16-of-22 passing for 178 yards isn't going to blow anyone away, but nobody is going to say that this was a disastrous performance by junior quarterback Zac lee.
But it basically was.
It was, because if you watched the game you saw a quarterback who was hesitant about going downfield, hesitant about making decisions when he moved out of the pocket and hesitant about running the ball when the run was there to take.
One of the biggest surprises about the game plan was a byproduct of the way the game started as Tech got two prayer catches off two prayer passes on third and long, one a tipped ball which fell into a reaching receiver's hands to keep their first scoring drive alive.
Then there was the running game or lack of it as running back Roy Helu Jr. carried the ball just three times in the first quarter. And off of part designed runs/part scramble, Lee carried it three times himself, both combining for 22 yards.
By the end of the first half Helu had nine carries for 40 yards. He would only get seven more carries the rest of the game.
But don't blame the defense.
Certainly don't blame sophomore defensive tackle Jared Crick, who took advantage of opportunities given him when his teammate, Ndamukong Suh was getting double teamed and I even saw him tripled teamed at one point. Crick finished the game with five tackles, two of which were for loss, one of those being a sack.
Definitely don't blame senior linebacker Phillip Dillard who had his best game of the season, leading the team in tackles with 12, four of which were for loss.
Actually, Texas Tech got 259 yards in total offense, 234 of that coming through the air…both season lows.
Yep, this one goes on the offense, and yeah, I know the officiating stunk. A pass interference against the Huskers in the end zone, when the ball was clearly uncatchable. Then a personal-foul-dead-ball foul on Ricky Henry for a late hit, when the refs hadn't even blown the play dead. Of course, Phillip Dillard got away with a late hit out of bounds. So, it goes both ways. The officiating was just bad.
But it's not a new deal Nebraska getting a lot of penalties. It's typical, really. The Huskers came into this game ranked 94th in the country in fewest penalties per game, and the 12 penalties they got in this game, which set the Huskers back 95 more yards, is probably going to help them sink a bit farther down the rankings.
Talking to offensive line coach Barney Cotton after the game, he said his team needs to be more physical. He said they weren't physical enough. That explains the running game…I guess.
But you have faced Virginia Tech and one running back in Roy Helu set a career mark when he ran for over 160 yards in that game.
Bo was interviewed at halftime where he said this was a comedy of errors.
Yeah, maybe a "Divine" Comedy, if you catch my meaning.
It was a comedy of errors, to a degree. You know things aren't going your way when tipped balls go to the other guy and Alex Henery actually misses a kick, even if it was from over 50 yards.
And I know everyone is screaming for freshman quarterback Cody Green.
He got a standing ovation when he came in when the team was down 24-3 to the Red Raiders. After one drive, however, he was replaced by Lee, who either didn't take the lesson being taught to him by getting pulled when perhaps he thought he wouldn't, or what we are seeing now is simple reality.
Look at the one quarter against Missouri, and you have the best football he's played against decent competition, his entire reputation built on stats achieved against Sun Belt Conference teams, and not even the best teams in that non-BCS league.
The situation Cody Green was brought into in this game, especially the second time when the game was all but over, Cody could have thrown five picks and it wouldn't have mattered. But he didn't. He had one, but where Lee actually hesitated in looking for a gap to run when the coverage was good downfield, Green tucked and went. When Lee seemed to be trying to carefully put things in here, there and everywhere, Green just looked for a guy and chucked the ball in there.
But where they differed was just accuracy as every pass senior wide receiver Chris Brooks caught from Lee, he had to reach behind him to grab. Green's were actually leading the receivers on the play.
I'd be the last guy to say that you should always take the back up, because the back up is always better. That's kind of a fan mentality. But at this point, even Watson said that they would have to evaluate that situation during the course of the week.
One thing is for sure: If Green practices well this week, it's his time come Iowa State, and it's a good opponent to start with.
I think what we have ultimately learned, though, is that the defense is indeed legit. It wasn't a pretty game, and once again, the Huskers were killing themselves with the flags. But the yards speak for themselves, and it was only because the offense of Nebraska was basically inept, that the defense was put in some almost no-win situations.
Something needs to change, but it's not on defense. There are those coaches' things they do, but five sacks? Yeah, I'd take that, even if some of it had to with Sheffield being pretty dumb with the way he was running the ball. But Texas Tech averaged one yard per rush. Even against a pass-happy team, you need to stop the run, and boy, did they.
- Junior wide receiver Niles Paul seems to be a little off and on when it comes to his performances and his awareness of the play. Not catching the ball from Lee and then not even batting an eye when the Red Raiders picked it up and took it back for a TD – his only consolation is the rest of the team seemed oblivious as well.
- Chris Brooks continues to catch everything thrown his way. Seriously, when does this kid ever drop a ball?
- If you are looking at Suh's stats and thinking he didn't have a big game, you didn't watch the game. When Suh was actually in one on one situations, which wasn't often, he dominated either No. 76 or No. 78. Crick was great in making sure the TTU offense would pay for putting so much attention on the Husker All-Everything DT.
- Dontrayevous Robinson did get into the game, but only on special teams. As for the back up running back situation, the only other back to see time was junior Austin Jones, and the zero yards, total, wasn't the best debut.
- As it is, break the bubbles and forget the illusion that the Huskers are back. I'd say Bo Pelini was only half right. It's the offense that has a long ways to go.