Archive for September, 2007

Nebraska-Iowa State Postgame Blog
Sunday, September 30, 2007

Whether you were at the game or painted the pictures in your head with the radio call, share your opinion on the game here. Your comments may be used in a KETV sportscast.

After a week full of curious quotes and mystifying motivation, the Huskers opened conference play with a 35-17 win over Iowa State, calming some fears while realizing some others.

Before I get into my thoughts, my NU/ISU prediction of 37-to-17 (Friday’s entry below) was as close as I can get, folks. Call me with your gambling needs.

Actually, don’t.
I don’t endorse it.
Although I did tell you to take Iowa State and the 21 points.

Bullet Point Thoughts

For the first quarter and a half, the Nebraska offense was as inept as we’ve seen it all season. That 60-yard pass from Keller to Frantz Hardy (even that was under thrown) had to make you think it would be the Huskers’ day to dominate. A couple of plays later, Lucky fumbled on the doorstep, and you knew then that it would be an uphill climb for the offense. It was a slow start for the Huskers.

Don’t blame the Nebraska defense for the first half struggles. The Huskers turned the ball over three times in the first 18 minutes of play. Lucky and Glenn fumbled while Keller threw a deep interception. Unofficially, Nebraska ran six plays in the first half, compared to Iowa State’s 26 plays. ISU held a 12:36 to 2:34 time of possession advantage.

That Nebraska defensive line doesn’t have a lot of experienced depth, and it was put to the test with some key injuries. Ndamukong Suh and Ty Steinkuhler both went down in the first half (along with Clayton Sievers), leaving guys like Ben Martin, Brandon Johnson and Kevin Dixon to shoulder some of the load. They hung in there.

In my weekend prediction blog, I said Nebraska would get more creative in Big 12 play. The Huskers did that with Marlon Lucky’s touchdown pass to Sean Hill. It was Lucky’s second career touchdown pass and Sean Hill’s third touchdown reception this year.

Who would’ve thought that five games into the season, Sean Hill would lead the team in touchdown catches.

Seriously. Who would’ve thought that?

Besides Sean Hill’s mother.

And Thomas Lawson is now just one behind Sean Hill for the team lead. Go figure.

Corey McKeon answered the call on Saturday. The week-long quote machine showed more emotion on the field, and it translated to his name being called more often than usual. He had nine tackles, including one tackle for loss (he had zero TFLs in the first four games).

How does Bo Ruud continue to find the football? He may not be around the ball carriers on many a play, but then he comes up with another interception for a touchdown. It’s his second straight week with an INT-TD. It’s his third career score.

The Blackshirts gave up 415 yards as Iowa State ran 102 offensive plays, but they get a passing grade in my book. Special teams penalties extended Cyclone drives when the defense should’ve been off the field, and those ridiculous Nebraska first-half turnovers didn’t do the Blackshirts any favors. And when you do the math, the defense only gave up 4.1 yards per play.

That being said, this defense still has a ways to go. Giving up a 17-play 97-yard touchdown drive to the worst offensive team in the conference is ludicrous.

At last check, Missouri is salivating.

And turning the ball over three times in the first half against a team that only had four takeaways in four games thus far, is unconscionable.

At last check, Missouri is still salivating.

After watching the Big Twelve on Saturday, it is clear that the entire conference is now up for grabs. My alma mater defeated 3rd-ranked Oklahoma 27-24. Kansas State went into Texas and absolutely hammered the 7th-ranked Longhorns 41-21. So much for the north division being the south’s little brother.

No one can say for sure how this conference will play out. Those who disagreed with me when I said Nebraska would go 6-2 in conference play are now probably scratching their heads, knowing that anything can happen on any given Saturday. Missouri will give Nebraska everything it can handle (and probably more) next weekend, but you can’t tell me that the Huskers have no shot. Not after what we saw around the league on Saturday.

Are you more confident now?

Or did the road to the Big 12 Championship game just become all the more challenging after Saturday’s results?

