R E D C L A D L O O N
LOON DROPPINGS, Vol. 1:
Nebraska 48, Arizona State 10
Jennifer "J. Lo" Lopez, the movie star-slash-pop music diva who is known for her singing, her acting, her dancing and her exceptionally large derriere, recently unveiled a flashy new clothing line for big-bootied women, wouldn't you know. When asked why she did this, J. Lo said it was because she has a hard time these days finding clothes that fit. Meanwhile, on Saturday in Lincoln, Neb., a much more eagerly-awaited clothing debut took place: The Nebraska Cornhuskers ran onto the FieldTurfStuff in those spiffy new duds -- which, of course, have caused lots and lots of fits from Husker fans. More important than the stripe-laden uniforms, however, was how NU creatively fashioned a win over ASU and started its season off in style. And from the looks of the new dancin' and prancin' guy under center, Nebraska has a J. Lo of its own -- who, like the rest of the Cornhuskers, is someone you can really, um, get behind.
A few takes:
BETTER GREAT THAN NEVER: Recalling their David Caruso-like nosedive last season, Nebraska's players smartly adopted the motto "Start Strong, Finish Stronger" in 2002. It looks like that slogan is already starting to rub off on the boys, what with the Huskers scoring half their points in the final stanza to apply a corn-fed knockout punch on their visitors. The fourth-quarter flurry arrived just in time, too, because if there's one thing that is absolutely unacceptable in the Husker Nation, it is a close, competitive ballgame, for Pete's sake. Sitting in the North Endzone midway through the second quarter, the Loon was reminded how some Husker fans can often be mistaken for that glowing apparition at the start of the movie "Ghostbusters." At first glance, the ghost appears to be a sweet old lady harmlessly reading a book. But provoke her just a little bit -- say, with an incomplete pass or a missed tackle -- and she turns into a wailing banshee with a flaming skull for a face. Likewise, as the final ticks went off the clock Saturday, the Fan Math Brigade was working overtime, calculating what the real score of the game would have been if the defense and special teams wouldn't have participated vs. Arizona State. From what I could ascertain, the Real Actual Score was anywhere from 20-10 to 27-10, depending on how pessimistic you are. Silver lining: If this is to be the type of season that media pundits make it out to be, then most of these fans will be dead from heart attacks by November.
JAMMAL IN THE FAMILY: Hey, coach! Hungry for yards but your offensive line is greener than the lunchmeat in the Lambda Chi house's fridge? Then try this scrumptious recipe on for size: 1. Drop quarterback straight back to throw. 2. Watch as quarterback almost immediately feels pressure from opposing defensive ends, linebackers, safeties, student managers, etc. 3. Have QB say "screw the receivers" and tuck the ball away. 4. Watch as quarterback makes at least one linebacker miss, then takes off faster than Carnie Wilson's blind date. 5. Repeat as necessary; one serving usually feeds 77,000. Sure, Lord's 5-of-13, 33-yard passing night didn't exactly conjure up images of Dan Marino, but No. 10 showed improvisational skills that would make the jokers on "Who's Line Is It, Anyway?" cry like little girls. And speaking of lines, methinks Uncle Milt's gang may want to discover the lost art of pass blocking right quick, or NU's fleet-footed quarterback will continue to occupy the same comfort zone as a substitute Taliban radar operator who accidentally volunteered to work the night shift. Hey, busted plays are exciting, especially when they work for big yards, but if they're the main tool in the offensive utility belt, then bigger things are busted than just the play -- dontcha think?
IN THE D, THE GLORY: It's been a long, hot summer in Nebraska, but one figures it was probably longest and hottest for Craig Bohl's crew. The Blackshirts were itching like the day after Mardi Gras to show how much they had improved over the off-season. And while they had a momentary relapse in the third quarter -- hmmm, was that our old friend, 98-G, that ASU's Mike Williams scored on? -- NU stopped the Devils cold for most of the night. Titus Adams and "Super" Demorrio Williams (who thoughtfully gave Husker fans a reason to continue cheering for a big-play generator wearing No. 7) were everywhere Saturday. In fact, for most of the evening the Blackshirts devoured their prey with more ruthless efficiency than Mark Mangino at two-for-one night at The Golden Corral. And how about babyfaced Fabian Washington, in his first game as a true freshman, nabbing the 'skin for a 29-yard INT return? The Scum Devils, last seen doing the Safety Dance on Nebraska's grave down in Tempe, would've needed Jake Plummer, Frank Kush and, hell, maybe even Rod Kush to have any success Saturday. The Loon's game ball goes to No. 7, Williams -- but he should make sure to pass it around to all his buddies on the defense, too.
BUCK NUTS: In case you missed the Ohio State-Texas Tech game on ABC on Saturday, here's the executive summary: Boy oh boy, Ohio State sure looked impressive today. Yes, they shore did. Don't you agree? Impressive, impressive, impressive. I haven't been this impressed with a football team since the last time Ohio State was favored to win the Big Ten back in '98, have you? Did I mention that OSU was really, really impressive Saturday, though despite their impressiveness they were a goal-line stand away from only being up seven at halftime over a Texas Tech team who has yet to be informed by the NCAA that you can, in fact, move on defense after the ball is snapped? But let's get back to what's important here -- the impressive, impressive football experience at Ohio State, so time-honored and steeped in tradition and full of superfluous Archie Griffin interviews in hopes he'll compare a freshman running back to himself. Did I mention that the band also dotted the "i" in Ohio again for the 329th straight year? Now that is what college football (and I am quoting here) is "all about." Color me impressed!
THE BOTTOM LINE: Seems that I remember hearing somewhere -- maybe it was in the newspaper or something? -- some rumor about Eric Crouch graduating and moving on to the National Football League, or some such crazy thing. Not that you could tell Saturday, though: From his face on the ticket, to a not-so-subtle nod to him in the McTunnel Walk, to the fact that HuskerVision decides it would be a good time to show his career highlights mere seconds after Jammal Lord throws his first TD pass as a starter, the guy is still everywhere. Now, I know a Husker fan chirping about Eric Crouch being prolific is a lot like Rush Limbaugh bagging on the Electoral College, but it seems that in this post-nuclear-meltdown Husker Nation, Eric The Ram is like a resilient cock-a-roach who continues to grow and mutate as time goes on. As much fun as 41 Black Flash Reverse Pass was, it's well past time to cut EC loose for a while and start looking forward -- say, to next week, when the mighty Men of Troy return to Lincoln to renew their age-old rivalry with the Huskers. Hey, this is the same crew that was cookin' against NU last year before caving into the heat, both literally and figuratively. This year, while the Huskers don't have that aforementioned spark plug to get the fire going, they do seem to have a lot of fireballs who overachieve. Sure, there are still lots of burning questions about this year's Big Red, but suffice it to say that next Saturday, Troy State will get smoked. Nebraska 45, Troy State 7.
Baud to the Bone.
Take a dip in THE POND,
Home of Nebraska's RED CLAD LOON.