Monday, September 24, 2007

Big Red Roundtable: Emergency Edition

After the events of the last few weeks, Corn Blight and I decided it was time to convene an emergency session of the Big Red Rountable. Not sure who all will answer the emergency beacon, especially if they are out searching for Blackshirts gone AWOL.

1) Assess the Huskers performance this season. What is going well, and what has surprised you?
Special teams have been the most consistent performer, especially Adi Kunalic on kickoff coverage. The wide receivers have really been impressive the last couple of weeks after a slow start. The running game got off to a great start against Nevada, but disappeared about the same time the Blackshirts did. Sam Keller has played better the last couple of weeks, though turnovers continue to be a problem.

2) Let's not sugar coat things; the Blackshirts are struggling. What do you think the issue is, and what needs to be done to rectify things this season?
On Saturday night, I really thought it was a talent issue. But after some further discussions with others, plus listening to Dr. Rob Zatechka last night on KMTV-channel 3 (naturally ignoring Travis Justice), I'm not so sure. Instead, I'm now leaning towards a combination of confusion, lack of confidence, and bad coaching. And the first two items are really the end result of the big problem. The good news is that by fixing the coaching, the first two problems should also be correctable. Probably need to begin by simplifying the defense and giving them something managable. Don't make these guys think about what they are supposed to be doing at each moment, but rather let the game come to them.

Damon Benning had some good thoughts on KOZN-1620 the Zone today (podcast), pointing out that some players are being substituted too freely, not allowing players to get into a rhythm.

3) Kevin Cosgrove is the target of a lot of criticism over the play of the Blackshirts. How will this play out?
I've been a constant critic of Kevin Cosgrove. I couldn't figure out why Bill Callahan hired him in the first place except as an obligation to a promise they made to each other years ago. Wisconsin fans weren't exactly pleased with Cosgrove when he was there either. But there must be a reason he was hired at Nebraska. Personally, I think that unless something remarkable happens, the handwriting is on the wall and Cosgrove will be gone after the season is over.

4) You went into this season with some expectations. Has the start to this season changed your mind? Where do you see the Huskers at the end of the season?
I went in expecting 10-2 with losses to USC and Texas. The Huskers are still on track. However, Nebraska has had two close calls against Wake Forest and Ball State that probably shouldn't have been anywhere near that close, and with the conference schedule ready to begin, raise concerns as to where this team is going. 10-2 is still possible if they get the defense straightened out, but if not, this season could get ugly in a hurry. Personally, I think this team is now tilting towards 8-4, and that could be generous.

5) There was a loud chorus of boos last weekend at Memorial Stadium. Your reaction? Is it okay to boo the Huskers under any circumstance?
If you are paying $52 to attend a game, you certainly have the legal right to boo. Now, is it a good thing to boo? It depends on your intent. Personally, I don't think it's right to boo individual players (i.e. Scott Frost), just like I don't think it's right to rip these individual players on message boards. Coaches, on the other hand, make plenty of money and if they can't get their players lined up properly or even get a play called in time, they deserve to hear about it. Administrators who make poor decisions then hide behind others in order to avoid facing the music also deserve it when they leave their cocoon. Officials who make boneheaded calls also deserve boos.

I'm curious how many fans who criticize other fans for "booing" have said or written far worse things than "boo" about players, former players, or coaches away from the stadium. Personally, I think that's rather hypocritical.

So what will the rest of the Roundtable think? Look for a summary over at CornNation...

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