TOSS TO "THE BOSS" ROSS, CAUSES 'CLONE LOSS, 27-20
BIG WED WAP-UP
I swear, after Bret Meyer's 4th and 10 pass fell harmlessly to the turf to end the game in the 2nd OT, I could hear Lyell Bremser screaming "HOLY MOLY! MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD!" and I could hear Kent Pavelka yelling, "THE PASS IS INCOMPLETE! THE PASS IS INCOMPLETE! HOLY COW! Un-bee-LEEV-able!!"
Hold on for a minute while I call 911.
You'd have to go back to the '94 Colorado game in Lincoln to find a crowd with a set of lungs like this one had Saturday. Every time when it looked as though the Huskers were going to fold, when Jordan Congdon's field goal went wide, or when Zac Taylor fumbled toward the end of regulation or when Iowa State scored easily in the first OT, the charge of Husker faithful seemed to get stronger and gathered more steam.
STANDING ROOM ONLY
People stood and yelled all through both overtime periods. The noise level was numbing. The Husker faithful even stood and cheered long after the game had ended, perhaps to soak up all the emotion they could and to make sure they could believe what they had just seen.
On Saturday, the Big Red Faithful were NOT going to let their young Huskers lose this one. Not this day. Not this game. Not this time.
Nick Leaders, ISU's starting defensive end from Millard West High in Omaha, will carry to the grave, I'm sure, the memory of this game and the play that almost was. The play I'm talking about, happened in the first OT with Iowa State clinging to a 20-13 lead. Husker QB, Zac Taylor was pressured into throwing an ugly pass that landed right in Leaders' hands and had Nick been able to hold on, would have won it for the 'Clones.
NO HANG TIME
Game over. Two out of three wins in his four year career at ISU. The Sigh 'Clones could have broken the string of consecutive losses to Nebraska in Lincoln that dated back to 1977.
Coulda, woulda, shoulda. But Nick didn't hang on to the ball and the game didn't end.
In fact, the drama was just beginning.
Cory Ross ("The Boss") scored in the first OT, tying the game at 20 and sending the game into a second overtime.
It was Ross scoring again in the second OT, this time on a swing pass to put the Big Red up 27-20. Then it was the Cyclones' turn, but Meyer's last pass attempt failed and the Huskers prevailed.
FOUR AND OH!
The Huskers are 4-0 for the season and 4-0 in overtime games. This one was the first such game in Memorial Stadium history. And what a sweet win it was for this young, inexperienced bunch of scrappers!
There were many "What If" plays Saturday. What if Iowa State hadn't missed a 26 yard field goal in the second quarter? What if Cory Ross hadn't run the wrong way late in regulation, deep in 'Clone territory? The play was blocked to the left perfectly. Ross may have scored on the play and at the very least could have run for about 10 yards.
What if Zac Taylor, on the above play, had not tried to scramble? What if he'd just taken a knee and protected the ball? Jordan Congdon could have kicked a field goal and the game may not have gone into overtime.
MOORE OF THE SAME
What if Husker rush end Jay Moore hadn't intercepted Bret Meyer's pass at the Husker 11 as Iowa State was driving in the third quarter? In doing so, the Huskers dodged a major bullet and five plays later, Cory Ross scored on a 70 yard middle screen pass. That's a potential 14 point swing, folks.
But never mind, Iowa State didn't make history Saturday. Instead, they became history for the 14th straight time.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
What Husker fans are seeing this fall, is the maturing of what will likely be a very good football team. To be sure, there continue to be problems-scoring 13 points won't win many or any of the Huskers' remaining games and our success in the Red Zone has been awful, but there has been progress.
HISTORY OF THE GAME, PART II
Zac Taylor and Cory Ross both had NU history-making performances. Zac is emerging as a running QB (!) and Ross is turning into a very good receiver and blocker. Nate Swift may be showing signs of future greatness. There will be further growing pains and some set backs, but the Husker offense seems to be headed in the right direction-at least for now.
Saturday's game won't silence all the Husker critics, but credit must be given to an inspired bunch of kids who seem to find a way to win. And in this day of the 85 scholarship limit, that ain't too bad.
"HUSKER DAN'S ARMY" UPDATE
HUSKER FANS & ALUMNI GROUPS: HERE IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU TO COME TO THE AID OF SOME HUSKER SOLDIERS IN NEED OF HELP. NOW, GET GOING!!!
