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 The straight scoop
 from Colonel Mustard

 

Nov. 29, 2004

This game was a fitting end to a very disappointing season. The end of perhaps two of the most impressive streaks in sports history, but as Bill said it is only one game and only one season. Decades of consistent excellence though the changes in coaches, eras, style of play, and of course players. Nebraska was dependable and never suffered a letdown. Now ironically when it is easier to qualify for a bowl game than ever, we fail to do so. Over half the teams in bowl games this year generate less income and spend less on their program than we do, and yet we fail to qualify. I have always said that the strength and consistency of our program is worth seven wins. This year we could manage only five. When we lost before the Bobfather saved us, we did not have this level of commitment and talent. When there are 56 bowl slots available and we are staying home, there is no way to sugar-coat it: Bill's first season was a failure. He had the talent to win seven or eight games and won five. We fell from the 20th-to-30th best team in the country to the 60th.

For those of you who want to read only positives, we are going to start with the positives. Our coaching staff appears to be excellent recruiters, particularly on the offensive side. The players showed a great deal of character to forge a comeback on Friday. The onside kick to start the game was well executed. Having a healthy Pilkington is a huge advantage to our offense, and that was apparent in the game. Amos and Nunn made some very tough catches on third down, and that was a positive. Joe produced some good throws in difficult down-and-distance situations. He kept his head even when we completely abandoned the running game. Joe has displayed a great deal of character this year and has never shied away from responsibility. Whether he is a great QB or not remains to be seen, but he certainly is a fine young man. Bo Ruud will be a star; he is all over the field and stands out whenever he is in the game. Cooper had one of the best games of his career in his final game. Klatt was surprised at his speed, and that caused the second-quarter sack. He pulled the team off the mat with his INT in the fourth quarter. Chad Sievers apologized to the fans for the season, and I was at the same time impressed and disappointed that he felt the need to say that. He took the disappointing season personally and felt the need to express his feelings. It is an interesting contrast that the coaches who are paid millions and are ultimately responsible for the results shrugged off the season, as Bill put it, just another game, just another season.

The problems that plagued us all year caused us to lose another winnable game. The CU offense that has been inconsistent and at times nonexistent this season was made to look like a world-beater by our passive and through the last half of the season helpless defense. At times we couldn't even slow them down. Our corners were so deep that their slot receiver could make 10 yards on a simple swing pass before he was touched. On offense we completely abandoned the running game and insisted on throwing long when the slants and underneath patterns were working. We insist on conceding the punt return game by not ever blocking the gunners and putting a young man deep who has very little chance to break a return. On a lighter note, it was great to see the play-maker deep late in the game. Overall the defense appears slow and lifeless much as they did in '02 and didn't in '03. Cooper makes game-changing plays and is rarely on the field, another in the puzzling series of decisions that this staff makes. It is not a sign of good coaching when your QB is still throwing into triple coverage and rarely throws with his feet set in his 11th start. CU has a good team but not a great one, and if Klatt hadn't made a mistake we would never have been in the game. They don't have better talent than we do, if anything the teams are very comparable from a talent standpoint. They had a better plan and were more ready to play than we were. That is not a good sign when we had two of the most historic streaks in college football on the line and were at home.

Where do we go from here? If you believe that we are extremely short of talent and that Bill and staff did the best they could with what Frank left him, you should be optimistic because these guys appear to be great recruiters. If you believe that the staff took top 25 to 30 talents and coached them down to 60th, you should worry. Or if you believe that Coach Cos didn't have a bad year he had his normal 40th to 60th finish in defensive stats, you should worry. If you believe that Bill has very little appreciation for Nebraska traditions and really doesn't seem to grasp the college game, you should worry. If you are concerned that Bill has blamed the players for defeats and not stepped up and said that his staff has to coach better, you should worry. If you see Bill as cavalier about breaking the two most important streaks in our history, you should worry. But if you feel that these issues will be resolved though time and infusion of his own players, you should be optimistic. Each fan has to decide for himself how he feels about the new staff.

Keep the faith. GBR.
 
-- The Colonel
 

 
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