Husker Thoughts Week 1
I know it’s Florida Atlantic. I know it’s the first week, but…
Was anyone legitimately expecting this? I think everybody and their mother picked Nebraska to win this game, and that was never in doubt, but I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that this could be the most dominant win Nebraska’s had since the ’90s. The running game lived up to every bit of the hype, the defense, admittedly, had some hiccups early but went on to dictate just about everything to the Owls’ offense, and Tommy Armstrong looked darn good. His passes didn’t dazzle anyone, and they’re never going to. But he made smart choices with where he put the ball, he made decisive choices when running it, and most significantly he avoided turnovers. This is a guy who threw three interceptions in a 44-7 win against Purdue last year, so that was by no means a given. I’m not suggesting he’ll be in line for national (or even all-conference) awards in a few months, but I was definitely pleasantly surprised by what I saw today.
That said, there were quite a few negatives from today. The one that I hope will be the least important is the one that will probably be talked about the most, that being the injury to Randy Gregory. He only played one series today and was seen on the sideline with a knee brace. Hopefully this was just a precaution and he’ll be back in the rotation soon. He is arguably the best defensive player the Huskers have, but that said the defensive line was still dominant today without him. If the worst happens and he misses extended time, my guess is the defense would be worse off, but would find others to step up to replace him. Hopefully we never find out.
The other negatives, which I’m afraid are serious but will probably not be talked about, are the failed 2-minute drill to end the first half and the inability of the Blackshirts to create a turnover (despite two golden opportunities). It may seem stupid to bring these up given the 48-point difference in the final score, but it really isn’t. For on thing, these are aspects of the game that have plagued good Husker teams in the past and kept them from achieving greatness. Not being able to punch in a score at a critical time. Letting a game-changing (or game-sealing) turnover slip away. But more importantly is the fact that these are things good teams do all the time, and they do them whether the game is on the line or not. And if these Huskers are unable to do them when the game is not on the line, how much confidence should we have that they will do it when the game is on the line?
But I don’t want to beat those points into the ground any more. After a game with this many positives, it would be dumb to focus too much on the negatives. And it was a great game all around by the entire team. They looked excellently prepared, made great adjustments in-game, and the whole team came to play from beginning to end.
In short, it looked like the time of game we’ve been waiting 7 years for Pelini to produce.
More importantly, it looked like an excellent way to start the 2014 season. McNeese State comes next and they’ve had an extra week to prepare. Just in case the point needs to be driven home a bit further (or you’ve forgotten the last time Nebraska played a small team called the Cowboys), overlooking anyone is a terrible and costly mistake. Hopefully the coaches and players continue building on these positives and spend more time in practice patching up these negatives.
Go Big Red.
I had no idea Pelini was poised to become the third-winningest coach in Nebraska’s history. I mean, I knew that the Huskers were pretty much awful before Devaney showed up in the ’60s, and that there’s really only been two great coaches in our history. So I guess when I stop to think about it, it makes sense. But there still seems to be something weird in the fact that you can have fewer than 60 wins and still be in the top three all-time for the college football program with the fourth most wins.
Kenny Bell had a really good game today and I completely missed it. I was going to criticize him here and say he needed to make more plays, only to discover he had 116 receiving yards today, second on the team. Not sure how I missed that, but my apologies to Mr. Bell.
I was really disappointed how little we saw of Johnny Stanton today. Mostly because it makes me wonder what all the hype was about. This is a player who was declared a “coup” for Nebraska when he first committed two years ago, now it turns out that after a year of redshirting he’s ready to ride the bench behind Fyfe and Armstrong for the next three years. He certainly could turn that around and start earlier than that, but on the whole it’s just very disappointing.