MORE LETTERS FROM SOLDIERS
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2005 12:45:30 +0300
Subject: I'm a soldier in Iraq
My name is Joshua Casebeer & I'm a soldier stationed in Iraq. I'm from Omaha & I have always been a big Husker fan. I unfortunately don't have much opportunity at all to watch our beloved Huskers. I need help! I have access to a dvd player & would be so grateful if someone would send me copies of the games. I hope huskerpedia & the fans support the troops & could maybe send me the games. I am here with at least 100 other soldiers who are Husker fans & would be happy to see the games also. My mailing address is:
SPC JOSHUA CASEBEER 5757
APO AE 09333
Thursday, September 29, 2005 9:33 AM
Subject: Husker Info/Game Videos
Dear Husker Dan:
I’m a HUGE Husker fan and have been for years…I was born in Omaha and graduated from Lincoln Southeast High School. I grew up listening to games on the radio with my grandpa while my parents went to all the games—I guess they didn’t love me enough to ever let me have a ticket! Most of the time, we drove to Lincoln for games since we lived in both Wakefield and Loup City! Dr. Tom’s first win over Oklahoma was probably my biggest thrill growing up—especially “the hit” forcing Oklahoma’s punt returner to fumble the ball!
I deployed to Iraq and got “in country” on 30 August; the worst possible timing for someone who loves Husker football. Thank goodness for Huskerpedia; but Internet is slow and I can’t get to it much! I would certainly appreciate any updates; videos (would again have to be DVD) etc. you folks could provide.
If anyone is interested, I work in a contracting office supporting the Iraqi police and military. We contract for everything from radios and vehicles to building bases and training their police and military forces. We have a “sister” unit (many other contracting units, actually) that contracts for all coalition forces. We work in the International Zone of Baghdad and will be here until at least mid-January so we’ll miss the entire season…including the ‘Huskers New Year’s Day bowl game (I’ll always be optimistic about our Huskers)!
My wife sends clippings when she can but mail is spotty at best! Additionally, being stationed in New Jersey (home of Mike Rozier, Irving Fryar, plus some others etc.) makes it difficult to get info on the Huskers (working full-time with 2 young kids at home keeps her hopping, too)!
Thanks in advance for any support you can provide!
Todd J. Pospisil, Lt Col, USAF
Chief, Security and Justice Sector,
Joint Contracting Command-Iraq (JCC-I)
APO AE 09316
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2005 10:09 PM
Subject: Husker Dan
Dear Husker Dan:
I'm currently serving in Balad AB, Iraq as the Commander of the Finance unit here with the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing. I'm originally from Clarks, Nebraska and am an avid Husker fan. I'll be deployed through January, '06, and will miss the entire football season. Do you know of anyone that may have DVDs of the Nebraska games this season that I could get in contact with to on some type of distribution...we work on Saturdays, but it would be nice to stay connected to my native Huskerland by watching some ball games from Lincoln. Thanks for your time.
Lt. Col Kyle Kuhn
Kyle "Booee" Kuhn
Lt. Col, USAF
Comptroller, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing
Balad AB, Iraq
Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2005 11:40 AM
Dear Husker Dan:
I recently read the article about a group of Marines currently deployed to Iraq. I to am deployed to Iraq for a year long tour. I am a Marine stationed in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. I am part of a transition team living with and training the new Iraqi Army. My days are long and very difficult with the language barrier I am faced with. The other guys on my team don't understand what it means to be a Husker fan. Even though my days are seldom 14 to 16 hours long, I still have the energy to get up and listen to a Husker game via the Internet at 2 or 3 in the morning. I to am from Omaha, born and raised. I would like nothing more then to have the luxury of sitting back and watching the Big Red play. If the games on DVD are a possibility, I would be grateful to the individual that is willing to do this. My team is pretty small but I am working on each one of them to become diehard Husker fans like I am. If you have any questions, I can be reached at this email address. Thanks for all your great articles, they help keep the faith. Go Big Red..
GySgt Solano, John L. U.S. Marines
4th MEB AT BN, MTT DET 10
FPO AE 09509-6999
FROM THE EMAIL BAG
Dear Husker Dan:
The resounding celebration when the kids blocked Pitt's last second field goal attempt, and their reaction when ISU's last gasp pass in overtime fell to the turf spoke volumes. I'm hearing from some close to the team that this group is tightly bonded from Callahan, through all of his assistants, all the way through the last member of the team. I have not seen this since 1997, in Tom's last year. And, they are proclaiming their loyalty to each other - regardless of how well somebody played on a given Saturday. They are not paying attention to the naysayers around the state; they actually laugh at comments from people. Their world includes each other, their immediate families, and the students who have really taken to them. I think it is great to see, and really fun to watch. Personally, I have not enjoyed, or respected, an NU team since the '97 version - like I do this group.
