Let's face it...about 10:30 pm or so last Thursday night, things looked rather bleak for Dear 'Ol Nebraska U. The Blackshirts had played outstanding, but were starting to wear down a touch. The offense wasn't going anywhere, and specialt teams had been disasterous early on. Then the rain let up, and suddenly Husker players on both sides of the ball started catching the ball. Suddenly, Nebrask was in the lead and scored a decisive victory on the road that's led to a lot of speculation as to just how far this team can go.
So here's my report card for the Missouri game. As always, your feedback is always welcome and appreciated.QB: I gave this one a lot of deliberation all day Friday, and let this one settle out. Zac Lee may have been close to getting pulled at the end of the third quarter, but I'm not sure he was to blame either. In that monsoon, it was nearly impossible to catch the ball; AJ commented that in pre-game warmups, nobody on either team could catch the ball at times. The fact that the starting wide receivers were benched in the third quarter implies to me where the coaches thought most of the problem was. It takes two players to complete a pass, and if either party isn't doing their part, it's a failure...which usually goes on the quarterback. Lee's 5 for 6 effort in the 4th quarter registers with me, especially compared with Blaine Gabbert's 4th quarter line: 2 for 12 with 2 interceptions. I'm giving Zac Lee a C+. I'd really like to see Lee try to run the ball more; he seems hesitant to run at times, or bails out at the line of scrimmage and throws awkwardly instead of taking off and scrambling.
IB: Roy Helu definitely was under the weather, and ran as hard as he could. Looked pretty good on that final drive, but running room was hard to find much of the night. I blame that more on the line and the playcalling than on Helu. Rex Burkhead ran hard and fast to the hole all night. B-
WR: I already tipped you off to how I was going to rate this group. Their fourth quarter efforts get them raised to a D+.
OL: I know it was a miserable night, but penalties and missed assignments, especially on the right side of the line really hurt. I remember one sweep where Sean Weatherspoon went unblocked in favor of blocking someone down field. That's great...except Weatherspoon tackled Helu for 3 yard loss on the plya. C-
DL: Wow. Simply wow. We all know about Ndamukong Suh, but what about Jared Crick? In the second half, Crick fought through a double team, forcing Gabbert to bail out and scramble for his life...all while being held. This was simply a masterful performance. If it hadn't been pouring, Suh could have had a couple of interceptions, and Barry Turner would have had one as well. The only "negatives" were a couple of bogus penalties against Suh. BigRedNetwork.com has the proof that the "horse collar" penalty was bad, and I still haven't seen Suh's slap to the helmet. So I'm throwing those out as well. A+ isn't high enough, so I'm awarding my first perfect score: 100%
Secondary: Dejon Gomes and Alfonzo Dennard got their first start and played outstanding. Prince Amukamara should have had a pick in the downpour, which also led to him slipping to set up the Tigers lone touchdown. Solid A.
Coaching: Bo Pelini had this defense ready to play, and maintained his confidence during the game. On the other hand, Shawn Watson's insistence on throwing the ball all night in that monsoon showed a complete lack of flexibility and adjusting to conditions. The opening pistol formation was effective, but disappeared after that. The power formation on the final drive was also very effective, and would have been a better option when the deluge was at full force. B-
Special Teams: A special ranking this week, because of the problems this caused this week. Bad snaps, bad fielding of punts; it was simply a cluster of errors. By halftime, I would have simply put 11 men on the line of scrimmage and try to force a block or a mistake by Missouri, since the Huskers weren't going to be able to field a punt anyway. F
Overall: B The more I think about it, the more the rain hurt Nebraska than Missouri. Nebraska dropped at least 3 interceptions of Gabbert, and Nebraska's turnovers were all unforced. It would be interesting to see how these teams matched up on a dry evening; I get the idea that while Missouri would have scored, Nebraska would have scored much more than 27.
Elsewhere in College Football
Texas: D Apparently the Bovines were looking ahead to next week. Trailing Colorado at halftime?
Colorado: B- OK, you found a way to hold down the Texas offense...but then you decided to burn Tyler Hansen's redshirt halfway through the season? The purpose of this was what, exactly?
Iowa State: A for offense, B for defense, F for special teams. The Clones missed three extra points in a row; if they could have converted those, they'd be 2-0 in conference play.
Kansas State: F Woe be the Wildcats.
Virginia Tech: A Definitely one of the top 4 teams in the country.