Saturday, November 23, 2013

Huskers Survive and Advance Against Penn State

As snowflakes and buzzards swirled around State College, Nebraska survived a couple of very questionable late penalty calls and pulled another game out of the fire. It seems no matter what adversity Nebraska faces, the Huskers battle back.  Five freshman turnovers last week, and Nebraska still outplays Michigan State on the rest of the plays. Injuries wreaking havoc once again?  Nebraska battles through.

Third string quarterback. Patchwork offensive line. Receivers named Brandon Reilly and Sam Burtch pressed into service. This team just battles through.  Did they make it tough on themselves with crucial mistakes? Absolutely: Ameer Abdullah fumbles on the goal line when Nebraska seemed ready to take a 14-6 lead.  Ron Kellogg III fumbles inside the NU 10 yard line while being sacked, giving Penn State a short field to take a 13-7 lead.

But say one thing about Nebraska: when the chips are down, they don't give up when the ball bounces the other way. Kenny Bell takes the ensuing kickoff to retake the lead.  But the play of the game had to be that Ameer Abdullah 62 yard touchdown run with that inexplicable personal foul penalty.
Touchdown off the board, and Nebraska has to settle for a game-tying field goal.  Everybody thought it was a bad call.

Well, almost everybody.
Interesting dichotomy from the ESPN team, with the former World-Herald reporter taking issue with the Nebraska media he still works next to.  Or more accurately, the Lincoln Journal-Star.  It reopens the issue of the narrative coming from 13th & Douglas Street in downtown Omaha.  The resentment from 2011 still runs very, very deep.

It's easy to dismiss this game as Nebraska underperforming once again.  That is, if you are being ridiculously superficial.  Nebraska's injury list is almost absurdly long.  Nebraska dipping to their third string at quarterback and on the offensive line.  How bad was it?
Seriously.  In baseball, this is akin to position players having to pitch in extra innings. Except here, it's not strategy that's depleted the bench, it's injuries.  It's either this - playing guys who probably shouldn't be expected to play, or burn redshirts in the eleventh game of the season.  Bo Pelini has wisely decided to keep the redshirts intact. And it's amazing that Nebraska somehow found a way to win this game.  It speaks to the heart and passion in this program.

Of course, others will merely dismiss this as excuse making.  Call it hatred, call it trolling.  Call it myopic.  Bottom line to me is that it makes the discussion of firing Bo Pelini to be downright infuriating. 

Defensively, it wasn't a bad performance, but it wasn't one of Nebraska's better performances. The defensive line got run over at times by Penn State as Zach Zwinak frequenly hit the second and third level untouched.  But the defense did a pretty good job of containing Allen Robinson, though he still got his eight catches and 106 yards.  Props go to Ciante Evans who battled all day with a bum shoulder.
Yeah, Nebraska's first three seasons in the Big Ten haven't gone exactly the way Husker fans had originally hoped. But you can't question the heart and passion of this program. And there's a lot of exciting potential in this program, as Hail Varsity's Brandon Vogel points out:
The 2013 Huskers have their flaws but there are hints of promise here at the end of autumn. If Ameer Abdullah returns, he’s likely to become the first Nebraska back to rush for 1,000-yards in three different seasons. Randy Gregory is going to be even more fun to watch in a year. Same goes for the rest of the defensive line. There are potential all-conference type players at linebacker too. The defensive improvement overall this season is probably one of Pelini’s greatest achievements.
 Am I a Bo-liever?  To me, it's a no-brainer: Why would I not be?


James Leroy Wilson said...

Considering the low premium placed on running backs in the NFL these days, I'd advise Abdullah to leave if he'd be a 3rd rounder or better. Better to have a 3rd round rookie contract than risk getting hurt and signing a 7th round or free agent rookie contract.

jeff725 said...

"It reopens the issue of the narrative coming from 13th & Douglas Street in downtown Omaha. The resentment from 2011 still runs very, very deep."

You got that right!! If there's one thing the OWH knows how to do is hold a grudge.

I still remember the knock-down, drag-out brawl they had with KFAB back in the 1990's.

The apex of the war, IMO, came in 1996 when Nebraska switched broadcast rights from KFAB to Pinnacle Sports. If memory serves, Kent Pavelka and Gary Sadlemyer offered to freelance and do the football broadcasts.

And what does the OWH do? They proceed to throw Pavelka under the bus by splattering his contract demands all over the FRONT PAGE!! The result of this was "borin'" Warren Swain and Jim "Husker Information Minister" Rose.

Thank heaven for Greg Sharpe. If it weren't for him, I'd never listen to a Husker game on the radio again. He's solid and professional.