Never has this column been more aptly titled.
Anyone who read the Illinois game recap, is well aware I wasn’t in a good mood after that contest (more on that below), but it wasn’t as red-ass of a fury as the print indicated. We’ve all become VERY familiar with that gut punch/crotch slap feeling as “finally a late victory!” is snatched into yet another BOHICA moment. (If you’re not sure what that means, Google it. Top search result is correct.)
This was more like jumping back to dodge that junk tag thrown by your friend, but hitting a roll in the carpet, tripping, windmilling and teetering a little, but ending up on your feet. Nothing spilled, nothing knocked over.
But definitely seething a little.
However, the next afternoon, I started reading all the recaps, going over the drives and, if I’m honest both looking forward to a bye week of both just enjoying college football without the stress - damn, I love CFB - and feeling a little empty with no Husker ball on tap this weekend.
Thoughts as I was going through everything about Illinois, good and bad:
1) Big big shout-out to the Blackshirts for once again answering the bell over and over. Singleton and Reimer were two serious losses for that game and it was great to see guys like Hartzog, Phelan and Gifford really step up. As far as Reimer goes, let’s face it - the Huskers have three starters at those two positions and Bullock and Henrich were more than capable of covering it.
I was getting a sinking feeling when Illinois marched 74 yards on that opening drive. Then they took that timeout (which I also questioned - so, the lesson as always? I’m an idiot.), marched back out and held on twice with the ball inches away from paydirt. And while the offense was falling apart in the 4th, the defense was there every time time to snuff the threat.
Sure, Illinois’ offense is well below average, but there were battles. And we won almost all of them.
2) Details on it below, but the 4th quarter was evidence the refusal to win tight games disease/curse/whatever is alive and well. We won’t go bowling if that red zone behavior and prior to halftime stuff isn’t eliminated. I do realize this year is a growth year and we’re trying to lay down the building blocks - I do - and maybe it can’t be eliminated all once, but it needs to start happening. I’m seeing this guy from The Natural in my head too much.
3) The Marcus Washington season-ending injury was beyond depressing. Happening right after his 39-yard reception to get us out of the 6-inch-line coffin was too much. The football gods and the universe can still kiss my Husker ass for that Halloween gift.
4) Despite what many are saying, HH is QB1. Rhule said as much this week while adding he still needs to bust ass and win the job each week - I’ve seen this kid compete and have no doubts there. Yes, he needs to clean some things up like decision-making and the shoulder plane. Give it time. He’s played QB in four games and was basically ignored by the staff last two years - he’s come a long way already under this one.
Also, please stop calling him “serviceable” and a “game manager”? Please?
6’5” 225-230lbs (215, my ass), track speed and athletic ability (high-jumped 6’7” in HS) and the strongest arm on the team. Not everyone taps their potential, but I’d sure like to see us try here for a bit longer.
“Be happy with a win.”
From the goof who blasted me on my FB page (sorry, already deleted - when the name-calling starts, you just get clicked into the bin) to Tom Shatel to however many others have been firing this sentiment?
(Still enjoy ya’, Tom, just agree to disagree here.)
I’m not telling y’all to get angrier, so please extend me the same courtesy where my emos are concerned. Try “You know what? I’m just happy with a win,” instead of telling others how to feel.
Yes, the win was nice, but the way the win was obtained will not be a road map to victory very often going forward and I honestly don’t mind that bothering me.
THE ROAD FORWARD
Here was how the 4th quarter played out after a 3-0 3rd quarter score which honestly wasn’t half bad momentum-wise:
- Following up a pair of 8-yard runs by Haarberg for first downs, Emmett Johnson carried 4 times for 23 yards and then fumbled it to Illinois. After Emmett’s 12-yard run to the 9, Ben Scott was flagged for a well-deserved roughness penalty. Second costly one of those on the season from him.
- Blackshirts forced a 3-and-out.
- Huskers went run-run-pass and Heinrich got picked trying to force it into double coverage
- Five plays later Quentin Newsome snagged his 1st pick of the year.
- Nebraska starting on Illinois 29 drove nicely except for illegal procedure flags on the 16 and again on the 5.
- After a Haarberg sack, Anthony Grant fumbles.
- Illinois started on their own 15 after excellent return coverage and drove 67 yards to the Husker 18 where the defense stopped them on 4th down to shut down their last gasp.
I don’t know how to fix the mental issues here. I mean, sneak a sports psychologist in there? Why not? I suggested in the recap something along the lines of Ted Lasso having everyone burn something to get rid of the ghost who was cursing them and I’m only half kidding. Let’s not be afraid to try the supernatural.
If you have ideas, throw them out in the comments below, serious and/or funny. Maybe I’ll email them to Trev from Cobby or something. Hell, it couldn’t hurt.
A QUICK LOOK AHEAD TO THE LAST SIX
Northwestern - I hear people confidently notching this in the win column.
Do not look one second beyond this game.
A win is expected but a loss to these creeps (yes, almost all players and coaches responsible for their naked goat roping or whatever are still there), would make last year’s loss to them feel like a fond memory. These guys came back from 21 down to beat Minnesota. Just play hard and TCOB.
Purdue - Again, a team we should beat. But this is also a team who DID put Illinois away to the tune of 44-19.
Michigan St. - This is a team who was turning into a dumpster fire before Mel Tucker’s shenanigans went public. (I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again - this is the creepiest conference in the country.) If we play like we have been, keep showing improvement and clean up the aforementioned brain farts, we could very well be 6-3 and aiming for bigger things at this point.
Maryland - Is this the toughest game remaining or will the Terps revert to their default setting and turn the 5-0 start into 6-6 or 5-7 finish? Personally, I think Mike Locksley is one of the more underrated coaches in the country.
Wisconsin - The Iowa game this weekend will tell us more but a once beatable looking Badgers squad is looking less so each week.
Iowa - Talk about putting it all on your defense. A craptastic offense has just gone from bad to worse. And, while I’d really prefer a bye week to a short week after Wisconsin, the Hawkeye defense may be about worn out at this point. What say we jump out to another 24-0 lead, but this time put the hurt on these chuck-knuckles instead of trying to back another win into the garage?
Go Big Red and enjoy your Huskerless weekend.