I didn't, because Scipio beat me to it and his was just fine, save the uncalled for crack at us Suh Believers. But since my entire sense of self worth is derived from being correct on the internet, here are a few things I had written that we can now look back upon, and laugh.
Or cry, your call.
Zach Lee is just awful. He's an INT waiting to happen. Unlike Jerrod Johnson, who is very accurate, a lack of pressure against Lee will still turn into punts and INTs because he's wild with the ball. Our secondary is exactly the kind of group that will kill them, and I expect to see it.
When he threw more than 10 yards downfield it was essentially random where the ball would come down. Since we all saw the game, I'll just offer up Lee's stat line without further comment:
6/19 for 39 yds, 0 TD 3 INT
Helu does have good vision, however, and will find creases. We are a solid gap control defense, and I don't expect anything to come of it, but they be able to find some first downs here and there. It's important not to panic and gamble in stopping the run, and since Muschamp never does that anyway, we should be good.
It turned out that this was important because we couldn't stop giving them the ball at our own 40. One or two grind-it-out first downs turned into at least 9 of the 12 Husker points. We did not gamble, and ultimately did not give up anything, but those few first downs here and there almost did us against a team that gained 106 yards all day.
Is where it gets interesting. Their dynamic is a lot like ours was last year -- let's cover and not make mistakes and let the DL do the heavy lifting. The difference, of course, is that their DL is one guy.
Ndamukong Suh should win the Heisman. He is the best player and affects each game more thoroughly than anybody else in the country.
What you didn't see yesterday was the Jets vs. Sharks dance fight I staged in the parking lot regarding the candidacy of Mr. Suh. Three people died. It really escalated quickly.
I fell on the "he should win it" side before this game and believe even more in my position now. People will focus on his numbers against us (28 tackles, 7 TFL, 12 sacks), but should not forget that because he dominated so thoroughly on his own, NU never had to put more than 6 guys in the box, and often had only 5. That means that every pass we ran was against heavy, aggressive coverage.
He bounced off of our guys like they didn't have arms. He contained Colt's scrambling. He allowed their coverage freedom to completely swarm everything we tried to do. Colt threw for 180 and 3 INTs. Nobody who watched that game should be confused who the better player was. And you know what else? We're not the first team he's done this against. He's done it over and over again for two straight years, only nobody notices because they can't score.
He is less a defensive tackle and more an enormous linebacker. His speed and agility are awe inspiring. Not only can he push through a double team, but he can run down a lateral play from behind. Yes, we do have an extremely strong center and guard combo, and never run laterally, but I am still worried.
He is also perfectly capable of dropping into a short coverage, but I am willing to risk a knockdown in return for him not coming after Colt. The worse thing and offense can have is a QB is isn't as fast as he thinks he is and holds onto the ball too long. I guarantee at least one big hit on McCoy early on when he underestimates Suh.
As it turns out, that big hit never came. But about a dozen small ones did. Suh did swallow up our running game, but more than that took away our best offensive weapon -- Colt running around after our play inevitable fails. Part of this is on Colt. He's simply had too much training for his bad habits to change now.
The rest of the defense is a classic do-your-job unit. The other DL aren't spectacular (although they benefit from playing next to a beast), the LBs aren't overly fast or powerful, and the secondary isn't filled with shutdown players, but they all know what to do -- and more importantly they all do it.
Most of their INTs come from bounced passes knocked away by the primary cover guy into the hands of a nearby defender -- and there is always a nearby defender. They don't give you anything through errors or bad calls.
I may have understimated Phillip Dillard. There was a swing pass in the 3rd quarter (I think?) that he stuffed where he looked like he was shot out of a cannon. But so much of football speed is knowing where to go, and he was at a dead sprint before the ball even left McCoy's hands.
They, like every pattern matching team with access to game film, knew everything we were going to do. I was at the game and watching closely, and I would estimate, seriously, that 90% of our pass routes were unable to get open. At least. We probably got one open player per drive. The NU defense played perfect football, and Suh drove the bus as usual. They even got a tip INT to open the game, something they make a living off of.
At any rate, their defense is exactly what we thought they were. Our lack of discipline, creativity, self-awareness, and talent up front nearly led us to a defeat against a team that gained 106 yards all day. And here is the good news: Alabama plays the same style of defense that OU and NU do, except they can score. Have a nice month!
The final score will be 13-12 on a late field goal we get only because of a horse collar penalty. The penultimate play will fool NU into thinking the game ended when it was obvious to everyone else that there was still time on the clock. I will get home at 2:45 and not be able to sleep for the next two hours because of how singularly focused I become on hating Greg Davis.
OK, I didn't really type that.
