Tom Shatel has repeatedly claimed in the Weird Harold that talent and motivation is more important than the X's and O's. And if you look at today's game, his claim was shown to be extremely shaky.
I don't know if it was machismo, ego, or stubbornness, but defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove opened today's game by making the same mistake he made last year against Texas Tech - and with even worse results than last year. If you don't pressure the quarterback in Mike Leach's system, you will lose. And Leach's unorthodox line play, with those wide splits, makes it imperitive that you manufacture a pass rush. Kansas recognized this last week, and harassed Cody Hodges all night with a blitzing scheme. Cosgrove, however, somehow thought that our 4 man front could provide that pass rush.
He was wrong.
With 9 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, the Huskers were already down 21-0, and this game was threatening to get out of control even faster than last year's 70-10 meltdown. But to Cosgrove's credit, he made the adjustments and began to blitz. And the Tech offense ground to a halt. For the next 30 minutes of the game, Tech only gained 65 yards and only scored 6 points.
Unfortunately, that left 5 minutes on the clock, and Cosgrove called off the blitz. And Tech promptly marched back down the field into scoring range. Cosgrove called a few blitzes, and LeKevin Smith came through with a huge interception - which was negated when Smith fumbled the ball back to the Raiders.
Some fans will want to blame Smith for the loss, but that's not fair. Cosgrove's bonehead defensive game plan put Nebraska in a 21-0 hole that they didn't need to be in. Zac Taylor's 3 turnovers giftwrapped 6 points for Tech. This is a team game, and Nebraska fans shouldn't blame any one player.
Was this a disappointing finish? You bet. But Nebraska flirted with disaster in the last 2 games, with the blocked field goal against Pitt and Iowa State's Nick Leaders dropping a game-winning interception in overtime last week. This week, the ball bounced the other way.
Let's look at the positives. After making the adjustments, the Tech offense was locked down. The offense was effective both rushing and passing. There were a lot more positives today than there were 3 weeks ago against Pitt.
As far as I'm concerned, this was by far Nebraska's best game of the year.