Tag:Nebraska
Posted on: November 13, 2010 11:40 pm
 

What I learned from the Big 12 (Nov. 13)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. Texas A&M might actually be good.   Which is insane to contemplate considering the way the Aggies' season started, and the roller coaster interception ride that was Jerrod Johnson at the start of the season.  But since Mike Sherman finally decided to replace Johnson with Ryan Tannehill, the Aggies have won four in a row -- averaging 41.25 points a game while doing so -- and now sit in second place in the Big 12 South.  It's possible that if the Aggies can beat Nebraska at home next week, and then a Texas team that does nothing but lose in Austin on Thanksgiving, they could end up playing for the conference title.

2. Of course, Oklahoma State will have to lose twice for that to happen.   Something that doesn't seem all that likely considering the way the Cowboys have been rolling through the Big 12 this season.  Aside from the loss to Nebraska last month, not much has gotten in the Cowboys way this season, as they became the latest team to beat Texas in Austin on Saturday night.  If they can beat Kansas next week -- and something tells me they will -- they'll be hosting Oklahoma on the 27th with the Big 12 South on the line.  Well, assuming that Oklahoma beats Baylor next week, and considering how the Sooners struggle on the road, that's not a sure thing.

3. Missouri is still alive. The Tigers ended their two-game skid with an impressive 38-28 win over Kansas State on Saturday, which means they still have a chance to get to Dallas, even if it is a remote one. Not only would the Tigers have to beat both Iowa State and Kansas the next two weeks, but they'd need Nebraska to lose to Texas A&M and Colorado too.

4. Colorado should fire Dan Hawkins every week.
  Seriously, hire him on Sunday and then fire him on Monday, because it seemed to work out very well for the Buffaloes this week.  The Buffs had their best game since beating Georgia back on October 2nd, which coincidentally, was the last time they actually won a game.  Even Cody Hawkins seemed to be celebrating his new independence from his father, throwing for 266 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Posted on: November 11, 2010 1:38 pm
 

Barnett questions Colorado's commitment

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Gary Barnett first burst on the coaching scene when he led Northwestern to the Rose Bowl after winning the Big Ten in 1995, and then left the program a few years later to take over at Colorado.   While in Boulder, Barnett's Buffaloes won the Big 12 in 2001 and won the Big 12 North four times in his seven seasons, even though they only went 34-22 in conference play.

So Barnett has a pretty good idea of what it takes to win in Boulder, and how hard of a task that is.  He was on ESPN 1600 in Denver on Thursday to talk about coaching at Colorado, and he didn't really try to temper his feelings about the situation.

“There’s a disconnect between what it takes to compete at that level and what’s being done," Barnett said when asked about the difference between the expectations at Colorado, and the commitment the school puts into the football program. "I think what happens is nationally, on the outside, people perceive CU and Boulder to be like it is in Oklahoma, like it is in Nebraska, like it is in places where we have defeated programs and played for National Championships and played for league championships. And in reality, we’ve scratched along and found a way to be competitive on those levels without having that same sort of culture and environment that other people have. And as long as that culture and environment doesn’t change and remains the same, then it’s going to be a constant scratch and claw.

"Yeah, there’s a disconnect between those that want and what the university is willing to do. And as long as it stays that way, there’s going to be this constant set of expectations that are unrealistic for any coach that goes in there. And that’s what’s really hard – on the outside the expectations are one thing, on the inside the expectations are something else. But you only hear the ones on the outside, and those end up being negative when the job gets harder to do and more complicated to do than you can perform or accomplish.”

Barnett then went on to give an example of the school's commitment, particularly when it comes to putting a coaching staff together, and trying to keep it together.

“Well it’s not challenging getting those coaches here, but once they get here and realize the expectations that are put upon them and the resources that they actually have, and then they’re on a month-to-month contract…they’re not even on a year-to-year contract, they’re on a month-to-month…so they have absolutely no security.

"And then what happens is they get persuaded to go to other places with two and three year contracts. It just makes it difficult to maintain a staff. It’s not hard to get them there, it’s hard to maintain it once they’re there and realize the complications of the job there.”

