I'd like to open this week's edition of Shooting Point Blank with a thought for you. While today's matchup against Oklahoma was, indeed, yet another heartbreaker, there is going to be a point where things come together beautifully. It's more than likely not going to be this year, it might not be next year, but Nebraska has shown progress and it has shown areas that need an influx of talent and experience, both.
Today's Oklahoma game showed flashes of old and new with Lydon Murtha getting a significant role as the left tackle giving him invaluable experience for next season while Cornelius Fuamatu-Thomas played probably his best game of the season. I was surprised, however, at the poorer performances of the interior linemen specifically Kurt Mann who has at least been dependable as a center and Greg Austin who seemed to have men blast past him on several occasions.
On the positive side of the coin, Zac Taylor has shown that he can actually throw for 249 yards with about a one step drop and Nate Swift turns in another spectacular performance showing us why Head Coach Bill Callahan was so high on him in the offseason. Swift earned a start today for good reason and one would expect him to do the same against Kansas. Speaking of passes, Cory Ross' rating has to be through the roof.
In looking at Marlon Lucky, not just as a runningback or a return man, but as an athlete on the football field, I see something special. He appears to be something that with cultivation, strength and conditioning and even one offseason could become a leader and a powerful force. Now, many would stop and correct me to say, "Behind what offensive line?" Good question.
The recruits brought in during past seasons along with those to be brought in this cycle will help fuel that. Injuries have decimated a line that could've actually been at the very least serviceable but due to people being knocked out for part of the season, the entire season or just playing when they conceivably shouldn't doesn't help your cause, especially when you're trying to establish a running game or even throw a pass.
Also, I'd like to say that Adrian Peterson is a very special player and Oklahoma was very fortunate to have garnered his services as even slowed down by nicks and dings, he's still about as speedy as anyone's regular running back. I'm also a big fan of using a player like J.D. Runnels out of the backfield as OU did much in the same way Nebraska did with Dane Todd. When you have a fullback who has the hands, why not?
As of right now, I have yet to see footage of any throat slashing by Bill Callahan or hear any audio mentioning officiating by Jay Norvell as I pretty much came home and started expressing my thoughts into prose and while this may seem bawdy to many Cornhusker fans, I'm fairly positive that A.) Nebraska, and Oklahoma for that matter, has had a successful head coach in the past that may have simulated slashing a throat or two. B.) Hey, call a spade a spade when you have to. I don't necessarily condone actions taken, but I understand.
When it comes down to the nuts and bolts of things, however, it's a pretty simple bottom line: In the 2005 edition of Nebraska-Oklahoma, in the end, Oklahoma did what they needed to do to win and made the little things work for them. Nebraska didn't and there's a touchdown difference on the scoreboard in favor of the Sooners. It really doesn't get much more cut and dry than that.
In terms of next week's challenge at Lawrence, I would be expecting a very low-scoring game (a defensive struggle, if you will) between the ‘Hawks and the ‘Huskers in one of college football's longest played series, honestly as while the Jayhawks have proven their worth defensively, their offense, she's not so good. In the end, I think Nebraska can capitalize and win this bad boy putting them in the bowl eligibility slot which would be nice to have in the old back pocket returning home for Senior Day and the Kansas State Wildcats.
Questions and comments can be sent to Blankman71@cox.net