Saturday, October 26, 2013

Gophers Pound the Blackshirts in 34-23 Husker Loss

Other than being unable to block, catch, and tackle, Nebraska had a decent game against Minnesota. Except for the fact that blocking, tackling, and catching the ball are just a wee-bit important in football.

And yes, that's sarcasm.

We'll start right off the bat with what was good today.  Ameer Abdullah, except for that fumble.  Unquestioned leader of the offense.  And many Husker fans' favorite pincushion, Taylor Martinez.  Is he 100%? No.  But whether he's 70% or 80%, he's clearly Nebraska's best quarterback.  We didn't see Ron Kellogg or Tommy Armstrong take a snap, but Martinez still made enough plays by himself that the other quarterbacks can't.  Take that 35 yard zone read run.   Take some of that presence to step up in the pocket and deliver a pass.

Problem is that Abdullah and Martinez didn't have much help.  Quincy Enunwa had multiple drops that could have kept drives alive.  Kenny Bell had a couple of drops, but those probably belong on Martinez for a pass that wasn't perfectly thrown.  And that's to be expected, with Martinez spending the last six weeks in a boot on the sideline.  Could Armstrong have made those throws?  Maybe.  But more than likely not, especially when you remember that ridiculous catch Kenny Bell had to make against Illinois that should have been intercepted, in all honesty.

Ra'shede Hageman earned some serious money today, though he won't be able to cash in until next summer. He was disruptive enough in the pass rush to keep Nebraska out of sync offensively.

But the biggest problem of the day for Nebraska was the inability to stop the Gophers running the ball. Minnesota wisely scouted last year's Big Ten championship game and saw how Nebraska discombobulated defending the jet sweep.  The Gophers don't have anybody that could match Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon, so they didn't actually hand the ball off that much.  They didn't need to, not when just the jet sweep action was enough to provide enough of a distraction to allow David Cobb to find a seam.
Combine that with poor tackling, and you have the makings of a debacle on defense.  Late in the fourth quarter, ESPN showed Cobb with 94 yards after contact.  Almost assuredly, he topped the 100 yard mark on yards after contact.

Ball game.

Frustrating as all hell. We had hoped that the defensive improvement we saw earlier in October was real, but today was a huge step backwards. Credit Minnesota for exploiting Nebraska's youth on defense, and Nebraska's young linebackers were all too frequently suckered out of position.  Who's fault is that?

That falls on Bo Pelini and his coaching staff.  We've seen this coming as Nebraska tried to recover from recruiting mistakes in 2010 and 2011.  Now we're feeling the pain of the youth movement.  Sometimes they play well, sometimes they don't.  And today they didn't.

Many people are going to be out there calling for Bo Pelini's head this weekend.
I'm not going to join that call, as I've seen enough from this young defense to see things to be optimistic about down the line. That doesn't mean that I'm excusing what happened today.  That doesn't mean that I'm happy about this.  That doesn't mean that I don't think that changes are needed in Lincoln.

I just don't think that firing Bo Pelini, a consistent winner, is the answer.


Geno2014 said...

I agree with much of this blog today, but certainly not all. First of all, your comment about the quarterback situation cannot be taken too seriously. Unquestionably, Martinez was still not at 100% today. However, to say that either of the other QB's were not worthy or able to make plays similar to what Taylor made 'today', is laughable. The "one" (that is singular for "only") long run that Martinez had today was not a convincing argument against the ability of either Armstrong or Kellogg. Also, I argue that the 16 yards rushing and 139 yards passing by Martinez was just not getting the job done, and those numbers could have been equally matched by either of the other QB's. Thirdly, you even admit that at least one dropped pass today was probably due to a poor pass by Martinez. While it is true that Martinez is the much more experienced QB, when things aren't going well, and they weren't, the others at least deserve a shot to see if they can rally the team. Martinez clearly was not able to do that today, despite the collapse of almost every other facet of the game for this team. Here's an undeniable fact: the last three weeks we were making progress with a two-quarterback rotation. Again, when the lead guy can't get the job done, then the others should be given a chance to contribute. That's what those three weeks were all about; getting the other guys ready in case they are needed. Today they were needed and we passed on an opportunity to see how they would have performed. We used to be a national powerhouse. Today, we could hardly power the Energizer Bunny. This is another sad day for Nebraska Football.

