R E D C L A D L O O N
LOON DROPPINGS, Vol. 4
Nebraska 48, Rice 3
The Book of Ecclesiastes -- or, on second thought, maybe it was the Byrds --
says "To Everything There is a Season." You've heard the lines: There's a
time to laugh, a time to weep; a time to dance, a time to mourn; a time to
gain, a time to lose. But during these troubled days in the U.S. of A., those
times seem to be overlapping a bit. Regardless, on Thursday two football
teams -- one supplying the Red and White, the other supplying the Blue -- did
their best to help everyone turn (turn, turn) their attention away, even for
a little while, from an overwhelming national tragedy. And though the Huskers
knocked the Owls down for much of the evening, it was evident all through the
night that everyone stood united.
A few takes:
FLAG FOOTBALL: Usually, the worthwhile game-day items on the omnipresent
HuskerVision screens can be counted on one hand by a careless lawnmower
repairman. But on Thursday, you'd have to be either blind, deaf, dumb or
hiding out in a mountainous Afghani lair not to get goosebumps at all the
pregame pageantry in Lincoln. The culmination of the hallowed Tunnel Walk,
usually reserved for live footage of our red-clad heroes waltzing through
that familiar walkway and doing the "That's Right, We Bad" routine into the
camera, was replaced Thursday with some real-life heroes, appropriately
enough. A color guard, clutching Old Glory like she was a day-old infant
while flanked by law enforcers and a geared-up firefighter, elicited a roar
from the crowd unmatched by any touchdown pass or jarring tackle to follow.
Trying to keep a dry eye during all of this was as fruitless as Dan Waldrop's
THIS, TOO, SHALL PASS: With no TV coverage, many Loons may have drifted over
Thursday to CNN or ABC News to hear the president urge the nation to be
patient. The Husker offense obviously was too busy to get the message, as it
produced three touchdowns in less than a dozen snaps. What's odd is that for
much of the first half, the Big Red Machine was not the usual giant grain
thresher that grinds down opponents to dust. It was a sleek, high-octane
Lambourghini that went from 0 to 21 in 11 snaps. Coolly piloting the racer
was No. 7, Eric Crouch, who had his choice of big-play targets in Tracey "I'm
Just An All-America Candidate, So Don't Bother Covering Me" Wistrom and
Wilson "That's Right, I Can Catch More Than Just The Fade" Thomas. While
Wistrom had two TD snags to Wilson's one, Mr. Thomas had the play of the day
with his sweeeet first-quarter grab. That's right, you need four "e"s to
describe that diving Extend-O-Catch. Game ball to No. 9 -- he'll be sure not
to drop it.
SERVE THE LORD: Much of the pregame chirping from Sunday-morning QBs was that
backup quarterback Jammal Lord needed some quality playing time in this
contest, not only to protect Eric The Red's routinely boogered-up shoulder
but also to give NU's quarterback of the future a chance to polish up his
act. Mission accomplished. Off the field, Jammal is his brother's keeper --
you may have recently read how he cares for his 13-year-old sibling, who now
lives with him in Lincoln. And on the field, he's a keeper, brother. 'Course,
he also knows when to pitch the ball. His timely flip to Thunder "Flash"
Collins to produce NU's final score was straight out of Oklahoma's playbook.
Well, their OLD pre-Stoops playbook, anyhoo.
NATIONAL DEFENSE: What's there to complain about in a 48-3 piano-wiring of an
opponent? Well, not much. In fact, this good, old-fashioned, 1984-style
whuppin' is just what the Ph.D. ordered. Sure, the Huskers' reserve defenders
won't be mistaken anytime soon for the Baltimore Ravens, but methinks Bohl &
Co. were well-pleased with the D's overall performance. At times, Rice's
discombobulated offense was harder to watch than sausage being made. And
though the Owls' option game popped a couple of decent runs on the
first-stringers, this much was clear: There was a better chance of Bill
McCartney delivering the keynote address at next week's Touchdown Club
Luncheon than there was of Rice getting in the end zone on Thursday. A job
well done by the Blackshirts.
THE BOTTOM LINE: No, that wasn't a ghost at Memorial Stadium on Thursday
evening. It was merely a broadcast message from Rep. Tom Osborne with some
reassuring words for a somber Husker Nation. The Good Doctor, who has been
known to produce a motivational speech or two, dadgummit, implored Nebraskans
to remain vigilant as our nation enters into uncharted, uncertain territory.
And about the time Dr. Tom's tape-recorded message was being received by the
Memorial Stadium masses, Oz was sitting in Washington, D.C., to hear similar
words coming from -- I think it's safe to say -- the one Texan every
Cornhusker can agree to support right now. "For the last nine days, the
entire world has seen for itself the state of our Union," Mr. Bush told the
joint session of Congress. "And it is strong." Proof of this, fellow fans, is
that we were able to respectfully carry on Thursday, and not let terror shape
our way of life. In that spirit, we now turn our (justifiably divided)
attention toward next week's contest in Columbia, Mo. Two weeks ago, battling
a conference foe would have seemed like a life-or-death matter, but our world
has changed, no? Still, suffice it to say that NU, much like our nation, will
continue to plow on. And to paraphrase the president, they will not tire.
They will not falter. And they will not fail. Nebraska 42, Missouri 13.
Splash down in THE POND,
Home of Nebraska's RED CLAD LOON.