MISCUES DERAIL UPSET BID; T-TECH ESCAPES IN O.T. 37-31
BIG WED WAP-UP
The stage was set Saturday afternoon for another Husker blowout loss, but a funny thing happened on the way to the meltdown-the Husker offense showed up and played ball control, ending up with an amazing twenty minute advantage in Time Of Possession. Ordinarily, such an edge would mean a Nebraska victory. But unfortunately the Huskers couldn't get out of their own way and suffered their third straight loss in an overtime thriller to the Wascally Wed Waiders fwum Wubbock.
Tight ends coach Ron Brown said at the Big Red Breakfast the day before the Texas Tech game, that the Huskers' opponent Saturday wasn't the Red Raiders-it was Nebraska itself. He said that rather than worrying about Texas Tech, the Huskers should focus on improving their own play.
Those who want to blame Joe Ganz for Saturday's loss at Tech need to think again. Ganz may have played his best all around game as a Husker (he completed 81% of his passes). Time after time he kept the Huskers in the game with his ability to scramble, find open receivers and hit them with pin-point passing. The Huskers would never have made it into the overtime period had it not been for #12.
Marlon Lucky had a good day, rushing for 66 yards and catching 7 passes for 80 yards. Lucky has always had good hands, but he seemed to run with more authority and determination Saturday. Maybe it's because Roy Helu, Jr. is nipping at his heels.
And speaking of Helu, he made a nifty (I hate that word) move to the outside on a third quarter play that was clogged up in the middle. His field of vision may be the best of the running backs. Also in Niles Paul, the Huskers have finally found a legitimate threat to take it to the house (another expression I don't like) every time he returns a kick.
It's too bad all this great effort was negated by careless play on both sides of the ball. Saturday's loss was a team effort, to be sure. What has to be frustrating for Bo and his staff, is that the mental mistakes the Huskers are committing each week are neutralizing much of the time and effort the players and coaches spend practicing, conditioning, watching game film, recruiting top players and making game plans that can put the Huskers in a position to win games.
In many respects, the loss to T-Tech was harder to accept than the butt-kicking Missouri gave the Huskers the week before. If it weren't for all the mistakes, the Huskers very easily could be sitting pretty at 5-1 and enjoying a Top 25 ranking.
In my view, the Husker coaching staff did a great job Saturday getting Nebraska ready to play Texas Tech. With Phillip Dillard and Cody Glenn unable to play due to injuries, Bo had to put together a make-shift defense that threw redshirt freshman linebacker Matt Holt #35 (no known relation to Menelik) into the mix. To his credit, Matt recorded eight total tackles, second only to Larry Asante's team-leading nine.
DEFEAT FROM THE JAWS OF VICTORY PART 2
This loss was painfully reminiscent of the 2005 Texas Tech-Husker game in which Le Kevin Smith fumbled an interception he made in the closing moments of the game. Had he just fallen on the ball, the Huskers would have won the game. But instead, the Huskers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory that year and they did the same thing Saturday in Lubbock.
A MORALE VICTORY
Most Husker fans don't care much for moral victories, but the way Nebraska kept themselves in the game Saturday by playing offensive keep away, was very encouraging. That the kids played hard after suffering an embarrassing loss at home the week before, speaks a great deal about the grit and determination of the players as well as the inspirational leadership of Bo Pelini and his staff. This game, dispite the mistakes and penalties that contributed to the loss, may serve as a morale booster for this relatively young football team.
Did the Huskers reach the low point of the season against Missouri the week before? With six regular season games remaining, can the Huskers go 4-2 or even 5-1? Suddenly, all games except the one at Oklahoma seem winnable for the Big Red. But the question remains, will the Huskers stop shooting themselves in the foot?
MISERY LOVES COMPANY
At 3-3, the Huskers have the same record as Wisconsin, Oregon State, Illinois, Arkansas, Colorado and the Miami Hurricanes. Also, the won-loss record of this year's Husker opponents is 23-6 (79.3%).
If Husker fans don't think this week's game at Iowa State is huge, think again. Lose this game and the Huskers are fading with a 3-4 record. On the other hand, should the Huskers win the next two games, they'd go down to Norman, Oklahoma with a "respectable" 5-3 record. But the next two games are in no way gimmies for the Huskers. Iowa State had a 20-0 first half lead at home over Kansas, before collapsing in the second half. Baylor has some very good athletes who are capable of coming into Lincoln and winning.
BAND IN NEBRASKA (PART III)
With five straight home games to start this season, the Cornhusker Marching Band and its directors had to work a lot of overtime. The reason? The CMB, unlike most college marching bands, prepares a new half-time show for each home game. So in a span of five weeks, marching routines and all the music for five new shows had to be practiced, learned and memorized.
The level of play has to be flawless. Every opening night is played in front of 85,000 people, with sometimes millions of viewers watching on regional or national television.
Tony Falcone, Director of the Cornhusker Marching Band, unl.edu/band/, is also the Associate Director of Bands at UNL. Tony, who is from Washington, DC, got his undergraduate and Master's degrees from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. As I mentioned, Tony is in charge of making sure the Band plays the music correctly. (Don't B flat, don't B sharp, just B natural...groan)
Doug Bush is the Assistant Director of Bands at UNL. He's a 1981 graduate of the University of Kentucky and received his Master's from UNL in 2002. Among his many duties is to make sure the Band marches correctly.
THE "OTHER" NEBRASKA PIPELINE
Each year, Tony and Doug and the rest of the Band faculty and staff, help keep this group of 290 musicians at the top of their game. Annually, the Band must replace approximately one-third of its members. So what do Tony and Doug do to keep the pipeline going? They visit about 25 Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Missouri high schools every year.
They only scholarships the Band offers are for those majoring in music. But they make up only about 25% of the Band. Engineering makes up the second highest major with approximately 15%. All told, there are nearly 70 majors represented in the CMB.
Players must pass two auditions before they can be accepted into the Band. The CMB roster includes players from 18 states including California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia and Washington.
SMALL TOWN AMERICA
And as you might expect, the state of Nebraska is well represented in the CMB, especially by students from small towns. Players like Jason Thayer, a senior tuba player from Chambers, Jason Sanderson, a freshman alto sax player from O'Neill, Benjamin Eddy, a junior alto sax player from Union, Colton Hahn, a freshman trombone player from Orchard and Megan Boolish, a sophomore horn player from Wellfleet are proud members of the Band. Small town Iowa is also represented. There are students like Christopher Sikkema, a percussion player from Hospers and Ben Higgins, a sophomore tuba player from Carson.
MAKING THE GRADE
And how do the CMB players stack up grade point wise? Last year, the Band had 118 students with grade point averages over 3.5. Seventeen of them even had a 4.0 GPA.
Here's a time-lapse view of this year's Missouri game. Notice the Band's half-time formations.
Next week, we'll take a final look at the Cornhusker Marching Band, with a close look at my favorite section, the drumline.
MISCUES DERAIL UPSET BID; T-TECH ESCAPES IN O.T. 37-31