Almost as fun as watching games like yesterday's 31-10 loss to Texas Tech is doing the post-game report card. I think I'll probably enjoy my upcoming visits to the doctor and dentist more. A lot has been said yesterday and today about the Huskers performance, and I'm trying to keep an open mind on what the problems are. As usual, your opinions are welcome and hopefully we'll find something to agree on.
This week's report card is going to be formatted different than usual, in that I'm going to go from areas of greatest concern to areas of lesser concern. Yep...that's right, we're saving Suh for last.OL: It's been often said that it all starts up front...and yesterday, it never got out of neutral. The tackles were ill-able to deal with the wide splits employed by the Raider defensive ends, and they came hard from the outside to pressure Zac Lee. I tried to remember bad plays by offensive linemen, but after a while, I lost track as there were so many. I had no intention to sit there and take notes in the stands for this, and that's the last thing I want to do. Adding insult to injury was all of the penalties. I'm going to give Ricky Henry a bit of a pass on his personal foul penalty; it was a dumb, dumb move that really hurt the team, but it might have been the most aggression we saw out of this bunch yesterday. The grade: F
IB: This isn't an indictment of the I-backs, but rather a reflection of the lack of depth at running back. Roy Helu was forced to improvise so much, I expected Drew Carey to appear at times on the HuskerVision screen to offer up another wacky scenario. "Whose Line is it Anyway?" Unfortunately, it's ours. Now that Rex Burkhead is out and Helu continues to be plagued by shoulder problems (labeled "chronic" by Shawn Watson), where do the Huskers turn next? Austin Jones was completely ineffective, though Marcus Mendoza did ok late as Nebraska went to the air. One curious decision this week was to burn the redshirt of Dontrayevous Robinson on special teams. He entered the mix last week, and if you were going to play him, why not get him on the field at I-back? The grade: Incomplete. Helu would have gotten a B if he could have finished the game.
WR: With the depth problems at I-back limiting the running game, you had to hope that the receivers would step up their game. And they didn't. Niles Paul had a devastating mental error by failing to realize his fumble wasn't an incomplete pass. Lee needed his receivers to break free to open up the game...and they didn't for the most part, with the exception of Chris Brooks. This spring, we raved about the depth at tight end, and I just don't understand why the offense doesn't try to use the tight ends more. Mike McNeill is a proven weapon, and Kyler Reed and Ben Cotton look potent as receivers as well. But for yesterday, these guys get a big F.
QB: The biggest criticism I have about Zac Lee's performance yesterday is that his longest throw of the day also was his final throw; out the back of the end zone on 4th and goal. All day long, it was short routes and screen passes, never challenging the secondary. Whether that was by design, or because Lee wasn't reading his receivers and the defense correctly, or if the receivers weren't getting open isn't known...and is only known by the team. Lee had some nice bootleg runs that gained positive yards, but he still showed a knack of being hesitant at scrambling. He fired one throw and third and short that ended up incomplete when he could have continued upfield and easily gained 10 yards plus the first down. Horrible decision that brought the punt team onto the field. But later in the second half, he ducked up field, got stopped two yards short of a first down, then turned and lunged to get the first down. Great run and great second effort...but too little, too late. Cody Green came in, and I hate to tell the fans clammoring for Green to start next week that Green played worse than Lee yesterday. Green did find Khiry Cooper for Nebraska's lone touchdown, which was a positive. He could have had another touchdown if Curenski Gilleylen could have hauled in that long pass, but that pass was tipped twice by Tech. A lucky bounce could have resulted in a touchdown because of a poor throw that really should have been intercepted. Another bad call erased yet another Green interception. Should Green start next week? Not on the basis of this week's performance, but perhaps in another context. I would assume that coaching staff is going to reevaluate their offensive approach and figure out what this team does best. If Cody Green better fits that approach, then Green should start. If Zac Lee better fits that approach, then Lee should start. The grade for the two quarterbacks: D
Secondary: On some of those quick strikes, it's almost impossible to defend unless the defender is locked up early on the route, which runs the risk of getting burned later. Certainly that explains some of the yardage on the early drive. Later drives were assisted by defensive misplays, especially right before halftime. Pass interference calls against the secondary helped Tech score two touchdowns as well. Not a stellar performance, but not horrible either. Grade: B-
Linebacker: Will Compton misplayed Baron Batch on Tech's opening touchdown, and was replaced by Phillip Dillard, who played great the rest of the way, except when he jammed his hand. But in the dime package, linebackers were off the field most of the day. Grade: A-
Defensive Line: I don't know what else the line could have done. Steven Sheffield was most effective when he was firing immediately after the snap, as the Tech offensive line was in full retreat dealing with Ndamukong Suh and company. The wide splits left some gaps late in the game on running plays, but the defensive line was playing outstanding yesterday, with the exception of a few penalties. Grade: A-
Overall: F The defense did much of their job yesterday, holding Tech to 259 yards. But the completely nonexistant offense made this a failing grade.
Elsewhere in College Football
Kansas: F The Jayhawks somehow found a way to lose to Colorado. Is the North this bad?
Missouri: D+ Well, the least embarassing loss by a North team, for what it's worth.
Kansas State: A+ Holy cow...where did THAT come from?
Texas A&M: 0 Mike Sherman = Bill Callahan 2.0 .
Iowa: A The Squawkeyes don't pass the eyeball test for a top-ten team...but they haven't had the massive inexplicable screwup like most of the other contenders. They are this year's Penn State: undeserving of their spot in the ratings, but there by default.
College Football on TV: A Let's face it, if you didn't have a vested interested in a game, there were great battles all over the place yesterday with upsets a plenty. Great drama and excitement wherever you turned the dial.