R E D C L A D L O O N
LOON DROPPINGS, Vol. 1:
Nebraska 21, Texas Christian 7
Way back in the 1970s, young comedians like Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett
Morris and Jane Curtin had TV audiences yukking it up each and every
Saturday. Alas, the troupe dispersed in the early '80s -- which,
incidentally, is also about the time college football's preseason classics
were launched. Regardless, the Husker Nation saw many a chuckle-worthy item
inside Memorial Stadium on Saturday, from jet fighters mistiming a flyover,
to NU's marching band dressing like they all worked at Applebees, to a PA
announcer having trouble with his 1-2-3's. But in the end, there was
definitely one thing that no one felt like laughing about -- namely, a bunch
of Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time Players.
A few takes:
THE THIN RED LINE: Saturday was a special day for Omaha's Eric Crouch, who
replaced Cornhusker god Tommie Frazier at the top of the school's all-time
yardage leaders chart. Crouch now is No. 1 at 5,510 yards, Frazier No. 2 at
5,476. But, based on the Cornhusker offensive line's proclivity to allow
defenders to roam freely in NU's backfield, smart money's still on Tommie.
Good grief, the Husker offense got kicked in the teeth so many times on
Saturday that by the end of the game, they were filing for Missouri
citizenship. Whether it was coaches' failure to adjust or players' failure
to execute or a little (lot?) of both, let's hope that the Big Red Machine
finds a way soon to deal with these stunting defenses. If not, the entire
Husker Nation will be looking for a Fall Guy -- and I'm not talking about Lee
Majors here, bubba.
LINCOLN LIGHTNING: In Greek mythology, Zeus flung lightning bolts from on
high and was the mightiest of the gods. On Saturday, lightning-quick TCU
defender Marvin Godbolt was the mightiest of the Frogs. It's interesting to
note that a few years ago, when shopping around for colleges to attend,
Godbolt had given NU some interest but the Cornhuskers didn't reciprocate.
Betcha Nebraska's backfield guys -- particularly No. 7 -- now wish that the
Huskers would have done their homework. Or, failing that, at least learn how
to block the guy. Just once.
DEFENDING THE PROGRAM: While Crouch & Co. appear to have their work cut out
for them, Nebraska's defense has seen a positively Viagra-like upsurge from
last season. Granted, Gary Patterson's offense was so predictable that a
blindfolded Ray Charles could see what plays were coming, but when the game
was on the line the Blackshirts stiffened their resolve and willed the
Huskers to a win. The much-ballyhooed Casey Printers, who is not to be
confused with Alphagraphics or Kinko's, was basically good for one fluke play
and a pulled hamstring against the 'Shirts. Thanks for playing. More
heartening was that of TCU's anemic 186 yards, just 65 of them came in the
second half. In the D, the glory.
BUT SIRIUS-LY, FOLKS: You know, there's nothing more awe-inspiring than the
sight of 76,000 people, in unison, mindlessly staring at a gigantic stadium
TV. Folks, it is not our intent here in The Pond to continually snipe about
the over-commercialization of Memorial Stadium, where it appears the only
thing yet to secure a bonafide corporate sponsor is Erwin Swiney's sprained
ankle. But indulge us for a moment as we just come out and say it:
HuskerVision officially sucks. It's annoyingly loud. It's distracting. It
completely nullifies the band, the crowd and the home-field advantage. And
its cutesy between-quarter segments drag on longer than law school. If
"Dollar" Bill Byrne is still looking for a way to get the athletic department
out of the red and save the swimming program, how about checking with
Mitsubishi on a refund for a pair of oversized, not to mention passe, TV
HYBLS AND BLITZ: In 1996, defending national champ Nebraska opened with a
55-14 shellacking of Michigan State, masking its offensive shortcomings with
timely TDs by its awesome special teams and its battering defense. The
conventional wisdom nationwide was that they again were a shoo-in for the
national title. Then they went out to Tempe, Ariz. -- ugh. A similar scene to
that NU-MSU game occurred in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, as the Sooners found
every which way to score besides put together an offensive drive in their
41-27 win over North Carolina. Bob Stoops unleashed his animal-like defense
in the win, but new quarterback Nate Hybl (pronounced HIB-bul) was far from
Tecmo in his debut. Had the Tar Heels not handled the football as if it were
radioactive in the first half, this one might have had a bit different
ending. Oh, I'm sure OU will get their offensive situation worked out by the
time they roll into the Star City on Oct. 27.
THE BOTTOM LINE: It is the theory of some Oliver Stone-types lurking around
Lincoln that for some reason, ABC/ESPN doesn't like the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
This is based partly on the fact that ESPN Classic Sports seems to show great
games in history in which Nebraska has lost. On Saturday, however, the
network made up for their past transgressions by airing four great Husker
wins from the Tom Osborne era. Too bad we were all busy watching live TV at
the time -- so maybe there is something to that conspiracy theory, after all.
Say, speaking of everyone's favorite political fundraiser, one of Dr. Tom's
most famous pigskin theories was that a team improves the most between its
first and second games. If that's the case, then the only way Troy State, the
next opponent on the Cornhuskers' schedule, will be able to drop Nebraska
next week is if they find a book depository and a grassy knoll. But there
will be no magic bullets from Trojan QB Brock Nutter. Nebraska 49, Troy State
Saving the World. One Loon at a Time.
THE POND, Home of Nebraska's RED CLAD LOON.