Friday, November 27, 2015

Nebraska Throws Away It's Chance to Upset Iowa

At his Monday press conference, Mike Riley talked about how his team needed to run the ball this week against Iowa. The importance of running the ball grew as the weather forecast grew colder and colder.

So if you had told me that, despite all that, Tommy Armstrong threw 45 passes against Iowa, I would have asked how badly Iowa had boat-raced the Huskers.

You can blame Tommy Armstrong for throwing four interceptions. I'll blame the play calling that asked Armstrong to throw the ball that much today. Take that 4th and 1 fade route. Or throwing 3 straight incompletions after getting gaining 8 yards on first down.

The Huskers defense played well enough to win, save for two busted assignments on Jordan Canzeri in the third quarter. But asking them to overcome a minus three turnover margin was asking too much.

Some will say that Nebraska threw out of necessity because the ground game wasn't working. It wasn't terribly effective, but I saw flashes of shotgun runs to the edge with Terrell Newby in the first half. They didn't try it in the second half.

That's the story of Nebraska football in 2015: Mike Riley trying to jam a square peg into his round hole offense. Some fans will eagerly await Patrick O'Brien's arrival as the round prg that will match better with his offense. Maybe that might work, but that's an awful lot of hope and pressure being placed on a true freshman who is still in high school.

Now the question is whether Nebraska can somehow get to a bowl game despite having a losing record in 2015. Not accepting a bowl bid if offered is not an option to me for two reasons: First, the Huskers could use the extra practice time to better learn these new systems. Second, the players deserve the bowl trip, especially the seniors. It won't be a great bowl, but it's better than no bowl.

In fact, I'd argue that the bigger question that needs to be asked is whether Mike Riley should return in 2016. I don't seriously think that Riley is going to be fired after just one awful season, but it's a more valid question than whether or not  NU should accept a bowl bid, if offered.

Especially when you consider Riley's record in recent years at Oregon State. Going into this season, I was the pessimist in predicting 7-5. Most others thought this was a nine or ten win team. Well, Nebraska won exactly half that. Despite what Shawn Eichorst. May claim, this wasn't a rebuilding effort in 2015.

It is in 2016. How does Mike Riley do that? Or can he?


rueschmike said...

Made my second visit to Memorial Stadium for a regular season game for this one since I was in the area. How much of an impact was not having Gerry in the second half on those two big plays by Iowa? How even was he ejected? Looking at video posted on Husker_Football Instagram site I'm still scratching my head.

FrankBuckII said...

Nebraska, has never won a game when Tommy is made to pass more than 40 times.....period.

40+ passes and Nebraska looses.

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