Sunday, September 04, 2005

Here we go again with Bill Callahan

That "thud" sound you heard last nights was another group of fans jumping off the Steve Pederson and Bill Callahan bandwagon. Last night, it took a Bo Ruud interception return for a touchdown to give the Huskers a 2 score lead in the 4th quarter against the division 1-AA Maine Black Bears. Obviously, it's a good idea that Nebraska backed out of negotiations with Houston, or it might have been even more embarrassing.

Not that there weren't signs of improvement:
  1. Defensive front 7. The new players have significantly improved the depth of this bunch, and thus allowed more people to make more plays. Steve Octavian showed a knack for recognizing where the playwas going in his limited time.
  2. New punt return blocking scheme. Last year, Santino Panico took way more abuse from both punt coverage teams as well as fans than was necessary. On his post-game radio show, Bill Callahan even admitted that they really didn't put much heart into the punt return game. The player that stood out on punt returns for me was Blake Tiedtke. Tiedtke would line up over the ball, and then would break back just before the ball
    was snapped to the punter to help block for the returner. The result? There were no tacklers within at least 10 yards of the return guy, allowing our return guys time to catch the ball and find their holes.
  3. Penalties. None!
But the negatives:
  1. Offensive Line. I admit that I didn't follow the offensive line play as close as I should have, though.
  2. Zac Taylor. My concerns about Taylor from the spring game were apparantly shared by Callahan and Jay Norvell. Taylor opened the spring game with trouble taking the snap and with wobbly passes, but gradually calmed down once the game wore on. Last night, Callahan took the ball out of Taylor's hands for most of the first quarter. However, unlike our backup defenders, Maine was able to put pressure on Taylor, and Taylor alternated between some nice throws to Frantz Hardy, some wobblers, and some ill-advised throws that were picked off. A lot of Husker fans owe Joe Dailey a huge apology.
  3. Play calling. The opening ball-control series made sense in hindsight. Calling 3 straight passes once you've got 1st and goal at the 2 yard line still is bothersome. And apparantly the play communication system still is buggy, as Zac Taylor occasionally needed to run to the sideline to get the play.
I originally stated 8-3 was my expectations for this year. As I said in July, Oklahoma has QB problems and is in a similar spot as Nebraska was in 2002. I still think the schedule sets up VERY favorably for a successful season even with only modest improvement.

However, what happened in Lincoln yesterday was not improvement. It can only be described as gravitating below mediocrity. If things don't turn around (and quickly), the boo-birds will be out in force.


Anonymous said...

Nebraska is only entertaining when they have great teams or horrible teams. Mediocre teams are just plain boring. I predict a three-loss season and a second-rate bowl game appearance, which they'll probably win. The season will be considered a huge step forward for the team and Callahan. Until next season when they have three losses again, and again and again...

mattp_68135 said...

The West Coast Offense is a 20 yard line to 20 yard line offense. If you don't score on the big plays you don't score at all. You need a dominating run offense to pound it in at the end, so thank god we got rid of that!

Anonymous said...

8-3, boy that is optimism. A friend of mine played for the Huskers, he had no doubt that we would win over Maine, but he commented that if it wasn't at least a 4 touchdown victory that we could be looking at 3-8.

My uncle knows Frank and Patty S. well and he said that the last time he saw Frank, "he looked at least 5 years younger if not 10". My uncle told me that Frank and Steve P. locked horns when they were grad. asst's and Steve P. never lost the chip on his shoulder over that incident. What specifically it was my uncle would not say.

Husker Mike said...

If you ignore last Saturday, 8-3 still looks reasonable. However, last Saturday was alarming. If it was just "first game jitters and mistakes", well, all will be forgotten.

But, if last Saturday was just a preview, then 1-10 is very possible. Kansas, Baylor, and Missouri are all road games this year, and Pitt is much better than they were 1 year ago.