My Saturday Summation

The Big 12 Championship game won’t be as daunting a task as we first thought. But the road to get there will be a lot more difficult than expected.

Oh, and Two Last Thoughts:



Schick’s Picks
Friday, September 28, 2007

It’s that time again. Time to take a look at some of this weekend’s games and make some meaningless prognostications. And unlike Cory McKeon, I’m quite motivated.

Husker Season-Long Predictions

Before we talk NU/ISU, let me say a couple of things about the way the rest of the season will play out as we begin Big Twelve play:

* Nebraska will go 6-2 in conference play. Not because I think Nebraska is really good, but because this team has no choice but to actually start playing above-average football. This team has looked uncreative and plain-Jane. That will change in conference play. Whether that’s good enough to win the North, I’m not sure. Of course, they’ll need to beat Missouri in Columbia to make sure my 6-2 mark hold up. If they don’t, it’s 5-3.

* The Huskers will go as far as Sam Keller takes them. After the Ball State game, my extra point commentary was on Keller, saying that with the defense playing as poorly as it has been and with a below-average running game, he’ll have to carry this team on his back. This season is up to Keller’s right arm. Of course, his left arm will be key as well.

Saturday’s Selections
(*my selections are the points in parentheses*)
(*disclaimer: I do not gamble, nor do I endorse it. This is just for fun. But if you win anything give me a cut*)

Nebraska 37
Iowa State 17 (+21)
*Take the Cyclones and the points. The spread started at 22.5, so the smart money is going on Iowa State. Didn’t the Huskers beat Ball State by a point? And Iowa State actually has some semblance of a defense. Sure, they don’t have an offense… but remember those blackshirts? It wouldn’t surprise me if the Huskers won by more than 21.

West Virginia 31 (-7)
South Florida 20
*South Florida is good. West Virginia is really good.

Iowa 26
Indiana 16 (+10.5)
*Not that impressed with Iowa, and Indiana is feeling good at 3-0.

Ball State 31
Buffalo 20 (+13.5)
*Let the fans of the old regime celebrate, as Turner Gill’s team allows fewer points than the blackshirts.

Penn State 28 (-3)
Illinois 17
*Penn State is decent.

Oklahoma 33
Colorado 13 (+23)
*Going with my heart here. The Buffs are coming off a shutout of a MAC team (that’s what you’re supposed to do to a MAC team) and will have a rowdy home field. Oklahoma still wins, but CU covers.

Sunday Picks

Buffalo 23 (+3.5)
NY Jets 20
*Bills are due, and I feel good about Trent Edwards under center.

Baltimore 20
Cleveland 17 (+4.5)
*Good rivalry, close game, and the Browns are playing well.

Miami 27
Oakland 23 (+4.5)
*Raiders stink. So does Miami.

Dallas 33 (-13)
St. Louis 19
*#1 scoring offense versus #29 scoring defense.

Recapping Last Week (5-2)

I said:——————————–Actual:
Nebraska 38(-23) ——————Nebraska 41
Ball State 13 ————————Ball State 40
*Right in the Husker win, wrong in giving the 23 points. That was ridiculous.

I said: ——————————-Actual:
Penn State 27 ———————-Penn State 9
Michigan 26 (+3) ——————Michigan 14
*Correct. I said take Michigan and the 3, and they won.

I said: —————————–Actual:
Michigan St 27 (-11) ————Michigan State 31
Notre Dame 14 ——————Notre Dame 14
*Chalk it up.

I said: —————————–Actual:
Wisconsin 31 (-7.5) ————–Wisconsin 17
Iowa 20 —————————Iowa 13
*Right in a pick’em. Wrong with the spread. So it’s wrong.

I said: ——————————Actual:
New England 33 (-16.5) ———New England 38
Buffalo 13 ————————-Buffalo 7
*Chalk.

I said: ——————————Actual:
Jacksonville 20 (+3)————–Jacksonville 23
Denver 17 ————————–Denver 14
*Best pick of the weekend. A road-dog winning in Denver? Yep-yep.

