The Fat Lady just Sang

The 2002 Nebraska Cornhuskers. Your Big Red Machine. Records being broken, streaks galore involved and people around the country just buzzing about what's going on at NU. After all that, you think I would have been talking about one of the best Husker seasons ever. Instead, I'm talking about one of the worst. Sure, the 40s and 50s were as bad as they ever got, but since Devaney, this Husker team has made their mark as the worst in forty years.

You are a senior. You are graduating. You are leaving, never to return and the impressions you feel and leave will be with you for the rest of your life. You've also had a chance to make your mark on the field, so that you can hold your head high because of the contributions you were able to make to the team's success.

This year, you could have gone fishing, not catch a thing, lost your boat, the truck hooked to the boat along with your favorite tackle box you have had since you were a kid and it still might be a lesser frown on your face than the debacle that was the Huskers of 2002.

Fans blame coach Craig Bohl. Coach Craig Bohl blames his players and his players, well, they say all the right things and do all the right things, that is until they hit the field.

At times, this team has been questioned for their heart. Letting games snowball into routes, offense and defense in the midst of a concurrent collapse, you can understand why people see that or at least, think that.

I don't.

The head coach knows his players better than anyone, right? All year long, coach Frank Solich has beamed about this team's character, about their unity and yes, about their heart. He's never said or even hinted to his team losing it's focus when it seemed to count the most. So, if it's not heart, what is it?

The problem on defense has been one of players not getting to their man or when they get there, not wrapping up. Overall execution and positioning problems have been the bane of the blackshirts' defense this year. Who's fault is that? Yes, some of it has to go on the players, but when you are the defensive coach, whether you want to take the blame or not, it's yours.

Coach Bohl has on a variety of occasions came out after losses and said to an extent, they weren't prepared for what they saw. Penn State threw instead of ran, Oklahoma State ran a different I-back set up than it did the previous week and just this last Friday, Colorado actually did something other than what they used to annihilate Nebraska last year.

Shame on them for adjusting. Shame on NU for not doing likewise.

With all the plays that went to the outside on Nebraska yesterday, people will say that the defense is just too slow. They couldn't get there fast enough and they weren't quick enough on reading the play. Well, I am certainly no coach, but if your defense is set up solely to stop a particular play that happens between the tackles, it could be a little hard to get to the corners when an elusive and fast back like Brian Calhoun bounces it outside.

On offense? Coach Frank Solich has hinted for some time that he's evaluating all possibilities at the end of the season. This includes the naming of an offensive coordinator. If you are the current coach that calls all the plays and are hinting about finding someone else, it probably doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that some of the play-calling this year might not have been, how shall we say....perfect?

Not even close.

Nebraska's offense is normally predictable. It's been that way since Osborne took the reins. What has always kept teams off balance is the right combination of players with the right combination of plays. The thing is, if you don't have one, it sure makes the other look like it's not doing the job.

That's basically what this boils down to though. The combination of so many coaches before along with so many great players, it opened the safe to one national title after another. One wrong turn here or there though and the safe is locked until you figure out that combination again.

It's like a safe that keeps changing however. Never the same combination, but all with the same type of thing in common that gets teams to regular and post-season success and right now, Nebraska is just spinning the dial.

Coach Frank Solich might indeed be one of the numbers that will eventually open that safe and the players he has now or is able to get could be the other, but it's going to take an entire staff that's on the same page before any doors will open for this staff anytime soon.

Forget the streaks though. They are gone. Forget the records that are now apart of history, those accomplished and those given up. What now happens could be history in itself and could be another streak gone and Nebraska won't have to play a game. If I am correct, it was another record pre-Devaney that Nebraska should about be ready to break.

The last time anyone was truly fired.

Well, I guess there is a bright side to everything.

Steve Ryan can be reached at huskerconnection@neb.rr.com or 402-730-5619


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