Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Beg to Differ With Bo: Nebraska's Not Back Yet... But Damn Sure Getting There

In the trophy presentation after a 33-0 Holiday Bowl victory over Arizona, Bo Pelini proclaimed "Nebraska is back and we're here to stay."  With all due respect, Nebraska isn't back ... but making a very strong push in that direction.  Remember "Restore the Order"?  It only took two years for Bill Callahan to drive the Huskers into the ground.

But make no bones about it, Nebraska is closer to where they want to be than at any time since 2001.  Nebraska football is all about championships, and Nebraska came up 1 second short this season.  (There's also a little matter of 8 fumbles against Iowa State and failure to find the end zone against Iowa State.)

But tonight, we saw what Nebraska football can be and should be.  The first bowl game shutout in Nebraska, Holiday Bowl, and Big XII history.  Holding Arizona to 108 yards (72 on  the final drive) and just 5 first downs puts an explanation point on this season, and this comeback.  In the month of November, 2007, Nebraska gave up 172 points in three games.  In 14 games in 2009, Nebraska gave up a total of only 146 points.

Arizona never really got their offense out of neutral, and it was a team effort across the board.  The defensive line applied the pressure, and the secondary blanketed the Wildcat receivers.  We missed Matt O'Hanlon's interception thanks to the long-running Blue Turf Bowl, but he did exactly what he's been doing all season.  Bo Pelini said in the postgame that he'll likely play on Sunday, which should be a tough pill for the haters that bagged on him over the last couple of years.  (The latest in a long line of under-appreciated Huskers on defense, starting with Scott Shanle and Barrett Ruud...)

And what a way for Ndamukong Suh to finish his career.  He didn't put up the numbers, but he was as dominant as ever tonight on the line in ensuring the shutout.  We're going to miss the big guy, but I have this sneaking suspicion that in another couple of year, we're going to be calling Jared Crick the next Suh.

Offensively, Zac Lee took over and staked his claim as Nebraska's starting quarterback in 2010.  Overly maligned offensive coordinator Shawn Watson made a point to have Lee run the ball, and Lee did just that.  He's not Tommie Frazier or Eric Crouch, but he showed tougher running and better decision making on the run than he had all season.  It's going to be a learning process for Lee, but he's showing signs of getting it.  Cody Green is a fine runner, but his arm continues to scare me.  The young man has a lot of work to do as Lee separated himself from Green tonight.

Not sure what happened to Roy Helu, but I assume he injured himself on the slick field.  Didn't matter because Rex Burkhead answered the bell.  GFW called for Burkhead in the "Wildcat" formation, and Watson responded.  I also loved the double I-back set where Burkhead motions into a quasi Pistol/Wishbone formation.  Certainly this offensive staff went back and looked for ways to open up the offense.

I still would like to see fewer 2 yard routes, and more intermediate throws to the receivers.  But I liked what I saw from Brandon Kinnie and, of course, Niles Paul.  Currenski Gillyelen got back on the field...usually on his rear end by not keeping his feet.  Opening up the offense also allowed Mike McNeill to be free to be a part of the passing game rather than blocking.

The offensive line continues to be a concern, but I think that might change next season with redshirted freshmen and junior college transfers.  Only Jacob Hickman graduates, so there's quite a bit of experience returning.

In his post game radio interview, Bo Pelini stepped back from the "Nebraska is back" talk, pointing out that "back" means winning championships.  Holiday Bowl trophies are nice, but Nebraska won't be back until they are back playing in BCS bowl games and hoisting conference championship trophies.  We'll know when Nebraska's back when nobody asks or mentions it anymore.

In the month of December, Nebraska proved they almost there.  Steve Sipple suggests even without Suh, the defense could be even better next season.  The offense looks like it will be better.  The schedule sets up nicely as well.  Next year could finally quiet the naysayers and doubters.  How long until the spring game?  How long until the season opener?  I think we all can hardly wait.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday Night Dessert: Urban Meyer Media Circus

The more you read about Urban Meyer's health issues, the more you have to wonder just how strong the pull of coaching is.  Between heart issues, dehydration, and a brain cyst, Meyer's body is sending him clear signals...but still Meyer wants to coach.  Immediately after last night's announcement that Meyer was stepping down, the rumor mill ran amok, reporting that Bob Stoops was headed to Gainsville.  'Scuse me?  After how many false reports that Stoops was going to Notre Dame, you'd think the media would have learned their lesson about giving credibility to idle speculation.  Stop and think about it: Meyer had already said he would stay at Florida in an administrative position.  Can you imagine taking over the Florida job with Urban Meyer hanging around?  First loss, and people start asking Meyer how he's feeling.

