This is actually a practice that has gone back to when I started writing this column. After a loss, I like to get retrospective and give people a reason to believe again. The beauty about this particular edition of SPB is: I don't have to. Even as the disappointed masses made their way out of Memorial Stadium, applauding as they're known to do for a Texas Tech team that earned their victory, comments were made and not the ones that had been heard earlier in the year about poor passing, catching or other variations of the West Coast Offense.
Rather, the comments made were of a positive nature. This may be confusing it some following what could be perceived as a very difficult loss to take. However, I did not take this game as a loss and while it stung last night and probably will sting for a bit, in the long run, I doubt anyone in the coaching staff or the team takes it as a true loss. I'm not talking moral victories here because honestly? Moral victories are for schools that can do no better. Progress was made despite the pain.
Despite five turnovers, spotting Tech 21 points, injuries to a few key members of the team, refereeing that was a bit suspicious and we'll get to that in a moment, all this and Nebraska was in position to win. Cody Hodges made a fantastic throw into double coverage under pressure to win the game and I don't care if you're Matt Leinart, Steve Young or Joe Montana, that's a difficult throw to make and complete.
I see a lot of good things in this year's team and, by proxy; I see a lot of good things in this coaching staff. In fact, I'd have to say that I'd be fully supportive of them as an individual who roots on Nebraska to victory. There was a comment made about the team being less of a number of groups and more of a complete unit down to the staff that coaches the young men Cornhusker fans see every Saturday. This has been proven as a fact, especially after the past three games.
It was tough to watch it happen and take it all in, but the resulting confidence that has been cultivated in the team, dare I say it, may have done more good than the win itself. Comments have been thrown around about this being, perhaps, another version of the 1999 team and while I, personally, do not see a similar record, I do see a similar defense, a solid season and a pretty darn good bowl. Last time I heard from a man who roamed the sidelines at Dear Ol' Nebraska U for 25 years, that was a pretty good standard, so we'll run with it.
Now, on to the officiating. Tech was flagged nine times, however, I feel this number should've been a tad more inflated. I also find it somewhat curious about the umpire's home state location coming into this game and the questionable actions of the Texas Tech players that went by the wayside. Still, being what it was, Nebraska had a chance to win, so, much like they always say, let's not really let refereeing be the hat we hang a loss on, eh?
Let's get down to brass tacks, shall we? When a team is down 21-0, they have a choice to make. They can either throw in the towel, maybe put some younger players in to get some experience or they can fight. Nebraska, as promised several times during the week, did the latter. Coming back and actually taking a 31-27 lead was something that former Cornhusker Offensive Line Coach Milt Tenopir commented on a radio program following the game that "An Osborne or Solich offense could've never done."
Now, maybe ol' Milt was being a tad generous in his comments as he does like the new staff a lot, but still, that's a heck of a comment to make on a number of levels. For those (including myself) who cringed and maybe gasped when the words "West Coast Offense" came out of Coach Callahan's mouth during his introductory interview, I honestly have to say, his brand is something that is very fun to watch and as the players continue to fall in line to play in it along with Coach Cosgrove's defenses, I feel confident about the future of this program.
The 2005 edition of the Nebraska Cornhuskers have, thus far, shown to be a scrappy bunch that has found ways to win and now has appeared to click offensively after the defense allowed Taylor and the boys to get into rhythm. Every game is big and every game means something very important to the future that is being laid. Honestly, after watching what I did yesterday and seeing the emotion displayed by Nebraska before, during and after the game, if you're upset with them and really see them as a poor team or the coaching staff as a bad mix? Perhaps another team would be to your liking.
That said, it's going to be an interesting ride as 2005 is probably unlike something any of us have seen before (though I'm sure someone will correct me on that). One thing that I feel I can safely say is that there will be more highs than lows and once the off-season arrives, I feel that the fan base as a whole will be far more content than they were following 2004. So I guess the only question left to ask is: What time does the Baylor game start?
Questions and comments can be sent to Blankman71@cox.net