I thought Nebraska would win comfortably.
Because of the favorable match-up between the NU running game and KSU's willing run defense and my notion that KSU's hopes rested on Carson Coffman's arm when NU went man, Big Red would do whatever necessary to to shut down Daniel Thomas.
Needless to say, Coffman's ability and bad run defense is not something you want to stake a game on and that's exactly how it played out.
Nebraska rushing game - 42 carries, 451 yards, 10.7 ypc. Taylor Martinez - 15-241-3.
Daniel Thomas - 22 carries, 63 yards. Longest run of 13.
Carson Coffman - 11 of 21 for 91 yards, 1 charity TD, 1 interception.
48-13 and it could have been much worse. And NU OC Shawn Watson thinks they've barely scratched the surface.
Put Zac Lee into that game, and it's 24-13. Why?
Nebraska is the best team in the league right now and the game was particularly bittersweet to watch because it so clearly demonstrated the advantages of a dual threat QB in the college game in creating favorable match-ups in which the defense must account for 11 offensive players. Denard Robinson agrees, except that Nebraska is Michigan with a defense. The dual threat QB raises the efficacy of every offensive player on the field and it allows the superior athlete to win one-on-one match-ups across the board as the defense must account for every skill position player as a viable offensive threat and not just a passive distributor of the football.
Currently, we start an offense that's playing 9 on 11 when you factor in our check down Extra Blocking Surface TEs.
Is the dual threat QB a panacea? Of course not.
Great defense, like great pitching, can work you over irrespective of your QB's wheels. And you have the threat of injury etc.
It's just what fixes us best. They most fundamentally address our problems given our current mix. Because Greg Davis ain't going anywhere.
There are certainly teams that get by on offense without a dual threat QB, but history isn't kind to us here. And the dual threat provides exactly what the Greg Davis offense lacks - executable run blocking schemes, a built-in running threat, ready-made counters that the players execute in-game rather than relying on a brilliant play call from the booth, spontaneity, big play potential downfield with single coverage and extended plays.
Most crucially, the counters in the zone read, pistol veer, and any derivation of option offense are hardwired into the scheme itself. Combine that with three wide, a defense that must declare its intentions pre-snap for the most part (when you have option responsibilities, games at the LOS backfire quickly), easy to learn and executable blocking schemes, and you have an offense playing with a certainty, an identity, and a physical confidence that we sorely lack.
The game becomes about execution and athletes, not play calling. This is why VY was so transformative and why Colt McCoy - a different variety of dual threat - was able to salvage so many bad plays and move the sticks within the constructs of a more pass-heavy spread.
Our move away from dual threat QBs is the largest single reason for our current offensive malaise.
That doesn't exculpate bad offensive evaluations, mail-it-in offensive recruiting from 2006-2008, or inarticulate philosophy, but I can assure you that an elite dual threat QB on this roster makes Marquise Goodwin, Fozzy Whitaker, DJ Monroe, and Mike Davis big-time playmakers operating in space while the OL fares much better blocking at advantage. And to head off in anticipatory fashion the standard idiocy that plagues the internet like bed bug infestations - no, this isn't blaming Gilbert. Gilbert is Mike Leach's dream QB. But we don't execute at that level in the spread without 24 and 26 year old gym rat athletic freaks starting at wide out who have been playing catch with Colt since age 5 or are grown ass men who exemplify everything a Longhorn should be in Quan Cosby. Frankly, once we lost one of them, we weren't all that hot in 2009.
This Nebraska offense was miserable last year. The OL was mocked, the backs seemed ordinary against good opponents, their QBing was poor, and the WR corps was one guy. Insert a dynamic dual threat into the line-up, change up the schemes, and suddenly everything clicks.
Their OL is mauling people, wide receivers are open all over the field (not that they needed to throw it), and a stable of solid backs looked like world beaters.
It's funny how quickly we forget Billy Pittman as an elite deep threat. What would he do on this team? Nothing.
Make no mistake, Greg Davis resented being made to run Houston Madison's high school offense. Although Colt was closer to his vision, his unpredictability and playmaking was something he always worked to tame and the four WR Texas Tech style offense we stumbled into in 2008 proved to be a blessing and its efficacy was enabled by Colt's feet (our leading rusher, remember?). Throw in fly-paper handed mature freaks like Quan and Shipley with Colt's accuracy and you're cooking with gas. Until defenses caught up in 2009. Disguised by the fact that we scored 11 non-offensive TDs.
Davis' vision of college QBing is a 6-4 kid with a gun throwing from a pocket, executing an intricate passing offense, with or without a running game. He dreams of Carson Palmer. I dream of Vince Young. That almost no one in college football can run Davis' offense extremely effectively without NFL talent at every supporting position and/or an offensive coordinator with a natural play caller's knack doesn't enter his thinking.
There is a game of football that exists in his mind and on the chalkboard with lines and arrows and a guy getting blocked because your chalk says so and a game of football that exists in the real world with intuitive athletes making plays, juking a LB that came free, buying time in the pocket and throwing downfield or converting 3rd and 9 with their feet.
We've benefited immensely from the latter athlete from 2004-2009, but Davis, and it appears by acceptance, Brown, has pined for the former. We're running exactly the offense he wants with exactly the personnel he wanted. With the coaches on his staff he's comfortable with. This is Year 12. Not a hasty rebuilding job. While Copperas Cove's RGIII quarterbacks Baylor to a likely a bowl game and Darron Thomas from Aldine has Oregon ranked in the elite, our roster and future recruiting consists of passers, who, though athletic, have nothing close to dangerous running skills.
We've made our bed on offense. Now we're going to have to lie in it.
Bo Pelini said screw it, drove to Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and got himself a new mattress.
And now we're the ones with sleepless nights.