Shawn Watson tells the Lincoln Journal-Star that Cody Green is expected to play in the Holiday Bowl this week.  Good move as while Nebraska certainly wants to win this bowl game, I really think the more important task is to figure out something with the offense.  Ten wins is a great accomplishment, but looking ahead to next season, it's not the number of wins as much as solving the offensive doldrums.  Remember the motto on the west side of Memorial Stadium:  "Not the victory but the action."  With a few weeks of healing for some injured players, it's time to see whether the spread attack works better with Brandon Kinnie involved in the offense.  And whether Green can operate that offense more efficiently than Zac Lee.  Cody Green has better mobility and running instincts than Lee, but at times, his arm reminds me of Jammal Lord in it's inconsistency.  (Sammy Vegas called him a "turnover waiting to happen".)

Notice that with Fox moving the Cotton Bowl to Saturday, there are now only FIVE bowl games on New Years Day?  The Outback at 10 am (why so effin' early?) between Northwestern and Auburn?  Zzzz.  Gator at noon with Bobby Bowden's last game?  Ok for sentimental reasons, I guess.  Citrus Bowl between Penn State and LSU?  Uggh...another game for the Big Ten to embarrass themselves.  Then the Irrelevent Yawner Bowl between Ohio State and Oregon followed by the Sugar Bowl with Urban Meyer's last game for now.  That's it.  Five.  And none particularly compelling.  I may end up watching the NHL Winter Classic from Fenway; early weather reports suggest a 50% chance of snow.

Friday, December 25, 2009

"I'll Be Home for Christmas" --- With No Football???

Like many people, my plans for this Christmas changed after being snowed in with the blizzard.  Typically, much of Christmas is spent with extended family, but this year, I'm only going as far as the new snowblower will take me.  The kids aren't affected that much; Santa still made it so there are plenty of new toys to play with.  But television is a wasteland today.  The Aloha Bowl and Blue-Gray games are history, meaning Christmas is now sadly football free.  In fact, no real sports at all on the television dial.  Just figure skating on NBC and the Not Basketball Association pretending to play hoops on ABC.  Movies aren't much better.  TBS is playing that gawd-awful "A Christmas Story" non-stop.  "You'll shoot your eye out" gladly if you actually watch that tripe.  Best thing so far was Caddyshack.  Not Christmas related at all, but better than a test pattern.

In all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I did get out to the UNO/Minnesota State-Mankato hockey game last Saturday night.  It's somewhat ironic that we're seeing UNO is so many low-scoring games despite Dean Blais' resume of "race horse hockey".  I'm not overly concerned at this point, as I knew the transition wouldn't happen overnight, but I did expect a better November after a good October start to the season.  John Faulkner has become a steady presence in goal.  One player I keep waiting to see jump up and take the next step is Alex Hudson.  Last weekend, we saw a few spurts from him where he simply dominated the ice, failing only to get the puck into the net.

Briejay fans are up in arms over a now-deleted rant by Creighton guard P'Allen Stinnett where Stinnett posted something on Facebook criticizing fans...and of course, the Briejay fans took offense, and the posting in question quickly disappeared from Facebook.  Truth be told, while Stinnett wasn't being politically correct, he did point out the bandwagon nature of some Creighton fans as of late.  Now I admit I don't follow Creighton basketball (though I probably would have watched a Bluejay game today since there was so little else to watch!), but I have heard the bandwagon Creighton fans criticizing the team and Dana Altman, who's the most successful coach in Creighton history.  Not to suggest that Altman doesn't make mistakes, but the idea that Creighton could do better than Dana Altman is laughable.  And I imagine those same bandwagon fans were the target of Stinnett's rant last weekend.

