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R E D    C L A D    L O O N

LOON DROPPINGS, Vol. 1:
Nebraska 21, Texas Christian 7
8.25.01

Way back in the 1970s, young comedians like Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris and Jane Curtin had TV audiences yukking it up each and every Saturday. Alas, the troupe dispersed in the early '80s -- which, incidentally, is also about the time college football's preseason classics were launched. Regardless, the Husker Nation saw many a chuckle-worthy item inside Memorial Stadium on Saturday, from jet fighters mistiming a flyover, to NU's marching band dressing like they all worked at Applebees, to a PA announcer having trouble with his 1-2-3's. But in the end, there was definitely one thing that no one felt like laughing about -- namely, a bunch of Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time Players.

A few takes:

THE THIN RED LINE: Saturday was a special day for Omaha's Eric Crouch, who replaced Cornhusker god Tommie Frazier at the top of the school's all-time yardage leaders chart. Crouch now is No. 1 at 5,510 yards, Frazier No. 2 at 5,476. But, based on the Cornhusker offensive line's proclivity to allow defenders to roam freely in NU's backfield, smart money's still on Tommie. Good grief, the Husker offense got kicked in the teeth so many times on Saturday that by the end of the game, they were filing for Missouri citizenship. Whether it was coaches' failure to adjust or players' failure to execute or a little (lot?) of both, let's hope that the Big Red Machine finds a way soon to deal with these stunting defenses. If not, the entire Husker Nation will be looking for a Fall Guy -- and I'm not talking about Lee Majors here, bubba.

LINCOLN LIGHTNING: In Greek mythology, Zeus flung lightning bolts from on high and was the mightiest of the gods. On Saturday, lightning-quick TCU defender Marvin Godbolt was the mightiest of the Frogs. It's interesting to note that a few years ago, when shopping around for colleges to attend, Godbolt had given NU some interest but the Cornhuskers didn't reciprocate. Betcha Nebraska's backfield guys -- particularly No. 7 -- now wish that the Huskers would have done their homework. Or, failing that, at least learn how to block the guy. Just once.

DEFENDING THE PROGRAM: While Crouch & Co. appear to have their work cut out for them, Nebraska's defense has seen a positively Viagra-like upsurge from last season. Granted, Gary Patterson's offense was so predictable that a blindfolded Ray Charles could see what plays were coming, but when the game was on the line the Blackshirts stiffened their resolve and willed the Huskers to a win. The much-ballyhooed Casey Printers, who is not to be confused with Alphagraphics or Kinko's, was basically good for one fluke play and a pulled hamstring against the 'Shirts. Thanks for playing. More heartening was that of TCU's anemic 186 yards, just 65 of them came in the second half. In the D, the glory.

BUT SIRIUS-LY, FOLKS: You know, there's nothing more awe-inspiring than the sight of 76,000 people, in unison, mindlessly staring at a gigantic stadium TV. Folks, it is not our intent here in The Pond to continually snipe about the over-commercialization of Memorial Stadium, where it appears the only thing yet to secure a bonafide corporate sponsor is Erwin Swiney's sprained ankle. But indulge us for a moment as we just come out and say it: HuskerVision officially sucks. It's annoyingly loud. It's distracting. It completely nullifies the band, the crowd and the home-field advantage. And its cutesy between-quarter segments drag on longer than law school. If "Dollar" Bill Byrne is still looking for a way to get the athletic department out of the red and save the swimming program, how about checking with Mitsubishi on a refund for a pair of oversized, not to mention passe, TV screens?

HYBLS AND BLITZ: In 1996, defending national champ Nebraska opened with a 55-14 shellacking of Michigan State, masking its offensive shortcomings with timely TDs by its awesome special teams and its battering defense. The conventional wisdom nationwide was that they again were a shoo-in for the national title. Then they went out to Tempe, Ariz. -- ugh. A similar scene to that NU-MSU game occurred in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, as the Sooners found every which way to score besides put together an offensive drive in their 41-27 win over North Carolina. Bob Stoops unleashed his animal-like defense in the win, but new quarterback Nate Hybl (pronounced HIB-bul) was far from Tecmo in his debut. Had the Tar Heels not handled the football as if it were radioactive in the first half, this one might have had a bit different ending. Oh, I'm sure OU will get their offensive situation worked out by the time they roll into the Star City on Oct. 27.

THE BOTTOM LINE: It is the theory of some Oliver Stone-types lurking around Lincoln that for some reason, ABC/ESPN doesn't like the Nebraska Cornhuskers. This is based partly on the fact that ESPN Classic Sports seems to show great games in history in which Nebraska has lost. On Saturday, however, the network made up for their past transgressions by airing four great Husker wins from the Tom Osborne era. Too bad we were all busy watching live TV at the time -- so maybe there is something to that conspiracy theory, after all. Say, speaking of everyone's favorite political fundraiser, one of Dr. Tom's most famous pigskin theories was that a team improves the most between its first and second games. If that's the case, then the only way Troy State, the next opponent on the Cornhuskers' schedule, will be able to drop Nebraska next week is if they find a book depository and a grassy knoll. But there will be no magic bullets from Trojan QB Brock Nutter. Nebraska 49, Troy State 10.

==STEVE==
Saving the World. One Loon at a Time.
THE POND, Home of Nebraska's RED CLAD LOON.
http://www.redcladloon.com