First off, I would be remiss to not give props to Southern Miss. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a fine program with very dedicated fans that fought very hard to gain this win. USM, for as long as I've followed them, has always had an opportunistic defense that thrived on the opposition making mistakes. I had spoken to many individuals who made a solid point that if Nebraska turned the ball over as much as they did against Western Illinois that they could, and probably would, lose. Southern Miss did what they had to do and made plays when they situation allowed for it.
Now, that said? I was very encouraged by the play of Cory Ross and Tierre Green. Cory is just an animal in space and I am certainly glad that we have him available to us. Tierre can just flat-out fly and makes one dynamic kick return specialist. Both of these young men have a lot of talent and it's encouraging to see the staff wanting to get them both on the field as much as they do. Cory happened to have 27 carries for 169 yards in the loss while Tierre had 11 rushes for 66 yards.
I felt the defense was a little Jekyll and Hyde, the play of the defensive line has me encouraged but the work by some of the linebackers makes me furrow my brow. The secondary also has the capability to make me curse in German-eqsue language that scares young children. While at times on Saturday, it was frustrating to watch, there are a few people that I am glad to have. One of those individuals is Muhammad W-Ali. He is a bad man and makes my heart smile with the return of the pissed-off rush end.
I think that the loss of Lornell McPherson is a very unfortunate one. He's a good young man who brings some very solid ability to the table and does what he has to do to make plays or at least allow others to. My best wishes go out to him and hope that he returns to the field very soon. Another guy that probably should be on the shelf but played very admirably is one Grant Mulkey. I had heard about his penchant for coming over the middle, but for crying out loud folks, he took a hit so hard, some of Crunk Juice's fillings came unglued. The part I really liked? He got up and walked off the field only to come in later on. That, my friends, is a warrior. Also? Very cheap chop block on Mr. Carriker, USM. That ain't kosher.
If you look at the statistics for the game, by all rights and everything that seems to make a semblance of sense, Nebraska should've blown Southern Miss back to Hattiesburg, right? Well, I suppose so. The thing is, you cannot be minus four in the turnover battle and expect to win games. The fact that Nebraska had a shot to do so twice at the end of the contest was a testament to good coaching, good play calling but a very unfortunate failure to execute properly. That said? 476 yards total is a solid day at the ballpark, especially when you can hold the opposition to fewer than 250 in my humble opine. Also, the punting game was pretty good as Sam Koch appears to have a glimmer of Punters Past in his eye. Here's hoping he continues to improve as the season progresses.
One big stat that stands out, as I glance over the numbers like a troubled mathematician, is that Nebraska went 7-for-17 on third down. That will not win you ballgames, folks. Of course, many of the mistakes that were made against USM were rather detrimental, but you get the idea. Also, in reference to turnovers, there's a good question that came up while I was re-hydrating this evening: are we asking too much of a true sophomore at this stage? We as Nebraskans do expect perfection from our football team, which, don't get me wrong, is a GREAT goal, but for Mr. Dailey to take in a totally new, complex system and be absolutely proficient at it immediately? That seems kinda unreasonable to me.
Enough going over stats, though. An interesting side note, I attended The Walk again early Saturday morning and what I saw was rather disheartening. The focus and intensity I saw in the eyes of these young men against Western Illinois was gone. I saw a lackadaisical attitude, almost a feeling of not really taking the game seriously. It was at this point, you wonder, if the game was already decided. Just something to think about.
Another thing that comes to mind is, hey, we've got some coaches that were in the professional ranks, right? Well then, naturally, they probably have a good idea about how to bounce back from a loss seeing as no team has gone undefeated in the NFL since Richard Nixon was in office. I think it's also good to point out that if you're going to lose in the college game, you may as well do it early so that the deities of sport will smile down upon you should you get your act together and lambaste a few people later on.
All of this has really just been food for thought and before I end this diatribe, I want to mention something rather significant and important to me. Normally after a loss, especially one I attend in person, I feel dejected, disappointed, emotionally drained and, well, hurt. I spent the hours after the game with some very good friends of mine over at Brewsky's in the Haymarket and honest to God, I never felt better after a loss. I could smile, laugh and have a good time all to their credits. I would like to thank them all for being there and allowing me to do just that. It just goes to show, folks. It's not the losses, it's what you take away from them and as I said, if you can't take something away? That's when you've truly lost.
Questions, commentary and your sunburn remedies can be sent toBlankman71@cox.net
===Brandon a.k.a. Blankman #71===