Dirk Chatelain went back and revisited that overhyped 2005 Nebraska recruiting class yesterday.  Probably the biggest observation is the 15 recruits who either never played or played sparingly; that's almost an entire signing class prior to Bill Callahan's arrival.  But other than Ndamukong Suh and possibly Zac Taylor, very few players lived up to the hype that surrounded their signing.  But how could they live up to the fanfare that awaited them when they arrived in Lincoln?  I said it in 2005, and I'll say it again.  Rivals can only measure part of what makes a great football player.  Coaching matters...and when you look at 2007, matters more.  Good coaching can turn average talent into a good player and great talent into all-American players.  Just look at guys like Matt O'Hanlon and Suh for evidence of that.  Conversely, bad coaching can make great players look average or worse-- just look at Suh in 2007 for evidence of that.

Does that make recruiting invalid or unimportant?  Hardly.  Recruiting is important, and the starting point of building a program.  But it's just that --- a start.  The more important thing to observe is that recruiting rankings aren't necessarily relevent.  Southern Cal and Texas consistently have highly rated recruiting classes, but didn't become national powers until Pete Carroll and Mack Brown took over.  Florida State has been a consistent top-ten program in recruiting over the years, but not on the field in Bobby Bowden's twilight years.  Obviously, you want the best players you can get, but remember, recruiting experts frequently get it wrong. Earlier this week, I heard Jeremy Crabtree of Rivals suggesting that Texas wasn't recruiting the best running back in Texas, causing me to laugh.  I'd suggest that the coaching staff at Texas has a difference of opinion on who the best running back in Texas is, and frankly, Mack Brown's staff has more credibility than Rivals.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Should Nebraska Revert Back to the Spread in the Holiday Bowl?

Word out of Lincoln is that Shawn Watson is trying to reestablish the spread offense that was abandoned in late October in the aftermath of back-to-back losses to Iowa State and Texas Tech.  Truth be told, I didn't think the problem was as much the offensive play calling or style, as much as the players on the field.  In those losses, Roy Helu was pretty much ineffective due to a shoulder injury and Rex Burkhead was out.  Trey Robinson was pulled out of his redshirt year while Nebraska's receiving corps came down with a bad case of the dropsies and bad play.

So Nebraska went power, bringing in the tight ends and fullback and tried to power their way through the end of the season.  And while it wasn't particularly overwhelming, it was good enough to get the Huskers within 1 second of the Fiesta Bowl.  So why go back?  Here are a few reasons:
  • Helu and Burkhead are healthy again.  We know that Zac Lee and the passing game can't carry the load like they tried to do in October, but maybe they can be effective enough to keep opposing defenses from stacking the box with nine or ten defenders.
  • Brandon Kinnie has developed into a reliable second receiver.  As we saw with Menelik Holt and Currenski Gilleylen, you need consistent receivers to run a spread offense.  That's something that Nate Swift and Todd Petersen did last season.
  • Maybe it's time to look at Cody Green again.  Green sometimes looks like an interception waiting to happen in the pocket, but he might be able to provide the offense a bit of a spark if he's not trying to be a playmaker on every play.
Bowl games are an opportunity to experiment with offenses, as teams have a few weeks of practice to try and install something new.  It's been called an additional "spring practice", so why not try something different?  It wasn't so much that the spread was ineffective as much as the Huskers made far too many mistakes (read: turnovers) running it.  Maybe they'll get the hang of it with a renewed push and better development.  Just keep the power game in the back-pocket, just in case it blows up in Shawn Watson's face again.

Last week, Steve Sipple gave a great reason why the power game might not be Nebraska's strong suit.  Nebraska hasn't had an all-conference offensive lineman since Toniu Fonoti in 2001.  For a program with Nebraska's reputation, that's an eye-catching statistic.  Milt Tenopir, for all his great work in the 20th century, may have left the cupboard bare when he left.  Bill Callahan never was able to produce that great offensive lineman either.  Will Barney Cotton be able to?  The jury is still out on Cotton at this point.

Sipple brings up another statistic:  Nebraska did not substitute on the offensive line in three of the last four games of the season.  Right now, Cotton is playing the hand he's been dealt on the offensive line.  It takes time to recruit and develop offensive linemen, and that's something he hasn't had enough time to do at this point.  I do know that in his first stint at Nebraska, Cotton landed Seth Olsen, who went on to become an all-American at Iowa after Cotton was dismissed.

Nebraska did redshirt four offensive linemen, including Brent Qvale, who was making a bid for playing time before suffering an injury in August.  Add in promising juco transfer Jemarcus Hardrick, and you might have the makings of a major improvement on the offensive line.  And when the offensive line improves and becomes more dominating, it makes the rest of the offense better.  Holes get bigger for running backs and quarterbacks have more time to survey the field (see Sam Bradford 2008 versus 2009).

