In the seconds after Colorado lost to the Air Force Academy, ya’ know the military school where the players aren’t there for football, I was jousting on Twitter like a good Cornhusker fan telling CU fans to get used to the losses.
I reminded them they have a clueless coach whose luck ran out after lucky comebacks versus Nebraska and Colorado State to start the season. Bottom line is nobody else was calling CU Coach Tel Mucker last year work for them and this Buff fan knew it.
So, he was definitely mad bro, and said something like, “Enjoy your 6-9 coach,” as if Scott Frost took over the 1997 Huskers. Of course, in the big picture he was upset that NU had the top coaching candidate in the country in Frost in 2018.
And Frost overall is just a dude’s dude to be honest with his playing career and coaching career, to go along with his appearance and attitude.
(SIDENOTE: A woman on Facebook this summer, who is “hot as a baker,” to quote Naughty By Nature, posted a pic of Frost and wrote, “The things I would let this man do to me.” And her similar smokin’ friends chimed in with comments like, “True story” and “Preach it sister!” And my favorite, “Guuuurrrrrrrrlllllll.” Dude’s dude.)
And of course, for guys with a Frost crush it’s the starting college quarterback with two major bowl wins in two years, a National Championship and an NFL career before going 13-0 and beating the SEC champs in a big bowl game.
Anyway, back to hater-boy-Buff, his comment struck me as that was almost the exact record for Nebraska in the regular season games before Frost as from the Ohio State game in 2016 until Riley was fired, NU went 6-10.
However, those back-to-back Husker sibling eras/teams have about as much in common as brothers Michael and Fredo Corleone did.
Now we will give the 2016 Huskers their due for going 7-0 to start the year, but after the exciting OT loss to Wisconsin, they were a different team starting with one of the worst performances by a Cornhusker team since the 2007 Oklahoma State game, or the 2012 Big Ten Championship game with a 62-3 loss to Ohio State in a game not as close as the score indicated.
They went on to put together unimpressive home wins versus unimpressive teams the next two weeks in Minnesota and Maryland before losing to a 6-win Iowa team, 40-10, in a first half knockout.
To add up the ineptitude, the 6-10 record under Riley/Pelini featured six losses of 21 points or more, and the last 15 games for NU has had only one such loss (Michigan, 2018).
That could have easily been eight such losses for NU 2016-17 as NU was down 42-14 versus Oregon at halftime and Nebraska was losing 42-10 at half before making the scores respectable, Oregon actually got exciting.
In short, use whatever inappropriate term you would like but NU was a horrific program going through the motions in the last 16 games before Frost (Or BF as it will be likely known down the road in our timelines).
We know games are won and lost with putting in a solid work seven days a week. Riley had some good points while at Oregon State, but tended to be the substitute teacher-coach with how hard the guys worked during the season, and in the off-season, it would appear from games.
The Huskers under Riley were unable to stop the run versus even decent teams, or be that explosive. A common characteristic of teams that are weaker overall.
There were exceptions to the rule like Nate Gerry, but I’m guessing Gerry was not someone who had to be to told to go to the weight room…the classroom was another story for team captain Gerry. But again, THAT showed the oversight and discipline lacking with Riley’s program.
And to be fair to Riley, he did not walk into a good situation roster-wise as Pelini had been a part-time coach since at least the end of 2010 when he was mad at the world for various reasons and it show in recruiting and development.
I’m guessing Riley’s staff was shocked when they saw the depth chart in 2015 at defensive end, strongside linebacker, middle linebacker, weakside linebacker, the entire OL and quarterback, as it was chalk full of walk-ons who weren’t necessarily that good.
Also, digging into the defensive stats, this looks like a different team/program early on in 2019 versus the end of Riley. In 2017 NU had some shockingly low defensive impact numbers. For the year…THE YEAR…the Huskers had only 12 sacks and nine takeaways. If there was a time to write “LOL” in a column…
This year through three games, the Huskers have 10 takeaways and nine sacks. And as mentioned first by Jay Foreman here on Cornnation.com last week, a big improvement, though early, was stopping the run. Even last year NU was giving up five yards a carry but now just over two yards a carry to rank 12th in the country.
