To the game ...
- Penalty! Penalty! Penalty! And that was just our embarassing attempt at an opening kickoff! UGH!So 13-0 after the first quarter, but Hawaii's driving and nearing midfield, finally finding their rhythm. So a good start, but one that could have been (and should have been) 21-0 or 24-0 and a knockout punch early.
- The defense did a heck of a job in the first quarter. Limiting that offense to nothing past midfield and stopping the first three drives cold was a great start.
- That said, we should have been up a lot more than 13-0 after the first. We got a quick seven off the second INT the D gave us (nothing off the first! UGH!) and three points (and negative yardage) over the "onside" short kick ... but really only had one good drive and stalled for the field goal.
- To go along with that - RUN NOAH UP THE FRIGGIN' GUT!!! I appreciate that we passed on the opening four plays to try and open it up ... but once we get the run game going (with big gashes up the middle), we stalled by running to the sidelines ... and after the onside kick, we ran two run plays to the outside. Hawaii's only defensive edge is speed ... don't play right into their hands. We had success running up the gut early - DO IT!!!
- But two nice LONG field goals right down the pipe - that's promising!
To quarter two ...
- Big defensive stop on third down at midfield to start the quarter by Roach and Backes. We're getting good pressure up front and some nice, hard-hitting coverage from our linebackers and DBs.A disheartening second quarter for the Cats. We did so much right on D in the first, but the O was so inconsistent that we never took advantage ... now Hawaii's back and we have a dogfight of a second half coming up, down 28-20.
- Now if the O would only support them! But I guess that since Hawaii and NU's offenses depend a lot on finding rhythm, there will be a lot of maddening drives today.
- Little disappointed in the line play so far ... they should be dominating these guys. But we're getting beat a lot by speed.
- Pickens: STUPID late-hit penalty on Chang. Thankfully, Chang wasn't hurt ... but that could have forced third and long and instead kept a drive alive. D.U.M.B. Are we trying to top last week's yardage total? A few plays later, Hawaii finally enters NU territory on a deep pass to the 10 and their first touchdown. DUMB. The D had been doing such a solid job.
- What should have been a blowout is now 13-7 and anybody's game.
- Nice work on the play-action and Baz rollout calls ... no problem with our pass plays ... but I really don't see why we keep trying to beat Hawaii running outside instead of POUNDING THE FRIGGIN' BALL!!!
- Good quick-thinking by Baz on that goal-line fumble to run around to the side for the TD. We needed that answer drive after Hawaii's offense finally woke up and scored.
- We needed the Big Ten replay folk on that second Hawaii TD ... he was clearly out of bounds at the 5 or 4. But as I said earlier, too bad we couldn't just leave the Big Ten refs at home and go with WAC officials. But still, another third down play where Hawaii comes up big. Looks like the D may be wearing out..
- ANOTHER interference on a punt? Our special teams play today has been an embarassment and a disaster aside from Joel Howells' two long field goals.
- Well, we lost our lead. Wake! UP! OFFENSE!!!
- Another penalty on our kickoff return? Sheesh - is this the same crew as we had last week?
- That last-second drive was a kick to the face. They obviously got Chang going ... it's about time we get Noah going.
- A sweep to end the first half? Just another example that we're not getting it on offense. What the heck are we trying to do by playing right into their strengths?!?!
You can't fault the D at this point ... they gave us ample opportunity to put this one in the bag early. The stupid late hit probably fired Hawaii up a bit, but the game should have been out of reach by then anyway.
Our offense has only mounted one sustained drive on this defense ... and even that stalled out when we tried to run outside. We gotta wake up on offense in a hurry if we want to stay in this game, because Hawaii's waking up on offense and while our D has done a good job, they can't hold this passing game in check forever.
* Cut out the stupid penalties (sadly, last week doesn't appear to be an abberation ... but the start of a trend after 10 games of doing so well).A promising start gone to squat ... Randy's gotta rip 'em a new one at halftime and get some kind of direction going in this offense. Our line should be dominating this game. We have to come out and get Noah into this game to answer Timmy Chang. Oh yeah - SOMEBODY COVER OWENS!!!!!!!
* Run Noah Heron up the middle as many times as humanly possible!
* Play smart football and get drives going to disrupt Hawaii's offensive momentum and get our offense going. The O-line has to come out and play a heck of a lot better in this second half.
Well, we get the ball first -- can NU finally get the O going after failing to put this one away in the first quarter?
- Only 103 rushing yards at the half against this D? Pathetic. WAKE UP O-LINE!What a disappointing third quarter. We came out without the fire, let them jump ahead by two scores and still haven't figured out what to do. Our offensive play calling and execution are maddening ... our special teams atrocious and the defense fading fast after their first quarter efforts went to waste. We're now down 49-33 and in big trouble.