In order to score we'll have to rely heavily on Jordan Shipley, like usual. They don't have speed enough to shut him out like OU does, and Shipley is smart enough to get open against a lot of the pattern reading stuff they do. We'll need him to be the chain mover because our run game is going to be terrible.
He was the only one who did anything all day, aside from Malcolm Williams. I have no idea what we are going to do without him next year. I don't think we'll miss Colt as much as everyone will expect, but we will miss Shipley to the point where we might have 3 losses if Davis comes back.
He is precise and disciplined, unlike almost anyone else on the team. He's reliable. Quan was too, and look how much we underestimated his loss (even me, who warned about the hole he left). This is a legit worry if nothing else on the offense changes, because our offensive coaches deserve a big fat F for this year. This is where I leave behind my aborted preview and veer into crazy person mode:
- The overwhelming sentiment in my section was hopelessness. A couple guys did the "FUCK GREG DAVIS" thing, but mostly, everyone kind of looked around, desperate for answers. "What else can we try?," they would ask. We'll I'll tell you. Nothing. I know what I would've tried. I know what Mike Leach tried. I know what ISU tried. But we're not the ones in charge.
We have a specific, limited arsenal, and if it doesn't work we will not change. We'll stick with the same head-against-the-wall game plan that we showed up with. The answer to a better offense last night was, well, get a better coach. You have to run specific stuff against pattern matching, and we simply don't have any in our playbook. Our run game is poorly designed, easily beaten and destroyed by any two bit DT who is paying attention. You saw what happens against a good DT.
The answer isn't to run more or less, to pass more or less, or to try any one specific thing that we do.
(there is one exception. When a defense basically sits it's guys 7-10 yards from the line of scrimmage and has them wait for your WRs to run to them and stop, they are set up for double moves. They were so aggressive and confident in our continual rinky-dinkiness that we could've tried at least 5 hitch-and-go's. We tried one, it was wide open, and Kirkendoll dropped the freaking ball. We never tried it again. Instead we tried the stuff that had already proven not to work, because that's what they decided to do on Tuesday.)
The answer is that we need a whole new offense. We still run plays that pattern matching is designed to stop, like we don't understand the concept at all. We run 5 wide plays where all WRs break at the same time, so if the one that McCoy is watching isn't open, there is no second option. Combine that with predictability, and you're screwed. It doesn't matter when we run, because all of our designs are flawed. The actual order that the plays come out doesn't matter.
- I have a secret theory that Colt is dumb. At least on the field. He kind of makes up for it because a lot of his gambits work, but his decision making is downright mystifying at times. A lot of this has to do with the fact that he thinks he can get out of any quandry, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. He'll take sacks on the edge of field goal range. He'll hold onto the ball for 7 seconds on an 8 second game clock. His casual attitude towards ball security is crippling against good teams. He is terrible against sight-reading blitz pickups, almost always choosing to try to make the guy miss instead.
The more and more I watch him, the more and more I'm convinced he's an average player with one or two incredible gifts that keep him going. This is not an insult, per se, any more than it is to say that Tom Brady isn't very good aside form his accuracy and vision. What I am saying is that he has strengths that, if stopped or limited, will allow his weaknesses to come spilling out like a ScipioTex spit take at a Kathy Griffin concert.
He has a winner's legacy, and I certainly don't dislike him, or think he's a bad player. I so think he's a schemeable player who will often take as much away from his team as he brings to it. A lot of this is that we just don't teach that kind of football that moves chains against the likes of NU or OU. A lot of it is that our WRs aren't very good outside of a couple of them, and we don't always use them right. Part of it is that our OL is bad. But Colt plays a role as well. 2009 has shed a lot of light on exactly what Colt is, and exactly what he isn't.
- Sergio Kindle played the worst game of his life against A&M. He wasn't just invisible, he was an active detriment to the team. To say he rebounded yesterday would be shortchanging him. He dominated. I feel safe calling him our MVP last night. Not only was he a destroyer against the run, he kept on Zac Lee's ass all night and kept him from ever getting comfortable. He came up huge.
- I think the transformation of Fozzy Whitaker into an east/west back is complete. Congratulate yourselves, David and McWhorter, you've ruined another one! Let's all take really good mental video of Tre Newton now, so we can remember why he showed promise at one time.
- Can you really be called down if you never have the ball? Is simply touching a kickoff with a knee on the ground enough? They should've let that play go then reviewed it later. Calling it down was extremely irresponsible.
- And finally, DoubleZeroGate. Look, I like NU fans. They were a good bunch. But come on, you can't get mad. I looked at the clock as soon as McCoy's pass sailed out of bounds and it read :02. The game was not over, and you can't be sore about it. Plus, if the Big 12 was really concerned about the BCS, the smart move would be to cheat for NU. No other Big 12 team has a shot at the BCS now, so we'll get half the payout.