Tag:Cody Green
Posted on: November 8, 2009 1:02 am
Edited on: November 8, 2009 7:46 am
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Oh-Hanlon! Nebraska 10, Oklahoma 3

Do you think that Matt O'Hanlon felt bad about the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after his third (and game-clinching) interception?

I don't.

He hurled the ball as far as he could, along with a season's worth of frustrations, not caring any more about the extra penalty yards (in a evening littered with yellow laundry) as he did about the hateful words directed at him from a legion of Internet critics.

For one night, the local boy made good.

The cacophony of criticism reached its zenith following the Virginia Tech game in which he missed his assignment and had to get on his horse to make a tackle that only delayed the inevitable.  Lost in the aftermath was the fact that O'Hanlon tried to atone for his error and sacked Tyrod Taylor on the very next play.  In the end, it didn't matter.

What followed was perhaps one of the poorest displays by Husker fans since the inception of the Internet.  Vindictive (and sometimes personal) attacks popped-up from every corner of cyberspace.  Not just for his gaffe against the Hokies, but for all the mistakes he had ever made in his career.  Post after post appeared on countless message boards, calling out the safety because he was "slow", because he "sucked", even because he was "white".

It's unfortunate because Matt O'Hanlon is exactly what countless young Nebraska boys aspire to be while playing catch among the falling leaves on every Saturday in autumn.  You see, O'Hanlon is a former walk-on in the Nebraska football program, the only starter on the Huskers' defense to come from such humble beginnings.

O'Hanlon, a homegrown Husker, has wanted to play for Nebraska since he was six years old.  In high school, he was a team captain for Bellevue East.  During his time with the Chieftains, he helped his team reach the state playoffs twice and played quarterback, running back, corner back, free safety and special teams.  Even though he earned several accolades for his athletic endeavors, he wasn't offered a scholarship from a Division I team.  Instead, he was offered a scholarship from South Dakota's D-II program, but his heart wasn't in it; he wanted to be a Husker. 

This is a player whose will to "keep going" is a vow to his childhood friend, Andrew Pawlak, who died of Wegener's disease.  A player who has had twin knee surgeries, a player who carries a gold keychain with the date he made the team inscribed on its surface.  Matt O'Hanlon is a true inspiration who went from being a security guard at a Target to swatting down a pass against Clemson to preserve the Huskers' 2009 Gator Bowl win.  

This is not to say that his game against Oklahoma was perfect.  A fourth-quarter defensive holding penalty against him could have been catastrophic.  But it wasn't.

Also he wasn't the only defender to make this improbable win against the Sooners possible.  With the offense struggling to break out of its continued lethargy, the task of keeping the Huskers in the game fell once more to the Blackshirts.  Cody Green, making his second start at quarterback, was pulled in favor of Zac Lee, who benefited from a 22-yard interception return from Prince Amukamara to throw a one-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Hill.  It would be Nebraska's only trip to the endzone.  A fragile Roy Helu Jr. rushed for 138 yards, although the vast majority of that total came on three of his twenty carries and he had a costly fumble in the Sooners' redzone. 

Meanwhile, the Nebraska front four disrupted things at the line of scrimmage, tipping passes and keeping the heat on OU signal-caller, Landry Jones.  Jared Crick added to his school-record five sacks from last week against Baylor and Ndamukong Suh blocked yet another field goal.  Linebacker Phillip Dillard added an interception and a sack of his own, the Tulsa native perhaps having something to prove against the preeminent program of his home state.  

In the end though, it was Matt O'Hanlon's night.  A night of redemption.  With twelve tackles (a career best) and three interceptions (the last effectively ending the game), he silenced the peanut gallery for a least a week, hopefully forever.  Those who might have thought that his unsportsmanlike conduct foul was just another boneheaded O'Hanlon play, it wasn't.  It was a spontaneous release of years of frustration and determination.  That and a cue for all the O'Hanlon haters to leave their keyboards and go back to their armchairs.

Posted on: November 6, 2009 10:26 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2009 10:29 pm
 

Just Bearly: Nebraska 20, Baylor 10

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.

Almost Unbearable.
Posted on: October 17, 2009 7:04 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2009 9:08 pm
 

Wrecked: Texas Tech 31, Nebraska 10

We're six games into the season, and Husker Nation still doesn't know the identity of this Nebraska team and exactly what they can accomplish.

