Khus the Red

A Tale of Two . . .

It was the best of halves, it was the worst of halves; it was the age of run-blitz wisdom, it was the age of dropped-pass foolishness; it was the epoch of Blackshirt belief, it was the epoch of O-line incredulity; it was the season of Scarlet Light, it was the season of Deacon Darkness; it was the third quarter of hope, it was the second quarter of despair; we had yardage before us, we had whiffed blocks before us; we were all going direct to Houston, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the game was so far like the previous game, that some of its noisiest linebackers insisted on being receivers, for good or evil, in the superlative degree of comparison to the ’99 defense only. There were a king with a thinning flattop and a pants full of blitzes on the sideline of the home team; there were a king with a large headache and disgusted look on his face pretty much the whole time on the sideline of the visitors. In both locker rooms it was clearer than Waterford crystal to the lords of the Fatherland, preserves of blue-chippers and gubernatorial campaigns, that things in general were settled for one more week.

Enough. I’m not much for Dickens. Too wordy.

In this magic world we live in that is increasingly becoming transformed into ever-longer strings of ones and zeroes, a computer with digital video recording ability is a must during the season. Games stream to a hard drive instead of the VCR, so that instant replays are truly instant at the click of a mouse button instead of waiting for the players to lurch forward in fast-mo, reverse direction like a K-State quarterback walking through the doorway of a Mensa meeting, the static to clear and finally the play to begin again. With the right software, one does not need to wait for those interminable four seconds. This saves time, but also increases the intensity of the anguish of watching our O-line struggle again for two-plus quarters.

As I watched
the same
slow kick-outs
and Red jerseys
getting driven
backwards into
the hole
on repeated plays
it occurred to me that using my mouse button had become more than slightly akin to self-administering electroshock therapy, except that by late in the second quarter, repeatedly sending thousands of volts through my body was beginning to sound preferable to watching barely-existent holes collapse in on Pork Chop almost as quickly as the pocket around ZT.

Again, enough. We all know, as do Wags and his boys, that the season begins in earnest this Saturday. No more D-line gimmes. Time to push or be pushed around, starting with Pitt in just a few days.

The second half, and the third quarter in particular, showed us a Hemingway-esque tip of the iceberg of the promise the WCO holds. Nice yardage rips on the ground, sharp passes that were actually caught, a variety or routes and true, honest-to-Bob offensive points on the board. Not a true awakening of a juggernaut, but a few steps in the right direction. However, more important than the actual drives themselves was the confidence the second half seemed to inspire. In the postgame, ZT commented about knowing the receivers would be open, and this confidence was evident, in contrast to the Maine game in which he seemed to grow more tentative after halftime. The TBS booth announcers noted that Wake had the second string DL in the game, which I did not verify. Then again, it could not be verified that the TBS booth announcers were actually football analysts and not circus carneys.

The defense has dominated a lesser opponent and a mediocre one. Fair enough. But what warms the cockles of my Blackshirt heart is watching this Coz squad play loose, play with intensity, play with confidence and with an obvious pleasure in turning an opponent’s ribcage inside-out. They’ll need every ounce of this bloodlust against ISU and even more against T-Tech, but this defense is close to becoming good enough to ride to 9-2.

And there’s something even more pleasant. This defense that is already scary-good returns almost all of the two-deep next year, plus Steve Octavien. The gameday battleaxe receives a loving caress at the very thought. And speaking of battleaxes, an honorary notch in the hilt this game goes to the Blackest Shirt of them all, Corey McKeon. Not just for his ferocity or wide receiver impersonations on the field, but also for his demeanor off it. He’s intense, intelligent, articulate and quick to deflect praise toward his teammates. It leaves no wonder as to how a Soph became field sergeant. It’s time to start devising intimidating nicknames for this young man.

The second half of this game may indicate that the contrast between the offensive and defensive sides of the ball just might be starting to lessen. Just a few days from now we’ll find out if ZT and his targets are able to build on the confidence and rhythm they flashed just a few days ago. This offense can move the ball with substandard O-line play and control a game with an O-line that wins the trench war.

And war is coming. Pitt, despite the presence of Wannestadtdtsdtsdt, brings a dangerousness borne of desperation to town. A bona-fide D1 defense must be dealt with, but their O-line is hurting and QB Palko makes a lot of mistakes when harassed. He can scramble and has a big WR in Lee, but the NU defense again carries the day. McKeon may kick the field goal himself.

NU 24
Pitt 13


We know what the WCO is; but know not what it may become.