Thirty minutes before kick off, I decided to quiet the kids at least for the first half with a trip to Dairy Queen. On the way there I unexpectedly met a nice lady by rear ending her and then pulling over to exchange insurance information. I was so livid deep inside because she accelerated after a brief stop as if to make her left hand turn, with only a car in the far distance which posed no threat whatsoever she slammed on her breaks leaving my bumper crunched and her’s scratched. By the time we exchanged information and talked to our respective insurance agents I got a chance to witness the first fumble out of the back of the end zone ala Newby. And, I decided at that point that the train wreck of the evening could have used a more of a Bo Pelini approach, at the accident and in the game!
The Oregon hangover was a setup for a typical Husker Football letdown. Over the past 10 years or so, it seems that the Huskers find a game that on paper looks like a cakewalk while the whole while it looks like the Husker football team is walking the plank….so to speak. I am not saying that Northwestern isn’t well coached and doesn’t have a history of upsetting the rosy applecart. What I am saying is that the Husker Northwestern football game should at least be uneventful and predictable for a Northwestern team that appears to be in a proverbial limp to start the 2016 campaign and for an up and coming Husker team that seems a little more solid than the shaky ground it had been on over the Pelini era.
The first impression of the game was the apparent lack of attention the football field received and the condition it was in. It seemed as though it were slick and difficult to run on for a fairly fast Husker football team, or as if it were mid-October and the overuse was beginning to take hold as the growing season and colder weather set in. Second, was the stadium being more akin to a home game than an away game, and third was the apparent enthusiasm of the Wildcats even though they trailed throughout. Most of which results in a nail biter of a game that is uneventful but error prone.
Given that last statement, it was the outright stamina and leadership of Husker football standout Tommie Armstrong who had an All-American night. And although he had all kinds of yards on the ground with 13 rushes for 132 yards, and by the air with 18-29 for 246 yards, combining for 378 yards of total offense, there was still something I felt lacked in the offense tonight! I can’t quite put my finger on it, but if its not fatigue from last week’s juggernaut, perhaps its the fact that all of the teams we have beaten so far has a combined record of 5-10, or that none of them have a winning record, and for us to break the chains of mediocrity (thank you Steve Pederson), that we should be blowing teams out like Northwestern and Wyoming and getting the second string reps as the first unit thinks of loftier goals, such as beating Ohio State and/or Wisconsin.
What I loved about the gutty Armstrong performance was that the doldrums of a post-euphoric triumph of cracking the top 25 with a win over a top 25 opponent like Oregon, wasn’t enough for him. Sitting around waiting for the Bo-foot to drop so to lose a game that should have never been close to begin with, was not going to happen with Armstrong. And on a night when a traditional running game wouldn’t take hold, a Tommie Armstrong ground game and passing game took shape.
I am going to remain critical for a few more steps of this masterpiece of something by saying that the lack of ecstatic behavior was also confounding. The fumble by Ozigbo called for a Pellini response…it called for a crazy-eyed, saliva dripping every other word spitting referee ass chewing as to how the hell forward progress is clearly stopped and the runner is literally on his ass, how someone can come in and “strip” a football. The lack of controlled explosion by the sideline and players revealed a lingering question in my soul…is this progression from the nonsensical and heated Pellini forays to a more quiet demeanor and reserved approach all the while you take it up the poop-chute on a terrible call, going to be the norm. Because quite honestly it would have been nice to see a little more, “you’ve got to be shitting me,” sideline approach to getting screwed like that.
And, the other criticism I have is the use of timeouts because, again like the Pellini era, none of the defensive backs got the call and Northwestern was ready to run plays while we looked around lost on where to lineup in cover 2 and its cousin cover 6!
And quietly, you have to tip your hats to a defense that gave up just thirteen points…of second thought I was going to write about PAT’s and how this must be our year for coaches of teams we play to assist our efforts for victory in the kicking game! But because the four points they didn’t get didn’t matter after we sacked them in a timely manner and shut down their forth down play, it became a moot point.
So, in another uneventful but much needed win, where do we view the Huskers a third of the way in? This is by no means a National Championship caliber team right now. It does have a Clemson-esk feel to it, but the talent has to be realized and harvested at the right time. I like to think that Riley is on the righteous path as he walks the earth, but the stoic demeanor at all times is a questionable attitude at all times. The offensive coordinator did a great job of adjusting the game plan and getting under center in the I-formation and doing the play action pass is what I was talking about three games ago. Again, we need to play within ourselves but reach to get better. What happened tonight worried me quite a bit. With two major set-backs I wonder if we are geting better as the season goes on. And that made be think of the journey the husker football team is supposed to be on, as the words of the Husker pre-game prayer I once was a part of said it like this:
Perhaps I was in a pissed off mood due to the accident, the $500 deductible and another $1000 increase in the premiums, but I like to think that the TO, Riley in me prevailed at the right time and what could have changed the balance of power in the game and in life, and which ultimately could have caused our loss, was actually restrained ourselves for a secure victory!
Great job Huskers!! Let’s keep getting better and better, til we can’t be beat and won’t be beat!