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 The straight scoop
 from Colonel Mustard

 

Dec. 31, 2002

Another disappointing performance that in most ways was a repeat of the season. We play just well enough to lose -- or put another way, we do whatever it takes to get beat. There were some encouraging signs and we will discuss those first and then review the problems. This is a difficult column to write, because much of what I have to say is a repeat of previous columns.

It was encouraging to see a pass rush, and Johnson could easily be a star next year, particularly with improved coaching. In the first half we displayed our power running game of old and we were in control of both lines of scrimmage. We had better talent than Ole Miss, which isn't surprising but is encouraging. We have a lot of young talent on this team. The receivers are as talented a group as I have seen. We have good potential in both lines and we will return a lot of veterans in the secondary.

The discouraging part was the same old story about the failure to adjust, causing a first-half advantage to be turned into a second-half disadvantage. We got out-coached again, pure and simple. They changed the blocking scheme and stopped our pass rush and crowded the line and forced the pass. We were unable to counter the moves. I hope this is the last time I have to say this. This is the reason I am for as much overhaul in the staff as possible. Our edge in talent is no longer sufficient to overcome the coaching. Hopefully the new staff returns the advantage to us.

Lord continues to prove that he is ill-suited to the position. He always makes a key mistake that really hurts us. I believe without the pick in the first half the game could have been a rout. But that play changed momentum. On the offensive gameplan, we refused to stick with what was working. Diedrick was pounding them up the middle but received only 13 carries. On defense we really miss Bland when he is not out there. He makes plays all over the field. When we stopped getting pressure, Manning picked us apart. He is too good to let stand back there and throw.

Perhaps the most disappointing event was the fake punt, which in many ways is a microcosm of our season. The back-up protector is in the game, and Young forgot to tell Judd not to run the audible. He didn't think Judd would run it because they didn't practice it. But they told him that if the gunner was uncovered to run it and then were surprised that he did. This kind of thing has to stop -- it shows a complete lack of organization and control. For the first time in way life, I am glad a season is over.

Now on to next year. The good news is that Pederson is in charge. Pelini is on board, and more changes are coming. We have a wealth of young talent at most positions. The problems are that we must re-instill the will to win, confidence, and fire that has always been the hallmark of Nebraska football. We don't need a new offensive system, we need to do a much better job of executing the system that we have. We have a diverse offense, but we have to be imaginative in the way we use it. And the coaches must improve execution and reduce the errors. What we lack for next year is a QB and big back to complement Horne. The most worrisome thing for me heading into the off-season is that we have two healthy QBs who for one reason or another are ill-equipped to play the position and the guy who is equipped to lead us has screws in his knee. We can pick up a big back in recruiting, and that is a position that a freshman could play right away.

I sincerely hope I never ever have to write a column like this again. I deeply want Frank to succeed and believe he deserves the chance. But he won't survive another year like this one.
 
-- The Colonel