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H U S K E R    D A N

January 13, 2010
 

FIRST AND TEN
In the days leading up to the Holiday Bowl game with Arizona, Husker head football coach Bo Pelini was asked if he thought it would be necessary this year to get 10 wins to prove that the Husker football program was, in fact, making progress over last year's nine win season.
Pelini dismissed such talk, referring to the reporters in the room, "I'll leave it up to you guys." So getting 10 wins apparently was no big deal to Coach.
Yeah, right, and Conan O'Brien is happy at NBC.
Know this, Bo Pelini wanted this game as much as he's wanted any game. Ending the season with 10 wins was exactly the way he wanted to be measured in his second year as the Husker head coach. He got his message to all his players that not only did he want to win the game, but he wanted to win big.
And it worked. The game was over before the opening kickoff. Nebraska was in control all night. It was clear the Huskers wanted this game much more than the Arizona Wildcats. Had Nebraska had a better offense, the game would have resembled the Huskers' dismantling of Florida in the '96 Fiesta Bowl.
 
MIX IT UP
And speaking of the Husker offense, it was nice to see Shawn Watson putting in some new wrinkles for this game. We also learned afterward, that Nebraska starting quarterback, Zac Lee has been playing most of the season with a torn tendon in his throwing arm. That explains a great deal about his less than stellar numbers this fall. It does not, however explain the fumbles, dropped passes, missed assignments and costly penalties that plagued the offense most of the season.
What is also very apparent is that the coaching staff considered that an injured Zac Lee was a better player than a healthy, albeit inexperienced, Cody Green. It will be interesting to see the battle this spring for the starting QB slot. If Lee is still rehabbing this spring, the door might be wide open for Cody Green. If Green seizes the opportunity, he could be the starter this fall. If not, he may not get another chance until 2011.
 
MACK THE KNIFE
Texas coach, Mack Brown, prior to last week's national championship game with the University of Alabama, explained his team's near loss to Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship game as being the result of an "off night." An off night? Are you freekin' kidding me? The Blackshirts dominated that game and Mack is lucky his quarterback didn't get permanently imbedded in the "Dallas Palace" turf that night. It would have been classy of Brown (and accurate) to say, "We were lucky to beat a tough Nebraska team that night and are going to be in for another battle tonight with the University of Alabama."
 
THE REEL MCCOY
I commented just before the play that took Texas quarterback, Colt McCoy out of the national championship game, that Mack Brown was running a huge risk of getting Colt injured if he continued to have McCoy carry the football. And unfortunately for the 'Horns, it was Colt's last play of his college football career and with his loss, ended the chances of Texas winning the game.
Actually, I am absolutely amazed that Colt wasn't injured in the Big 12 championship game, considering the beating he took by the likes of Suh, Allen, Turner & Company.
I predicted a Tide win, mainly because the Pelini Brothers devised a blueprint to beat Texas. And Alabama had the talent to execute that plan. 'Bama also showed that you can win a national championship with an excellent defense and a not so spectacular offense.
 
BANNED WAGON
Looking ahead to this fall, the Huskers should be favored in every game, including the October rematch with the Texas Longhorns in Lincoln. Of course that doesn't mean the Huskers will win every game, but unlike Pelini's first two seasons, the Huskers should be the favorites. Having said that, the 2010 season's expectations are tempered with the following facts:
1.) Although the Huskers finished the season ranked #14, the Huskers did not have a win over any team that finished the season in the Top 25.
2.) Although the Huskers had two one point losses over #2 Texas (neutral site) and #10 Virginia Tech (away), Nebraska also suffered a 21 point loss at home to #21 & #23 Texas Tech and a two point home loss to an unranked Iowa State team that finished the regular season at 6-6.
3.) The Huskers have a huge task of developing an identity on offense. The main focus is developing consistency and depth at quarterback. The Husker also need to develop depth at the running back position and desperately need to get a group of go-to receivers. The offensive line is going to have to make substantial improvement if it is going to be able to compete for conference and national championships.
 
MAKING A MOVE
What speaks volumes about the Huskers this year was that Nebraska actually moved up in the rankings after narrowly losing to the 'Horns in the Big 12 Championship game. And because of that recognition, Nebraska's win over a good (not great) Arizona team got the Huskers their final #14 ranking. Nebraska should ride that momentum this fall in the preseason polls. Look for Nebraska to start the year ranked about 12th.
 
SUH-PER MOVIE
I'm hopeful that someone (Shot Kleen at HuskerVision?) will put together a DVD montage of Ndamukong Suh's greatest plays as a Husker. The theme music must be from "Carmina Burana," which is the most dynamic piece of music ever created. I can't wait.
 
MOVIE REVIEW
(Oh my gawd, he's doing another one of his dumb movie reviews!)
(3 stars out of a possible 5)
"Avatar" (must be seen in 3-D)
Directed by James Cameron
Starring Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi
This is "Dances With Wolves" meets "Apocalypse Now." Thank goodness Kevin Costner isn't in this one. If you know the plight of the American Indians suffered at the hands of their white oppressors, you'll pretty much know where this movie is going. The movie will (and should) win every award for special effects. I can't imagine anyone wasting 2.5 hours not seeing this in 3-D. Some of the simulation is so real, you'll find yourself ducking. Dudes (and dudettes) who love video games will embrace this movie.
 
THERE WILL BE DANCING IN THE END ZONE
Lt. Col. Todd Pennington USAF sent me the following email and pictures taken at the celebrity flag football game, New Year's Day in Baghdad.
Husker Dan,
Thought you'd be interested in seeing who came out to visit the troops in
Baghdad for the New Year's. Tostitos and the USO brought out several
college stars and 2 great coaches to play flag football with the troops.
During the Q&A session with all, I asked Rocket Ismail what he thought of
the NU v ND game where husker fans took over their stadium. His direct
quote was "I have no recollection of that ever happening." The entire crowd
laughed at him.

The photos are: Brian Bosworth and me, CU cheerleaders and interloper onto my photo op, Tommie and me, an old rival and me, Tommie Bowden and me (gave up seeing his father's last game to visit the troops) w/Bruce Smith in background.

PENNINGTON-06 (97K)

PENNINGTON-07 (101K)

PENNINGTON-03 (83K)

PENNINGTON-04 (69K)

PENNINGTON-05 (84K)

v/r
Lt Col Todd Pennington, USAF
MNSTC-I ITAM-AF/IAOC MiTT Chief
Victory Base Complex
Baghdad, Iraq

 
HUSKER DAN'S ARMY
Husker Dan:
I just wanted to take a moment to say how much I appreciated all
the DVD's and care packages that I received while over here in the Died.
I will be heading home soon and would like to make a donation to the
cause for future Husker fans. Payment from out here is tuff so if I
could get a address that would be great.
Thanks again
SMSgt Chuck Liberty
 
TO DONATE
To donate to Husker Dan's Army, send your tax deductible donation to:
 
Gary McGirr
Northeast Kansans For Nebraska
3610 SW Woodvalley Terrace
Topeka, KS 66614
 
Make your check payable to the Northeast Kansans For Nebraska. Be sure to indicate that your donation is to go to Husker Dan's Army. For every $50 raised, we send Husker Care Packages to US military personnel who are deployed in the Middle East. The Packages are filled and boxed by the Red Zone Husker apparel store in Omaha. To register, write me at huskerdan@cox.net. We will need the trooper's email address, APO address, branch of service and how long he'll be deployed.
 
Thanks to all of you who have already donated. Our brave service personnel don't ask for much. Your donation will help bring a touch of Nebraska to them.

Send your comments to huskerdan@cox.net. For past Husker Dan columns, click here.