What I do Best - Crashing the Party
So with that…I’m going to do what I always do…and that’s crash the party. At Mike’s invitation, I now give you MY take on the Husker “blogger” round table, and will forgive them THIS ONE TIME for not inviting me to the party. Don’t let it happen again.
1. As a Nebraska fan (edit snicker) you no doubt had a well-conceived set of expectations for the year. How did the 2006 Nebraska season jive with your preseason prospects?
Answer – The only reason ANYBODY should have had “well-conceived” expectations for 2006 was because of the complete and total crappiness of the Big 12 North this year and nothing more. Iowa State had no defense. KSU had a new coach with about 3 months of college experience combined on their coaching staff. Colorado had a new coach and lost their last three games the previous season 119-16. Kansas sucks and will always sucks. Which leaves Missouri, who had to come to Lincoln. I don’t think I have to tell you what sort of “road warrior” mentality Gary Pinkel and the Tigers have on the road, despite having as much or more talent than Nebraska on each side of the ball. (yeah, I said it.)
With that, anything LESS than winning the north..with that competition and that North schedule would be seen as a complete failure even by Pop-Warner standards. I mean, Bill Callahan could have allowed a 17 year old male hooker from Thailand call plays during some of those games, and the Huskers still probably would have won, simply for the fact that they were the smartest kid in shop class…so to say. The pre-season expectations beyond that were out of control, including an acid-laced, pot-induced prediction by some that NU would beat USC in Los Angeles. That to me was Husker fan’s pre-season expectations in a nut shell.
2. Given the long-standing success of Husker football (edit – gag) how does losing five games influence your overall evaluation of the 2006 season? In other words, do the losses keep you up at night? Are you comfortable rationalizing them in some way? Or do you take the optimistic perspective of focusing on the left hand of the W/L column rather than the right hand?
Answer – To me, you hicks can look at this two ways. On one hand, the losses were to some pretty good teams in Oklahoma, Texas, Okie State (not really), Auburn and USC. So in that regard…yeah, the five losses are kind of deceiving. But look at it the other way. Who the hell did they beat worth a damn? Texas A&M stands out to me as the lone semi-impressive win, and that was on a last second play to a team that nearly lost to Army and lost to Cal by 35. So a “good win”, yes. “Impressive win?” No. Other than that, Nebraska did absolutely NOTHING to impress me. They beat the horrible teams they should have, including a talented-yet-not-quite-there Missouri team, who decided that even though NU’s secondary sucks…they’d throw 5 yard out patterns anyway.
Although the losses were to good teams, NU didn’t beat a one of them…so to me, the wins are meaningless. (In the fact that you should have won those.) I thought the goal was not to be mediocre anymore? I thought the order was already restored? And don’t give me this crap about losing to Texas….lest you not forget the HORRIBLE egg NU laid at HOME against a beyond-pathetic Kansas team. A game that came within an inch (Peterson fumble through the end zone in OT) of being a loss. (I find that way more relevant than the Texas game, where an All-American DB made a great hit on a below-average wide-receiver to jar the ball loose at the end of the game.
3. Now that the season has come to a close we know that Coach Callahan will go over all areas of the team with an IRS auditor's attention to detail. Help him out by offering a brief assessment of the 2006 offense, defense and special teams.
Brandon Jackson and Zac Taylor are the only two players on offense that even remotely impress me. Taylor has mediocre skills, but is tough as nails…which is important since your offensive line sucks. Brandon Jackson is a monster back there, and will only get better. Too bad he’ll get better on the Houston Texan practice squad instead of on your team. Other than that, I see absolutely nothing to salivate over in 06. Everybody points to Purify at WR, but I dare you to find another player with that much talent, who played as inconsistent and made as many stupid mistakes as he did…and yes, fumbling on the first damn play of the Big 12 title game is a stupid mistake. That guy has all the talent in the world, but you can tell by looking at him that he only tries to break the first tackle..and then quits if he doesn’t. He may have some talent..but he tends to disappear in big games, which tells me he’s lazy on his routes.
