WRECK LA. TECH, 49-10
BIG WED WAP-UP
The first thing most people wanted to see when they entered the Stadium Saturday afternoon was the new giant video screen. So much had been said about it, that everyone was geeked up (whatever that means) to see it in person. As I entered the Stadium, there it was-bigger than life. Put simply, the new screen is awesome. The images are crystal clear, the sound system is fan (and I emphasis "fan")-tastic.
The only suggestion I have is that the Nebraska Chiropractic Association should donate a chunk of cash because they're going to get a ton of business from the people in the North end zone who will be straining their necks trying to see it.
Readers, Husker Dan needs your help. All of you know that the Longhorns have the "Godzillatron" screen that is much larger than ours. I know, so who cares, right?
I'm asking you to put on your thinking caps and come up with jokes about their screen or funny reasons why the Longhorns think they need a larger video screen. I'll post the best and most creative responses in this column. Send your suggestions to email@example.com.
GENTLEMEN, START YOUR OFFENSE
What difference a year makes.
If you'll recall in last year's season opener with Maine, the Husker offense scored only one touchdown, averaged 2.9 yards per play, had a measly 313 yards of total offense, lost the time of possession by almost 4 minutes, was 5 for 17 in 3rd down conversions and had 5 turnovers-all this against a Division 1-AA team that just the year before had given up over 400 yards of offense per game.
What Husker fans witnessed Saturday may have been the official unveiling of the West Coast Offense, the one Bill Callahan has been telling us about ever since he arrived in Lincoln over two years ago. The paint job ain't finished yet, but it's sure lookin' good!
Forget that it was "only" La. Tech. Forget the sluggish first half start by the Husker offense. But do remember that once the Huskers got going, they never looked back. The game was over on two drives-Cody Glenn's TD that ended the first half and the other, J.B. Phillips' touchdown with about 12 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter that stretched the Husker lead to 28-10.
Here are my takes on the game:
He's nowhere near where he was before his injury-he's a step slow and is still tentative, but his experience, size and big, soft hands will be essential if the Huskers are to make a run at divisional and conference titles. It was great to see him score.
RUNNING BACKS A-
Coach C. may have created a monster with his system of a four running back system, any of whom could start for most D-1 teams. Each back brings something different. The question is, how long can Callahan keep "The Committee" happy? All but one scored, and Kenny Wilson's was called back because of a holding penalty. Wilson will get better with more experience-and he needs to hang on to the dadgum ball. Oh, and what about Dane Todd's blocking!
TIGHT ENDS A-
In all my years of watching football at all levels, I don't think I've ever seen a game in which four tight ends on the same team caught TD passes in the same game. We may never see that again. (Had Wilson's TD not been called back, the Huskers would have had touchdowns by 4 different running backs and 4 different tight ends score touchdowns in the same game. Incredible!) The WCO is designed (if you have the right players) to take advantage of whatever the defenses can't stop. Saturday, the tight ends were open.
ZAC TAYLOR A-
This kid is just coming in to his own with this offense. Look for him to get better with each game. Thankfully, this year, he has a better running game and a much improved O-line to work with. Zac was off on a couple of passes and had several "sure" passes dropped. He wasn't sacked, but Zac was thrown hard to the turf too many times. The line must not let this continue.
JOE GANZ B+
He looked good, but he was going up against a pretty beat up Bulldog defense. Joe probably won't get any meaningful snaps this season unless Taylor goes down. But Husker fans should be happy that Joe knows the offense.
WIDE RECEIVERS B-
There were too many dropped passes that kept us from scoring more, but some of this may have been due to this being the opener. If Franz Hardy continues to drop passes, look for Maurice Purify to take over. Mo' will be a great one.
DEFENSIVE LINE B+
Carriker and Moore are opposing offenses' worst nightmare. I never realized how fast Moore was until I saw him chasing Zac Champion out of the pocket and almost getting an intentional grounding penalty on the play. Suh and Dagunduro did a great job of plugging the middle.
Courtney Grixby is playing with a large cast that is protecting his broken right thumb. I don't see how he can be effective when he doesn't have full use of both hands. When he went down and then when his backup, Isaiah Fluellen went down on the very next play, we all wondered what was going on. Thankfully, Griggs came back to finish the game. Fluellen is lost for the season. Let's hope somebody else steps up-and let's hope Griggs' cast can come off soon.
