Whenever I watch a Texas Longhorns football game and they lose, I always find myself pointing my pointer finger and pinkie finger into the air before violently pointing them downward towards the ground while letting out a loud cheer.
I hate the Texas Longhorns.
It’s not the same as my hatred for the Colorado Buffaloes (that hate is deep and is most likely genetically passed on to my children) or the Oklahoma Sooners. The Burnt Orange have always held a special place in my “hate sphere”. Perhaps it’s the presumed superiority when it comes to anything involving a field and a football.
Truthfully, I’m bitter. Bitter at the past. Bitter about a 1 second mistake long ago that cost the Cornhuskers a chance at one final Big 12 Conference Championship before moseying on into the B1G Conference. At the present, Nebraska has not won a conference title in football since 1999.
December 5, 2009. I remember the night all too well. I was in college. Actually, I was living on campus in the dorms pretending to go to college. The game was a slugfest. Defense ruled the day. An old school fan’s dream. The “real” Heisman Trophy winner of 2009, Ndamukong Suh, was unable to be blocked. 12 total tackles. 10 solo, 6 for loss, and 4.5 sacks. Texas Quarterback Colt McCoy still wakes up drenched in sweat 10+ years later at the nightmare that was this one man wrecking crew. A two point lead and the championship in our grasp. If not for 1 second.
1 gifted second gave the Longhorns the opportunity to hit a 46 yard field goal at the end of regulation. Snap, hold, field goal good. The dream, shattered.
I still replay that game over and over in my head. It’s one of the few games I can still recall with great detail. Unfinished business. Never again a chance to steal back what was clearly stolen from us by those despicable Texas Longhorns.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several months another heated battle between the Longhorns and the Huskers has been taking place off the field. A battle for a coveted defensive transfer. An edge rusher. A gamechanger. A battle for former TCU DL Ochaun Mathis.
Since his announcement to transfer, most football insiders had the Longhorns on the fast track to keeping this in state kid at home. Hiring his former Head Coach, Gary Patterson, as an analyst for Texas Head Coach Steve Sarkisian’s staff was enticing to the former Horned Frog. Plus, it’s the Texas Longhorns. Money to burn and opportunities to play with the premiere team in the state of Texas. It seemed like a no brainer.
Then Coach Scott Frost, the Husker coaching staff, and practically the entire state of Nebraska sent an All Out Blitz. A red carpet experience at the annual Red-White Spring Game, the likes of which no other recruit has probably had before. The Throne. The video cut ups. The lure of ridiculous NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) money that some claim dwarves even traditional college blue bloods, based on their exclusivity to the entire state of Nebraska.
Whatever the case was, it was enough to convince Ochaun, and his family, to commit to Coach Frost and this program. The Cornhuskers got a small bit of reclamation by outlasting the Longhorns for Mathis’ services.
Adding a instant impact piece to a defensive line that truly looks in trouble, if not for some key additions. Damion Daniels and Ben Stille are in the Draft. Deontre Thomas graduated. Jordan Riley bolted. The departure of presumed starter Casey Rogers to the transfer portal was truly disheartening. As well as the loss of key reserves like former Navy SEAL Damian Jackson and Chris Walker choosing to test waters elsewhere. All of these young men are defensive lineman. A position of need for the Scarlet and Cream.
Unfortunately that leaves Defensive Coordinator Erik Chinander, more specifically, DL/OLB coach Mike Dawson in a bind to try and build a defensive line with only Ty Robinson as the lone returner. A mix of youth and walk-ons is all that stands between opposing offensive lines and them running roughshod over our linebackers and into our secondary.
I have no doubt guys like Nash Hutmacher, Colton Feist, Ru’Quan Buckley, and Marquis Black will be important pieces for us in the future. But this season feels different and for it to be different than what has been the norm since before Scott Frost arrived in Lincoln, we needed stability and playmakers on the defensive line. Ochuan Mathis’ commitment is one domino that has fallen, there may very well be another.
Devin Drew, former Texas Tech DL, has the Cornhuskers very high on his list and could very well be another piece to line up with Mathis and Robinson to solidify Chinander’s 3-4 defensive scheme. Not to mention a visit scheduled for Florida DL transfer, Lamar Goods and seeking interest from Alabama DL transfer, Stephon Wynn Jr.
The Cornhuskers got a very important piece today. But it is still just a piece. Having watched Mathis’ tape, he is a high motor guy who could potentially reek havoc in such a way that we have not seen from this defense yet. In terms of consistent pass rushing presence from your defenders, which was a calling card of Coach Chin’s upon his arrival with Frost from UCF.
I’m sure I speak for all of the Husker faithful out there that we can’t wait to see what you can do. If you get your chance to earn a Blackshirt this season, I hope it means to you what it means to everyone who has worn it, and everyone who knows what it symbolizes.
The memory of 2009 is still painful for me and many Husker fans, but a well fought recruiting victory is worth a stich to close the open wound.