Nebraska did what they had to do to win the North.  Now it's time to see what this offense might be capable of, and a good place to start is in San Diego.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Turner Gill saying "Rock Chalk" Makes Me Both Sad and Happy

Listening to Turner Gill chant "Rock Chalk Jayhawk KU" at the end of his introduction as the new Kansas head coach leaves me with a lot of mixed emotions.  On one hand, I'm extremely happy for Gill, who certainly served Nebraska well both as a quarterback and a head coach.  He's an easy man to cheer for.  Remember his departure press conference when he left Lincoln a year after Steve Pederson began his dismantling of the Nebraska football program?  Then he turns up in Buffalo, and turns one of the worst programs in college football into MAC champions in just three years.  And in the process, gives us another remainder of just what a class act Turner Gill is.

That being said, I still would choose Bo Pelini over Gill as head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers.  Tom Osborne had a tough decision to make with two outstanding leaders of young men with very different styles.  Pelini does it with fire, Gill does it with emotion ... both are effective at reaching the inner core of players, connecting with them, and leading them to become better players and people.

And while I'm happy to see Turner Gill get a BCS conference job that pays $2 million a year, I'm not happy at the prospect of facing Gill's team each year.  I want all the best for Gill, but not at the expense of my team either.  So it's a bittersweet where I hope that Kansas does no better than finishing 11-1 each season, with that one loss being to the Huskers as the Jayhawks finish in 2nd place in the Big XII North.

Looking over the Big XII North, you now see a couple of coaches that you just can't help but like.  Paul Rhoades at Iowa State, who's postgame locker room celebration is the very definition of happiness. 
And now Gill.

Can you imagine what the feeling in Boulder is right now?  Knowing that you've got up and coming programs in Ames and Lawrence.  Gary Pinkel is doing just fine in Columbia.  Bill Snyder is back in Manhattan.  And you've still got Dan "10 Wins/No Excuses" Hawkins locked up for the next few years.

Congratulations Turner Gill, and congratulations Jayhawk fans.  You've got a coach who'll make you proud.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tuesday Night Hot Chocolate: Still Recovering From a Bad Weekend

What a crummy weekend sports-wise.  The Mavericks laid an egg at Ewigleben as Ferris State swept UNO, as UNO only scored 1 goal all weekend.  Freshman goalie John Faulkner didn't get any support from his teammates, and Dean Blais seems to have lost confidence in Jeremie Dupont, who didn't even make the travel roster.  For UNO hockey, I almost wish Christmas was coming two weeks early because I think this squad needs a break.  Instead, they have to make the road trip to Alaska this weekend... right before finals week.

Nebraska basketball came out strong for the first few minutes against Creighton, jumping to an early lead, then allowed the Bluejays to go on a 13-0 run to take command of the game.  All in all, it was a brutal basketball game to watch.  Ugly play, and a bad broadcast on KMTV-channel 3.  (And no, I'm not referring to Travis Justice either!)  Simply poor video quality; my eight year old camcorder gave me a better picture than this game.  I suppose it's good for Creighton fans to get their games on broadcast TV, but you'd think someone on the Hilltop could splurge for a couple of HD camcorders to spruce up the broadcast.  In any event, both teams have a long way to go to become relevant nationally.  At least the Huskers can hope that Christian Standhardinger might become an impact player in Big XII play.

I get the feeling some people just are never going to be satisfied with Bo Pelini's fiery demeanor.  Saturday, as far as I'm concerned, Pelini handled the ending of the Big XII championship game exactly right.  He congratulated Mack Brown, then headed off to express his frustration in private.  Except, of course, some of the media was in the tunnel when Pelini started demanding an explanation of what happened.