I said:—————————– Actual:
Seattle 26 ————————-Seattle 24
Cincinnati 24 (+3) —————Cincinnati 21
*I said take the points. It was a push, so I count it as a win… because I didn’t lose.

Fear Not, Husker Fans
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

KETV’s parent company, Hearst-Argyle, has come to an agreement with Cox Communications. KETV’s HD signal will be carried on channel 806 on Cox digital cable.

An agreement was announced Wednesday afternoon to return KETV high-definition programming to Cox Digital Cable subscribers. The deal settles a year-long dispute between Hearst-Argyle Television and Cox Cable over how KETV would be compensated for providing the programming.KETV-HD is available to Cox subscribers on digital channel 806. The channel allocation may change.

KETV-HD continues to be available on other cable systems and over the air for free.

Fans of Grey’s, Lost, Ugly, and even Nebraska football: your HD is back.

Not that I didn’t appreciate all of those derisive emails asking me when HD was coming back… but this is good news.

Tuesday’s Talk
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

On Tuesday, the spotlight was on the linebackers, as Steve Octavien apologized to Husker fans and Corey McKeon talked to the media for nearly a half-an-hour about how tough the life of a college football player can be. It was probably the most interesting Tuesday Husker news conference I’ve attended in my six years of covering the team.

McKeon Trouble

Corey McKeon has always been one of the media’s most likable figures. He’s honest, brash and unabashedly funny. On Tuesday, McKeon didn’t have any jokes in his arsenal, no one-liners up his sleeve. He was downright serious, if not depressed.

“I am just not getting the feeling that I used to get on the field with these guys, and it is accountability on everyone on the defense,” said McKeon, a couple of days after the defense gave up 610 yards to Ball State. “It’s not just the starters or the Blackshirts. It is not just on Coach Cosgrove. It is on the whole defense, it is on our offense, our special teams. We aren’t getting that feeling, that emotion of having fun and dominating people. I think once this defense takes a shot in the mouth, we kind of back off a little bit, and we try to feel our way out of it instead of coming back at it.”

On Saturday, Husker fans booed the defense (some fans contend that they were booing Cosgrove, but do you think the players can tell the difference?). McKeon said the criticism doesn’t stop when the game is over.

“No, it doesn’t end there. It does not end anywhere. It is hard for me to go to class after playing the way I played. It is hard to sit there knowing that everyone around me is looking at me thinking something. It is hard to do that. It is hard on these athletes regardless of what you think.”

He also said football isn’t much fun for him right now.

“We’re not having fun, especially when you’re getting your a– kicked. You’re not having fun on the field. It’s one thing to have a big play spark the enthusiasm, but you should have the enthusiasm from the get-go. If you don’t have that, then what’s the point of being out there? You want to get your a– kicked and get sore for nothing? I go out there to have fun. If the guys around me aren’t having fun, it’s hard for me to have fun.”

“When you get to a point when you’re 3-1 and your one loss is to the No. 1 team in the country – and we come back the next week and pull out a win at the last second – it’s still a win, and you’re being scrutinized for being 3-1. People aren’t looking at it like it’s fun college football; they’re looking at ‘they’re not getting the job done so we need to find people who are.’ That’s the business. That’s NFL. That’s trading players, and you can’t do that. This is college football. This isn’t supposed to be a giant organization that when things aren’t going well, you take someone out and find someone new right away. This is a team, this is school spirit, this is people coming together to play football and have fun.”

I give Corey a lot of credit. He admittedly hasn’t played well this season, and spoke to the media and poured out his heart. I don’t fault him for his honesty.

I would venture to guess that the biggest reason Corey isn’t having as much fun is because his role on this team is diminishing, while his level of play has decreased. He even said on Tuesday that he’s not getting as many opportunities to prove himself on the field. Phillip Dillard, on the other hand, is seeing an increased role and is cutting into McKeon’s time. That has to be extremely difficult for a senior to experience.

While I understand that being a student athlete is tough, this isn’t anything new to a senior Husker. McKeon has been with Nebraska for four years now, and has experienced the ups and downs of being a college football player.

