As predictions go, I’d like a mulligan, please.
Oklahoma as national champion? Not looking so hot.
Readers complaining that Nebraska is running the ball too much? A much safer pick.
Of course it happened. A few hours after Nebraska-Fresno State on Saturday night, the response came.
This was a minority reaction. But it was a very concerned minority.
“They ran it too much. They better start working on their throwing game because teams are going to shut them down and force them to pass.”
“Man, that was really a boring game last night. Not much action.”
“Wonder what those recruits at the game thought about all that running. The receivers couldn’t have been very happy.”
A couple of points on this:
» Angry pass guy from last year has turned to angry run guy, and I kick myself for not seeing it coming.
» Angry run guy has a point, and coach Mike Riley wants to be balanced. But let’s be honest: We know what the Nebraska passing game is all about. We didn’t need to see it. Tommy Armstrong has great arm strength and big-time receivers. But Armstrong still throws off his back foot, still has issues with touch and timing on throws. He’s going to hit some, miss some, throw some touchdowns and have a few interceptions.
» Opponents didn’t respect NU’s run game last year, and why would they? Riley never relied on it much. This year, he appears to have three bona fide (a cool throwback football adjective) running backs who can make positive yards and then some. The backs, including freshman Tre Bryant, look better. Now opposing defenses have to study harder.
» Did you see the mistakes the other night? It’s opening night, right, but this is still a team with a mean undisciplined streak. Some habits are hard to break. Riley was not impressed by the opening night hiccups, but at this point, can he and his staff really change that characteristic that they inherited? If they can, great. But at this point, it’s unlikely. So, if you’re going to have those moments, then don’t let them hurt you. Running the ball, eating clock and keeping down Armstrong’s interceptions is a way to avoid letting the undisciplined moments beat you. If you’re throwing it a bunch, lengthening the game with incompletions and increasing the likelihood of interceptions, that’s a good way to let the undisciplined stuff bite you.
Running the ball is good management. Yes, Northwestern and friends will make them throw it, and they will. But right now, Northwestern and friends need to at least respect the run.
» Finally, the recruits. First, we aren’t even sure how long the Riley Ground Attack will last this season. But assuming it does, this is most likely a one-year thing, to best utilize the personnel until the passing gurus start lining up behind Tanner Lee and Patrick O’Brien next year. Air Riley is coming back, don’t worry. It is most certainly coming back — next year.
» As for boring game guy, enjoy the history flashback. Now you know what it was like to watch Tom Osborne’s teams. The handoff convention put you to sleep, but that usually goes double for the opposing defense and then, boom, there goes a big play. Also, winning is never boring. I read that once in a fortune cookie.
» Riley on the thief who hit the Foltz house during the Nebraska game on Saturday night: “I would not want to be that guy, I know that, in this state.”
I could not put it any better than that. This is absolutely the worst. But whatever lowlife did this, they can’t rob the Foltz family of their love and memories of Sam, and of the love they get from this state.
» I’m a fan of Baxter Arena. I know the practical gene inside all Nebraskans will judge it, but it’s more than just a hockey and basketball arena. It’s the centerpiece of the UNO campus and the UNO future. That was a smart play by UNO leaders to do that, in more ways than one. It’s in the best interest of NU leaders to make sure it works, too.
» Are referees targeting Nebraska defenders? Mike Riley told me on Monday he didn’t think so. But clearly, there’s a pattern here that’s bordering on absurd. Riley had not seen the play in the Texas-Notre Dame game, which clearly looked like targeting by a Longhorn defensive back but went with no flag.
There’s no consistency or rhyme or reason to how this penalty is called. Riley makes no excuses here, and that’s good. He says the Huskers have to be extra careful on their approach to tackles and hits.
Or, to steal a line from “Top Gun,” they need to be doing it better and cleaner than the next guy.
» The Big 12 has to invite the University of Houston now — or it doesn’t expand at all.
» What a dilemma. The Big 12 already owns the Houston TV market. And just wait until Houston starts stealing its share of Texas recruits away from other Big 12 schools — and starts beating Texas and OU on a regular basis.
» Looking forward to having Jon Nyatawa, Indiana kid and hoops lover, on the Creighton beat. Now that Labor Day is here and gone, the next holiday is first day of basketball practice, right?
» One more and I’m outta here: The NFL kicks off this week, and that means the Chargers are still in it. I mean, they haven’t been eliminated yet, right?
The NFC looks like a clearer picture. I’ve got the pendulum swinging back toward Seattle over Arizona and Carolina.
The AFC is a mess. Denver won’t go back-to-back, not without a quarterback. Not sold on the Raiders — yet. Not buying Houston. Tom Brady’s suspension will cost the Pats home field and a shot at the Super Bowl. The Bengals have a lot going on, but can they get out of their own way? No trust there.
Steelers or Chiefs, Chiefs or Steelers.
I’m going with K.C.’s defense, run game, schedule (they’ll win at Pittsburgh in Week 4) and the fact that the AFC is so wide open (mediocre), it’s the kind of year a really solid team can win it.
Seahawks vs. Chiefs. Now a real prediction would have been that Chiefs fans will find a way to be mad at Andy Reid when it’s over.
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