And no, Dirk WASN'T "off the mark".  Yes, it was the right call in the end, but without a detailed explanation, it shouldn't sit well with anybody wearing red.  Put yourself on the Husker sideline, you see Colt McCoy throw the ball out of bounds, and you then look at the clock, and see zeros on the scoreboard.  Those of us at home saw the ball hit with :01...but that's because ABC superimposes the clock on the screen.  That wasn't happening in the stadium, and I doubt that anybody at the stadium not involved with the ABC broadcast had the whole picture.  So Pelini demanded an explanation?  Big effin deal...I think he deserved one in that situation.  So he got a little carried away...what do you expect?  That's the way the Pelini's are wired.  Check out the story that Carl Pelini relayed last week at the Big Red Breakfast: 

When Pelini and his wife, Kelley, were first married, they went back to Ohio to celebrate Thanksgiving with his parents, seven siblings and their families. Early that morning Kelley got a taste of her new family.
Because the house was so full, the couple had to sleep in the kitchen, under the table of all places.
“It was 6 in the morning ... we hear my dad get up, he's making coffee,” Pelini said. “My oldest sister comes down, they start talking about something, then they started getting into each other and disagreeing over it.
“Then my older brother hears the argument, he comes in because he has something he has to say, and in about 15 minutes all eight kids and both parents are in the kitchen at 6:15 in the morning yelling at each other.” 

Let me ask this..whaddya think Bob Devaney would have done Saturday night?

Meanwhile outside, the blizzard rages...snowblower is somewhat busted, so we'll see how soon I can dig out tomorrow.  Should have expected this type of storm, as we're back into the patten that brought us the Monsoon for the Missouri game.  A few years ago, I came across Kansas City meteorologist Gary Lezak and his remarkable LRC theory where weather patterns seem to repeat themselves roughly about 60 days.  Since then, I've followed his long term forecasts and found them to be rather uncanny...even though he's forecasting things 180 miles south of town.  So I'm not surprised that when the weather pattern that brought us an October monsoon resulted in a December blizzard when it returned.

Monday, December 07, 2009 BlogPoll Final Ballot

I don't know if there will be a post-bowl BlogPoll, but assuming there won't be, here's my final ballot.  Cincinnati and Texas survive; Florida and Cal get blown out.  And several teams lose in competitive games against top-notch competition, which raises the question:  if you drop teams for losing conference championship games, do you reward teams who didn't qualify in the first play?

Any feedback?

Boise State
Ohio State
Virginia Tech
Georgia Tech
Miami (Florida)
Oregon State
Penn State
Brigham Young
West Virginia
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: California (#15), Southern Cal (#20), Houston (#21).

Yes, I'm downgrading Texas for last night.  TCU has just as strong of a resume as Texas at this point; Texas' best win is a blowout of 9-3 Oklahoma State.  TCU did beat Clemson on the road.  And I'm dropping Florida behind Oregon, because Oregon's loss to Boise was at the start of the season, closer, and on the road.  Oregon has moved on and improved from that point.  I'm also not penalizing Nebraska or Clemson for losing yesterday either to Top Ten opponents, especially when I'm drumming out Cal for getting blown out or USC and Houston.

So who replaces them?  Well, Ole Miss did beat LSU.  West Virginia won 9 games.  And if I'm ranking so many 4 loss teams, what's wrong with ranking a 5-loss Oklahoma team who lost 4 of those games by 12 points. 

Big XII PowerPoll

  1. Texas
  2. Nebraska 
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Texas Tech
  5. Oklahoma State
  6. Missouri
  7. Kansas State
  8. Texas A&M
  9. Iowa State
  10. Kansas
  11. Colorado
  12. Baylor
Hard to argue against ranking the Huskers 2nd in the Big XII after last night.  The title of "Worst Team" goes to Baylor only because they lost Robert Griffin and were more inept at times than Colorado.  But long term, I'd rather be a fan of Baylor than Colorado because while Robert Griffin can become healthier, Dan Hawkins can't become smarter.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Famous Games Where the Clock Was Allowed to Run Out

1998 Rose Bowl: Weasels versus Washington State. Ryan Leaf spikes the ball with two seconds left at the Weasel 26. The clock runs out, and we never know how the game should have ended.

Hmmm...Note Ryan Leaf is well behind the line of scrimmage after the spike when I snapped this image.  Yet the clock runs out...and the sportswriters still gave the Weasels their trophy.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Unfinished Business

Harken back to January 1, 1994. A roundly criticized and mocked Nebraska squad takes the field in the opponent's home state, with nobody giving them a chance to win. Nobody except fans wearing red, that is.  A tremendous gritty, gutty performance with the defense dominating the opponent, and the offense making just enough plays.  Nebraska gets a field goal with just over a minute remaining.  But the kickoff goes out of bounds, and then the defense gives up a big play aided by a personal foul call to put the opponent into field goal range.  Even the refs putting a second back on the clock for a final field goal.  And in the end, Nebraska comes up just short.

