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Monday, January 01, 2007


Wow, I don’t really know what happened, but it wasn’t pretty. It was truly an ugly game for both teams. The only things that were more dreadful than the plodding offenses were the performances of the announcers in the booth. I actually tried to switch over to Jim Rose and the radio coverage, but couldn’t find an internet link. It was just a bad day all around. Anyway, here are my early Cotton Bowl ruminations.

· The only reason I mentioned that Auburn didn’t score an offensive TD in their win over Florida, was that I felt they were more than capable of jumping on our mistakes.

· The fake punt was a bad call, but not for the reasons you might think. My issue is that it involved two players who NEVER touch the ball. Dane Todd has zero carries, and Andrew Shanle showed off his stellar stone hands twice in this game.

· I understand Callahan and the university following HIPAA guidelines and not wanting to tip-off the opponent, but I will never again believe that one of our players is healthy until I see him contributing.

· For every quick start we have mustered this season, we seem to have a sluggish finish to close things out.

· The defense looked dominant early on and was successful in first stopping the run. Carriker and company looked terrific when they could pin their ears back and get in Cox’s face on third down.

· The short slant patterns are a big part of the WCO. Why can’t we complete those passes with any kind of regularity? Other teams kill opponents with that route, but Nebraska can’t connect on it consistently. A couple were dropped today and the tipped one went for an interception. The inability to complete that pass really changes the complexion of third and short-to-medium.

· Based on Callahan’s playcalling, I sometimes question the confidence he has in this team. After early success running the ball to the middle of the Auburn defense, we went away from that. Included in the move from the power running game was an ill-advised reverse. Is this just cutesy playcalling, or does Callahan not believe we can line up and beat a Top 10 team?

· At halftime, you had to know that the Auburn offense couldn’t look any worse. I lost any confidence in our chances to win as soon as Borges opened up the offense and started testing our corners.

· Did anyone else get a sense that the timing of our offense was off? I couldn’t put my finger on why, but it didn’t seem like all eleven guys were moving off the ball as a cohesive unit. Either that or way too many of our plays were really slow to develop.

· Marlon Lucky earned every yard he gained today. Unfortunately he didn’t show me much in his opportunity to be the feature back. I’m starting to get the feeling that what is coming between Lucky and a breakout season is a bunch of time spent with strength and conditioning coach Dave Kennedy. Next year starts tomorrow Marlon.

· I sincerely hope that Coach Cosgrove spends a lot of time this off-season working on how to defend teams on drives starting inside their own 1-yard line.

· Our receivers obviously had a difficult time getting open. I got really tired of watching Taylor force throws into coverage, eat the ball under duress, or worse yet, attempt to scamper on 3rd and long. How do we fix this? More talent? Better coaching?

· It probably didn’t make as big a difference as people are claiming, but if you are going to rush 11 on the last punt, shouldn’t the punter have had at least some difficulty getting the ball off? I was assuming we would see a heavy rush and perhaps even a roughing the punter penalty due to over-aggressiveness. Instead we saw a normal punt with no one back to receive it. Not the kind of finish I had in mind.

· Callahan’s worse coaching move might have been having Zac Taylor line up to help block that last punt. Or maybe, just maybe that was another of the many blunders by Pat “I thought you were dead” Summerall and Brian Baldinger.

· Overall, it wasn’t pretty if you are a Nebraska fan. I had us penciled in for a 9 or 10 win season, so I can’t be completely upset. And in the words of Cubs fans – There’s always next year.