Khus the Red
Youse. Cheked. Again.
Apologies for the absence last week and the delay this one, but eventually all of us are waylaid by schedules that simply won’t cooperate. And again this week my time has been short, and there are mere minutes before The Red makes its way down to the cultural epicenter and pinnacle of human achievement that is Lawrence, Kansas. So let’s begin.
Watching the Mizzou game in a national-chain bar and grill in Big Ten country is a curious experience. No one gives static to the Red N on the shirt, perhaps because of the Red-stained battleaxe holstered below. But the strangest of strangers become the easiest of chums when Red friends gather in enemy territory. So a tip of the helmet to Nameless Hastings College Guy, who was in Iowa City to visit his friend Blonde Physicians Assistant Grad Student Girl and Her Boyfriend, plus Foul-Mouthed Guy Whose Speech Progressively Became More Slurred. I enjoyed your company, and did not mind the sidelong glances when I took notes at odd times during the game. I don’t mind telling folks who I am and what I’m doing, but I also prefer to fly under the radar. Also, not answering the usual query, “Why are you writing stuff?” kept me out of jail for one more Saturday, as I typically answer “Because I like the taste of your curiosity,” followed by drool flinging off my waggling tongue.
Not sure if the Mizzou game would qualify as an upset, by the bookies or not. What it does show is that a team doesn’t have to have future NFLers all over the roster in order to present more matchup problems than an interracial dating service in the Ku Klux Klan. One particular concern I had the whole week prior was finding some Blackshirt to stay with their tight end in order to keep him from running open and further affecting the already shaky defensive personnel scheme on the wideouts. We didn’t, he did, and it was. Mizzou was a loss that was not the toss-up I expected it to be, and it is the only one of the three losses this season in which we were simply beat hands-down. The nifty comeback to tie didn’t hold, and this one didn’t hinge on one or two woulda-coulda-shoulda plays. There was more to say about the much disappointment in Columbia, but we must kill those darlings at this point and move on to the hillbillies.
I will disagree violently, as in with actual spatters of blood, with the notion that OU outcoached us in this game. We started slow (again) because of the usual deadly sins of this team: penalties, poor execution, mental mistakes, and poor tackling. OU did nothing surprising nor brilliant; they simply made plays and we did not stop them when we could.
Let’s be direct. We simply cannot match a team like Oklahoma when they have so severely trounced us in recruiting the past several years. You didn’t seriously think that it was pure coincidence that the two most talented teams we have faced were the two that jumped out to a three-score lead, did you? You did? Oh how cute. It’s amazing how a gameplan looks sound when you can line up and outmuscle an opponent at the LOS, and a gameplan looks faulty when you cannot squeeze rice paper through the running lanes. OU was not about to let Ross have his day, and they were ready for the early screens when we went to them when OU started to rush more on ZT. A team can afford to gamble on a blitz, such as leaving one D-lineman on a RB when they know a screen is coming, when there is enough talent—young and raw or not—on the field to recover from the risks of an aggressive defense. That this dinged-up and depth-lacking team played well enough to win against T-Tech and OU means this team deserves screaming accolades from the Red faithful. Because Bobbie and the bloodsucking Leach know. Fun time’s almost over.
Some people unfortunately become addicted to things that are bad for them. For my Sunday school teacher, it was heroin. For this NU team, it’s going down three scores before balling up the fists and finding a way to land the shots that matter. And yet, these coaches take Bobbie’s little 24-3 lead and show him it ain’t all that much. The correct halftime adjustments were made and OU managed only one score on a throroughly usecheked touchdown run. The Okie cheerleaders appeared to understand that the play was somewhat “gude fer arr teem, yaa fer uhs!” although it was not easy to understand their cheers as they pronounced their R sounds as Ws due to all nine of their collective teeth protruding horizontally out of their mouths.
Close games bring a host of what-ifs, such as an INT that goes the other way for six or the tying TD thrown ten yards in front of Swift with around two minutes left in the game. But even a successful fake FG and a double-extra-special-slashworthy OU score were not necessarily the doom of the day. It’s not difficult to romanticize about the heart and not-gonna-die-ness of this NU team, but that doesn’t mean simply blocking a field goal is enough to assert control of an opponent. This team walks a laser-thin line every week, and missed opportunities have cost at least two losses this year. Both quarterbacks were making dangerous throws in the first half, and I had no sooner noted in the notepad that ZT was desperately trying to give the ball to a defender than moments later he does for the INT-TD. Zac did not have a banner day, but there was a Halloween-appropriately horrifying number of blown blocks. Far too many of our plays had no chance, and that’s not on ZT. While noting that the OL has not developed into a strength this year, let’s further embrace the obvious and state that Genghis Khan was not nice, The Dukes of Hazzard was not an intellectually stimulating movie, and Steve Usecheck has such a pronounced difficulty calling obvious penalties that the chair I am currently sitting on is more likely to teleport to Memorial Stadium, throw a flag on all sixteen of the people holding Adam Carriker, return to my study, and de-animate itself that it is likely that Steve Usechek will even be marginally competent.
From the usual Steve Usechek Officiating Stand-up Comedy Routine (“There was…a…penalty of some kind…against that team over there…Um.”) to the Craig James Halftime Festival of Ignorance (“Oh lordy lordy, Northwestern and Minnesota…gaaa gaaa…the Big Ten, so strong and muscley from top to bottom…please someone tell me it’s possible to French kiss an entire conference…Yum.”) to the Dusty Dvoracek interview (“Me kick off team. Bad. Play foot. Ball. Good. Me like bad. I mean. Good. Um.”), there was not a lot of MIT-caliber content during this game to keep the neural synapses from going numb. This makes the cleverness of Porkchop’s TD toss shine all the brighter. Curiously enough, earlier I had scratched in the Moleskine: “We have run that same sweep three times, effective not once. Wonder how well Ross can throw?” I began to wonder how powerful this little notebook could be. I decided to test it in writing:
“I just won the lottery.” ATM said no dice.
“Morena Baccarin is about to ring the doorbell.” Silence.
“Aliens have abducted Steve Usechek and are subjecting him to probes that not even Kenneth Starr can imagine.” Well, there’s always hope.
It’s another visually-silent Saturday as The Red takes the field without television. The KU defense is no joke, but their offense is, ranking dead last in the conference. This one is likely to be sack-heavy on both sides all day, and there is every reason to be concerned that ZT will finally take one too many hits. We’ve seen how the depth chart is transitory even after it’s set in stone every week, so if ZT goes down, I would not put too much stock in Beck holding the # 2 spot right now. Burning a Redshirt for a game or three to end a season is not preferable. But hopefully we’re getting much too far into dark speculation.
The Big Mangino on Campus has a strong defense, ranking fourth in the XII in total D. They are average against the pass (7th with 290 per game) but second against the rush at 69.5 ypg. Yep. Two-tenths of a yard behind Oklahoma. You might say that Mangino’s defense swallows ballcarriers whole. It likely won’t take a ton of offense to win this one. Here’s to the Blackshirts licking their chops and feasting on a turnover or several.
And all our yesterdays have slashed opponents
The way to dusty Red death. Out, Steve Usechek!
Simultaneous recovery is but a walking shadow; a poor Sooner
That holds and gets away with it upon the FieldTurf,
And then is heard no more: it is a game
Officiated by an blubbering idiot, full of sound and fury,