Following a last-minute meltdown on the road against Virginia Tech, a thrilling rally against Mizzou in a monsoon, and three convincing wins against Sun Belt opponents, Husker fans could point at this team and, despite all its scars and blemishes, feel somewhat good about them.  Yet, while most felt that the VT loss was as respectable as the Mizzou win was dramatic, many question marks remained.  There were those who thought that the rain-soaked game in Columbia, despite the thrill it gave much of the nation, obscured several glaring concerns spiraling around this Nebraska team, not unlike like the sheets of rain that pelted them last Thursday.

So, as much as we don't know about this version of the Cornhuskers, perhaps it's easier to talk about the things we DO know about them:

Their offense, when not playing Florida Atlantic or Louisiana-Lafayette, can be downright offensive.  Zac Lee is wildly inconsistent, not only in his throws but in his decision-making on the field.  While I no longer reside in Nebraska, I can only imagine the swelling opinion, correct or not, that will be resonating throught the state: Cody Green needs to play more, if not start altogether.  As it turned out, Pelini somewhat agreed as I wrote this, inserting Green into the offense in the second half, though it was far too little, far too late (a lone touchdown pass to Khiry Cooper following a near-interception). 

It's clear that Roy Helu Jr. cannot do everything and, while I feel that there is no room for excuses, the loss of Rex Burkhead as the number-two I-back was more costly than initially imagined.  Additionally, it seems that while a receiver or two might step up one week, no receiver has stepped up consistently.  The announcers today hit the nail on the head when they remarked that Nebraska's receiving corps is essentially wide-receiver-by-committee.

The Huskers' defense, just rewarded their Blackshirts by Pelini, have a very unsettling habit of playing soft towards the end of a half; they did it most notably against Virginia Tech, in the first half against in Missouri and also in the first half against Texas Tech.  Exactly what was Carl Pelini thinking at that point, calling a prevent defense and having his defenders play so far off of the Red Raiders' receivers?  And while Ndamukong Suh has been adding to his resume each week (except perhaps this one) and Jared Crick has been benefiting from all of the extra attention being paid to his linemate, the defense has had horrible lapses and not exactly where they might be expected.  Going into the season, the main concern surrounding the Nebraska defense was the lack of experience at linebacker, not the secondary, which is where a frightening amount of NU's defensive failures have occurred.  Yes, the Blackshirts held the Red Raiders' offense to just a handful of yards in the second half, but it was long after the real damage had been done.

One more defensive observation: Though they managed to put some pressure on Sheffield, how was the Nebraska defense not able to more fully exploit Tech's offensive line in the first half, when they had three players get nicked?

Another thing that Husker fans this season have known all too well?  Penalties.  Penalties, penalties, penalties.  Again not an excuse, but it's been very surprising to see a team, coached by a disciplinarian like Pelini, consistently shoot itself in the foot with stupid penalties and suffer other mental lapses, not the least of which was how the offense just gave up and stood around after the botched lateral from Lee to Niles Paul.

None of this bodes well as Nebraska still faces games against Oklahoma and Kansas (in Lawrence).  And at this point, following this game in which Nebraska had gotten most of the nation to buy what it was selling, if they didn't win the game outright, they were expected to at least feed off of the win at Missouri, continue their momentum and be competitive.  Instead, Nebraska hit a red and black wall of bricks and the Big Red machine came to a smoking, grinding halt.  At this point, no conference game is a gimme.

The final thing we do know about Nebraska?  They are NOT back.  Back?  We don't even know who they are.
Posted on: October 6, 2009 10:54 am
Edited on: October 7, 2009 2:07 am
 

300! Nebraska 55, Louisiana Lafayette 0

It's been a few days since the Huskers' convincing win against Louisiana-Lafayette and just a couple more days until the Huskers' next big test of the season.  Meanwhile, I've been silent, only leaving a place-holder where my commentary should be.  In true Pelini-like fashion, I'm not going to offer any excuses.

Besides, the game acted as a balm, temporarily soothing the pain of the catasrophic loss in Blacksburg and reminding us Husker faithful of happier times, when Nebraska would routinely hang "half-a-hundred" on their foes.  Granted it was ULL and not LSU but, for a week all seemed right in Lincoln.  The throwback aspect of the game was as entertaining as it was unusual, right down to the Blue Streak Sports Section in the World-Herald the next day.

Other than that, there wasn't much to discuss.  The team put together a strong effort, responding well after their one-point loss the week before, and no particular Husker shone much brighter than the others. 

If you're a glass-half-empty sort of person, you could comment on the difficulty that Zac Lee and Jacob Hickman had with their exchange early in the game or the reduced production of wide receivers, Niles Paul and Menelik Holt.  Defensively, you could bemoan the injuries to the Huskers' secondary (Asante, Thenarse & Amukamara), although it seems that only Thenarse will miss significant playing time, or worry that the defense gave up too much yardage on the ground to a Sun Belt team facing its third BCS opponent in three weeks.  After all, the never-satisfied Pelini still doesn’t think that his team is where it needs to be, especially on defense.

