This game was...something. In the first quarter, I stared at the screen and thought "Here we go again. We traded one embarrassing way to get blown out for another." This was potentially more embarrassing; coming at the hands of a coach with "Fire Al Golden" banners flying over the stadium.
After the first wave, the defense tightened up a bit and it appeared we were going to get lucky and hold Miami under 40. The offense still couldn't get going....receivers couldn't catch a cold, the o-line was penalty prone and seemed to wear down as the game went on, and we were too far behind to use the run game.
Then came the baby steps. I was really happy for Drew Brown as he hit that career-long 49 yarder to erase the goose egg. After his struggles in the first game, it was good to see the coaches show confidence in him. Tommy Armstrong started doing Tommy things and made some absolutely crazy passes on the run. His receivers stepped up and.....
....this Husker team nearly got Al Golden fired on the spot. A 23 point comeback in 10 minutes was the most amazing display of sheer will I have ever seen from a QB. The defense hung in there. The receivers were as equally clutch in the 4th quarter as they weren't in the 1st.
And then....heartbreak all over again.
On to the answers. I asked some questions last week - but not even close to the right ones...
Will the Husker pass defense hold up against the talented Miami QB, Kaaya and will the front seven help them out?
No and No. Next question.
Ok, to be fair, this was a much more battered and bruised front 7 than I expected when I wrote this question. Vincent Valentine's injury certainly did not help. Banderas was not 100% and Rose-Ivey went down during the game. Freedom Akinmoladun looks like a keeper and it will be interesting to see what the coaches do when Gangwish gets healthy.
In the secondary, some personnel changes and adjustments were made which stopped the bleeding. It is nice that there is a enough depth to have options to sit a kid until he gets his confidence back.
My (admittedly limited) read of Miami post-game comments seemed to indicate their game plan was to avoid #7 in the run game and avoid #25 in the pass game. Hmmmm....I'm sure no coaches in the B1G were paying attention. Nope. None.
Someone also needs to ask WTH was with the coaching? Nebraska came out completely flat, looked unprepared, and were just plain embarrassed by a Miami team no one expects to be very good. It was not just one or two kids. This was a team-wide epidemic. That's on the coaches.
Is the run game ready to carry the offense?
Not enough data.
Terrell Newby (85 yards; 5.9 yards per carry) looked good, but when Nebraska dug a ginormous hole, you knew the RBs were mostly going to end up picking up blitzes and running out for the checkdown as we played catch-up.
Southern Miss and Illinois should help pad stats until some decent B1G West defenses provide the next test for Newby, Cross et al. Both NW and Wiscy are currently in the top 31 rush defenses. Minnesota is a surprisingly low #64. The Huskers are averaging 179 rushing yards per game (currently #71 in FBS) and 5.1 yards per carry. The pass efficiency defenses of these three teams are: NW #5; Minnesota #10 and Wiscy #33. Coach Riley is going to need the run game to be on point, especially against NW and Minny if we are going to continue to utilize this great wideout corps and our strong-armed QB effectively.
Will Sam Foltz be the X-factor?
This was not his fault though. Foltz clearly was not his usual self, but I don't think it would have made any difference even if he was. As a matter of fact, the defense should probably thank him as his slightly-shorter-than-usual punts (39.7 yards after averaging 46 in the BYU game) meant that Kaaya and the Hurricanes racked up slightly fewer stats on their marches toward the end zone (in the first half anyway). What can I say? I am a glass-half-full kind of person.
There is no question that we'll need Foltz (especially with that NW defense looking downright salty) and it was good to see him out there so soon after a scary-looking injury.
My last comment on this game is about Alex Lewis. He has taken a lot of heat for his penalties. Two wiped out first down gains and the third made the winning overtime field goal easier. He took most of that heat on social media and reacted badly on social media.
Think about it though. One of these is a college kid. The other is a group of people that probably included "adults" acting like kids. Who deserves a bit more leeway for their behavior? Hopefully we can begin to develop a social media culture similar to the face-to-face culture Husker fans have developed at games. Say something nice and tell the jerks to knock it off. (I can hope can't I?)
I was glad to see Coach Riley not overreact with Lewis. You want to teach a kid to not overreact in tense situations? Then do not overreact to his overreaction. Lead by example - and Riley set a good one here.
What are your thoughts? Did I miss something? Did you have different questions? Tell me in the comments!