On defense, I’m going to put it blunt. Your DB’s are crappy beyond words. I could find four dwarfs from an orphanage in Prague, and they would be able to cover Dwayne Jarrett better than you did in 06. The great thing was…all pre-season we heard about how great they were. Then when they played some decent passing teams…they were torched. (Except Missouri, where Pinkel torched his own QB, but that’s another story). Carriker and the front four was a nice little outfit…but it’s amazing how your sacks go down when Maine isn’t on the schedule to pad them. Linebackers were OK, but I think it’s safe to say that Ruud and McKeon wouldn’t make the practice squad in most big-time programs.
Kicker and punter? Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Who cares. Callahan was too chicken to kick a field goal outside of 40 yards, so it’s a moot point.
4. No post-season assessment would be complete without handing out some hardware. Who are your 2006 Nebraska offensive and defensive MVPs and why?
Answer – My offensive MVP would be Bill Callahan himself. Nobody made more stupid mistakes, called more bone-headed plays than the wonderboy genius himself. Look no further than the idiotic gameplan against USC, where he was too chicken to do anything other than turtle on the ice like an underweight wing in a hockey fight. To me, he was the one person who contributed more to the mediocreness of the NU offense. If I had to give it to a player, I’d give it to Terrence Nunn, who was unlucky enough to get hit perfectly in the Texas game, and piss away a giant ego boost for the Husker nation.
On defense, I would say Andre Jones would be my favorite. For two reasons: First, his workload during games dropped about 3000% whenever opposing coaches found out just how awful Grixby and Shanle were on the other side. Not that he really did anything, but he was torched less than his counterparts, so I’d have to say he was pretty valuable in that regards. He also cements the award for making the dumbest comments in the history of sports by predicting a win over USC.
On special teams, I’d have to give the award for the NASA scientist who had to get a degree in astrophysics to operate that giant video board during kickoffs. It takes a true genius to get 80,000 overall wearing combine owners psyched up for a kickoff. From what I hear, he did a great job.
5. For something completely different. If you had to name a coach of the year from the Nebraska staff whom would you select? This can be based on any number of things, including performance of a particular unit or the improvement of a particular aspect/unit over previous seasons.
Answer – John Blake, for figuring out that lying to recruits to get them in Lincoln was a tad bit unethical. Runner up for me would be Kevin Cosgrove, who continues to live up to the high standards he set in 2005 when he decided that you could blitz Brad Smith. If ISU, Colorado, Kansas, KSU and Missouri needed reason for hope in the future…look no further than your boy “Coz”.
6. And finally, bust out your mental scrapbook. What is your favorite/most impressionable or defining memory of the 2006 Husker season? This can be a play, a game, a thought/image, or in CBS March Madness terms "One shining moment".
For me, there were so many highlights. Obviously the hit on Nunn to fumble against Texas was a good one. The complete and total lack of any sort of composure on defense against Oklahoma State was pretty good. Dwayne Jarrett going up to grab yet another pass was a highlight. Hell, even watching OU sit at their own 1 yard line on third down was pretty thrilling. (When they went 99 yards.)
But I’d have to say..the one mental picture to me that sums up everything Nebraska football happened just after the Colorado game. If you recall in this photo, the ever-so-humble huskers presented themselves with a fictional “trophy” that recognized their victorious climb in the Big 12 North. ONLY a team like Nebraska, would be THAT desperate for self-satisfaction that they would need to actually MAKE a fictitious trophy, and present it to THEMSELVES. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t you people used to be REAL good? Didn’t you used to go to Orange Bowls? Didn’t you win a (1/2) title or two back in the day? And yet, you took time out to recognized not how great you were..but how awful the rest of the Big 12 north was….capped the previous weeks by beating Missouri team that hasn’t won a big road game in conference since 1969?
To me…that says it all.
(Photo credit and thanks - Lincoln Journal Star and Huskers.com)