I think, if they would be allowed to say it publicly, the kids' message would be: "if you're not supportive, if you've got nothing positive to say, then get off the train and let others on who want to join in the fun of building something good". It has been said that they all feel they've learned more about football in the past year and three-quarters than anytime before. They don't think about Frank; they don't miss him or the stuff that went on; and they think this group will get NU back to the top - and sooner than people expect.
There will be plenty of folks who are upset with 32 rushing yards. It's funny how we were never upset with 32 passing yards after we rushed for over 400. But, if they do, they're really missing the point. This offense is predicated on ball-control passing, interspersed with running to balance out the attack. Yes, we should have scored into the 30's...but they'll learn how to finish drives. I wanted to see them go with 4th and 1 at the goal...but Callahan was right in taking the tying field goal with 7 minutes left ( I know in my gut that Tom would have taken the sure three with that much time remaining - because he did it often). Remember that we drove down again only to lose the ball with a mix-up on the running play. Another point, this isn't NFL ball, it's sound coaching 101.
For those focusing on tradition.........I wonder if they can absorb these facts: Frank broke the first one his first year when he lost 4 games - that all could have been won. The second part was broken when Frank went 7-7. The third part was broken when Frank fired a lot of the old guard - and didn't offer Turner Gill the Offensive Coordinator job. And, Frank's insistence on maintaining a run-oriented attack against today's defenses and better athletes guaranteed that our offense and scoring production dropped significantly over the time he was head coach. And, this of course led right into the drastic drop-off in quality recruiting. So much for tradition.
last point is that this team will not be a national power - or even
a conference power (even if they get strong enough to win the Big
12 North). The power right now still resides with Texas and Oklahoma
- and it's all
because of athletic talent differential. But, this team will get better, and they'll scrap together some tough wins. In the process, they will be laying the foundation for future success - not only with some of the very good young talent they have, but with attracting some more top 10 recruiting classes. Does anybody think that the kids that came in this weekend were not impressed - with the crowd enthusiasm, the noise, and the potential? I have to believe they were very impressed.
stay with these kids and these coaches. It is becoming a very fun
Dear Mike: Very well stated! Thanks for writing.
"ATTACK OF THE KILLER LEACHES"
THE FABULOUS 70s
The seventies were good for Husker football-two national championships, TO debuted as the NU head coach and each year of that decade, the Huskers won at least 9 games and went to a bowl game.
But last year down in Lubbock, Texas, the seventies weren't too good for the Huskers-as in a 70-10 loss to Mike Leach's Texas Tech Red Raiders-the worst loss in school history.
DON'T LOOK BACK!
Asked if they were thinking this week about last year's "Train Wreck at T-Tech", the Husker coaches replied, "We don't look back, we think of only the future."
Right, and Drew Barrymore is a great actress.
If someone would have asked me two weeks ago if I thought the Huskers had any chance this Saturday against the Red Raiders, I would have answered emphatically, "NO!". The Raiders have too many weapons. The Blackshirts could limit T-Tech to just 14 points and we'd probably still lose.
The main reason then was the Huskers had no offense. And without an offense, the Husker defense would have to be on the field too long, get too fatigued and would further magnify the mismatch between our corners and their receivers.
But today, I'm not so sure. I am encouraged by a Husker offense that is slowly, but surely (stop calling me Shirley) maturing right before our eyes. I'm also buoyed by the Huskers' ability to mount a pass rush-something that was MIA a year ago. The Huskers at least have a chance-a better one than we had in '04. The vaunted RR scoring explosion managed only 30 points against Kansas last week while giving up 17 to the lowly Jayhawks.
NU can win this Saturday if the Husker offense can run a lot of clock, the defense bends, but doesn't break; if the pass rush is able to get some sacks and a couple of interceptions. The Husker can win if the special teams can get the offense some good or great field position, Jordan Congdon makes all his PATs and field goal attempts. The Huskers can win if Sam Koch keeps the double Rs penned up deep in their own territory. The Huskers can triumph if they win the turnover game. (The Huskers had 7 turnovers in last year's game in Lubbock.)
I know, that's a lot of ifs, but it can happen. Saturday will be payback time. The Huskers will take no prisoners. The crowd will be thunderous. Nothin' like home cookin' to keep the Huskers unbeaten. With all the passing these two teams likely will do, this game might not be over until Sunday.
What the heck, the Huskers' Gut Check will wreck T-Tech.
WASCALLY WED WADERS 17
If you'd like to have Husker Dan speak at your event (along with his Husker football engagements, he does supermarket closings, fire hydrant conventions and lawn mowing conferences), you may email him here. For past Husker Dan columns click here.