Is the scrutiny out of control? Absolutely. Heck, we run eight-plus minutes of Big Red Zone Gameday Husker coverage at the top of our Saturday newscasts. We dissect everything, hear from every possible player who said anything remotely interesting while providing commentary and in-depth statistical coverage on what went well and what absolutely bombed on the field. This isn’t your grandfather’s NCAA. And these players know exactly what they’re getting into when they sign up for it.

Players may not like the media/fan scrutiny. However, when things are going well, I’m sure they don’t mind getting recognized in public and not having to pay for their drinks. When they’re being recruited, they’re hyped up more than the season premiere of “24”. They’re coddled by coaches, adored by fans and pumped up by the media. Oftentimes when they set foot on campus they carry an attitude of entitlement. The athletes don’t mind that at all. Sometimes, however, life can get rough both on and off the field. That’s when things can turn and life seems to crash down on you. As Tom Shatel writes in Tuesday’s edition, “When the spotlight gets too hot, they suddenly become innocent students trying to find the library.”

This brings us to our Big Red Zone poll question: How much scrutiny should Husker players have to face? Can they be booed? Can the media call them out individually? Should these athletes be left alone, except for only positive stories?

We have 19-year-old men taking live bullets in Iraq. Is “booing” a 19-year-old college athlete going over the line?

In its Sunday Husker postgame section, the Omaha World-Herald publishes its take on whose stock is up and whose is down. Is that being too harsh?

Mad Mike

This brings us to Mike Gundy’s embarrassing oratory. The Oklahoma State coach went after a female reporter, Jenni Carlson, for an article she wrote in The Oklahoman about quarterback Bobby Reid. In my opinion, the article was completely off-base in its set-up, citing “rumors and rumblings” as sources, leading to a pretty harsh conclusion. I’m always of the opinion that you should ere on the side of caution, and I don’t believe Carlson did that. I try to picture someone at the World-Herald writing the same thing, and I would imagine the fallout would be quite similar. When I read it the first time, I couldn’t believe it had actually been published in a newspaper.

However, Gundy’s handling of the event was over-the-top. His three-and-a-half-minute shouting down of Carlson has become a national treasure, a made-for-You-Tube instant classic. The most egregious aspect of it was that he was shouting down a woman. You can talk all you want about how women should be treated the same as men, but in my book there’s just something a little wrong about a man going ballistic on a woman, let alone in front of a group of people. I wonder how Mrs. Gundy felt while watching her husband in action.

Was Carlson’s article in poor taste? There was way too much conjecture for my liking. At one point she writes, “Tile up the back stories told on the sly over the past few years, and you see a pattern that hasn’t always been pretty.” Back stories on the sly? How about a source? How about a fact?

But was there a better way for Gundy to handle it? Yes. Some might argue that since Carlson’s article was written publicly, Gundy had every right to attack her publicly. Not like that. Carlson even asked Gundy in his Monday news conference if he could point out the errors in the article, since he had claimed (read: screamed) that three-fourths of it was inaccurate. He said, “No.” Carlson responded, “We can’t report inaccuracies if we don’t know what they are.” Gundy added, “I don’t have to.”

I applaud Gundy for protecting his players. I do believe Carlson crossed a line when she went after Reid’s character without much substance.

At the same time, public figures should not look like screaming lunatics on national television.

Could you imagine Bill Callahan doing that?

Considering the lack of fire on this Husker team, maybe he should think about it.

Cos for Concern
Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Every year in every sport, websites pop up for the sole purpose of getting a coach fired. This year, Nebraska is no different. While Husker fans as a whole may still be the “greatest fans in the country”, that doesn’t mean they don’t have strong opinions.

Firecosgrove.com was started last Monday (9/24) following the USC game. Its membership is growing by the day. The site offers fans a chance to voice their opinions through message boards, while also showing video clips of Cosgrove’s defense getting shredded against USC, including photos of massive holes for the Trojan running backs. With a few clicks of the mouse, you can even find “firecosgrove.com” merchandise, including t-shirts. There’s also a poll that asks if Cosgrove should be fired. More than 5,500 people have voted, with roughly 84-percent clicking “yes”.

