You have to wonder how Billy C could do a game plan for this game with all of the distractions going on. And then you stop and you realize that this game is about whether the Huskers are willing to tackle 495-pound running thing that is Javorskie Lane.
Being willing is what this game is all about. A good description of being willing comes from part of "The Shootist", one of my favorite John Wayne movies. In "Shootist", Wayne plays the part of gunfighter John Bernard (J.B. Books) who is dying of cancer. A young Gillom Rogers(Ron Howard) admires his prowess with a gun, so Wayne obliges him with a shooting lesson.
Both take turns with a six-shooter, with Gillom noting that his accuracy was better than the old gunfighter. Books points out there's no one shooting back at them and then says my favorite John Wayne line:
"It's not always being fast or even accurate that counts, it's being willing. I found out early that most men, regardless of cause or need, aren't willing. They blink an eye or draw a breath before they pull the trigger--and I won't."
Texas A&M has 270-pound Javorskie Lane. Nebraska has 240-pound Quentin Castille. Both are capable of making yardage by being willing, daring anyone to get in their way. We saw a little of Castille's abilities against Oklahoma State last weekend as he had his first 100-yard game.
Callahan this week stated that Marcus Mendoza might be seeing the field, so along with Lucky, Helu, and Castille, we'll return to last season when we had four backs hitting the field. This only means something if Nebraska can establish a running game. Most people point to Texas A&M's 99th rank pass defense and think that's where we should go, but the Aggies haven't faced anyone with a strong rushing attack yet this season. Why not attack them on ground?
It's where we live, it's where we're supposed to be. In the seasons that have failed, it's the running game that's fallen apart as much as anything else. A running game works when the line gets off the ball faster and with more explosiveness than the guys in front of them. Strong legs and hips explode along with strong arms to knock a defender off-balance. Before strength and footwork come into play there's something else. At the risk of being redundant and sticking with a central theme, that something is being willing.
Callahan has also talked about attacking this offense. If you're going to attack the spread it means assignment football, and for the Huskers that means having a linebacker take on McGhee, Goodson, and Lane by themselves. Given that the Husker defense doesn't want to tackle at all, let alone solo, it's a pretty tall order unless Cosgrove has found other players. Perhaps in looking for mismatches Texas A&M will become confused because there are so many.
Will the entrance of Osborne as Pederson's replacement mean anything this weekend? If you could translate an energized fan base into energy on the field, then it will. Unfortunately it works both ways. Last weekend, the Huskers could barely show enthusiasm coming out of the tunnel walk. I could see that watching at home on TV. That game was over before it began.
If this Husker team can show something when they start this game, a score or stop on the first series, there might be some hope. If they can't then the game will most likely be over by the first quarter. I don't have to do a poll on this article to check the pulse of Corn Nation. If tomorrow is a win, the Huskers have a chance at winning some more games. If it's a loss, the season is over and with four more games to slog through, the only guess as to how bad the scores will be.
I imagine most Husker fans will stop watching. Unfortunately, I can't. Call it a character flaw or some kind of disorder, but I'll still be watching Husker football win or lose. The prospect of watching a Nebraska team walk through the rest of the season is nauseating. It wouldn't be so bad if they played hard and lost.
So that's my request for tomorrow and the rest of the season. Just be willing. John Wayne and I will be watching.