In other words, you're expected to win at Colorado, and the school expects you to win, but the school doesn't do much to help you do it.  These are words that any head coach who is considering taking over at Colorado should probably want to consider before making any commitment to the school.

I mean, seriously, month-to-month contracts?  It's like they're hiring freelance coaches.

Obviously, if what Barnett said is true, then Colorado needs to make a lot of changes if it wants to contend in the newly formed Pac-12 next season.
Posted on: November 10, 2010 12:48 pm
 

We mean it this time: Martinez '100 percent'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Like a lot of high-profile quarterbacks this season (oh hey Denard Robinson ), the health of Taylor Martinez has been something of a weekly guessing game ever since he injured his ankle in a win against Missouri . But after "T-Magic" was a late scratch from last week's barnburning 31-30 win over Iowa State , it appears there won't be a whole lot of guessing this week : he's in:

Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said he expects freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez to be 100 percent for Saturday’s game against Kansas.

“That’s the plan right now,” Watson said Tuesday. “He practiced yesterday, did a good job, moved around. We take it day to day and keep increasing the workload.”

The Huskers (8-1, 4-1 in the Big 12) probably won’t use the wildcat in Saturday’s 6 p.m. game against Kansas (3-6, 1-4) at Memorial Stadium if Martinez is ready to go.

“When you have Taylor Martinez you don’t need it,” Watson said. “You have a healthy Taylor and he is our most explosive player. You would rather have that explosiveness, making those reads, so we didn’t have to use it.”
Martinez's health is of even greater importance since backup Zac Lee , who relieved Martinez in the Huskers' lone loss of the season against Texas, is also banged-up.

Or at least, it would be if the Huskers weren't facing Kansas , either the worst team in the Big 12 or the team that needed a 35-point fourth-quarter comeback to beat the worst team in the Big 12, Colorado . If the combination of Cody Green and wildcat quarterback Rex Burkhead worked well enough to eke out a victory over ISU on the road, they would almost certainly be enough against the Jayhawks at home.

All the same, the sooner Martinez returns, the sooner he knocks off the rust that the Huskers won't be able to afford in next week's tricky trip to Texas A&M , much less a Big 12 championship showdown with Oklahoma or Oklahoma State . Even against Kansas, Nebraska needs him back to 100 percent if at all possible. Good thing that appears to be the case ... this week.

Posted on: November 9, 2010 2:25 pm
 

Maxwell semifinalists released; where are RBs?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There has been one good piece of news to come out over the past 24 hours for Cam Newton : the Maxwell Football Club named him one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award , the organization's honor for the best player in college football. And though Newton has accumulated the stats and highlight reels of an All-American running back this season, it's perhaps for the best for him he doesn't actually play the position. That's the way it looks from the complete list of semifinalists:

WR Justin Blackmon , Oklahoma State, So.
WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma, Jr.
QB Andy Dalton , TCU, Sr.
QB Robert Griffin III , Baylor, So.
RB Kendall Hunter , Oklahoma State, Sr.
RB LaMichael James , Oregon, So.
QB Colin Kaepernick , Nevada, Sr.
QB Andrew Luck , Stanford, So.
QB Ryan Mallett , Arkansas, Jr.
QB Taylor Martinez , Nebraska, Fr.
QB Kellen Moore , Boise State, Jr.
QB Cam Newton , Auburn, Jr.
QB Terrelle Pryor , Ohio State, Jr.
QB Denard Robinson , Michigan, So.
QB Ricky Stanzi , Iowa, Sr.
QB Tyrod Taylor , Virginia Tech, Sr.

All right, so it's also a little odd that none of the top 16 players in the nation by the Maxwell's estimation happen to play defense. But it's nothing unusual for defenders to get snubbed in the national Player of the Year talk, and since the Maxwell Club also hands out the Bednarik Award to the nation's best defensive player, the Maxwell itself appears to be a de facto offensive players-only honor; even the great Ndamokung Suh didn't crack the semifinalists list last season .

So the much bigger surprise is that among a list of the nation's top 16 offensive players, only two running backs, Hunter and James, make the cut next to two wide receivers and a whopping 12 quarterbacks. Since when has the the second-most high-profile position on the football field been this devoid of stars?