What is it with our linebackers? Last year, we lost Octavien in the opening game, later it was Stewart Bradley and Bo Ruud. Now it's Phillip Dillard. Yikes. It just shows that you can never have too many good players at any position.
THE KICKING GAME B+
Maybe with the new rule that shortens the kicking tee, we have seen the last of the touchbacks. The rule essentially penalizes good kicking. Sigh. Dan Titchener, Sam Koch's replacement, punted well and Jordan Congdon hit all his PATs.
PLAY CALLING A+
The Husker offensive play calling was the best I've ever seen in the Callahan Era. Jay Norvell and Coach C. called a brilliant game. If the execution had been better, we could have easily hung 70 on the 'Dogs.
THE NEW RULES D+
The new rules designed to shorten the game didn't seem to cause too many problems Saturday. However, I never thought the games were too long. The changes don't seem to make good sense.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
One of the plays that really got me going was a 4-yard run by Cody Glenn that saw him level the linebacker who was about to tackle him. You could hear the hit clear up to the rafters.
Play number two: On Joe Ganz's TD pass to Hunter Teafatiller, Brandon Jackson decked the defender who was closing in on Ganz. Jackson's crushing block gave Ganz another couple of seconds to find a wide open Teafatiller for an "easy" touchdown.
THE NEW TUNNEL WALK C+
Having two medal winning soldiers guarding the door through which the Huskers enter the Stadium, was a nice touch, but, in my view, the Tunnel Walk seemed to be a little hokey and staged a little too much. I really think less is more in this case. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer the old Tunnel Walk. The Tunnel Walk is more than big enough to stand on its own. I hope the powers that be will re-examine the new version.
PRE-GAME CEREMONY B+
Lee Greenwood's singing "I'm Proud To Be An American" was stirring, especially when 85,000 Husker fans joined in on the chorus. I'm not a big fan of Keith Jackson ("Woah, Nellie!") so I could have done without him, but the crowd didn't seem to mind.
A couple of weeks ago, KETV in Omaha showed a replay of the 1978 Husker-Sooner game- the one that Tom Osborne got his first win over Barry Switzer. I shivered in the frigid South end zone that day in November '78 (a little peppermint schnapps helped warm me up). The rebroadcast included interviews with some of the Huskers who played in that game. Thanks, moocho. You can go to their web site at: www.theomahachannel.com
And while I'm on the subject, KETV's Matt Schick is a welcomed addition to their sports department. Matt's sense of humor and his ability to not take himself too seriously is refreshing. Last year, Matt did some very funny segments with Husker football players. Maybe he should call his segment, "Matt's Schtick"?
Uma Cum Laude
Is there a cooler name than Uma Pemmaraju with Fox News?
HUSKER DAN'S ARMY
Remember, you can help send Husker Care packages to our men and women who are serving in the military overseas. To see how you can help the cause, go to: http://www.neks4nebraska.org/
I overheard two middle age ladies who were tailgating before the La. Tech game last Saturday. One lady said to the other, "What did you do to your hair? It looks like a wig."
"It IS a wig," replied the second.
"You'd never know it."
FOREVER THE RED CLAD LOON
One of the books I read over the summer was Steve Smith's "Forever Red". Steve, aka "The Red Clad Loon" of Huskerpedia fame, could have named his book "Confessions of a Husker Fan", or "Diary of a Husker Fan". If you are looking for the knee-slapping humor of his "Pond" days, you might be disappointed. But if you are a diehard, Big-Red-is-in-your-DNA kind of Husker fan, then this book is for you. Steve writes in a Garrison Keillor style, making it seem as though he is visiting with you in your family room. He ties famous (and in some cases, infamous) Husker games with events in his life.
The only question I have of the book is why he didn't mention anything about his "Steve The Red Clad" days on Huskerpedia.
Never mind, "Forever" is a must for every true Husker fan. Get it here.
And no, I didn't get a free copy of his book.
HUSKER DAN SEZ:
I'm not going to devote much space to Nicholls State. If the Husker were able to lay 49 on the Bulldogs, they should be able to be in the 50s for this one. The only problem is that the Huskers may be looking ahead to the Trojans on the 16th. Either way, the Huskers have way too much firepower for Nicholls State. The Huskers will pop the Colonels (groan).
You may email Husker Dan here. For past Husker Dan columns click here.