And THAT WILL BE TESTED this week by Illinois RB Reggie Corbin.
Offensively that 2016-post OSU team was led by senior quarterbacks, or walk-ons because of lack of depth, but since 2018 a more potent offense is being led by an underclassman in Adrian Martinez with his best days ahead of him (knock on Fieldturf).
So yes, offensively NU looks different despite a similar record to Riley’s last 15 regular season games at Nebraska.
But the biggest change for the program is that they are working seven days a week in a healthy environment for the first time since 2009. Pelini’s program overall was not healthy post 2010. At all.
Lastly, Nebraska the last 15 games has been one of the younger P5 teams in the country and the 2016-17 was really junior/senior heavy, getting bombed routinely by 21+.
I must unclog my nose in the general directions of those Husker fans who are not bullish on Frost. I feel in the next 15 regular season games given what we have seen in the last 15 games, I will say Frost and NU is likely in the 11-4 range (probably 12-3). Conversely, I see the Buffs in the 4-11 range (probably 3-12).
Speaking of the CU Puffs….love him or loathe him with 9-volt batteries, Colorado native Rick Reilly changed the sportswriting landscape at Sports Illustrated in the 1990s. He is now semi-retired, just doing occasional books (Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump) and screenplays (“Leatherheads” with George Clooney).
However, through no fault of his own, Riley follows the Buffs being born in Boulder, Colo.
Rewinding to my previous column, on Twitter last week Riley thanked me in advance for a possible $500 donation in that column to a non-profit he is associated with/helped start in Nothing But Nets (fighting malaria in Africa). The donation hinges on if Mucker can have a better record than Frost in any of the next three seasons. Obviously not likely, but everybody gotta dream.
Dear Shimmy Jell,— Rick Reilly (@ReillyRick) September 10, 2019
Thank you for your future donation of $500 to us at @NothingButNets.
In fact, I'm in for $500 on the other side.
Enjoy fabulous Lincoln this winter.#CUBuffs@CornNation https://t.co/LDQ1pZJGaF
However, even before the service academy whipped the Buffs at CU last Saturday, it was hard to see their coach, Mucker, ever besting Frost straight-up in anything that did not involve a buffet.
But it’s not all sunshine and lollipops in Lincoln as last week a serious issue arose that I had been talking about since last spring ball when it became apparent that come hell or high water, UCF transfer Noah Vedral, would be the second string quarterback, despite lackluster performances in the spring of 2018 and the 2018 season for the Huskers.
From everything we have seen, Andrew Bunch is the second best option at quarterback. Furthermore, Vedral does NOT have the arm for this offense and should not be on scholarship, in my opinion, with getting the numbers and quality a team needs in a Big 10 QB room.
And please nobody cry that I can’t say that about an adult who is being paid to play football at Nebraska. Yes, a scholarship is payment.
Also, all the players at Nebraska know to take the good with the not so-good of being a Cornhusker as they get SIGNIFICANT BENEFITS NOW AND FOR THE REST OF THEIR DAYS ABOVE GROUND…and somewhat for family members too.
Related to that, and this is a column for another day, but if you are from Nebraska, especially an economically growing city like Omaha busting at the seams, you have to be brain-dead not to go to Nebraska with everything it possibly entails for you, your family and your dog.
Yes, I know a young adult from Wood River, Neb., made a mistake in 1993 thinking a coach can make you an NFL QB and he has since acknowledged that.
I guess Frost isn’t perfect, he just looks it, much to the chagrin of the worst people in the galaxy—Buff fans.
Many of their Twitter handles are like Husker fans celebrating five national championships, but theirs deal with beating Frost coaching a program coming out of a dark age. Damn…the Huskers are as relevant as ever.
And with each passing day those two lucky Buff wins over Nebraska, which neither will factor into a bowl game for CU, will become smaller and smaller. And Frost and Nebraska’s ascent back to the top of college football will make them all the more bitter until Colorado can attract a top tier coach.