year the Huskers didn’t have the
kind of consistency and maybe at times, ability to overcome a performance like
Meyer had today.
This group, though, with
both offense and defense, was able to stem the tide and create a few ripples of
their own. If not for two dropped balls in the end zone, one by Frantz Hardy and
the other by fullback Dane Todd, this could have been a very different
As it is, I actually think how this game ended up going was the
best thing that could have happened to the big red.
Nebraska had not trailed in a game this year. Trailing in a game, especially in
overtime, is a test of attrition and mental fortitude. Nebraska was down twice
in this game, Iowa State leading at one point 13-10, when Nebraska tied, only
to see Iowa State go back up again in the overtime period. Nebraska answered
once more and then again, to take the lead for good.
has also not been in an overtime game and that’s not just this team, but ANY
Husker team ever, inside Memorial Stadium.
Oh, and let’s not talk about
Nebraska’s history over the last 40 years when they had to rely on the pass to
There’s irony here, but more than anything, there could be a
little destiny as well.
Now, don’t get all in a bunch, I’m not talking
about titles, though, Nebraska is in as good of shape as anyone else in the
north division to at least try for something like that. What I am talking about
is a team that did something I didn’t think they could do:
Realize in a
game what they were seeing in practice every day
I have no doubt that since the
season began, this team practiced very well. I saw the spring game, so I have
seen how Zac Taylor and a staunch defense can overmatch their opponent and at times,
this game, I also think that whatever game plans this coaching
staff had, they were seeing them work in scrimmages certainly better than
they had worked in the real thing.
But, they had never actually seen it
happen when it mattered.
That has to mean something. The coaches preach,
they teach, they scold, they mold and when all of that doesn’t happen in a game,
what does it ultimately mean?
I don’t know
But, when they do all
of that and it works and quite well, what does THAT ultimately
|Ross now part
"Rice" with record in |
for a running back.
Again, I don’t have a clue.
It does prove a few points,
something that defenses of teams they are about to face are taking down as notes
for the future:
Nebraska can pass and their short game seems to be just
fine if you give Taylor enough time.
pass blocking isn’t actually too bad, but I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that
they are much better now than previous games, the one difference with this contest being FAR less
motion and shifting than we have ever seen out of a Bill Callahan
Blitzing Taylor isn’t a gimmee anymore as he’s proven to have
good pocket presence and enough savvy to know when to move and most of the time,
Oh, and Cory Ross is Cory Ross. Running or receiving, this guy is
as big of a threat as Nebraska has had in years.
All that equals an
interesting dilemma for me, because I am not one to underestimate the importance
of a win like this. I do believe in watershed moments and those sparks that can
propel a team for the rest of the year.
Again, I am not talking titles
here, but when you come off a 5-6 year, you don’t have to talk titles to feel
happy about the progress your team is making.
And they made progress,
perhaps the most in any one game in Callahan’s two years at the helm. Unlike the
Baylor game last year, where Joe Dailey set the passing record Zac Taylor just
broke, people were still wondering if Dailey could do something like that
The biggest difference here is that Dailey’s success came more off
the big play than it did the consistent play and it’s the consistent play that
tells you whether something is a fluke or legit.
Right now, Taylor seems
Does that mean Nebraska can beat Texas Tech when Mike Leach brings
his ruthless offense into Memorial Stadium?
Well, yeah, but not because
Nebraska is better, but because anyone can beat anyone on a given day.
It’s not like Texas Tech is USC. They just have such a potent offense between
the 20s and as noted, Nebraska’s secondary needs help. BUT, Hodges isn’t as
mobile as Meyers is and if the Kansas game is any
indication, their (Tech's) offensive line isn’t quite up
to par with Iowa State’s as well.
If there is one thing I got from
his game, outside of pure shock for most of the contest, it’s that whatever
system this is and whatever you want to call it, the players believe in it, top
to bottom. And now they have actually gotten to see it work.
a tomato can foe either, but against a ranked team, a conference team, a
It’s impossible to say what this
victory will do for the overall record, but you didn’t have to look hard to see
what it did for a team. Emotional victories are one thing, but this was more
than about a win, it was about proving on the field that everything they did off
the field actually worked.
Their timing was impeccable in debuting that
efficiency and I don’t think it’s so clear cut anymore that certain games are
just losses waiting to happen.
IF Nebraska can keep up this kind of
consistency and yes, get back to using the running game as well, they have the
defense and mostly solid special teams, to beat most of the teams on their
About 2:30 yesterday afternoon, I wouldn’t have said that, bet
on it, even acknowledged it. I probably would have laughed if it had came out of