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J U S T I N   P R E S T I D G E
October 26, 2009

This Just-In...


Nebraska’s shotgun spread offense proves effective … at shooting self in the foot … eight times.
Huskers sniped 9-7

Player(s) of the Game: Ndamukong Suh, 8 tkl, 1 sk, 1 tfl, 2 blk kick

“You want a turnover with your order?” “Yeah, I’ll take eight of ’em”...
When Iowa State head coach Paul Rhodes opened his bag to find that the eight turnovers that he ordered were not in there, he was unhappy to say the least. “Man I paid for those”! His busy schedule prevented him from driving back to the restaurant to retrieve the missing turnovers. Who knew they would personally deliver them to him and his Cyclone team on Saturday at Memorial Stadium? Now that’s customer service. Watching the game was surreal for me. It was unimaginable that the fumbles kept happening as if angels swooped down and swatted the ball away once the Huskers got inside the 10 yard line (and other times as well). I don’t ever remember watching a game where whatever could go wrong, did. The Huskers would find some rare offensive rhythm then bam-Iowa State ball. I couldn’t get to sleep last night because I kept hearing “After further review … ” you get the point. The fact that we even had a chance to win this game is a miracle. We played a Texas A&M squad in 2003 and they had a similar implosion. The Aggies committed eight turnovers (3 fumbles/5 int) and lost 48-12. We are fortunate that didn’t happen-that is a testament to how well our defense is playing. Iowa State was going nowhere-they played not to lose-hats off to them as they executed their game plan. We did not. Is this coaching? I don’t know, sometimes bad things just happen and nothing works. We are sure to see players walking around campus with footballs firmly in their grasp. Let’s just hope they don’t leave them at the drive-thru. Rhoads will be waiting for them.

Watson, your job is on the line — no “Offense”...
This is not going to be an attack on Shawn Watson. He has taken enough heat already. We all know the problems. His offense is sick. The list of ailments is long. Anemic, fragile, a severe lack of focus. After Saturday, you can add fumblitis (how do you even spell that) to that list. The question is what can this team do well? Robinson showed some ability and we ran pretty well out of power sets. Something is wrong with Helu-he needs to sit. He is not the same player as a month ago. The coaches maintain there is nothing wrong with him-I’m not buying it. Helu doesn’t fumble, at least not like he did Saturday. If he needs surgery to fix whatever problem he has so be it. Rest up and hope he can help us next season. God forbid he does some permanent damage and risks his football future-we need him at 100%. So back to the question-what do we do well? I’m not sure you can pinpoint anything right now. Our QB is very pedestrian; he doesn’t see the field well and stares down his primary target as if he was watching a re-run of Baywatch. I really think the reason they are sticking with Lee is because he throws a more catchable ball (if it is even on target). Both Lee and Green have shown some inaccuracy, and given our receiving problems, it is easier for our stone handed pass catchers to hold on to a ball thrown by Lee vs. a laser thrown by Green. That is the only way for me to explain it. Why does the receiving corps have such a problem catching the ball? Surely we have someone on the roster that can catch with some consistency (outside of an injured Brooks). Our Tight Ends do pretty well but seems they are the fourth or fifth option-I can’t say why. We are down to our third string RB, who showed flashes, but also showed his inexperience. The O-line looked a little better-good to see the penalties go down-but they still are missing assignments. Watson’s play calling continues to amaze me. We go power running in the third quarter, which was working, but we ended up fumbling it away. So what is the cure for that? How about throwing the ball three straight times. He calls plays like I play my playstation. I know what plays work but I just get tired of running the same thing, so I try something different for no other reason than it is fun. The difference is that I can hit the reset button, Watson can’t. Maybe the solution is just kicking a field goal once we reach the 25 yard line. That strategy would have won us the game. I’m kidding of course’ but can you say you don’t feel the same sometimes? I think Watson can succeed in Lincoln but he is going to have to have a serious gut check. We all have things we believe in but if we are continually proven wrong, don’t we have to take a step back and re-examine if our beliefs are well founded? I have faith that this coaching staff can fix the problems, but right now-Watson’s scheme isn’t getting it done-No offense.

Northern Exposure...
Last night my daughter came in and said that something smells really bad outside. After further investigation the smell seemed to be emanating from the North. Imagine my surprise when I found out the source of this foul odor. It was coming from the Big 12 North. Before the season started we all figured the North would be behind the South overall. Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri figured to be the favorites. After eight weeks, the North is proving to be very mediocre to borderline bad. The good (or bad depending on your point of view) thing is Nebraska has as good of a shot as any at winning this stinky division. Nebraska can even afford a loss to OU and still has a chance to be the sacrificial lamb to Texas in the Championship Game. Here are the standings after Saturday’s contests:

   Kansas State 3-1 (5-3)   Beat CU 20-6
   Iowa State   2-2 (5-3)   Beat NU 9-7
   Colorado     1-2 (2-5)   Lost to KSU 6-20
   Kansas       1-2 (5-2)   Lost to OU 35-13
   Nebraska     1-2 (4-3)   Lost to ISU 7-9
   Missouri     0-3 (4-3)   Lost to Texas 41-7
Kansas State actually controls its own destiny but does anyone believe they will beat OU let alone win out? Iowa State has the best chance but I don’t see them winning out either. They still have A&M, OSU, CU and Missouri to close out the season-that’s at least two losses. It is possible that we could have a team in the Championship Game with a losing record. Colorado could accomplish this if the North winner is 4-4 (not out of the question). Colorado could go into the game with a 5-7 overall record. As Borat would say “Itsa Nice.” That leaves this floundering Nebraska team with a chance to still win the north provided they can win the games against KU, KSU and Colorado-a tall order I know. It doesn’t seem likely but they still have a good chance to accomplish one of the goals set out at the beginning of the season. On thing is for sure, whoever the North winner is, Jerry Jones will be sure to have plenty of deodorant available at Texas Stadium when they arrive.

In Conclusion...
Nebraska should have won the game going away, only problem is they didn’t. If only Niles Paul could hold on to the football with no one around (is that too much to ask?). If only Helu was well. If only Robinson could have gone down. If only Zac Lee had Zac Taylor’s brain. If only Henery could have made that long field goal. If only … there have too many of these recently. That is an excuse that average teams use. Yes, that was a fluky performance by our Huskers but bottom line; good teams win these types of games if given a chance. They had plenty of chances. Pelini said there may be some personnel changes this week-we have heard that before. We didn’t see anything really different this week, maybe that will change next week. We need to regroup and realize that there is still plenty to play for. Our defense is one of the best in the country but they can only do so much. Baylor is up next, a game I will be attending, my first live Husker game. My excitement is tempered somewhat with the result of this weekend but I will be there, Section R, Row 2, seat 4 cheering on my Huskers “through all kinds of weather.” I would recommend that everyone else do the same.


Justin Prestidge is a new contributor to this website. Born and raised in Scottsbluff, Justin is currently holding a low profile deep in the heart of Texas. A die hard Husker fan, Justin has been following Big Red Football for over 20 years, and has been a member of the North Texas Nebraskans for the last 10. You can e-mail him here.