The Good and the Bad

Yes, Nebraska lost, and yes, it probably wasn't as close as the score said. But even with that bit of depression setting in, there are some good points to be drawn from the loss to the best team in the land. I outlined a few of those, giving you my good and bad of the weekend, and within that, some thoughts about what could happen the rest of the year.

The Good - Sam Keller completed almost 67 percent of his passes on his way to a 386-yard performance against the Trojans.

The Bad – Keller also had two interceptions, both resulting in USC scores.

The Good – The running backs didn't put the ball on the ground once, which could also be said of the entire offense.

The Bad – The running backs averaged 1.1 yards per carry, the team totaling 31 yards on the day.

The Good – The receivers coming off two games where the ability to actually catch the ball was in question, all showed amazingly good hands, players like Terrence Nunn, Todd Peterson, Nathan Swift and Maurice Purify – all making stellar grabs on the game, and I don't believe any of them dropped a ball they had a shot to bring in.

The bad – Because the play action pass was basically worthless for most of the game, the success of Nebraska receivers catching the ball can be equated to that of Texas Tech receivers. Yeah, they put up some numbers, but they netted very few points overall. USC was able to run deep safeties almost the entire game and the longest completed pass was a 21-yard reception by Todd Peterson.

The good – Linebacker Steve Octavien led the team in tackles with eight, including two for a loss of three yards

The bad – Octavien's efforts were about the only bright spot for an entire linebacking corps, which forgot how to tackle. The amount of missed tackles approached the obscene as the Trojans were often able to go straight up the middle for huge gains, their first two runs going for 50 yards and 46 yards, respectively.

The goodNdamukong Suh was able to draw the double team almost the entire game from the USC offensive line, freeing up others to make plays in one-on-one situations.

The bad – Nobody took advantage of those situations. In fact, it was a complete debacle at the line, recently returned Ty Steinkuhler getting steadily ran over and the linebackers, whose job it is to help in these situations, well…see the tackling issues outlined above.

The good – There were several occasions when the blitz was effective enough to get players like safety Larry Asante up field and into the play seemingly as it was developing.

The bad – The running back promptly spun out of the hasty attack, once again gaining big yards, because players couldn't wrap up.

The good – Nebraska initially dominated the battle of field position, holding the Trojans to the four-yard line to begin the game.
The bad – Two runs totaling 96 yards made that a moral victory, at best

The good – The secondary had perhaps its best game defending the pass, John-
David Booty only throwing for 144 yards

The bad – The rushing game of the Trojans amassed a jaw-dropping 313 yards and what is worse, they averaged over eight yards per carry.

The goodRickey Thenarse forced a fumble early in the second quarter on Vincent Joseph.

The bad - The ball promptly squirted out forward and to the right. That ball was just as promptly being picked up by another Trojan, giving USC another 31 yards on the gain, USC starting at the NU 45.

The bad – USC put five balls on the carpet and unlike Oregon State last year, where they lost all three of their three fumbles, the Trojans regained possession of all but one

The good – The Husker defense managed five tackles for loss an addition to the single quarterback hurry

The bad – USC managed eight tackles for loss, including two sacks, along with two quarterback hurries

The good – Sam Keller completed a 21-yard pass to Todd Peterson to keep a drive alive.

The bad – 21 yards would be the long of the day, the longest actual pass thrown going to Maurice Purify, which drew a pass interference penalty on the defense.

The good – Defensive tackle Ty Steinkuhler made it back for the game

The bad  – Over the course of the game, he was obviously spied as a major weakness in the defensive line, the team double-teaming Suh and going right at Steinkuhler, to his chagrin.

The goodCody Glenn came back seemingly stronger than ever, running inside, but moving well outside and even finding himself as a pass catching threat. Glenn also had two touchdowns.

The bad – He was it. In a running game which was completely inept, it took the physically more impressive Glenn to try and make the tough yards, something Marlon Lucky couldn't do.

The good – Almost 85,000 fans showed up for the game against the top ranked Trojans.

The bad – More showed up for Louisiana Tech last year and to make matters worse, the entire east side of the stadium was a veritable cemetery as fans were filtering out by the hundreds even before the fourth quarter of the USC game began.

The good - I got to meet a lot of USC fans I met from the message board conversations throughout the last two to three months.

The bad – This type of wonderful interaction is rare, as most of the message board interaction consists of someone telling someone else that their mother should have stopped having kids at the age of 12.

The good – The press box is usually a very professional environment, and moist of the national and regional media mostly didn't take away from the general trend of decorum.

The bad – The one exception to the professionalism exhibited by most was that by Forth Worth Starr-Telegram Columnist Wendell Barnhouse, who at one time responded to someone's question about statistics relevant to the game: "Who are you going to believe – some dumb Nebraska radio guy?"

The good – Every single comment I have heard from visiting USC fans pertained to the great time they had, how they couldn't believe how nice Nebraska fans were and how they would love for Nebraska to be on the schedule again, if only to come back and experience something like this again.

The bad – Don't bank on that happening anytime soon as Nebraska proved that while its game day fans stand amongst the elite, its team has a long ways to go before it can compare to the likes of the Pac 10 powerhouse.

The good – Nebraska has one more game before it heads into conference play, this coming against Ball State . Ball State is certainly no USC. With a loss most expected to happen, despite the disparity in the way it happened, Nebraska should be able to build plenty of momentum off their last non-conference game as they compete for another Northern Division Crown.

The bad – It's obvious that Nebraska is not amongst the elite right now. The recruiting has been good, but it's going to have to be even better and consistently so, if the Huskers are going to be able to compete with the big boys of the world. Nebraska has a chance to do a lot of great things this year, but should they ever meet USC again or a team like LSU or Florida , what you saw in Lincoln is probably what you could easily expect again.

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