SWOT Analysis: Nebraska Cornhuskers Versus Texas Longhorns
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Ok Husker fans. Follow me:
Breathe in. Breathe out. Ahhh.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Ahhh.
One more time.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Ahhhhhhh.
Great. Now, repeat after me: "Texas owns Nebraska."
C'mon. It's not that hard. The Cornhuskers are still a premiere college football program. You can do it.
"Texas owns Nebraska."
Fact is, even if Nebraska won this game that statement would be true. The sad part is, the Cornhuskers won't be around long enough to make things right. But maybe that's a good thing. Really, what Husker fan wants to go to Austin next year?
Frankly, I'm not surprised that Texas beat Nebraska. I am surprised with the relative ease in which they did it. Make no mistake—the fluky Eric Hagg punt return aside—Texas handled the Huskers on both sides of the ball fairly easily.
So, painful as it is, let's proceed to the SWOT:
The Zac Attack Returns
This is the only highlight. I loved seeing the senior come in and steady the offense. It's not like Zac Lee came in and saved the day—no one on the team can beat Texas. But it was great seeing this team leader who was relegated from 12-game starter to third string get some real, honest playing time in a clutch situation. It shows how narrow the gap is between all three quarterbacks in the competition for playing time.
Better to Give...
It was yet another fumble fest for the Nebraska offense, putting five balls on the ground. Sure, they only lost one, but all of them were drive-killers. Fumbling against South Dakota State's defense is one thing, but the Longhorns defense needs no help. And, of course, senior running back Roy Helu's fumble on the Texas 20-yard line was a killer—setting the Longhorns up for an early two-score lead against a team that had not trailed the entire season.
All of this really would not have been an issue if...
Than to Receive
Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson pulled starting freshman QB Taylor Martinez out of the game midway through the third quarter. That was probably the right thing to do given that Martinez seemed nervous and was not making his option reads very well.
However, the true culprits here are the receivers. Where did the receivers go? Eight dropped passes—three of which were sure touchdowns—killed any chance Nebraska had of winning this game. Could the reliable and sure-handed sophomore running back Rex Burkhead have been any more open on the wheel route up the sideline? What happened to Brandon Kinnie on the inside slant to the end zone?
And senior wideout "leader" Niles Paul? Jeez. Enough said.
I'm not equating any one of these specific plays to a victory. However, catch one or two of those passes and Texas would have been forced to defend the pass better, which would have opened up running lanes, which would have allowed Martinez more option reads, which...
Alright. I'll stop now before I get too deep into "woulda, coulda, shoulda" territory. And I guess it was easier for Watson to yank one quarterback than his entire receiving corp.
Once again, Nebraska racks up a football field's worth of penalties. Ten for 94 yards. Of all potential weaknesses about this team this is the most perplexing. It's the exact opposite of what you would expect from a team coached by the discipline-minded Bo Pelini. Again, a team like Texas does not need help.
Hey, at least Nebraska has company! The Ohio State University got trounced by Wisconsin later in the evening. Now the "Who's losing above us" game becomes even more fun to play since the Huskers are essentially out of the national championship picture.
Calm Down! All Is Not Lost!
If you had a gun to your head and were forced to pick a conference game to lose it would definitely be to a South Division team. Mission accomplished.
Truth is, a loss to Missouri would be much more deflating than this one. Or to any other North Division team for that matter. I would like to see Nebraska send another quarterback de-commit to defeat in Missouri's Blaine Gabbert (and take his little brother Tyler with him). Remember, the Huskers have somewhat of a history in this area when Josh Freemen de- committed and went to Kansas State—where he was trounced thoroughly in a couple of games against Nebraska.
Lies. Damn Lies and Statistics
While it's true that Texas seemed in control the entire game the stats don't bare that out. No Texas runner came close to 100 yards. UT sophomore QB Garrett Gilbert was 4-16 for 62 yards and no passing touchdowns. Although he did kill the Husker defense with his short running scrambles that took advantage of Nebraska's tendency to over-pursue.
Granted, Nebraska's offense was awful. But even at that, time of possession was pretty much even, with Texas owning a 20-second advantage. And did I mention the dropped passes?
By the way, I'm done preaching about time of possession. I'll take a Martinez 80-yard touchdown run over controlling the clock now, thank you very much.
Bad Home Cookin'
What happened to the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium? Nebraska used to be unbeatable there. Now the team seems much more comfortable on the road. Let's hope that holds true next week at South Division foe Oklahoma State. I'd love to send out bitter, cranky old T. Boone Pickens with a loss.
I'm going to overlook the Oklahoma State game. Hey, it's not my job to keep the team focused.
Missouri looked much more like a top-10 team this weekend than Nebraska did in smashing a tough Texas A&M squad 30-9 on the road. We were aware of Missouri's prolific offense but the defense is looking pretty damn good, too. In the previous week the Tigers shut out Colorado.
Thank goodness Missouri will be a home game. Oh. Wait.
So, folks, the burnt orange menace is behind us. Turns out all the marketing promotion and hype in the world doesn't make up for what happens on the field. Nebraska learned that after the "Get the Red Out" campaign and the results of the game yesterday. Frankly, it's a lesson that old Big Eight foes such as Colorado, Kansas State and Missouri learned for years. Nebraska can point to all-time win-loss records against any of those teams and walk away knowing the Huskers thoroughly dominated those programs.
Much the same way Texas can walk away from Nebraska.
But, at this time, the team and coaches really need to grasp what's still ahead of them. It would be no less sweet to exit the Big 12 with the conference championship—and that is still firmly within reach.
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