The aggressor – the one playing to win – is not the one who gets called for penalties (with the exception of Josh Davis.) It's the lineman who's beaten who reaches out to hold, the guy who's unsure who jumps offside. The guy who's waiting to get hit who drops the ball.
That was Nebraska for all three of the road losses so far this season. Playing not to lose. Then they went to College Station, Texas, and transformed themselves, at least for a week, into the aggressor. Much as those three road losses stemmed from Nebraska's lack of aggressiveness, this win came about because the Huskers, even after committing three crucial mistakes that gave A&M 21 points, and trailing by three scores, stayed aggressive. They played Nebraska football. They played to win. This Husker team even did the unthinkable - what Nebraska is not supposed to be able to do. They rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit to win a key conference road game.
And it started with the guy wearing the headset.
Frank Solich finally showed us the kind of onions that we had not seen for a full year – since the win over Oklahoma one year ago this week. By going for it on fourth down twice in the critical moments of the second half – once deep in his won territory – Frank sent a message to his guys that the days of playing possum are over. For good (we hope.) These Huskers are not good enough to just show up and win anymore. They must come to play. Play like underdogs. Play with a chip on their shoulder.
Yet this win was almost not to be. Once again, the mistakes – a blocked punt, a pair of fumbles, and the rash of dumb penalties, almost proved too much to overcome. (You wonder how good this team could be if they could simply break even in the "screw-ups" category.)
But because they stayed the aggressor, because they continued to take the fight to a tired "Wrecking Crew" defense, Nebraska was able to overcome their errors, until finally, those ‘breaks' began to even out. When it was all over, both teams had two turnovers, and Nebraska had a win. A win they earned with aggressiveness.
Great teams have a way of dominating in the +/- turnover category. Nebraska still needs a lot of improvement there. To beat Texas, K-State and Colorado, they will have to win the turnover battle, and cut way down on the penalties and other mistakes. (Actually, just breaking even in those categories might be enough.) Remember, his brilliant plays aside, Jammal Lord aint John Elway, so don't count on many more major ‘comebacks.'
Besides, they got two of ‘em Saturday. On the scoreboard, and in the ‘Onions' category.
As for Texas, here's a vote for the Huskers coming out in ALL RED uniforms!