Or if you’re like me, you could complain about Matt Davison’s work in the booth, as footballnut correctly guessed from my teaser.  Yes, I like my Husker broadcasts to have a Nebraska flavor with a little homerism mixed in, but sometimes Davison’s work is downright cringeworthy.  Nevertheless, his playing style fit the mold of the Osborne-style receivers back in the day (lots of blocking and a key reception here and there), his efforts are still sprinkled in the Huskers’ record book today and his name will forever be etched into Husker lore for being in the right place at the right time on an unforgettable early evening in Columbia, Missouri.  And fear not Husker fans, he is nowhere near my all-time least favorite announcers: #1 Brent Musburger, #2 Kirk Herbstreit, #3 Brad Sham.

If you tend to spend your time on the sunny side of the street, you could talk about Larry Asante’s 74-yard interception return for a touchdown (right before he injured his ankle), or maybe Matt O’Hanlon’s fumble recovery (though I doubt you will).  Asante’s score was the Huskers’ first pick-six by a DB since Fabian Washington did it against Arizona State in 2002.  Other positives were the Huskers D sacking the previously unsacked Ragin’ Cajun’ QB’s, handing ULL their worst loss since Texas clobbered them 60-3 in 2005 and shutting them out for the first time since North Texas in 2002.  Perhaps most important (in the long-term) was the play of Cody Green (7 of 8 for 62 yards) and Rex Burkhead (112 all-purpose yards).  The Texas duo hooked up for a 24-yard score off of a shovel pass in the fourth quarter.

But what I’d really like to take away from this game is that Nebraska rebounded well after a gut-wrenching road loss.  ULL provided the perfect “palate-cleanser” if you will, chasing away some of the bitterness after losing a game they should have won.  And this team, already road tested, should be able to go TIGER HUNTING and atone for last year’s 52-17 drubbing.  Yes, the Tigers come into the game undefeated, but two of those wins were more than lackluster (27-20 over Bowling Green & 31-21 @ Nevada).

So…Huskers win.  Oh, and I hope to see some of you at our next 300 consecutive sellouts.

Posted on: September 8, 2009 2:07 am
Edited on: September 8, 2009 2:19 am
 

Musings After Week One of College Football

We live in a sports world in which everyone is trying to offer up bold predictions and issue ominous statements in order to get a soundbite.  I prefer to think that you can't tell anything after one week of football and that pre-season polls are useless.

The reason that I open with this is that I'm tired of hearing how Oklahoma's title hopes are irreparably damaged, as greviously wounded as Sam Bradford's shoulder.  News Flash: A team doesn't have to finish an undefeated season to hoist the crystal football, though it helps,  Didn't Florida lose to Ole Miss last season?  Weren't the LSU Tigers beaten twice in their 2007 Championship campaign?

Yes, the majority of BCS National Champions were undefeated, but my point is that one game does not a season make.  Besides, recent reports have announced that Bradford has already begun his rehab and should be back in plenty of time for the Sooners' date against the Longhorns in October.  On a side note, props to Texas' Colt McCoy who had the class to send a "get well" text to Bradford.

So members of the media (including those in the employ of CBS), let's tap the brake a little, shall we?

I think that perhaps a more interesting question might be: Is Bob Stoops overrated as a "big game" football coach?

Sure, his 2000 squad came out of nowhere and won the title, but since then, his teams have been embarrassed on a national stage more times than he would care to be reminded.  Three losses in the BCS title game (to LSU, USC and Florida, respectively), this year's loss to BYU as well as a season-opener against TCU in 2005, and of course, the infamous Fiesta Bowl against Boise State, which many college football fans regard as one of the best games ever played.

OU fans, if you're reading this, please don't get upset.  I'm not saying Stoops is a bad coach.  Also, I respect your team.  I'm just saying that, in some very notable games in which his troops should have been prepared and passionate to play, they've just looked bad.  If you can name me one game of consequence since their most recent national championship (other than a couple of Red River Rivalries or Big XII title games against overmatched opponents) that OU has won, I'll reconsider my opinion of Stoops.  And Missouri and Texas Tech do not count; it's my contention that both were overrated when they had the national spotlight cast upon them, then promptly stumbled out of its glow.