Husker Mike said...

We'll never know what Tommy Armstrong would have done today, but I suspect that it would have been more like what happened against Purdue. We did see Martinez run the ball better today than Armstrong did in the last couple of games, and that's with a bad foot.

And I saw Martinez step up in the pocket and make plays today that Armstrong has never been able to yet.

ChicaGoB1GRed said...

Sorry, both losses this year were on the Offense. 21 and 23 won't get it done.

I expected the D to be a work in progress, but the O should be able to carry the team better than that, especially against a team like Minnesota.

Stephen Johnson said...

I would agree with some of the comments above regarding the back up quarterbacks. Today, I would have used Ron Kellog lll. He is by far the best passer of the three. An OK runner, but a very accurate passer. He does not throw interceptions and has good touch on the ball. Not every pass needs to be a rocket. I have been a strong supporter of Taylor and still am...when he is 100%. I do not think he was after the second series. Just like the UCLA game after we got the third score. Taylor seemed to lack the top gear in his running.

Josh Jerrod said...

Nice of you to give Taylor so much slack because he's been on the sidelines. Meanwhile he made many more "errant throws" than Tommy did a few weeks back when you jumped on him. You even felt it necessary to bring the "ridiculous catch" up again today, as if to prove you're right, when objectively you aren't. Tommy's hardly seen any game play thanks to the puzzling way this staff approaches preparing its backups. Where's your slack for him? Look at some tape. Both Tommy and Ronny deliver a much more catchable ball on a consistent basis.

It doesn't take a genius to see that the team plays differently for the other QBs. All I'm saying is, in a game like this where we're stalling out drive after drive why not put them in for a series or two to see if they spark something?

Martinez also made a no-look pitch just before he was contacted that made me think of his play from his first 2 seasons. He's erratic.

But I'm not putting the blame for this game on Martinez, this is on the coaches. Again.

"I'm not going to join that call, as I've seen enough from this young defense to see things to be optimistic about down the line."

Care to elaborate? This defense got smash-mouthed up and down the field all day. By Minnesota. They looked silly. Against SDSU. You're asking us to believe that we don't have guys who can match up physically with Minnesota?

It's one thing to be out-coached by Jim Mora but by a Gopher assistant?

This is not a well-coached football team. Bo's being exposed big time as all talk and no walk. His teams have a knack for losing intensity.

Read Shatel today, he says it all pretty well.

They play like this the rest of the way and we won't be bowl eligible.

I C RED said...

"IT'S COACHING, STUPID" Or for those still living in the past: "It's Stupid Coaches"

Husker Mike said...

Not going to argue that the coaches failed to have this team ready for fake jet sweeps. You know Northwestern is going to try it this week. You know Michigan State is going to try it in two weeks.

Heck, even Iowa is going to try it as well.

Take the rose colored glasses off regarding Armstrong; against Illinois, the receivers saved his bacon with some great catches of some poorly thrown balls. It wasn't just the Kenny Bell one-handed miracle. Quincy had to do it. Sam Cotton had to do it as well.

Go back and reread my thoughts about the QB situation from three weeks ago.

I thought Martinez did MUCH better dealing with the Minnesota pass rush than Armstrong would have been able to. As for that errant pitch, a Gopher was dragging him down by the face mask.

And even as he's limited, Martinez ran the ball better (especially on that zone read) than Armstrong did.

skerzoid said...

My concerns are with the play calling on offense, use of the clock, and use available players. Coach Beck has a love affair with the pass. He just can't help himself. He has an I-Back running like a man possessed, and he calls a widreceiver screen when in scoring position. I woul dearly love to see Imani cross moved to fullback and to see us run some fullback plays. In the last decade, the Nebraska fullback has become a joke. Names like Rathman, Schlesinger, & Makovicka would never have been heard of if they played under these systems. It would be nice to see some fullback drawing a linebacker's attention away from the the QB and IB. What is wrong with having two good running backs or even three in the backfield at the same time. This is ridiculous.