The weather in Nebraska this Thanksgiving weekend was pretty lousy: cold, windy and icy. Many people changed their plans for the weekend out of prudence, deferring to the conditions. Others proceeded cautiously, taking things slowly and carefully while driving, for fear of skidding into the ditch.
Kirk Ferentz recognized the situation; his Iowa Hawkeyes only threw the ball 16 times on Black Friday.
Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf had a different thought. They asked Tommy Armstrong to throw the ball 45 times. Damn the conditions; full speed ahead!
It had it's moments; Armstrong threw for 296 yards. (46 more than Iowa's total offense, I might add.) But Armstrong drove the Good Ship Husker into the ditch four times on Black Friday.
Iowa had a patient plan; they knew all they had to do is be patient, cautious...and wait for Nebraska to screw up. Imagine that: Kirk Ferentz outcoaching Mike Riley. He knew that it wouldn't take much to bait Mike Riley into tossing caution to the wind; anybody who's scouted Nebraska this season knows Nebraska's tendencies this season run counter to what the Huskers need to do. That's why Nebraska was 5-6 on Thanksgiving Day.
And that's why Nebraska is 5-7 going into December.
And so on with what could be the last report card of the season. As always, your feedback is welcome in the comments.
QB: To be fair, Tommy Armstrong threw the ball effectively at times, and was Nebraska's most effective runner...but four turnovers made it nearly impossible to win this game. Grade: F
I-Back: Nebraska ran the ball OK at times, especially out of the shotgun. Not so much out of power formations with multiple tight ends, though. Adding more blockers also added more defenders into the box, which only served to clog up the middle. In fact, Nebraska hardly ran to the outside against Iowa, which was where Terrell Newby was most effective earlier in this season, especially to the right behind Nick Gates. Grade: C-
Wide Receivers: It was a tough day to catch a frozen ball, and the receivers did a good job of catching the balls that they had a chance to catch. Even some that they probably shouldn't have caught (Brandon Reilly's double catch on his back, and Alonzo Moore's dive into the frozen tundra). But when it was time to make a block to spring a running back into the open field (especially in multiple tight end sets), it wasn't there. Grade: B-
Offensive Line: Danny Langsdorf was quick to praise the pass protection (of course) of the linemen, but Alex Lewis' missed block on Parker Hesse resulted in Hesse's go-ahead Pick-Six...which Nebraska never really recovered from. Grade: C-
Defensive Line: Greg McMullen found himself taken out of the play on Canzeri's two third quarter touchdown runs, while Kevin Williams hands-to-the-face penalty wiped out a fumble. On the other hand, Maliek Collins got penalized for excessive bad breath despite being held. Overall, a decent performance holding Iowa's offense down. Grade: B-
Linebackers: Lots of rotation, and they all were pretty solid...especially Michael Rose-Ivey, who finally looked as close to full strength as he has since September. Grade: B
Secondary: Best game of the season for the secondary? Hard to argue otherwise. Joshua Kalu and Byerson Cockrell played really well. Nate Gerry was making plays as well..though he tried too hard when he leaped to break up that pass. Hate the rule if you must, but it was the correct call and the absolutely right call as we become more and more aware of the dangers the brain can suffer playing this game. Is it changing the game? Absolutely, because if the game doesn't change, the game won't exist in a few years. Grade: A-
Overall: C- This is a game Nebraska could have won if this team had fewer turnovers and penalties. Now it's a waiting game to see if Nebraska will be one of at least two teams with losing records who'll get to play in a bowl game.
Elsewhere in College Football
Ohio State: A Urbz wasn't about to let himself get outcoached two weeks in a row
Oklahoma: A+ Remember Big Game Bob? He's reinvented himself this season.
Florida: F For Floundering.
Clempson: D+ Nearly Clemsoned away their season..
Kansas: 0 Kansas is a basketball school with a football problem.