Next up, Erin Andrews, ESPN's "It Girl".  On September 11th, she's going to tell you, and Oprah, and an audience of millions, what a "nightmare" it's been since that nude video of her popped up on the Internet.  Really?  A nightmare, huh?  That's why you're going to relate the story in front of the biggest audience you could find?  Hmm, interesting.  The lady doth protest too much, methinks.  Sounds more like someone trying to squeeze as much mileage from said "nightmare" than someone truly scarred by the event.

Florida State and Miami proved that the ACC could put on a good show after the majority of the conference laid an egg.  At least Virgina Tech lost to Alabama.  Respectable.  As was Maryland's fall to Cal, Wake's loss to Baylor and NC State's defeat by the Gamecocks.  But Virgina losing to William and Mary?  Duke losing to Richmond?  I have a question for both Al Groh and David Cutcliffe, a question made famous by a series of Southwest Airlines commercials, "Wanna get away?"

Which is the same question I'd pose Colorado Buffaloes' head coach, Dan Hawkins who boldy predicted a 10-win season this year after only managing to cobble together thirteen wins in his first three seasons.  It's true that, according to the "experts", Colorado has put together some good recruiting classes under Hawkins, but his prediction sounded more like a man's desperate plea to save his job than a guarantee.  If his team continues its current ways, no "prediction" will change Hawkins' fate.

It appears that the SI cover jinx may be weakening.  On the magazine's college football preview issue, they featured four different covers for different regions.  Oklahoma State was on the one in my mailbox.  Sure enough, the Cowboys tamed the Bulldogs.  I guess all that money from T. Boone Pickens made a difference after all.  But seriously, I kid.  Oklahoma State is picked to be this year's "Texas Tech".  I hope not.  Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see OSU break the OU/UT logjam atop the Big XII's South Division.  It's just that we all saw how the Red Raiders went out with a whimper once everyone had drank the Kool-Aid.  Incidentally, there still may be some validity to that ol' jinx after all; Oregon was on one of the alternate covers, and we all know what happened to them.

Finally, nobody saw it unless they bought the pay-per-view, but the much heralded Nebraska recruit, Cody Green came into the Huskers' season opener in the second half to spell Zac Lee and get some valuable playing time.  He promptly ripped off a 49-yard run in which he almost scored, causing echoes of the great Tommie Frazier to reverberate throughout Memorial Stadium.  Bo Pelini is slowly and quietly building a winner in the Land of the Corn.  Yes, I know.  Like I said above, it's only one game.  But it's also MY blog.  And there's a reason it's named...

...Husker's Take.
Posted on: September 6, 2009 12:03 am
Edited on: September 6, 2009 2:32 am
 

Nebraska 49, Florida Atlantic 3

 First let me say, "Ah, football season."

Next let me say "wow".

But I'll get to the wow in a minute.

The game started a bit slow as the Huskers were tentative on offense at first, but quickly made up for it with a strong performance by Zac Lee and some phenomenal running by Roy Helu Jr.  The defense, anchored by the awe-inspiring Ndamukong Suh, sometimes allowed the Owls' to grab big chunks of real estate, but kept them out of the end zone by making plays when it mattered.

Menelik Holt showed a great inside move after a quick grab from Lee, then tore down the sideline for the Husker's first score and Curenski Gilleyen just flat outran the Owls' defense after catching a beautiful pass by Lee for a 51-yard touchdown.  Helu punched in a score on fourth and goal to further deflate Florida Atlantic.

At the half, Pelini was asked about his team's performance and replied in typical Pelini-like fashion, saying that the Huskers weren't as crisp and clean as he'd like them to be, but they weren't horrible.  A pretty astute assessment as a couple of drops and bad penalties kept the Cornhuskers from widening the gap on the scoreboard even earlier than they did.

And yes, it's the first game, but I have a question for the so-called experts.  What Nebraska running backs problem?  Not only was Helu stellar, with diamond-precise cuts and sudden explosiveness, but diminutive Rex Burkhead showed great power as he gave Helu a rest following his 152-yard, 3 touchdown performance, including a 44-yard sprint that had jaws dropping from Omaha to Scottsbluff and beyond.

Then came Cody Green.  And now comes the "wow".  Zac Lee, while fairly impressive, had better listen for the footsteps behind him.  Those footsteps belonging to Cody Green who, after completing a couple of passes, almost scored on a 49-yd sideline dash which showcased his pure athleticism, then punched it in from the one for Nebraska's final score.  It was exciting to see both Burkhead, who had a TD of his own, and Green giving Husker Nation a glimpse of our future, which judging by their performances, should be a bright future indeed.

And one last note, I had to chuckle when Schnellenberger got laid out on the sideline.  My negative emotions for that man run deep.

GO BIG RED!
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com