I had a chance to interview David, the site’s creator.

————————————————————————–

Schick: What is the purpose of the website?

David: It’s a place where people can discuss the Huskers, in particular the defense. It really started out more of a question, and until Saturday (Ball State game) there were a good number of people who thought Cosgrove should stay. That opinion has shifted greatly since Ball State, at least according to the poll on the site. One thing about Husker fans is no matter what they think they want to voice their opinion, which is great. It shows how much they care about the program and want it to succeed.

Schick: How has membership grown over the last couple of games?

David: The site has only been up for a week as of today, so membership and the amount of people visiting the site has been overwhelming. I really didn’t do anything to promote the site, people just sort of found it. I really didn’t even have a plan for the site, I just started throwing ideas up there and people seemed to like it. The poll was the first thing to go up and it took off really quick.

Schick: How has membership grown over the last couple of days?

David: Membership and visitors jumped dramatically after Saturday’s game. I think a lot of people weren’t sure if the defense was really a problem or not. They thought maybe USC was just ‘that good’. Obviously Ball State changed their minds and a lot of people have very strong opinions now.

Schick: Have you received a lot of kudos for setting it up?

David: Quite a few actually; also a lot of people saying they had the same idea. I was actually surprised someone hadn’t set up a similar site already. Before the Ball State game there were a lot of people annoyed by it, but I think a lot of them have changed their mind.

Schick: What do you hope comes out of this website?

David: Ultimately, I’m a Husker fan… have been for as long as I can remember, so I hope the best for the team and the program, whether that be keeping Cosgrove or moving on to someone new. I hope the site can help people voice their opinions and hopefully those opinions will be heard and the correct actions will be taken.

Schick: How did Saturday’s game confirm your mission with this website?

David: I’m not sure it has confirmed it. There is still a lot of season left and hopefully the correct adjustments can be made and the Huskers have a successful season. That being said, I think the game Saturday ‘confirmed’ a lot of people’s suspicions and thoughts, at least in their minds.

Schick: How many “firecosgrove.com” t-shirts have you sold?

David: Not that many, though they haven’t been on the site too long yet.

Texas Tech Makes a Move
Monday, September 24, 2007

Plenty of Husker fans are emailing their comments, wondering if Nebraska coach Bill Callahan will follow suit with Kevin Cosgrove.

From the Associated Press:

LUBBOCK, Texas – On Saturday, Texas Tech lost its first game of the season, a day later the Red Raiders lost their defensive coordinator.

Coach Mike Leach announced Sunday that defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich has stepped down for personal reasons. Setencich will be assigned other duties by Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers.

Texas Tech lost its first game of the season on Saturday, dropping its Big 12 Conference opener, 49-45, to Oklahoma State.

“We appreciate Lyle and the work he did for our program,” Leach said. “We wish him and his family the best.”

Leach named Ruffin McNeill interim defensive coordinator on Sunday. McNeill, the Red Raiders’ assistant coach, will also coach linebackers. He previously served as defensive tackles coach and special teams coordinator.

McNeill has previously served as defensive coordinator at Appalachian State (1993-96) and UNLV (1998).

Nebraska vs Ball State Postgame Blog
Saturday, September 22, 2007

Whether you saw the game in person, on pay-per-view or listened on the radio, you’ve got an opinion. Feel free to share it here. Your comments may be used in the Big Red Zone or a KETV sportscast.

This game cost $29.99 on pay-per-view. It’s safe to say that Husker fans got their money’s worth (although some older fans may ask Kevin Cosgrove to pay for their medical bills after this one).

The Summation
The Nebraska offense was not an issue on Saturday. Sure, a couple of receivers dropped some balls and the offense had a few turnovers, but the offense was clicking on most cylinders. The defense, however, has a lot of work to do following this surprising shootout.

