Saturday, November 19, 2011

Big Loss in the Big House as Michigan Dominates the Huskers

Take your choice between Nebraska's offensive line and special teams play; which was worse?  Frankly, I can't as both were horrible against the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan's defensive line had their way at the line of scrimmage, especially defensive tackle Mike Martin, who pretty much ate Mike Caputo alive at times today.  Absolutely no running room up the middle, and not much more on the perimeter.  That put Nebraska into third-and-long situations all afternoon...and Nebraska's receivers couldn't catch a cold today.

The Blackshirts had several opportunities early on to take control of this game, as the Huskers must have had a hand on at least three Denard Robinson passes in the first quarter...and Nebraska really should have intercepted a couple of them.  If Ciante Evans picks off Robinson on that first drive of the game, who knows where this game winds up.  Robinson gained confidence from that point on and played one of his better games of this season.

The front seven did play a pretty good game.  Baker Steinkuhler started the game by nailing Fitz Toussaint for a four yard loss.  Terrence Moore tipped and intercepted a Robinson pass, but probably shouldn't have tried to lateral the ball to Alfonzo Dennard.  It almost was an illegal forward pass..and risked giving the ball back to Michigan.  Cameron Meredith also seemed to be playing fairly well.

Then there are the linebackers. Lavonte David had a huge game, trying to keep the Huskers in the mix.  In the third quarter, Will Compton also made a few huge stops as well.  All told, it was a great performance up front.  The secondary had a few miscues, and that might have been the the final straw for the Huskers.  Let's start with Robinson's 45 yard pass completion to Roy Roundtree that set up Michigan's first touchdown of the afternoon.

Or maybe not.  I'm still trying to figure out how that wasn't offensive pass interference on Roundtree, who threw Dennard to the ground to make the catch.  That might be excused if that was the worst call of the game, but the officials were just getting started there.  A missed pass interference call on Kenny Demens on a third down led to yet another Nebraska punt.  Heck, even when the officials had a chance to think about a call, they still came out with a muddled explanation.  ("Snap violation?")

Any chance Nebraska had to come back ended when the officals decided to call a personal foul on that attempted blocked kick.  My first take was that it was a great acting job by the Michigan punter, but the instant replay showed he was tapped on the foot.  Five yard penalty? Absolutely.  15 yards?  Good grief. Bo Pelini will probably getting a reprimand for telling the media after the game that it was a bad call, but the fact is:  that was a horrible call.

While that ended any chances Nebraska had to come back, the horrible officiating was not the reason why Nebraska lost this game.  Michigan's defense dominated the Huskers today, and it started up front.  No room to run whatsoever meant Nebraska needed to throw the ball...and the receivers pretty much sucked all day long.  Make a catch, keep a drive alive...maybe something happens for the Huskers.

And we can't go into this review without bringing up special teams:  two fumbled kickoffs?  A blocked punt?  These errors turned a 10 point loss into a 28 point trip behind the woodshed.  It was the final straw that made this game way too ugly.

I probably shouldn't be listening to people vent on the radio or read their tweets this afternoon.  Husker fans should be disappointed...and angry.  That's not the point...the point is hitting the panic button and making irrational statements that you'll probably regret later on.  A loss like this certainly raises valid questions, but looking around college football today, a lot of teams suffered suckage today.  I have those same questions myself, and they need an answer.  But not today.  The wounds are still too raw, and there is another game to play for in less than six days.

Iowa is one of those opponents that plays up -- and down -- to every opponent.  They know all about disappointing losses; they underwhelm on a regular basis. But they also rebound nicely and upsets a team they have no business beating.  And that should be the focus this week, because if you think Squawkeye fans are annoying now, just wait until they manage to pull off an upset in Lincoln.


Steve Wiley said...

The Husker's football play and execution has been so inconsistent this year that I have become reluctant to watch or listen.

What happened to confident, consistent, and (yes, remember long ago) DOMINANT play?

Is it recruiting, coaching, mental preparation / intimidation - or a combination?

We have a history. What will the future be? Can Bo and Carl get the job done?

Let's get a diagnosis and a cure, or accept that Nebraska is and may not continue to be a great football power going forward.


1audiofile said...

I think the flaws in this game were bright and clearly obvious. They will have no trouble finding them on the game film. Some of the issues have been there all year. Proper ball catching technique is not innate, it is a learned technique and can be forgotten. Start again at the basics by extending your hands and bring the ball in, do not try and trap it against the body. Hold the ball properly when running with the ball. That is also not happening. When a collision is inevitable use both arms. Not hard.

JS said...

If you were referring to the Roundtree non-call in the first half, that was easy. He ran into the path of the defender and they collided. The roughing the punter call on the other hand was running into at best and should not have been a first down.

But realistically, with the way Michigan's offense moved the ball at will for the majority of the day, and with Michigan's defense stopping anything the Huskers threw out on offense, would it really have made any difference in the outcome at all? No.

1audiofile said...

Having a little time to reflect on the game a few things occurred to me. First, the kickoff returners have done a great job all year. No fumbles. Now we have two kick offs fumbled by two different players. Would not happen again if we played Michigan 20 times. Also a punt was blocked. Again this would not happen again if we played 2o more times. Everyone is upset with only 8 wins so far this year. IF we beat Iowa it will be 9 wins with 3 losses. Not great but it was the gold standard for Tom Osborne for 25 years. All those years and never worse than 9 wins. Lastly, for those of us who remember playing Oklahoma every year we clearly remember Sooner magic. Where we play our worst game and they play their best game. Every year. Things go wrong that would not go wrong in any other game. Same here with Michigan. I remember when Nebraska played them in a bowl game. The Huskers were rolling just great. Come the third quarter suddenly we fumble 3 or 4 times and the whole game goes down the tubes. Some things you just have to expect and work to overcome. Same here. It is a young team that will get better.

refman said...

Please learn the rules. If you touch a punter when he is in the air after kicking the ball and you have not touched the ball it is an automatic personal foul. No room for any interpretation.
Running into the kicker can be called if the punter has landed on the ground before getting hit.

Husker Mike said...

Please read the rules before calling someone out.

ARTICLE 16. a. When it is obvious that a scrimmage kick will be made, no
opponent shall run into or rough the kicker or the holder of a place kick (A.R.
9-1-16-I, III and VI).
1. Roughing is a live-ball personal foul that endangers the kicker or holder.
2. Running into the kicker or holder is a live-ball foul that occurs when the
kicker or holder is displaced from his kicking or holding position but is
not roughed (A.R. 9-1-16-II). Note: Running into the kicker carries a
five-yard penalty.
3. Incidental contact with a kicker or holder is not a foul.

Source: NCAA 2011 Football Rule book

If anything, one can argue that the contact was incidental...and that Richards shouldn't have even been flagged in the first place.