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C O M M E N T A R Y
J U S T I N   P R E S T I D G E
Nov. 8, 2009

This Just-In...

 

Blackshirts intercept OU’s game plan; gives offense great seats to the game.
Huskers shut down Sooners 10-3

Player(s) of the Game: Matt O’Hanlon, 12 Tkl, 3 Int

 
“Our defense can beat up your defense — nah-na-na-nah-na-nah”…
I’m pretty sure that these words were not uttered by Pelini while having the traditional post game encounter with Stoops shortly after the Huskers claimed a hard fought defensive battle over the Sooners. It is funny to think it was in the back of his mind however. The Blackshirts played brilliantly on Saturday evening. Five interceptions. Just what the doctor ordered. Matt O’Hanlon accounted for three of those picks to go along with 12 tackles. We had a guest over watching his first Husker game with us Saturday. Shortly after O’Hanlon picked off his first pass in the third quarter to set up a Henery FG, he mentioned that the Huskers should run that play where number 33 intercepts the ball again. It was a funny quote at the time, but it seems that Josh (that is his name) is wise beyond what his 13 year old body would suggest. Who would have thought that Pelini would be able to take that advice from over a thousand miles away? And they say ESP doesn’t exist. It was great to see O’Hanlon have a big game in front of the home crowd after being semi-vilified by some of the Husker Nation after the Virginia Tech game earlier this year. O’Hanlon, along with Asante. has been a stabilizing force in the secondary. Their leadership will be missed next year. The D-line imposed their will against the OU line and Dillard was playing one of his best games as a Husker. It has been an amazing transformation for this defense over the last two years but it is one play, that didn’t even happen, that stands out the most to me. Oklahoma was threatening to score with 1:31 to go in the first half and faced a 3rd and 7 from the NU15. They spread the field with a 4 WR look and the Husker safeties were creeping up to blitz. Jones audibled out of that play bringing in the left slot receiver tight, possibly to get a short underneath route to beat the blitz. As soon as that happened, however, the Huskers dropped the blitz and brought the safeties back and the LB over to cover that route. OU then tried to quickly check back into the original play to take advantage of the zone coverage only to see the NU safeties come again with the blitz causing OU to burn a timeout. That was an NFL good adjustment by our defense and speaks volumes about how well coached this defense is. They pay attention to every detail and know their assignments. We have spoken all year about how well the D-line has played, but Saturday’s victory was truly a “team” defensive effort. The secondary’s “hands on” approach was key in NU coming out on top. That same approach may not bode well for their girlfriends, however. Bo and Carl’s defensive unit is the real deal. These same efforts will be critical if Nebraska has any hope to win the North, but for one night Bo could look up at the scoreboard and see that his Huskers had just beaten his old pal from Youngstown, Ohio. As he was running back to speak to his team, he caught a glimpse of that same scoreboard. Nebraska 10, Oklahoma 3. A dominant defensive performance — you could almost feel a wry smile come across his face. Our defense IS better than yours — nah-na-na-nah-na-nah.

Love the “power” offense, now will someone please pay the electric bill...
Walk by Pelini’s office on Monday and you are sure to see many items on his “in” box. Memos from the athletic department, letters from fans, game plan related material — you know, the normal coaching stuff. Buried somewhere in there are some unpaid electric bills. Watson said he has been putting them on his desk but I’m not buying it. Maybe Bo has been too busy with the defense he has not had time to sort through the myriad of paperwork that is on his desk to find these unpaid invoices. We are in a recession, after all, but I think the Nebraska Athletic Department has the funds to pay the late fees. Watson had a good game plan on Saturday. Don’t screw up. Run the ball, eat clock. This was not a much different strategy than what we saw against USC in 2006, only our defense is much better and OU is not quite as good as that team was offensively without Bradford. Helu ran like he did back in September against the Sun Belt tour. We can only hope his shoulder can hold up for the rest of the year because this offense desperately needs his legs. Give kudos to Watson and Bo for pulling Green out of the game and inserting Lee. It was an odd moment for them to do it, however. You would have thought that we could have snuck it in for a TD with Green. Watson got a bit cute with the play action pass from the one but it worked out; however, calling a short side option to the left with a right handed QB who doesn’t run it well was a terrible play call. Lee had no business pitching that ball and should have tucked it and taken the one or two yard loss, but to be fair, Helu should have caught it. I don’t think Green would have pitched it there. Lee did nothing to win or lose the ball game, relegated to handing off to Helu or Robinson, and took few chances. The way the game unfolded, it was probably a wise choice to go with Lee. Green may have taken a chance that could have cost us the game. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds this week. I don’t know if NU should be in the flip-flop QB business, but right now Lee gives us a little better passing option, and Green provides a better running option. Against the rest of our schedule, we will likely just go with the hot hand. If the offense is going be playing to minimize mistakes, play field position, and chew clock with a power running game featuring a healthy Helu, then either QB can be effective (in the most minimal definition of the word). Give credit to Watson for trying something different. Was this change his choice? We probably won’t know but I think going back to a power running game and relying on solid defense will give us the best chance to win in the future even if there are some growing pains. Let’s just hope that Pelini can find that electric bill this week. Power football requires electricity. Bo will probably have to pay the reconnection fee before the lights can be turned back on, but it is better than playing offense in the dark. Just ask Watson.

In Conclusion...
What a great night. Beating OU at home in a classic defensive struggle. No, there weren’t National Championships or Big Eight titles on the line, just two of the nation’s top defenses going toe to toe to the very end. We came up with the key turnovers when we needed them and kept them out of the end zone for the first time since 1998. It was one of the best defensive performances I have ever seen. We were fast, mean, and didn’t make any big mistakes. Our offense did enough to not lose the game and ate enough clock in the fourth quarter to give our exhausted defense a little hard earned rest. The stars have aligned to allow our Huskers a chance to control their own destiny to win the North. All you have to do is win baby. Three more winnable games remain but will this offense be able to put enough points on the board to give NU its first North title since 2006? Who will be taking snaps at QB? Will the staff continue to emphasize the switch to power running or was it a one game aberration? Will the FB finally get a carry? A reeling KU team is up next and may help provide us with some answers. The Huskers should be able to pull out a victory in Lawrence to set up a likely Big 12 North Championship game against KSU in Lincoln — a game that I hope to be at. Winning the North will be a great accomplishment given our struggles this year, but something tells me that we will see Pelini yelling at the refs on the biggest TV that has ever been produced — at Jerry Land in Arlington. Bo knows defense; now it is time to see if Bo knows championships. The Longhorns will be waiting.

 

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.