The physical full-padded practices this week were supposed to do Nebraska some good. Instead, Kevin Cosgrove and company welcomed a boat-load of criticism, allowing 610 yards to the Ball State Cardinals.

More on the defense in a minute.

Quarterback Dual
Has there been a better quarterback dual at Memorial Stadium than the one we saw between Sam Keller and Nate Davis? Nebraska’s gunslinger was 29-of-37 for 438 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Davis went 43-for-58 for 422 yards and 3 TDs. You might be looking at two future NFL quarterbacks.

I read a lot about quarterback Nate Davis and watched a few minutes of him on film, but I didn’t know he was this good. This is a guy who can make all the throws, and puts tremendous touch on the football. The MAC has produced some solid NFL quarterbacks (Ben Roethlisberger, Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwich, Bruce Gradkowski) and Davis could be the next one.

Of course, it helps when you have all day to throw. The Husker defense couldn’t get any pressure on Davis the entire game. And when the blackshirts did put heat on him, they either whiffed on the sack or Davis was simply able to elude the rush. In the second quarter, Rickey Thenarse had the quarterback in his sights but missed on the sack. Davis was able to step up and complete a 3rd-and-10 pass for a first down.
  • Ball State was 6-of-8 on third down conversions in the first half. Ouch.
A Ruud Awakening
Has there been a bigger defensive play in the past four years than Bo Ruud’s 31-yard interception return for a touchdown? Ruud has been much-maligned this season for his lack of being around the football. The hometown boy made good, got the crowd back into it, and got Nebraska back into the game. It seemed to spark the blackshirts, as they gave up three points on the final two Ball State possessions.

Slow Going Early
Following Ndamukong Suh’s fumble recovery on the NU43 in the second quarter, Bill Callahan called three consecutive passing plays: one to Marlon Lucky for +6, one to Lucky for no gain, and then Keller was sacked for –6 yards. Zero yards on a sudden change possession following a turnover is never good, especially against Ball State.
Ball State’s 80-yard second quarter drive was a textbook example of how to pick apart this blackshirt defense. The offensive line gave Davis time to convert on a couple of third-and-longs, and Davis was able to find open receivers down the field, with a couple of them coming across the middle and getting huge YAC.

It was a discouraging first half for Nebraska. The running game was non-existent, while the passing game was inconsistent. It wasn’t until late in the first half that the offense hit its stride, similar to the Wake Forest game when the Huskers established an offensive rhythm in the two-minute drill. Perhaps the Huskers should use the two-minute offense beginning at the 15-minute mark of each quarter.

Hill of a Game
A couple of weeks ago after the Wake Forest game, I jokingly asked Sean Hill if he was now Sam Keller’s go-to guy. He smiled, saying, “I’m not saying that!” After the Ball State game, maybe he should be. The fifth-year senior walk-on was on the receiving end of the longest offensive play of the year, a 73-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. He later made a critical 4th-quarter reception for 32 yards on the Huskers’ go-ahead touchdown drive. Hill catches nearly everything thrown his way, and has earned an increased role in this offense.
When was the last time a Husker tight end or h-back had more than 100 yards receiving? I guess I should do some research.

Atta’ Roy
Running back Roy Helu was impressive seeing his first substantial action. The freshman had some decent runs and receptions, but he also made a huge block in pass protection on Keller’s touchdown pass to Mauice Purify. He picked up the hard-charging linebacker, giving Keller ample time to find Purify over the middle.

A Minor Adjustment
Beginning in the third quarter, Kevin Cosgrove made a minor adjustment, having Steve Octavien act as a spy on quarterback Nate Davis. He was a little less effective under increased surveillance for a short time, but was still able to complete long passes that broke the Blackshirts’ collective back, and was even able to make things happen with his feet. Cosgrove and the defense had absolutely no answer for Nate Davis.
Ball State coaches obviously watched the USC game, as they tired to establish the run every chance they could. Miquale Lewis sliced through the Husker defense for a 43-yard touchdown run following Nebraska’s third quarter score. The blackshirts needed to respond and support its offense. Instead, they allowed a five-play, 80-yard drive, relinquishing the lead.

