I'm frustrated, you're frustrated, the coaching staff and players are frustrated. Some of us want answers, some of us simply want things corrected. Some of us don't care anymore, they just want some people punished and out of here, and let somebody else clean up the mess.
No matter where you fall, if you are a Husker fan, that Holiday Bowl left you feeling pretty low. But in the end, we've got to finish out this report card and grade the bowl performance. And it's the worst report card of the Pelini era. Last year after the Holiday Bowl, Bo Pelini exclaimed that Nebraska was "back." Well, Nebraska's not back, and right now, we'd be happy just to get back to where the program was one year ago. Did the program regress in 2010? I'd have to say it regressed a little. Definitely a cause for concern, but let's remember that it's still 10-4, and that's still one of the better seasons in the last ten.QB: Taylor Martinez looked to be close to physcially back to where he was prior to his injuries. Mentally, it was the same Martinez we saw against Oklahoma. Uncomfortable in the pocket, making poor decisions. Washington recognized quickly that Martinez couldn't handle the pressure, so they stacked the line and attacked. Sad thing is that in the first half, Martinez was playing better (or maybe less worse) than nearly everybody else on offense, so it was tough to make the call to pull Martinez in the first half. But when Martinez reinjured his ankle, pulling him was the right decision. Enter Cody Green who had better presence in the pocket, but literally couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. He overthrew wide open receivers who sometimes bailed him out with circus catches. Why not go with Zac Lee? Yet another one of those unanswered questions we have. Grade: F
RB: Thanks to the long running Music City Bowl, I didn't get to see what went wrong on Rex Burkhead's first quarter fumble. But I did see a bunch of heistant running out of the backs, not to mention Roy Helu's whiff on a block that led to a sack of Martinez. Needless to say, Martinez doesn't have to bear the entire load of criticism for what happened. Everybody shares the load. Grade: F
WR: When Martinez could manage to get the ball in the air, the receivers seemed to make some catches. So I guess they sucked less than the rest of the offense. That's worth a "C" at best.
OL: Washington sent the house, and the line responded with an "Ole!" The run blocking was bad, and the pass blocking was even worse. I'm not joining in the call to fire Barney Cotton, but his critics certainly have plenty of reasons. First and foremost was that sack of Taylor Martinez on a three man rush. This grade isn't a zero, but it's well past failing. Maybe only 20% on a scale of 0-100.
DL: Baker Steinkuhler's suspension was certainly felt here. They put a little pressure on Jake Locker, but more often than not, Locker was able to escape and gain positive yards. Likewise, Chris Polk's yardage started here as well. Grade: D
LB: Lavonte David may have set the single season tackle record, but the yardage given up on the ground certainly was record setting. I think David would have gladly exchanged the record for a win. Grade: C
Secondary: Alfonzo Dennard locked down on Jermaine Kearse, and combined with Prince Amukamara to keep Locker with a goosegg passing into the third quarter. But even that broke down in the second half, complete with downfield tackling that ranged from pathetic to comedic (especially on Locker's touchdown run). Grade: C+
Overall: F Considering the level of competition, this might have been Nebraska's worst performance in a bowl game, especially on offense. There really wasn't any aspect of the game that was particularly good, just some aspects weren't as bad as the others. One caveat is that it's too easy to read too much into a bowl game. You see this all the time, where teams surprise or disappoint in their bowl games, depending in large part on their motivation level. As such, I don't worry so much about this game as much as about the trend over the last two months.
Elsewhere in College Football
ESPN: F Just what the hell have you done with New Years Day? Your "owned and operated" takeover of the bowls left us with a New Years Day full of crummy games. And the actual National Championship game is still more than a week away? Ugh. After watching the crap from the early games, I didn't even waste my time on the Fiesta Bowl... I went straight over to the Winter Classic on NBC.
Big Ten: F Nebraska gave us a preview of the stink that was the Big Ten. When the best performances of the conference were Northwestern and Wisconsin keeping things close, you know things are not going well. Legends? Leaders? I think another "L" word fits better. All those Husker fans worried about next season should take a step back because the rest of the conference has their own issues to worry about.
Missouri: D- Before the Tiger fans get too upset, note that's a better grade than the Huskers got. I've ripped them enough, but that doesn't forgive Blaine Gabberts and his brain dead throw into coverage, letting Iowa off the hook in a game that it appears nobody wanted to win.
Steve Pederson: F Mike Haywood, the "high character" coach with the limited resume, lasted three weeks as Pitt's coach, thus meaning the Steve Pederson coaching circus gets yet another chance. And this time, Pederson got the dreaded "vote of confidence" from the Chancellor. Want to know why? Here's what the New York Times had to say about his previous search:
In his first major move since returning to Pittsburgh, where he had been the athletic director before taking the Nebraska job, Pederson essentially forced Wannstedt to resign under pressure. After a long list of potential candidates — including Houston’s Kevin Sumlin, Tulsa’s Todd Graham and Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads — refused to even discuss the job, there was a strong perception among college football officials and observers that Pitt did not have a plan after forcing out Wannstedt.
Now, with about half the university’s football recruits wavering or rescinding their commitments, Pederson needs to fix a program in disarray.
The stench of what Pederson did to Frank Solich and Nebraska came back to haunt him last month, and now he's got to repeat the process again, digging even further down the list.