Green isn't the guy
When it takes your quarterback three quarters to warm up to the point where he can complete passes with some sense consistency, that's not good. And when they are still turning the ball over, whether it's on the zone read, off the snap or on a sack, that's not good either. It was no mystery that this Husker offense wouldn't be as good as it would have been with Taylor Martinez. But I'm not so sure it wouldn't have been better with senior Zac Lee. Green had his moments, but the good ones were far outweighed by the bad ones. The fact that Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson called eight plays out of the Wildcat formation on the first scoring drive, should have been a darn good indicator. This offense has no life with Green at the helm. Certainly not as much as we are used to seeing with the uber-explosive Martinez. Green is a fast guy once he gets going. Martinez is fast before you realize he's even taken off. And thanks for that 300+ yard day passing against OSU, we know that when Martinez needs to throw, he can and pretty darn well. That is an area where Green isn't consistent, and considering how much he plays, I don't know how much you really can expect him to be.
Burkhead IS Superman
He can do it all, can't he? Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson was telling us earlier in the week about how Taylor Martinez was superman, in trying to get us and perhaps Iowa State people watching or reading, to believe that
|Out of the Wildcat or from a simple run, sophomore Rex Burkhead was Superman for the Big Red offense today.|
Martinez was fine. Well, he obviously wasn't, but Rex certainly was, rushing out of the Wildcat formation as well as behind or beside the quarterback, 20 times for 129 yards and two touchdowns, one of those scores happening in the first series in overtime. Burkhead saved Nebraska's offense today. I don't think there's any doubt about that. And he wasn't in the Iowa State game last year when the Huskers lost to the Cyclones at home. So, we'll call it Superman 1 Iowa State 0.
Niles Paul is....Niles Paul?
The guy can make you marvel. Then he can make you scratch your head. Today was one of those head scratchers, probably even more-so than his unforced fumble against Iowa State last year. With the game still very much in hand with a 24-17 lead with about 11 minutes left to go in the game, Iowa State kicked off to the Huskers. Paul got the ball about five yards deep in the end zone, pauses for a second and then as he has had a penchant for doing in the past, made the ill-advised decision to bring it out, getting up to around the 15-yard line and then fumbled. The turnover led to an Iowa State score just three plays later, tying the game at 24, which is what it remained until the end of regulation. This time, though, it didn't cost Nebraska the game. Had the Huskers lost, however, this would be the moment most would cite as the play that put Nebraska behind the eight ball for good.
|Cassidy's interceptiion and subsequent touchdown changed the mommentum of the game...for awhile.|
Nope, nothing in the form of funny quotables from the Mike Myers James Bond spinoffs. But you can't deny the power of Austin Cassidy, the junior walk on who just received his scholarship this year, and was making good on that long before this game happened. 12 tackles and one huge interception that he took back for a score. At that point the Huskers were tied with ISU. But Nebraska took the lead off Cassidy's monumental pick-six, which if not for the very last play of the game, the Hagg interception of a trick play called on an extra point in overtime, it would have been the biggest. Heck, It still might be.
Beating a dead horse, Nebraska needs Martinez
OK, it's obvious. It's painfully obvious. It's so absolutely obvious that you can't deny it: As Taylor Martinez goes, Nebraska goes. It was only due to a couple of big defensive plays by a defense which once again had issues tackling and stopping the run - that Nebraska had a chance to win that game. The offense had Rex Burkhead and that was about it. Cody Green's one shining moment was a long completion to Kyler Reed on third and long. But how many plays did you see in the backfield that had you screaming to yourself 'If Taylor was in there that wouldn't have happened. If Taylor was in there, he would have made something happen.' I applaud players like Rex Burkhead being very nice after the game saying that the offense wasn't any different than it would have been, because Cody can do everything Taylor can do.
Well, he's supposed to say that, you know. And Rex would say that even if he wasn't, because he's just that kind of kid. He's a good teammate. But if you want to know how different this team is with someone other than Martinez at the helm, look at Green's nine rushing attempts today. Yes, I know they used the Wildcat with Burkhead out of necessity, because with Martinez gimpy and Lee out, they couldn't afford to rush the kid. But they still did. Nine times for 10 yards. Martinez had seven carries once this year, the fewest he's had. That came in game one against Western Kentucky, where he still managed 129 yards. Other than that, if you take out the record-setter by Roy Helu Sr. last week (he had 99 yards today), Martinez has been the main identity for the Huskers in the rushing game. You can't go from that to not having him at all and replacing him with a quarterback who is a decent runner, especially when he gets the corner turned or gets up a full head of steam. But he doesn't have near the explosion, near the agility, near the escapability.
Whatever Nebraska does the rest of this year, if you want better odds on it being good than bad, Taylor Martinez has to be the guy. Honestly, right now, there's simply nobody else.
It was a good call
You will get slaughtered for it if you don't make it, but you will be a hero if you do. Well, I don't think there should be too many people giving Iowa State Head Coach Paul Rhoads too much crap for going for that fake on the extra point at what resulted in the end of the game. From watching the play, the only thing that really stopped it from working was that it was a bit of a floater out to the tight end, and against a wind that wasn't kind to anything that didn't have some steam on it. That potential factor allowed senior safety Eric Hagg to come up under it for what would be the biggest play of the game. But it was a good call. I think it was perhaps a perfect call in that situation. While Nebraska was pretty swiss cheese like against the run much of the game, it was obvious at that point of the contest Nebraska was having more success on the ground than ISU. And there's really no way to stretch out a defense which the defense can literally use the end zone as another defender. Nebraska seemed to have the advantage going into OT, because they were in a position from the start of each possession that they probably didn't have to throw. And typical to Nebraska, they may have gotten run over in the first half, but they were much stouter in the second half against the Cyclone offense.
Rhoads will probably get more flack for that call from local media than he will from anyone regionally or nationally that watched the contest. I think it was something he had to do.
A win really is a win
You know, you really don't even need to look at the rankings anymore if you are a Nebraska fan. A national title shot is so ridiculously small that to even give it a second thought is pointless. But if Nebraska simply wins out, and I say "simply" a little tongue in cheek after today's game - they will have an opportunity to do exactly what they wanted to do from the get go:
Win the Division, win the conference, go to a nice BCS bowl game...and leave with the conference title trophy in hand.
They don't have to win by 50. It won't matter if they win by five. They don't have to cater to style points, because it wouldn't help one little bit. All Nebraska has to do is win. Ugly or beautiful, large or small, just win and you are 'N.'
It may not be a national title, and no, you still haven't beaten Texas, but I doubt many Husker players, coaches or fans will mind knowing that they still control their own destiny right now, which is something they were a fake extra point being successful away from not being able to say.
I'm sure they will take it.