Strong Defensive Finish
The defense was terrible for 98-percent of the afternoon. However, the blackshirts made the critical stops on a Ball State drive that began inside the Nebraska five-yard line. Phillip Dillard made huge tackles, and the defensive line finally put pressure on Nate Davis. Then, following Nebraska’s go-ahead touchdown, the defense did not give up the big play, with Steve Octavien knocking down a long fly-pass over the middle.

The Huskers did get a gift from Dante Love, who had 214 yards receiving but could not haul in a long strike on Ball State’s final drive that surely would’ve gone for six points. Love beat Armando Murillo by three yards, but the ball bounced off of his facemask.

This Husker defense has plenty of questions to answer. Giving up 610 yards of offense to Ball State is nothing short of a complete disaster. Had the Huskers lost, Kevin Cosgrove might’ve had to hire a body guard just to go grocery shopping. As it stands now, the Huskers are 3-1 but have little to nothing to feel good about on defense.

My Extra Point Preview
Three games into the season, one thing is clear to me: if the Huskers are going to have any sort of success in the Big 12 season, it’ll be up to quarterback Sam Keller. Nebraska is morally opposed to playing defense, giving up more than 1,400 yards of offense in the last three games. The Husker running attack is averaging 2.6 yards per carry in the last three games.
That being the case, if Husker fans are still holding out hope for a north division title or even a chance at a conference championship, Keller will have to carry this team on his back. Because if it’s true that the best offense is a great defense, the Huskers could be in serious trouble.

Moment of Levity for the Blog

On the television broadcast, former Husker/Kansas City Chief Will Shields was an in-studio guest. Color commentator Matt Davison remarked, “You look like you could still play.” Shields replied, “It’s only been a few months since I last wore a jersey.”

So, What Do You Take From This?

We had a record number of responses from last week’s game. After this one, I would expect nothing less.

Schick’s Picks
Friday, September 21, 2007

Following last weekend’s game with USC, this weekend is a little anticlimactic. Thankfully, there’s enough on the sports docket to keep you interested.

Predictions

Nebraska 38 (-23)
Ball State 13

The Huskers are wounded, but according to Kevin Cosgrove this week they look like a team that “wants to improve.” That’s good, considering they looked like a defense that didn’t want to stop the run.

Penn State 27
Michigan 26 (+3)

Michigan looked good against Notre Dame. Nebraska-Kearney would’ve looked good against them, too.

Michigan State 27 (-11)
Notre Dame 14

I’m only picking this game because a viewer/friend asked me to. If the Irish keep this within 10 points, they should get credited with a win.

Wisconsin 31 (-7.5)
Iowa 20

I’m surprised the spread is that low. I understand you can’t draw many conclusions from an instate rivalry (Iowa/ISU), but I also understand that those teams that lose to Iowa State can’t be very good.

NFL Sunday

New England 33 (-16.5)
Buffalo 13
Being a Bills fan, it pains me to see them this big of an underdog in week three. When they lost to Denver I declared their season over. Looks like I’m fairly accurate. Hello 0-3.

Jacksonville 20 (+3)
Denver 17

Denver is one of the more overrated teams in the league. The fact that they needed a last-second field goal to beat Buffalo, and a gift-timeout in overtime to beat Oakland, should tell you that.

Cincinnati 24 (+3)
Seattle 26
No explanation. I just needed to pick a third game.

Like it or Not, New Stadium is the Plan
Friday, September 21, 2007

From ketv.com:

The NCAA told Omaha on Friday morning that it likes a proposal for a new downtown stadium to host the College World Series.


The NCAA expressed its appreciation for CWS of Omaha, Inc.’s and the city of Omaha’s presentation and vision for the future of the Men’s College World Series, according to a news release. The NCAA has indicated that the “preferred” site and facility plan could meet the needs of the CWS, and that it is interested in moving forward with the process. The response also indicated the NCAA’s willingness to consider an agreement to keep the CWS in Omaha for 10, 15 or up to 20 years, as long as conditions of performance are met, with the option to renew after that.

