Posted on: November 6, 2009 10:26 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2009 10:29 pm
Although expounding upon my pathetic little blurb at this late date will be irrelevant, I feel I must keep some semblance of continuity in my small and insignificant corner of the Internet. As for why it took me so long, there's mainly two reasons:
1. The politics between DirecTV and the Versus Network. I was unable to record the game and, even though I was in attendance, it wasn't as if I took notes. What I usually do each week is watch the game in real-time then, if it was remarkable in any way, I re-watch it and take notes for my blog.
2. Honestly (and more importantly), I didn't know quite what to say. I know that a win is a win, but in all my years of being a Husker fan, I had trouble remembering another time in which I came away from a Nebraska victory with such an empty, unsatisfied feeling.
Don't get me wrong. I had a good time overall and was in good company. Got to see the great Dr. Tom in person as well as the boldly decorated semi that hauls all of the Huskers' equipment around and speak to its driver. The Baylor fans were gracious (the few that were there, anyway) and it was interesting to see another Big XII stadium and compare it to Memorial Stadium. It wasn't much of a comparison; however, you have to take into account the historical fortunes of both programs.
Before I get into my true feelings concerning the game, which are decidedly negative, I want to focus on the positive aspects first:
Most importantly, it was exciting to see the first career start of the quarterback who should end up being the face and the future of the Nebraska program. A murmur of anticipation went through the crowd as fans received texts that Cody Green would start. When Green did indeed take the field (with the added confidence of a 7-0 lead courtesy of the Huskers' special teams) he was greeted warmly with a generous wave of applause and probably more than a little relief. What was perhaps the most interesting aspect of watching Green play in person, was the occasions when he tucked away the football and ran. He has a long and graceful stride which tricks the eye into thinking that he's not moving very quickly. However, upon closer scrutiny, it's apparent that he possesses an efficiency of movement that makes his runs look almost effortless.
Another observation (and perhaps not a surprising one coming from someone who writes a Nebraska blog): Husker fans really are among the best in the nation, at least when it comes to traveling to away games. On the visitors' side of the field, the grandstands were an almost solid sea of red from the south endzone past midfield to the 40-yard line. The Baylor side, from the south endzone to the twenty, was almost all Husker fans as well, with pockets of red scattered throughout the rest of the sparsely occupied seats. I attribute this, in part, to the North Texas Nebraskans organization. They not only threw a decent-sized shindig in the parking lot prior to the game, but also handed out "GO BIG RED" signs in addition to the ones they planted into the ground along the route to the stadium. I actually felt bad for the true Baylor faithful (and especially their players), as it appeared that they were well out-numbered in their own house. Floyd Casey Stadium seemed more like Memorial Stadium South.
In fact, at one point, Larry Asante and other Husker players beseeched the Nebraska fans to make more noise when the Bears had the ball, which brings me to my lone complaint about many of the Husker fans who were there: They were far too passive when Nebraska was on defense. There were times (key third downs or plays directly following a loss) when the bulk of the NU fans remained silently in their seats while the Blackshirts toiled on, trying to compensate for the poor showing by the offense. Our group was seated at the 50-yard line and it was mentioned that, at Nebraska home games, this is typical for that section. I just didn't expect it in Waco, Texas.
Which reminds me that, indeed, a game was played, such that it was. The first half looked promising. Besides the special teams touchdown, Nebraska was able to convert their early drives into points. Jared Crick played like a proverbial monster on defense and the first half was highlighted by a beautiful 45-yard pass from Green to Niles Paul (who managed to not fumble it into the end zone) which gave the Huskers the ball at Baylor's one-yard-line. A few rows in front of us, a fan clad in red held up a sign which read "DON'T FUMBLE!". Tray Robinson managed to heed that advice and scored two plays later, giving Nebraska a 20-0 lead which they held onto until halftime.
Unfortunately, they decided to play a second half...a half in which Nebraska's offense forgot how to sustain drives (much less score) and forced the defense to stay on the field much longer than they deserved (once again). Baylor kicked a field goal, Green threw a pick-six which, by all appearances, wasn't a surprise to anyone, except maybe Green himself...and the Bears were back in the game. What had first appeared like the perfect prescription for the Huskers after consecutive losses, seemed like bad medicine. Even when the Huskers did something right (like pressure the quarterback) things went wrong (Suh's ridiculous personal foul for throwing Baylor QB, Nick Florence, to the ground). In the fourth quarter, the Bears were able to mount a couple of drives into the Huskers' redzone, but Ben Parks missed a 24-yard field goal and a Jarred Salubi missed a gift-wrapped pass from Florence.
Watching the field goal attempt miss its mark and Baylor's subsequent drive in which they almost scored, one couldn't help but think "what if?". What if Baylor had made the field goal? What if a wide-open Salubi had held onto the ball? It would have been a whole new ballgame, except that the momentum was firmly on the Bears' side. One of the Husker fans in our party described the Nebraska offense as "tepid" and "anemic"; a fact that was painfully evident when the Huskers couldn't get a first down and run out the clock; as we all know, the game ended with Baylor continuing to take shots at the Huskers' end zone.
Now I understand that it was Green's first game. He made a couple of mistakes while also showing some flashes of future promise. And that's all part of the learning process. The Huskers are also relying on youth with Robinson sharing time with a banged-up Roy Helu Jr. and receivers like Khiry Cooper figuring into the mix. But the simple fact is that Baylor played this game with a QB that was listed third on their depth chart before the season started and their offense still managed to outgain Nebraska by three yards and convert seven more first downs. Our offense, playing against the 91st ranked defense in the country, scored thirteen points, tallied less than 300 yards and failed to keep the Blackshirts off the field.
In the past, this is a game that would have been a laugher. I'm not hitting the panic button, not after one game with Green as the starter. I have faith in Pelini. But after a season that started with such promise, with most of Husker Nation (as well as the national media) believing that Nebraska had turned some sort of corner after the Virginia Tech and Missouri games, things have gotten ugly fast.
Posted on: October 24, 2009 7:08 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2009 3:02 am
The Huskers entered the stadium solemnly, four-by-four, arms interlocked as a show of unity. A silent display to all, a statement that they would not be divided following a loss to Texas Tech the week before and and all the criticism that followed it.