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Khus the Red

Texas Blackshirt Massacre


Outstanding! Wonderful! Superlative, remarkable, extraordinary and astonishing! Barrett Ruud becomes the University of Nebraska Varsity Men’s Football Team all-time leading tackler!

And everything else went wrong.

70-10. Seventy to ten. X to LXX. Worst loss in school history. There is no escape from the brutality of it. The online rending of Red clothing will be so vehement this week that the Internet Storm Center is likely to think Microsoft unleashed a DDOS attack on itself. Blame is the instinctive thing to do at this point, but listen carefully fellow Red faithful: Blame is also the weak, cheap, sniveling bastard child of frustration. In any case, if you wish to point at personnel, whether coaches or players, you better be a mutant with several dozen fingers on each hand with which to point, because this was a total meltdown.

We knew this year was on the shoulders of the defense, and the last few games proved that to be truer than we feared. When the floodgates were open, TTech was scoring as often as TBS was pimping a corporate sponsor. On a side note, I found it interesting that amid all the PlayStation, Home Depot and Outback logos on the screen, TBS can’t find a way to get the down and distance next to the score.

The single most consistent deficiency of the defense Saturday night can be summed up in a mere five paragraphs:

Poor.

Tackling.

All.

Night.

Long.

Beyond that issue, we saw the Blackshirts fail to generate consistent pressure on Tech QB Cumbie. Earlier in the week I told friends that one unit will decide this game: the NU defensive line. We get pressure, things will go well; we don’t, things will go badly all night long. The three-man front did not help the coverage, and the blitzes were rare early and often picked up. By the time we came out of the dime that shut Kansas down and began to get an inkling of pressure on Cumbie (and an inkling was the extent of it), Tech already had rhythm, momentum was already firmly in place, and Huskers living outside the Fatherland were already dreading the upcoming work week.

As far as the Mike Leach Seminar of Dan McCarney Late-Game Scoring goes, there isn’t much to say. We have been on the other end of that. Sour grapes are not becoming of Husker fans. However, I confess it occurs to me that Leach was picked on a lot as a child.

On a brighter note, if that’s even remotely possible, Colorado no longer has record for most points scored on us.

Offensively, when things don’t go well right away, they go badly immediately. Dailey was throwing high and hard from the beginning of the game, overthrowing a touchdown to Herian on one of the rare times he was open. Tech’s defense played better than anyone expected, especially against the run after the first few NU possessions. When Ross started getting two yards rather than five, the outlook grew as dark as the stormy Texas sky. Tech kept rotating defensive linemen, and we simply lack depth on the OL to win the fresh-legs war; running lanes become smaller and closed almost immediately, if they existed at all.

At least now we can finally put one issue to rest: Joe is the quarterback for a reason. One quarter-plus of being thrown to the wolves is not a good evaluation of Beau Davis, but we saw that while he may have promise he is raw, raw, raw. In other words, he is a pure-as-the-driven-snow freshman, and he is a ways from developing into a starter. It will be interesting to read the practice reports this week, but do not expect much to change.

There really wasn’t much of a halftime adjustment; a quick slant to LeFlore was nice, but I did not trust it to be indicative of things to come (one-handed catch, good coverage, missed tackle). After the half, we did see a stronger commitment to knocking Cumbie down early in the third quarter, and it nullified their first series. Yet a couple untimely turnovers soon had me contemplating something to ease the pain after the game; finding something less difficult to watch, doing something soothing by comparison. Watching Freddy vs. Jason while eating shards of broken glass, for example.

I was not expecting this staff to get outcoached, but that happened. I was not expecting the defense to perform as badly as—or worse than—the offense, but that happened. There are no silver linings in this loss, few positives to take, little reason to expect a strong finish when the worst performance of the year comes at the mere beginning of the worst part of the schedule.

What is the solution? That is obvious. Time. Husker fans may be known as among the most knowledgeable and gracious in the land, but patient we are not. Perhaps that is to be expected, given recent history; unfortunately for Callahan and his staff, they are operating in too close proximity to 60-3. So far, however, much of the talk among the Corngregation about “transition year” and “time for the players to adopt the new system” has been lip service. The reality is that we expect wins, dominant wins, and we want them now. The bitter infighting that will reach hysterical proportions this week is disappointing and disheartening. And you can look around all corners of the Red ‘Net—it has already started.

3 and 2 and Baylor on the way to cure what ails ya. That is undoubtedly a good thing; this team needs a scrimmage and Joe needs some time to think carefully about what it was like to watch number 15 under center for more than a quarter. After the teddy Bears, we all know what looms—four out of five teams with at least as much athleticism as Texas Tech.

Things have changed, are changing and will continue to change. Ironically, at times such as these it is simultaneously easy and impossible to recall what it was like to lose all those consecutive bowl games. Once in the late 90s I told a friend who was bemoaning his team’s failures while bemoaning Nebraska’s. I told him, “Everything cycles. Especially in college football.”

Everything does cycle, and it will again. Keep in mind that 70-10 may not even be the deepest of the downswing. However, it is far too early to be discarding this year and focusing on next; there are several winnable games yet for the taking, though this team may not seem ready to take them yet.

Patience.


Khus the Red, how shall I contact thee? Let me count the ways: One. redkhus@mchsi.com