Um, yeah. And then there was that.
Okay, you know how back in mid ’80s, Russell Mulcahy, Sean Connery, and Christopher Lambert made Highlander, and it was awesome? But then, for some reason they made Highlander II: The Quickening, which was not only a terrible movie but
also a complete betrayal of all of the good points of the first Highlander? And then after that they kept going, and made Highlander III: The Sorcerer, or as many fans deemed it, Highlander III: The Apology, where they basically just copied the first movie again, only it was nowhere near as good, because, well, you’d seen it before, and the memory of the second, awful movie was still in your mind, so the only reaction you could muster was kind of an “Eh…”
That’s about how the Huskers’ season has gone so far. After they completely betrayed their early promise last week, the Huskers came in focused and dominated Fresno State in a way that felt very similar to their game against Florida Atlantic. Which is great, except it kind of leaves me with little more to say about this game. After a week off, “Red Storm” again lived up to its name (562 total yards, 280 on the ground), Armstrong made smart choices with the ball (260 yards 3 TDs), and the defense, minus the 66-yard TD run by Fresno’s allegedly non-running QB, looked dominant again. In fact, they looked to be playing with more energy than I can recall seeing a Nebraska team play with recently. The first play of the game I saw was Fresno’s first offensive play, a little pass out to the wide receiver in the flat that went for -3 yards, and it was absolutely amazing to see 4 or 5 Husker Blackshirts swarming all over the ball carrier. That’s the kind of (great) sight we haven’t seen a whole lot recently in Husker football, but I sure could get used to seeing it.
I was actually shocked when I looked at the stats and saw that the defense gave up 346 yards. But when your offense has four drives that last four plays or fewer, but still end in touchdowns (not to mention a punt return for a TD), I guess that’s just a statistical fluke. But whatever the statistics say or leave out, with the exception of Fresno’s final scoring drive, which started at Nebraska’s 14 yard line, there was no doubt in my mind which unit would win between the Blackshirts and the Bulldogs’ offense.
If you really wanted to pick at this performance, you could point out that the Huskers seemed a bit reliant on the big play, as
they seemingly have been in so many years recently. Nebraska only had one scoring drive go at least 10 plays. It went exactly 10 plays and ended in a field goal. The next longest drive was 7 plays long and came at the end of the game after the subs had been put in.
It’d be too easy to excuse this fact, to say Nebraska didn’t need the big play, they just had it a lot because Fresno was a clearly inferior team. But then, last week against a McNeese State team that should have been clearly inferior, the Red Storm didn’t consistently produce the big play and they struggled to find success. Maybe that game was a fluke, or maybe the big play will always be there this year. Maybe the next Highlander movie won’t suck.
In any case, we shouldn’t have to wait long to find out. The competition ratchets up another notch on Saturday, and we all need to hope the Highlander analogy stops. Only God can help us if we get to Highlander: Endgame. The Big Ten needs a marquee win almost as desperately as I need to watch Miami crash and burn. Burn. BURN!
I didn’t think it was possible.
I didn’t think that Ameer Abdullah could still make my jaw drop like that.
And I don’t mean anything negative against the man. I’m a huge fan, and he is, after all, the only current Husker whose jersey number I have. All of my other jerseys are #13, in honor of the only man I’ve ever loved.
It’s not that Adbullah isn’t great. It’s that he’s too great. I’m just not surprised by anything he does any more. I expect it. I expect that any time he touches the ball. I don’t think I’m alone in this, probably most Husker fans feel the same way. Abdullah is far and away the best back we have had since Ahman Green left in 1997. You might even be able to go all the way back to Mike Rozier in 1983. I do not think it is a stretch to make that claim.
And if you really think about that, it’s amazing. Here we are, two years removed from Rex Burkhead (#5 on Nebraska’s All-Time Rushing Leaders). I think a lot of fans have already forgotten that just a few years before that was Roy Helu Jr. (#4 All-Time), who still holds the record for most yards in a single game and was looking to be on his way to a very solid NFL career before Alfred Morris took over that job for the Washington, um… I’ll just stick with NFL team.
And in between the greats of old and now there’ve been a plethora of good to excellent running backs such as Marlon Lucky, Correll Buckhalter, Brandon Jackson, Cory Ross, and Taylor Martinez.
So, no, it’s not out of a lack of respect for #8 that I say I didn’t think he could still surprise me. It’s simply because after 4th and 15, I didn’t think he had any tricks I hadn’t seen before. So thank you, Mr. Abdullah, for the reminder that I have
not seen it all, yet. I’ll keep it in mind for the future.
Other than that, this game was awful. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt my outlook of a season change this suddenly or completely. Deep down I know that, just like last week didn’t spell “National Championship” for this season, this week doesn’t spell “Bust.” But it just got a lot harder to be excited about the upcoming games.
Especially discouraging is that every positive from last week seemed to completely reverse itself this week. The run game was virtually non-existent for large sections of the game, as evidenced in the fact that Abdullah ended with nearly twice as many receiving yards as rushing yards. In fact, the three running backs today combined for just 64 yards on 22 carries. I’m sure part of that should be blamed in the playcalling but it’s definitely not a good sign when that comes against an FCS team. A very fast and talented FCS team, yes, but a large step down from Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Northwestern.
The defense alternated being pushed around and pushing back. They made some good plays, and Nathan Gerry in particular looked to be developing into a potential stud. But they also should have given up a late go-ahead touchdown, if not for a fluke penalty which didn’t affect the outcome of that play.
And what was up with Armstrong? After looking so good, so polished, and so improved last week, this week he looked lost. There were so many plays to which the only appropriate response was to ask “What was he looking at?!” Even a lot of the great plays he was involved in were due almost entirely to the receiver (okay, lets be honest, due to Jordan Westerkamp) bailing him out after a bad read or a misthrow.
At the end of the day, the good news is they’re 2-0. Good teams find ways to win the ugly games, and good teams rise to the challenge and score when they need to. Twice today Nebraska answered a score with a touchdown drive of their own. It’s unfortunate that what should have been an easily winnable game turned into an ugly game, but that happens even to great teams.
Most of all, Randy Gregory should be back next week, and that should be a huge comfort to every player on both sides of the ball. Not to mention the fans.
Unfortunately, it only gets stiffer from here. The first road game is next, and that’s followed by the first must-win game of the season. With this game won, the players and coaches can catch their breath, forget about it, and keep getting better. They’ll certainly need it.
Anybody know what happened to Bell? The announcers I was listening to said that they had no idea why he was sidelined, whether it was an injury or a precaution or a discipline, or even if Bell himself initiated it or if someone else held him out. And if they ever found out, they certainly didn’t share that information.
Where was Westerkamp in the second half? After leading the team in receptions and receiving yards last week and having 4 catches for 61 yards in the first half, he was only thrown to twice after halftime (one incompletion, one completion called back on a penalty). Again, Armstrong was making some pretty bad reads, so I’m not sure we can totally blame Ol’ Mustacheface for this one, but he sure disappeared right when he was most needed.
And speaking of disappearing receivers, it was really encouraging to see Jamal Turner get involved in the game plan early, after he had a frustrating week last week, to go along with his frustrating career… and it was really discouraging to see him leave the game early. Hope he can make it back soon, for his sake and the sake of our offense.