- Even these Fox commentators can see how odd our gameplan has been, saying that they're surprised that we haven't run the ball more.
- A run up the gut on the first play ... for seven yards (SEE!!! SEE!!!) ... looks like the mind signals of thousands of NU fans watching at home finally got through to the islands!
- We don't go for it on 4th and 1 near midfield? If you can't make one yard on this D, you don't deserve to win. Then again, if we can't cover a friggin' punt (Owens again!), we don't deserve to win either.
- Pathetic special teams play. Anemic offense. This is getting embarassing.
- Where's the O line? Were they left in Chicago?
- OK - down 35-20 now. We run up the gut on first play ... five yards (SEE!!! SEE!!!) and it sets up a big pass play on second down. Another run up the gut with Baz the next play for huge yardage (WHERE WAS THIS EARLIER!!!). Noah up the gut for five again (ARRRGGGHHH!!!).
- We needed that fake field goal -- had we gone for 3, I was ready to hop on a plane to Honolulu myself, so it shouldn't have been a surprise. But still, much needed.
- Oh joy ... a penalty on the PAT. Did we practice special teams at all this week?
- Anybody care to cover Owens this game? Sheesh. Hawaii's back up by two scores.
- Man, when Chang is on, he is just a kid in a candy store with this NU secondary ... he's slicing and dicing the Cats at will. We really needed to score more when he was cold at the start of the game.
- After Hawaii answers our TD with their own, we come out and have a drive with only one running play (the reverse) ... until we get Noah loose on a screen. RUN MORE!!!
- There are 20 minutes left in the game and we're already over 100 yards in penalties. UGH.
- A BLOCKED PAT? Special Teams ...aaarrrgggghhhh!!!
- Is this TERRELL Owens we're playing today or what? Sure seems like it. He should send us a thank you note for this tape to send to NFL scouts.
- Noah doesn't even have 100 yards as we end the third. He should be on his way to 200 at this point. What's up with our gameplan?
- Hey look! We start the fourth between the hashes and Jordan gets 23 yards.We mounted a late comeback, but finally ran out of lives I guess (though we had plenty of time to run the ball at the end there -- why we felt the need to pass only with 20 yards to go and 1:20 left is beyond me). The late INT was a bit bogus, but we didn't play well enough to win despite getting a bad break.
- 5 for 15 on third downs? Ugh.
- Kim Thompson's catch on 4th down was a thing of beauty -- looking forward to watching him mature the next few years with his height and speed.
- So it came down to 4th and goal at the 1 or 2 with 10 minutes left and NU down 16. I've always said that if you can't get one yard, you don't deserve to win. We couldn't get one yard. We didn't deserve to win. Noah wouldn't go down without a fight, but there was just no hole there. The game essentially ended there.
There's a lot to be disappointed about. The defense gave up a lot after that beautiful first quarter. The penalties were inexcusible. The special teams were mixed (great FGs, blocked punt and fake FG ... horrible penalties and coverage). But for me, this game really came down to NU's offense. Our game plan was puzzling and our offensive line never asserted itself and lived up to potential. We never got in sync.
I just have this feeling that Michigan State is going to gash this defense for some huge yardage on the ground next week. Why we couldn't, I don't know. Yes, they stacked the box - but our play calling helped Hawaii out by running horizontally ... and our offensive line -- the experience and strength of this team -- never came to play. And in a game that essentially was for a bowl bid, that's disappointing.
So we fell into the Hawaii trap ... certainly not the first team and we won't be the last, but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow. Our defense came out strong and forced turnovers to give us every chance to win it early. We didn't. With so much on the line, it's sad to have it end this way, with a game that we never even needed to schedule.
It's also an unfortunate sour note to end this season. We got into WAC-style shootouts that brought out our worst in the opener and closer. In between, we had ten solid games. Losing to four ranked teams, but winning the other six -- one "first" at Happy Valley, two by a field goal and three in overtime, including that memorable streakbuster against Ohio State. We went 5-3 and finished fourth in the Big Ten. We got to six wins for a second straight year.
But the trip to the Islands just did us in. I'm sad it had to end this way for our seniors -- they deserved a better finish after this year. This one's gonna hurt for awhile. After a few weeks, I may be able to better appreciate what we did this season and could see us deserving a 6-6 waiver if there aren't enough bowl teams since we did finish above .500 in league play and the Big Ten is short of slots. But right now, it just hurts and I'm sure no one feels it as much as those seniors will on the plane ride home.
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