Since 2010, apparently. Last year's Maxwell semifinalist list included seven tailbacks, including a pair of Heisman finalists in Toby Gerhart and Mark Ingram and several who returned to college football for this 2010 season: Ingram, Noel Devine , Jacquizz Rodgers , Dion Lewis . Unfortunately for those four players, the season hasn't played out as expected for any of them; not one currently ranks among even the top 30 rushers in the nation at present, with Rodgers' 803 yards (good for 33rd) the best year to-date of the bunch.

Why the sudden downturn in the fortunes of the nation's top tailbacks? Some of it is probably a simple fluke. But some of it is the continuing rise of the spread offense, which revolves around the all-purpose quarterback at the expense of pounding along with the traditional bruising tailback. Auburn , Nevada , Michigan , TCU , Baylor -- these are all some of the most explosive offenses in the country, and all five begin with a mobile QB. It's no wonder all five placed their quarterbacks on the list above despite the presence of top rushers like Nevada's Vai Taua , Baylor's Jay Finley , and TCU's Ed Wesley . This year's top pro-style attacks, meanwhile, are all quarterback-dominated as well: Stanford and Luck, Arkansas and Mallett, Boise and Moore. Offenses like the 2009 Cardinal and Tide attacks that turned Gerhart and Ingram into superstars just aren't out there this year.

They'll probably be back next year. But that doesn't mean they'll be back in the same numbers we've seen in the past; as long as the spread remains as in vogue as it is today, the kind of bludgeoning workhorse tailback that makes award lists is going to stay an increasingly endangered species.
Posted on: November 7, 2010 12:00 am
Edited on: November 7, 2010 12:01 am
 

What I learned from the Big 12 (Nov. 6)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. There really is no order in the Big 12.   The Big East and the ACC have caught a lot of flak this season for the overall lack of quality throughout their conferences, but the further we get into the Big 12 season, the more I wonder how different the Big 12 is.  Think about it, Texas has lost to UCLA, Iowa State, Baylor and now Kansas State this season.  The same Baylor team that beat Texas then went and got destroyed by Oklahoma State, who suffered its only loss to Nebraska, who suffered its only loss to Texas.  It's an insane circle that I just can't wrap my head around right now.

2. Nebraska is going to the title game.   With a narrow win against Iowa State on Saturday, and a Missouri loss against Texas Tech, the Cornhuskers are pretty much assured of winning the Big 12 North.  Nebraska already has a one-game lead on Mizzou in the standings, and with the tiebreaker from beating the Tigers last week, it's really a two-game lead.  Which means that Nebraska has to lose at least two of it's last three, and with teams like Kansas and Colorado remaining on the schedule, I don't think it's going to happen.

3. Bill Snyder thinks throwing is for wimps.
Kansas State manhandled Texas on Saturday night, winning by a final of 39-14.  They had nine passing yards in the game.  Seriously, only nine.  The score was 31-0 Wildcats before Collin Klein even bothered completing his first pass of the game.  That's how bad Texas is this season.  Even when it knows what its opponent is going to do, the Longhorns can't stop it.

4. Oklahoma State has the edge in the South.
  Talk about a perfect day for the Cowboys.  Not only do they rock Baylor's world in the morning, but get to return home in time to see Oklahoma lose to Texas A&M.   This means that Oklahoma State is the only team in the South with one loss, and it's already beaten two of the three teams beneath it with three losses.  So, essentially, the final game of the season against Oklahoma will probably settle who gets to face Nebraska in Dallas.

5. There is no lead Colorado cannot blow.
  You know, Dan Hawkins probably knows he's going to get fired, but until Saturday he thought he'd make it through the season at least.  That may no longer be the case.  Colorado had a 45-17 lead on Kansas in the fourth quarter on Saturday.  They lost the game 52-45.  I repeat, the Buffs blew a 45-17 lead in the fourth quarter as Kansas scored a school-record 35 points in the final frame.  If Dan Hawkins is still Colorado's head coach on Monday it'll be the biggest upset of the season.

