Ouch. There is no way Nebraska should
have lost to Iowa St. This is the second game this year we’ve given
away that we shouldn’t have.
At this point in the season, I am tired
of hearing excuses for Dailey. He’s had a full spring and 9 games
to figure it out, yet manages a pitiful 42% completion rate against an
average conference opponent, plus a killer interception at the end. Yeah,
“He wasn’t recruited for this offense,” but as Dailey
himself likes to point out, he was brought in because Barney Cotton wanted
to throw more. Cotton’s O did throw more on Saturday, but it was
the QB from his opponent completing a pass to Cotton’s current team
that sealed the deal. Twice this year Dailey has given away games by choking
in the clutch (and he would’ve had another if not for the gift pass
interference call against Pittsburgh).
Dailey’s lousy play is affecting
the entire team. They have very little fire left, no expectation good
things are going to happen, and no will apart from what home crowds can
give them. Nebraska will merely be good enough to lose most close games
with Dailey as the QB. The only answer is a different quarterback.
Now, it should be noted that Davis’s
performance in the Texas Tech game leaves one wondering if a replacement
QB is actually on the roster. Maybe not. But it’s hard to imagine
Goodman or Glissman not being able to muster 42% against Iowa St.
The special teams and defense in this
game were bad, too. The D has given up nearly 50 points a game and nearly
500 yards of offense on the road in the Big 12. Before I had the chance
to get a Coke out of my refrigerator, we were down 10 points. This effort—coming
on the heels of the big win against Missouri—and when the team was
in a great position in the conference race—was dreadful. Just dreadful.
Iowa St.’s quarterback has played
one game against Nebraska’s defense this year. Wouldn’t you
know it—he had a career-best passing day (345 yards)? Funny how
that works. Iowa St.’s offense has been in the Big 12 cellar up
to this point. Barney Cotton coaches one game as offensive coordinator
against Cosgrove’s D and looks like a wizard.
Cotton’s offensive strategy was
to go right at McPherson early. They lit him up, while protecting their
QB well. Our defense was made to look porous again. The D had moments,
but “moments” don’t cut it when you’re giving
up 34 points and the signal caller of your offense is Joe Dailey.
There are many reasons why this game provides
a snapshot of what has gone wrong this season:
Timeouts- We continue to burn these like
they are candle wax in a cabin. And then, when we really need to use one,
we either don’t have it or are hesitant to use it. Which leads me
Defensive Alignment- Why can’t our
guys get lined up right? We lost by 7 points in a game where the other
team scored a TD because no one lined up to cover one of their receivers.
This almost cost us against Missouri—I remember the announcers commenting
how strange it was. I don’t remember this happening last year. It
never seems to be a problem for our opponents. Why us?
Field Goals/Special Teams- This has been
a downer all season. Our punt return game is generally poor. With the
FG’s, we screw up short attempts by DeAngelis. Then, on two occasions
(from the 32 and the 33), we don’t try long fieldgoals by Dyches.
Instead, we attempt passes with Dailey. I’d rather see Dyches miss
than a Dailey pass attempt on 4th and 11. We seem to be having way more
trouble in this area than last year. We have the same two kickers on the
roster, but the one who made just about everything last year rarely gets
Play Calling- Dailey has got to be one
of the worst passers on 3rd and short I have ever seen. Norvell and Callahan
don’t seem to agree. We routinely throw rather than run when we
need 2, 3, and 4 yards. Dailey continues to miss badly on these passes,
or he throws near-interceptions or actual interceptions. We have a better
chance running with our 4th string tailback than we do with Dailey passing.
Also, in the Iowa St. game in particular
we came out on offense with a throw-first mentality. Did Callahan think
this was a gimmie game, and he could use it to improve on Dailey’s
woeful passing against K-State and Mizzou? By the time Dailey went from
pitiful to semi-decent, we were already in a huge hole.
NFL?- I would love to know if Callahan
is coaching Dailey to run out of bounds at the end of scrambles rather
than get hit. If so, I’d have to ask what part of Dailey’s
game is being protected here. It’s not like he’s Kurt Warner
back there. Dailey routinely steps out before getting hit when he’s
just a few yards away from a first down (or, in the case of the Southern
Miss game, a winning TD). Mickey Joseph took on contact better than Dailey
Solich’s Legacy- It’s official:
The new coach is going to have done worse in year one than the fired coach
did in the year in which he was sent packing. At the beginning of the
season, I was inclined to give Callahan and his staff the benefit of the
doubt. Nine games in, it’s clear they don’t really deserve
it. One would hope that new coaches being brought in to the tune of 6-figure
salaries could bring the team up a notch—that they wouldn’t
lose games they shouldn’t—but that’s not what has happened.
Even if the talent level dropped a lot under Solich, we should be able
to beat Iowa St. when we’re in control of the Big 12 North. That
this team came out flat and lifeless (again, on the road) speaks volumes.
Somewhere Barney Cotton has to be laughing at Steve Pederson.
We can make a game of it if Ross’s
turf toe gets better, Dailey somehow hits Fluellen on a deep ball or two,
and Oklahoma turns the ball over. These things can happen, but this is
the best team we will have played by far, plus it’s a road game.
The only encouraging thing is that Oklahoma’s D has given up 35
points in both of their past two games. Maybe they won’t take us
seriously. I’m hoping for some combination of the above factors,
plus a breakout performance from someone on the D-line. We will need to
pressure White, because OU’s receivers are going to be open frequently
against our secondary. This week would be a great time for a huge game
from Ruud and either of the Bullocks brothers (both would be swell). There
are some other players Nebraska has who do belong on the same field with
Oklahoma. Here’s to them playing like it on Saturday.
At this point, though, I’m just
hoping we beat Colorado. And that Harrison Beck doesn’t change his
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.