I’m glad Tom Shatel is pissed off. He’s the senior writer on the Huskers’ beat and if he’s not spitting venom after yesterday’s debacle in Lincoln, then Husker Nation would truly be at a loss.
Let’s observe some of Shatel’s keen observations:
Let’s not waste our time talking about bowl scenarios.
Nebraska just lost, 30-28, to a Northwestern team that was beaten 78-10 the previous two games.
The Husker team that showed up didn’t show a great deal of interest in blocking, catching passes, covering kickoffs or making smart decisions with the ball.
Not a lot of urgency, period, and ther’s absolutely no reason for that in this program, ever.
Shatel goes on to question whether Tommy Armstrong will be the QB next year. It’s the right question. I can hardly remember the last time the Huskers had a real QB under center. Let me be generous and give the nod to Joe Ganz. Crafty and intelligent Ganz left the field of play in 2008. Since then, Nebraska has been outplayed at QB in just about every game. It’s more than a little embarrassing.
Will Mike Riley fix this problem at QB? Yes, he already has and we will see the results of this focused recruiting when a real QB takes the field next season. Tommy Armstrong is a tough player. If I was the coach I’d want him on the field, but not at QB. Maybe he can play cornerback? Nebraska certainly needs a lot of help in that area.
Honestly, there are so many things wrong with this team, it is hard to pick the most meddlesome problem to tackle. Nevertheless, let’s select mental toughness or the lack thereof. Maliek Collins—like Alex Lewis before him at Miami—was flagged for a personal foul at most inopportune time possible on Saturday. I’m not hanging these two losses on these two 4th quarter plays. What I will do is point to these two plays and ask, is this the Ghost of Pelini? The fact is Nebraska is playing almost exclusively with players recruited by the coach who can’t keep his composure.
In Lewis’s case, the offensive lineman from the state of Colorado made matters much worse by blasting Nebraska fans on social media. “I’m done playing for the state of the Nebraska!” his Facebook post began. It’s since been deleted. But yes, from the looks of things, he is done playing for the state of Nebraska. The Huskers O-line was completely dominated by Northwestern. It wasn’t pretty, and it’s going to take some time for that particular sting to work its way out.
Here is another fact that no one likes. Mike Riley is left to clean up one of the messiest scenes of his career and redeem a program that has been splintering for more than a decade. To make matters worse, the fan base can’t see why Riley was entrusted with this job, based on his mediocre W-L record at Oregon State.
I saw a comment somewhere in the social stream that this job is going to make Mike Riley old. That saddens me, but I can also see the truth in it. Lincoln is only three hours by private jet from Corvallis, but when it comes to the game of football, it might as well be on a different planet. In Corvallis, it truly is all good, whether the Beavers win or lose. I can see how a competitive man like Mike Riley would want a greater challenge that, and now he has one. It’s clearly not all good in Lincoln, and it won’t be until the Nebraska Cornhuskers blow people off the ball and win.