The punt returns were nice to see.
That was one thing that, in addition to the sacks, looked like the
Nebraska of old.
As non-remarkable as Taylor’s performance was,
with last year’s quarterback we might have lost this game. (I’m
presuming at least a couple more interceptions, leading directly to
opponent scores. That might be a stretch...we’ll never know.)
Ruud playing like, well, a Ruud kept this game from
becoming alarming. His interception and TD altered the course of the
game. Maine had the momentum at one point in the 4th quarter. I can’t
believe I just wrote that sentence, but watching the game, it was
true. I have rarely seen a home crowd so quiet late in a season opener.
I’ve certainly never seen it against a Division 1-AA opponent.
Taylor played like you’d expect a player to
play for whom a 1-AA team was a step up in competition. It seems like
he hasn’t been going against our first-team D very much in practice.
Maine’s pressure bothered him a lot. At times it was hard to
tell if our line just wasn’t protecting very well, or Taylor’s
lack of mobility was the issue. If Taylor continues to struggle, I
foresee that Callahan won’t stick with him like he did with
Dailey. Some of the coach’s comments make me think he believes
the team has other, legitimate options this year. Ganz could see time,
or perhaps Beck. Taylor had some balls dropped that could have led
to points, but both of his interceptions were of the “I can’t
believe he threw that” kind.
The running game was somewhat ho-hum. Ross doesn’t
usually have two-fumble games. It was disappointing to not see Glenn
get any carries, because there were situations where I think we could
have used his power.
Once again the play calling was curious. Let me go
out on a limb and say that this is a Callahan/Norvell issue at this
point, rather than a “We just need better players” thing.
On our first drive of the game, we ran on 4th and 6 when we were in
field goal range. And then those three straight passes (ending in
a pick) from the 1 at the end of the first half were…unpretty.
On defense, it’s disturbing to see Grixby getting
burned by Maine receivers on simple out patterns. Much of the time,
he was at least 3-5 yards away when the ball arrived. Sacks hide this
problem pretty well against the likes of Maine. When we come up against
a team that throws well, and has a line that isn’t so overmatched
against ours, our secondary could get torched. In many ways, this
issue concerns me more than our quarterback play. Green seems (generally)
closer to his man on pass routes, but he is still a work-in-progress.
Bowman is a good player, but he doesn’t seem quite ready. Of
course, his hamstring problem doesn’t help.
On the good side, our linebackers rock, even without
Octavien (who I am very bummed about), and the new additions to our
D-line add much-needed juice.
Still, if the “Maine version” of NU shows
up against Texas Tech, we are going to get bombed again. Our next
two opponents (Wake and Pitt) are 0-1 right now, so maybe we have
the chance to get better in September, without absorbing a loss.
ONLY THE FIRST GAME, BUT…
Because of our league (and the nice perk that Texas
isn’t on the schedule), the Huskers have the chance to have
an okay 2005 season. This was only the first game, but it appears
NU may need a few more years of great recruiting before the Maines
of the college football world come into Lincoln and are dispatched
with properly. We need a Frantz Hardy and Steve Octavien at more positions
across the board before the Saturdays return where fans are flipping
through game programs in the 4th quarter, trying to look up the player’s
name who just made a nice play.
REASON FOR HOPE
Fellow Big 12 teams Iowa St. (defeating Illinois St.)
and Kansas (over Florida Atlantic) both won by whopping 11 point margins.
Meanwhile, Kansas St. beat Florida International by 14, and Oklahoma
St. won against Montana St. by 5. Not all that sizzling, to put it
mildly. Makes beating Maine by 18 a little more palatable.
I hope the defensive line’s sacks continue.
Even if we only get half the amount. Perhaps Taylor will have added
motivation against Wake, his former team, and will come up big. Historically
this has been known to happen with players who are transfers. Maybe
we’ll be on the “giving” end this time, rather than
the other way around. Fluellen and LeFlore coming back from injury
would help things along, too.
The voice of Scarlet Commentary is Jeffrey A. Leever, a Nebraska native also stuck behind enemy lines in Jefferson County, Colo. He is a 1994 graduate of the University of Nebraska (Kearney) and a freelance writer and author. Some of Jeff’s writings of the nonfootball kind can be found online at Barnes & Noble (1, 2), Amazon.com (1, 2), and MenofIntegrity.net (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Contact Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org.