What can you say about Ndamukong Suh.  In the end, he simply dominated the Texas offensive line and nearly willed Nebraska to victory.  Yes, I know Mister Suh likely won't win the Heisman next weekend; it's an offensive award and Suh's blocking tonight wasn't Heisman worthy.  But if any voters go back and read the criteria for the award in "most outstanding", it's now clear who, in all fairness, should run away with the vote next week.  Most voters will likely limit their consideration to offensive players sadly and use some lame "anybody who put up x numbers playing Y position should win the Heisman" criteria to justify their ballot.

For shame.

Did you even watch tonight's game?  Did you see a man dominate Texas in their home state?  Did you see him do that all season?  Did you see him nearly disembowel Blaine Gabbert?

Oh that's right, he's a defensive player.  Let's talk about Mark Ingram, who had a nice performance for Alabama.  Colt McCoy making plays down the stretch for Texas.  Coby Gerhardt looked good last week as well.  They're all worthy offensive candidates.

Enough of that.

I'm sure a lot of fans are going to be ripping Shawn Watson and the offense tonight, but I'm not sure what people expected tonight.  Texas leads the Big XII in defense, and we've known this offense has struggled almost all season.  We all could have hoped for Nebraska to do better, but now after 13 games, we know what Nebraska's offense is.  Bad.  Why it is that way is something we'll debate in the offseason, but I think it has less to do with playcalling and quarterbacking as it does with wide receivers and offensive line play.

Looking for something to take away as a positive?  Brandon Kinnie made a couple of clutch catches tonight in key situations to put Nebraska in position to win the game.  He's a sophomore; there's something to build on.

By all accounts, Nebraska left the field completely angry with the ending.  That's good, but the most important thing is focusing that anger in the days and weeks to come.  In 1994, Nebraska coined the slogan "unfinished business" after that heartbreaking defeat to Florida State.  Every Husker player can turn around and look at themselves and channel that anger and disappointment into making sure this never happens again.  That Orange Bowl loss was the beginning of an incredible run for Nebraska football.

I don't know how Nebraska will respond to tonight's game.  They can choose to back down and sulk... or fight back, become better, and resolve to never allow themselves to be in that position again.  The Huskers didn't finish tonight, and for as proud as we can be about being so close, it was just that.  Close, but no cigar.  Unfinished business.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tuesday Night Beer: Mizzou Helmets Better at Night & Concerns about Stadium Financing

At the start of Saturday's Missouri-Kansas game, I thought with those uniforms, this game should have been played on the SmurfTurf in Boise with those hideous uniforms on display.  Red jerseys with blue pants?  And black on dark gray helmets?  In the daylight, both uniforms looked out of place. But after the sunset, the black "M" on the Mizzou helmets started to emerge under the stadium lights, and they actually started to look cool after dusk.  Uniforms still sucked, though.

Nebraska Watchdog has an interesting article about how keno revenues are down more than expected over the last year, and how that affects the funding for the new downtown stadium for the College World Series. Concerning?  Absolutely.  But let's put it in perspective of the entire economy.  I wish my 401K was only down 15% over the past year.  Heck, considering that the Legislature has had to go into special session due to the economic downturn, it really shouldn't be a surprise that keno revenues are down.  But don't be surprised if the "doom and gloom" crowd doesn't jump on this development.  Keep in mind that keno is only part of the equation; car rental taxes and hotel taxes are key components as well.  Those two will also be likely taking hits in this economy.  We'll see where things go longer term.

Not surprised to see 4 Huskers make the coaches All-Big XII team today...and in fact, I really thought Phillip Dillard might make it as well at linebacker.  Not sure how Alex Henery only made honorable mention at punter, though.  And for my money, I'd vote for Missouri's Danario Alexander over Colt McCoy for offensive player of the year.  If you took those two players out, Missouri would be hurt far worse than Texas would.

Nice to see UNO hockey break out of their slump this past weekend with a sweep of Western Michigan.  Friday night, the Mavs got off to a great start with Alex Hudson finally starting to produce like I thought he would with an assist and a goal in the first period, and the game winner in the third.  Hopefully he's gotten untracked.  UNO needs to start making some headway in the standings on the road in December, as the Mavs schedule is back-loaded with the big names in February.  Points will be tough to earn by then.