Whether it was the almost unbelievable punt return for a touchdown by Nathan Swift, which had a typically stoic press box filled with typically stoic members of the press, almost going nuts to the point the in-box announcer had to tell us all to shut up, or it was one valiant effort after another by a team desperately trying to claw its way back in the face of some ever-stiffening odds..
This team didn't give up
They never mailed it in, and I talked to no less than five players after the game, who were all around last year, saying if this had been the previous year, things would have happened very differently.
But to the negative.
No, I'm not talking about the 55 yards rushing, though, that has to be a worry to some.
No, I'm not talking about a secondary which made Tyrod Taylor, a quarterback who isn't a good thrower, look like he could actually beat a team with his arm.
No, I'm not talking about the three holding penalties on the offensive line, two by center Jacob Hickman.
I'm talking about the head coach himself
It's something you can't harp on too much, because it's that same intensity which made his team, and there is no doubt this is his team, gritty all the way to the end. But when defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh gets called for a personal foul, late hit out of bounds, which was the correct call, Bo's sideline antics took the ball from the 20 and gave the Hokies first and 10 on the Huskers' 11-yard line.
|Pelini's personality had the team fighting to |
to the finish, but might have cost them a
little at the end
Based on the success Nebraska had in stopping Virginia Tech in the red zone, forcing field goals, you could argue how much effect it had. But they got a touchdown instead of a field goal this time around, much of that potentially having to do with the penalty on the head coach.
Calls that may go your way at some point will start going the other team's way down the road, because some referee remembers how you berated him after a call you made, which, in fact, was correct. You are hurting your own team by doing, basically.
It's hard to know where the line is with that, because again, the same intensity in which Bo coaches, which is why this team didn't quit, is the same kind of intensity which prompted him to go after the refs to the point where they had no choice but to throw the flag.
There's a little give and take with that stuff, and maybe Bo learns from this and takes stock of what happened, what happened because of it and moves on. But Bo is Bo. He's not one who is going to necessarily tow the company line, because that's what he's supposed to do.
You hired the guy, because he's not just a good coach, but because he knows how to approach players and how to get the most out of them. He does that. There's no question about that. But if you think referees won't remember these little tirades, some getting awfully chippy, think again.
Bo brings so many good things to a team that needed them. Also, not everything can be perfect. But don't give someone a reason which is such that if the game is close, a call is made, you don't have to wonder if a ref is making that call based on just what he sees or what he sees and what he remembers as well.
If you can avoid it, avoid it
But overall, yeah, Joe was ordinary for a half and didn't do anything really to help his team. Yep, the offense ran for 55 yards, not exactly what you want when trying to establish the line of scrimmage. They held, missed tackles, gave up HUGE yards in the return game and left wide receivers so wide open that even a mobile QB with a penchant for bad passes in key situations, looked like he could move the chains with his arm.
But they didn't quit. They didn't give up. This team would have mailed it in by half last year, and this year they actually had a shot to win in the end.
I guess if it's for the national title and if Bo's antics cost them that game, maybe then it will be something to really talk about, really rant about and be something you could use as a reason to worry.
Not today though. The same kind of animation he showed in the end which wasn't as ideal, got his entire team to the point where they were at least competitive, despite all the mistakes they made.
THAT is what I would worry about more than anything.
Figure out tackling, not holding, who should be the starting running back and that it's OK to throw a ball out of bounds rather than push it somewhere based on the belief that everyone is as slow as Western Michigan.
It wasn't an A+, but the fact that they were in this game at the end, while it doesn't make me think they have a snowball's chance in hell against Missouri, who has actual proven weapons in the passing game, at least I will be confident watching a game I know the Huskers will be fighting to win to the end.
That has to be worth something.