Posted on: November 5, 2010 1:06 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 1:07 pm
 

T-Magic a game-time decision

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez suffered an ankle injury during the Cornhuskers win over Missouri last week, and though the injury forced him to miss practice on Monday, Martinez practiced throughout the rest of the week.  Which would lead you to believe that Martinez will be ready to play when Nebraska takes on Iowa State this weekend in a game that means a lot more than most of us would have thought when the year began.

That may not be the case, though.  According to Bo Pelini, Martinez is getting better, but whether he plays or not will be a game time decision.

"He's getting better each day," Pelini told Husker Extra. "It will be probably a game-time decision, but he's getting better every day."

Which, in my opinion, means that Martinez will be starting for Nebraska on Saturday.  This is a very big game for Nebraska, because a loss against Iowa State would completely render last week's victory against Mizzou meaningless, and give Missouri the inside track to the Big 12 title game.  It would also drop the Cornhuskers to third in the division, as they'd have the same record as Iowa State, but would lose the tie-breaker.

So, in other words, Nebraska has to win this game or its chances of winning the Big 12 are done.  Considering what Iowa State did to Texas in Austin a few weeks ago, it's apparent that this is not a Cyclones team to take for granted, so unless Martinez is incapable of walking on Saturday morning, he'll be playing.

Posted on: October 30, 2010 11:53 pm
 

What I learned from the Big 12 (Oct. 30)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. Nebraska will be playing for the Big 12 title. Forget about that loss to Texas at home a few weeks ago, unlike the Longhorns, the Cornhuskers will be back in Dallas for the Big 12 title game this season.  Its last in the conference. I just don't see a team left on the schedule that can knock off the Cornhuskers, especially if they play the way they did against Missouri on Saturday afternoon.  Speaking of the Tigers....

2. Missouri isn't quite ready for primetime. It's one thing to beat Oklahoma at home, which was a huge win for Missouri last week, but going on the road with the Big 12 North on the line is a completely different animal.  The Tigers got blown out of the water early by Roy Helu Jr, and just couldn't recover.  Still, just because I don't think it's going to happen doesn't mean it won't.  Missouri needs to shake this loss off because if they win out they are still alive for the conference championship and a BCS bowl.

3. Mike Sherman needs to listen to me sooner.   A few weeks ago I told him to bench Jerrod Johnson.   He didn't.  Now, this week, he finally handed the keys to the station wagon over to Ryan Tannehill, and Tannehill returned home with a Maserati and a full tank of gas.  Tannehill set a Texas A&M record with 449 yards passing and 4 touchdowns in the Aggies 45-27 rout of Texas Tech.

4. Things actually can get worse for Texas.
What's worse than losing two straight home games to UCLA and Iowa State?   Losing three straight home games to UCLA, Iowa State and Baylor. It's the first time Texas has lost to Baylor since 1997, and the first time its lost at home to the Bears since 1991.  All of which means Baylor gets to spend another week atop the Big 12 south.  I only wish that the now-defunct Baylor blog, Bear Meat , were still around to see this.  Since they aren't, however, we share this video in their honor.


Posted on: October 30, 2010 4:32 pm
 

Paper tigers? MSU, Mizzou getting housed

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Michigan State and Missouri might have entered this weekend undefeated and ranked in the top 6, but you couldn't say they were getting a whole lot of respect; according to Vegas both were decisive road underdogs, against Iowa and Nebraska respectively, and both stayed ranked behind known non-AQ quantities Boise State and TCU. The near-universal consensus seemed to be that the Spartans and Tigers had enjoyed a nice run, but that it was over.

That consensus has thus far been proven even more correct than even the most skeptical skeptics could have imagined. Missouri has given up two long Roy Helu Jr. touchdown runs, seen Blaine Gabbert start 3-of-11 with an interception, and trail 24-0 at the end of the first quarter. Michigan State has been a little more respectable, but only just: Iowa opened the game with a dominating 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, and increased their lead to 17-0 when Tyler Sash picked off a wayward Kirk Cousins pass and lateraled to Micah Hyde for the defensive touchdown.

So, as of this moment, it's Homestanding Agents of BCS Chaos a collective 41, Undefeated Conference Front-runners 0. Sometimes, unfortunately, the haters have a point.
 
 
 
 
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