Okay, let me set the scene for you: It's hot, there's people everywhere wanting to get to their seats early, everyone's decked out in red. August? No, April. As I was walking towards Memorial with The BlankPosse (with our minds on our money and our money on our minds), I says to them, I says, "Boy howdy! I can't wait to see the game! Where would you fine fellows care to sit?" We decided that the West Stadium would be a fine vantage point for our viewing of the MidWest Coast Offense and flow into the outer rim of the stadium. We hear, through the grapevine, that the West Stadium is full. Fair enough, we decided. The South Stadium would be more than appropriate for our needs. As we walked into the southern area and finally got a chance to peer out amongst the throng, one thing became quite apparent: This place is FULL!
We managed a perch about as high as Memorial will actually let you go without falling and causing a new reality TV show to spawn and awaited the kickoff. The National Anthem, she came and went, Memorial was choked to the gills with people, per usual (or unusual depending on how you look at it) and then IT happened: Sirius. Oh you have got to be KIDDING ME! The Tunnel Walk made her 2004 debut as the nearly sold out stadium clapped and gave recruits in attendance not only a simulated Walk, but the real deal. Electricity, fire, brimstone, etc. Everyone is screaming, applauding and ranting as a coin flip that had to have been as fixed as any 1950s baseball game took place. The No. 1's would touch the ball first. As Jose Dailey and the Boys took their place, they did not remain there long. Motion, and lots of it, occurred. The crowd "ooo"ed and "ahh"ed as Joe lobbed a toss over that NEARLY made it. Then he threw again and again. The point is not so much the three and out but the fact that ALL plays were passing. Zuh?
After one of the most entertaining Spring Games in recent memory, I took away the following about the units:
Quarterback: Joe Dailey is the man…for now. Once Jordan Adams gets onto campus, that's when things get interesting. I stand by my belief that Dailey will start when the Leathernecks come to town but by Game three or four? I really couldn't tell ya. Joe looked solid some of the time, not quite at others, but a general knowledge was there. After 15 practices in Cal's O, he wasn't shabby and, for now, that'll do. There does need to be improvement, but he's shown he's capable of that so, we wait.
Runningback: The backs didn't really get a lot of showcasing today mostly because of work by the O-line when it came to run blocking which was…kinda odd, honestly. David Horne actually had a pretty solid scrimmage with a 5.9 yard scamper per tote o' da rock. Cory looked…well…let's just say that with some blocking, the lad can and will shine. The backs also made some decent snags and showed they can, indeed, catch. Practice makes perfect and they've got plenty of time to do it.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: Ross Pilkington showed grit, determination and toughness, all wonderful qualities. 6 catches for 61 yards didn't hurt the lad, either. Ross has the talent to be a feature player in the offense and it's obvious Cal knows this and has known it since he saw the lad. Mark LeFlore had a FANTASTIC catch in the back of the end zone and other times just looked disinterested. I tell ya, that boy can be a riddle wrapped in an enigma. He's a rinigma is what he is. Matt Herian is a solid fit for the MWCO and showed why today with 5 catches for 46 yards. The dude can move, he can block and he will make plays. Sure, his average yards per catch will probably drop since the Jammal days, but I doubt his TDs will. As for the other lads? Well, 15 practices ain't much, but there is a lot of work to be done in that department.
Offensive Line: The OL did well, I thought, when it came to pass blocking. Blocking for the run was another story. They almost seemed a bit confused in those instances, somewhat understandably so. I believe that you will see a newcomer or two work their way into the lineup and, from what I'd seen of them, that might not be a bad thing. Growing pains should be expected here, folks, but as a bright spot, Richie is a rock.
Defensive Linemen/Defensive Ends: I had this pointed out to me by my best friend: Apparently the rush ends are channeling various DEs of the past and tucking their jerseys underneath the pads to let the opposing OL admire the abs. ROCK! Not since the days of Grant Wistrom has Blankman seen this! I cannot heap enough praise onto this group of young men. The D-ends were pissed, tough as nails, physical, brutal and just plain mean. The interior linemen? Oh yeah, they bad and they desire to inflict pain on yo punk ass. Say, didja notice how at certain points ALL of the DL were rush ends? Talk about a way to make a grown man drool.
Linebackers: I didn't really notice much about the starters as I was too busy gawking over Mark Brungardt and Bo Ruud. These two single-handedly have made me feel a bit better about depth at linebacker. Mark and Bo (who at this point last year were the same person) combined for 15 tackles on the day going against the ones and, even for Spring, that's a good day. Speaking of Ruuds, Barrett had a solid day with 6 total tackles, 2 solo and 3 for a loss. Overall, not a bad unit and probably will surprise some people.
Defensive Backs: Unfortunately the ones didn't get tested all that much as Mike Stuntz and Garth Glissman were getting felt up more than a CU co-ed, thus limiting the passing significantly. Donald Defrand did notch a pick, however and the Bullocks Brothers did their fair share of flying to the ball. I gotta tell ya, though, folks, you want to find the most bored unit on the team? We are DBs, we are DBs. Major props, boys, you all are just sickly good.
Kickers: SHANK! After some early problems, Tyler Kester (who is wearing #90, why?) settled down and booted 8 balls for 268 yards. Unfortunately for Tyler, that's 33.5 yards and that ain't gonna cut it, mah boy. Still, there is an art to punting or so I'm told and no doubt with some tutelage or whatever is passed down from On High to NU's starting punter when another leaves, he'll improve. Koch is your man here. David Dyches never got a chance to attempt a field goal so that area gets an incomplete from moi.
Well, it wouldn't be much of a game day without some arbitrary awards, now would it?
The Offensive Hit Or Miss Award goes to Joe "I Read Playbooks" Dailey who, while skiddish, went 29-of-49 (no, I did not get happy with the "9" key) for 241 yards and a pick. Oh yeah and four touchdowns…passing? The hell? Production was the key and Dailey was the ignition of the Spring Game's 2K4 Edition. Dailey also added 16 yards on the ground and, sans green jersey, probably would've had more. Good game, Mr. D.
The Defensive Cumulative Armageddon Award goes to the entire defensive line. Seriously, you cannot expect me to single one man out on this unit. They played well, strike that, they played fantastically and it is my sincere belief that we shall see a return of A.) QB pressure and B.) QB Sacks from the Steady Men Up Front. Godspeed, you large, bad men!
The Blankman Memorial Spring 2K4 MVP Trophy goes to Mark Brungardt. Mark's efforts today (8 tackles, 4 solo and a pass breakup) gave me reason, as I mentioned, to believe in linebacker depth. His play today showed ability, determination and no quit. It is my sincerest hope that this young man gets an opportunity to display his wares somewhere down the road and I hope that he is not another casualty of Spring Gameitis. Good going, Mark.
So, in a nutshell? It was a very fun afternoon, but I sincerely hope NU gets blessed in the injury department this year because if I were to change our depth in most places into a food? I could serve it after the main cause because it is "wahfer-thin". With 15 practices under their belt, Nebraska looks…decent. They'd probably win some games as they are, probably not as many as we'd like though. The good news is with summer workouts, 2-a-days, the new blood and a little shot of vitamin DK, these boys could be special sooner than we think. Oh, and before I go, I'd just like to make a request for those of you in downtown Lincoln. If you happen to see a shadow cast across the sun and a large mammoth wading his way around buildings, don't shoot. It's not Godzilla, it's just Lydon Murtha.
Questions, commentary and other misnomers can be sent toBlankman71@cox.net
===Brandon a.k.a. Blankman #71===