My vote for worst call of the year has to be the fake punt that Callahan called early in the 2nd quarter in today's Cotton Bowl. (I almost called it the worst call of Callahan's career, but that goes to the swing pass out of the end zone against Kansas State last season.) Callahan has made a habit out of trick plays this season, and apparantly this fake punt was all that was left in the bag of tricks. It should have stayed there, as this one was all-wrong.
Run from deep in Nebraska territory, there's no guarentee that it would have led to to points as we were far from being in a position to capitalize. Simply put, the risk-reward balance was too high on the risk side without that much reward. It was poorly executed, as Dane Todd's pitch to Andrew Shanle was fumbled, giving Auburn even better field position.
14 of Auburn's points were the result of ill-advised playcalls that turned into disasters. I also disagreed with Callahan throwing the ball on 3rd and 3 in the first quarter that was intercepted. I don't consider 3rd and 3 a passing down, especially with the way Nebraska was running the ball.
Defensively, Cozbohl had a pretty good scheme in holding Auburn to 178 yards. Cozbohl gets a lot of criticism, but he gets props today. And the offensive game plan in the first half was pretty good with a heavy dose of "pounding the rock".
However, Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville schooled Bill Callahan at halftime with his adjustments. Nebraska only averaged 2 yards a play after halftime, and Auburn managed to have a couple of good drives to take control of the game.
The playcalling after Barry Turner recovered an Auburn fumble late in the 4th quarter is going to be a headscratcher all winter long. The shovel pass on 3rd and 9 that went for negative yards was a headscratcher, and Zac Taylor throwing the ball away on 4th and 11 was an uncharacteristic mistake that ended any hope the Huskers had of winning the game. Callahan and Jay Norvell preach that it's better to throw the ball away and not make a mistake, but in that situation, it was do-or-die. In that situation, find the receiver with the best chance to make a catch and pray. An incompletion is just like an interception in that situation.
Many folks will wonder why Nebraska didn't kick a field goal in that situation. The sad fact is that Nebraska no longer has a field goal kicker capable of making a 48 yard field goal. We had one in David Dyches, but Callahan benched him last year, and he transferred to Northern Colorado to play his senior season, where he did kick a 48 yarder earlier this season. If you've watched Jordan Congdon on kickoffs, it's clear that while he has a fairly accurate leg, it's not powerful. If you believed the recruiting hype on Congdon, well, shame on you. Maybe Rivals will give you a refund. Remember, even Rivals own experts say it's all "make believe until they hit the field."
In the end, this one hurts. Nebraska had it's chances, but made way too many mistakes today, like they did against Oklahoma.