Turn the Page Tuesday – Texas to Okie St.

Farewell Tour 2010 for Nebraska hit a snag this past weekend at home against Texas. There wasn't one particular area that went wrong, but there were a few that went completely wrong. The Huskers didn't start out fast, they missed tackles and failed to make key grabs. The Huskers have a stiff test this week in Stillwater.

It wasn't supposed to go like that for Nebraska. The Huskers were getting a chance to host Texas at home after last year's Big 12 Championship game was a bit of a "dream come true". It was a dream that ended up being a nightmare.

There were breakdowns on both sides of the ball. While the Huskers only turned the ball over once; Texas didn't turn the ball over at all. Texas also wasn't even penalized until the waning moments of the first half while Nebraska was penalized 10 times for 94 yards.

Then there are the dropped passes. Some people count eight dropped balls. I know that there were at least three to Niles Paul, one to Rex Burkhead, Brandon Kinnie and Quincy Enunwa of which three and possibly four of those passes I mention could have been touchdowns.

There were also missed tackles, bad special teams and some overall sloppy play. These are all things that Nebraska needs to get shored up before heading to Stillwater to play Oklahoma State this Saturday.

For this "Turn the Page Tuesday" I think back one last time to Texas and ahead to Oklahoma State:

Final Texas thoughts:

- It's a numbers game. It really starts with eight dropped passes, three of which would have been touchdowns and a fourth that possibly could have been and 28 missed tackles.
- It was more than just the offense or just the defense, it was a complete failure on all parties involved. It's very hard to make adjustments when there are these types and this many of bad things happening over and over again by multiple people.
- I read the Niles Paul articles about being heckled and taking down his Facebook. Paul did bring this on himself to some degree by issuing a public statement asking for the ball some weeks before. He then gets the bail and fails to execute. Paul continued that he's human and will make mistakes. He's quick to bring out that he can make mistakes, but maybe his quarterback made mistakes when Paul was open and missed him. Where the fans went wrong was by taking this to one, individual player. You never do that. The facts that it also took place in front of his family and in a public social network site are equally wrong.
- This is one of those weeks that nothing went right. Nebraska needed to get out early and Texas came down the field and kicked a field goal on their first possession. First Nebraska possession goes three and out and the second possession ends with a fumble after just one play leaving Nebraska trailing by 10 with 8:06 remaining to play in the first quarter.
- While there were some dropped passes, there were also some easy check down receivers that Martinez could have thrown to early that could have helped sustain drives. Ultimately, I think that Martinez got the hook in favor of Lee because if there is one thing that Lee will take it will be the check down routes (and those plays to Rex Burkhead and Roy Helu in the second half went for some big yards).
- Nebraska is simply not a very good special teams team at the moment outside of PATs and FGs. There was nearly a 10 yard different in net yards per punt (despite Alex Henery having a pretty good day punting) and before a 95 yard punt return for Eric Hagg on the pooch kick the Huskers were averaging eight yards on punt returns (2 returns for 16 yards to 3 returns for 111 yards) while Texas averaged more than twice what Nebraska averaged.
- Between the key fumble by Helu early in the game and the fact that Texas was able to get some returns going on Nebraska the short field was there for Texas all day long to score points. Average field position for the game was 10 yards different, in Texas' favor, and for the first and the fourth quarters the average field position for Texas was nearly midfield.
- My one thought, that made me reconsider all of my predictions (public and private), came on the trip on Friday. My thought was this, by position that Texas was probably a more gifted team than Nebraska was. That means, go through and compare by position that was there for each team and at the end you would have more check boxes in Texas' favor. But, if this was a math problem and the sum of those players, despite having lower ratings going in, would still favor Nebraska. Nebraska, at least going into the Texas game, was probably a better team because of coaching, intangibles, etc. than what Texas was.
- Also, was it just me or did anyone else find it convenient, ironic, etc. that every time it seemed Nebraska was getting something together offensively that there was an injured Longhorn? I mean, the last one which was Nebraska in the third quarter left a Longhorn on the ground right next to their sideline. But, before he was on the ground he was actually standing up and then went down. It just seemed "strange".
- Maybe that was right and maybe that was wrong, but you got this feeling watching the game that it was also possible that Texas just hadn't been able to put it together for a game and that maybe they finally were and the exact opposite was true for Nebraska. It's going to be interesting to see how Nebraska responds against Oklahoma State.
- Before we start talking about Oklahoma State though, I will say that I did tell a few people that I was concerned with how Nebraska was playing at home. I wasn't surprised at all by the articles that followed the game about that topic. It's something that I had thought about before the Texas game.

First Oklahoma State thoughts:

- Get ready for another test. The Oklahoma State run defense is just about as good as Texas (allowing just 124.5 yards per game and has only allowed five touchdowns rushing) which is good enough for #36 nationally. However, their passing defense is an Achilles Heel and leads to them allowing 404.5 yards a game and 4.85 yards on average per play. They are also allowing 27.17 points per game.
- Defensively, the Huskers need some work, but against the pass they are still tough and it makes you wonder what Oklahoma State is going to do. They are second nationally in total offense with 535.33 yards per game, second in scoring offense with 49.5 points per game with 361 yards of total offense coming by way of the pass.
- The Huskers on the other hand are #1 against the pass, allowing just 117 yards per game, ninth in total defense by allowing just 274.33 yards per game and ninth again in scoring defense with allowing just 14 points per game.
- Something is going to have to give when you see Oklahoma State's offense on paper and you see Nebraska's defense on paper.
- What can't give for Nebraska, if they want to win the game on Saturday, are more breakdowns like they had against Texas. The Huskers will not be able to recover from a similar number of mistakes this Saturday if that is the path they go down.
- I am interested to see how Nebraska responds on the road, where Nebraska has played the best this season (see the Washington and Kansas State games), and in front of a fairly rowdy crowd in Stillwater that on TV looks like it's on top of the players on the field.
- The matchup that everyone needs to watch is Nebraska's secondary against Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma State. He has 57 receptions for 955 yards, 12 touchdowns and is averaging 159 yards per game.
- This game will not just be about solid work in the secondary, but also about getting pressure on Oklahoma State's quarterback Brandon Weeden who boasts a 68.89 completion percentage and has thrown 19 touchdowns through six games.
- I am also interested in seeing how Taylor Martinez bounces back. He was held to just 21 yards on 13 carries on Saturday, but then again the Nebraska rushing offense was completely stymied by Texas with 44 rushing attempts for 125 yards and no touchdowns.
- Nebraska is going to need to try and keep Oklahoma State's offense off of the field as much as possible. This will mean running the football and ball control. The Huskers will also have to do something else that they failed to do against Texas and that is to win the battle of field position. They will need to challenge the Oklahoma State offense to go the length of the field on drives as opposed to giving them the ball right around the 50 yard line.

These are the things that are buzzing around in my head on another "Turn the Page Tuesday".


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