Based on the NCAA response, the city and CWS of Omaha, Inc. are working toward developing a response to the NCAA’s three main areas of interest:

  1. Confirmation that all involved parties accept the city’s preferred downtown location becoming the recommended site.
  2. Reaction to the terms of the proposed long-term agreement.
  3. Detailed information regarding the financing plan for the new facility.
CWS of Omaha, Inc. and city officials said in the news release that they recognize the NCAA’s response as an initial, but critical, step in the effort to enhance stadium facilities and subsequently secure a long-term agreement. Many details remain to be worked out and the plan is not finalized.
—————————

Well, if the CWS is going to stay in Omaha long-term, it’s going to be with a new downtown stadium. The final year of the CWS at Rosenblatt will be 2010.

And to think that Kevin Costner only had a week to speak his mind.

Are you in favor of this?

I say, whatever keeps it in Omaha, do it. Unfortunately, it won’t be at Rosenblatt Stadium.

Tuesday’s Talk
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Following an embarrassing showing on national television, it’s all about moving on to Ball State.

Padding it Up

Nebraska coach Bill Callahan told us on Tuesday that the team will work in full pads on Tuesday, and will do a lot more of “ones versus ones” work in practice, meaning the top defensive unit will face the top offensive unit. We’ve always wanted to see this in the Spring Game… maybe Nebraska can offer tickets to go watch practice this week.

In all seriousness, this is a smart move by Callahan, and in essence, it’s the only move. When your football team can’t tackle, it’s time to start going back to the basics. Callahan and company have said that players’ techniques were off on Saturday against USC. It seems to me that techniques would be a little off when you’re not doing them in practice. This team hasn’t been in full pads since fall camp. I understand that they work through techniques in practice, but maybe doing it in a full-contact/full-padded setting will translate better onto the playing field. At least, that’s what Callahan and Cosgrove hope. Nebraska needs to become a tougher football team.

And honestly, since they didn’t make many tackles on Saturday, they might as well make up for it on the practice field.

Said Sam Keller, “We got pounded on Saturday, so we need to start pounding each other.”

Jobs Open

Callahan also said that the team will “compete for spots”, indicating that he is accepting applications for playing time. Actual resumes don’t mean a lick at this point; it’s a “what have you done for me lately” business. Don’t be surprised to see some back-ups get more time this weekend against Ball State. Where is Rickey Thenarse, anyway?

The fact that Callahan has to re-evaluate his player personnel three games into the season is discouraging. Especially after what many believed to be the biggest game of the year. At least it’s September 18th, and not October 18th.

Responding to Emails
We had a record number of emails and blog postings following the USC game. I’d like to address a few of the common themes.
“Bring back Pelini and get rid of Cosgrove, Callahan and Pederson.”
For a program that has prided itself on stability, fans sure would like a lot of changes. Pelini will never come back to Nebraska, and Pederson and Callahan both received contract extensions. It’s not time to hit the panic button just yet. Let’s let this season play out.
“Cosgrove is terrible. He must go.”
Defenses won’t always perform up to snuff. Of course, Saturday’s performance was a consistent meltdown. Viewer “Red Alert” calls attention to Cosgrove’s better performances that some fans might forget: the defense held USC @ USC to 28, Texas at home to 22, Oklahoma to 21, and Auburn to 17.
I’ll add this: Keller’s two interceptions set up USC in good field position; one right on the doorstep.
But the fact remains, Cosgrove will be under the microscope the remainder of the season. And after Saturday’s performance, it’s understandable. Tackling has been an issue for the past few years.

“If anyone is so upset that they don’t want their Husker tickets, I need four for Saturday.”

A guy named Bill posted this. A kind viewer stepped forward. I’ve got some tix for you, Bill. Send me an email.
“KETV Sports is hands down #1 in Omaha.”
I’d argue if I could.