Greetings BSD faithful. This is bscaff sitting in for Devon, who has been detained post-op for precautionary reasons following his successful procedure combating testicular elephantiasis, which sprang up suddenly after he predicted a Penn State victory this weekend. Prior the procedure, Devon posed a series of questions to the fine folks at Corn Nation about the PSU-Nebby game Saturday. Unfortunately, Devon did not ask the one question I would have asked: what do you suppose happens when Bo Pelini launches into a raging fit of vulgarity during a staff meeting in which Ron Brown is present? More specifically, do you suppose Bo would address Ron using a term which questioned Ron's sexual orientation, and more critically, is it possible that Bo has frequently done so, and that the resultant hate-filled screaming matches that lasted for hours is the true source for why the Blackshirt Defense has played poorly when facing an offense with a pulse?
But like I mentioned - Devon didn't ask that. Here's what he did ask, though:
1. This has been a bit of an up-and-down season for Nebraska; we've seen the Huskers at times look like the best team in the Big Ten and at others look so discombobulated that calls for Bo Pelini's head weren't ridiculous. As we near the last few games, how do you sum it up? Is this year still salvageable?
COBBY: DISCOMBOBULATED IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE WORDS. WHEN YOU ARE AS UP-AND-DOWN AS I AM, BEING DISCOMBOBULATED SEEMS NORMAL. SUM THINGS UP? I GUESS THE BEST WAY TO DO THAT FOR YOU PENN STATERS IS TO REMIND YOU THAT YOUR SEASON LAST YEAR WAS STILL SALVAGEABLE AFTER THE NEBRASKA GAME EVEN THOUGH THE REPLAY OFFICIAL DISCOMBOBULATED YOU IN FRONT OF YOUR BOOB TUBE.
Aaron: Don’t mind Cobby. He likes to try and entertain us over at CornNation. It has been an up-and-down year. A lot of Husker fans really felt like we should have been able to beat Sparty last week. Since the Minnesota game, the team is starting to show signs of life and making progress. We’ve had a lot of injuries on offense, but our backups are coming in and playing well. The defense has looked a bit more cohesive, too. We obviously won’t win the conference title, but there are hopes for fun games against Penn State and Iowa, and maybe score a good match up in the bowl game. BBW bowl against Oklahoma or Texas? Yes please.
David: Not sure they’ve ever looked like the best team in the B1G. I’d sum up this team this way: it’s been murky. There have been so many things that have happened this year to make the waters the program wades in so unclear that no one really knows what’s going to happen. The fanbase is in basically a republican/democrat divide right now. The fans that want Bo gone won’t be swayed and neither will those that want to give him more time. There’s not much middle ground, but the AD doesn’t say much of...anything, so it’s really hard to get an accurate temperature on things.
2. Nebraska's offense looked better against Michigan State than pretty much anyone all year, but the Huskers just couldn't hold on to the ball. What went wrong, and do you take more positives than negatives from last week's performance?
COBBY: THE PEOPLE OVER AT THE ONLY COLORS DIDN’T SEEM TO THINK MY PERFORMANCE LAST WEEK WAS ALL THAT GREAT, BUT THERE WERE A FEW POSITIVES TO GO ALONG WITH THE NEGATIVES. I THINK THE THING THAT WENT WRONG LAST WEEK WAS ME THINKING THAT ILLINOIS WAS SOUTH OF MICHIGAN INSTEAD OF INDIANA. N IS FOR NOWLEDGE RIGHT? EITHER WAY, I STILL BELIEVE THAT COP WAS FULL OF CRAP WHEN HE PULLED ME OVER, BUT YEA, MY PERFORMANCE IN MICHIGAN WAS STILL BETTER THAN MY BALL HANDLING LAST WEEKEND IN LINCOLN.
David: Fumbles. That’s what went wrong. The plan was good, when they held onto the ball, the execution was good. But in the end, you can’t give a team five turnovers and three inside the 30, two inside the 10. It’s hard to take any positives away from that, but the fact they did move the ball vs. big, bad Michigan State was encouraging.
Aaron: Yea. They just decided that they didn’t want to hold onto the ball last week. The way this team still fumbles the ball is just mind-boggling. You would expect bad handoffs or botched snaps once or twice a year, but it happens most games. Without those fumbles, there were a lot of positives about that game. The team kept fighting but when they pulled within striking distance, they would shoot themselves in the foot again. It was also very promising to see that our second and third team players step up and play well with all the injuries we’ve had with our starters this year.
Husker Mike: Five fumbles...and they all were by freshmen. Some of whom were pressed into bigger roles due to injuries. And even worse, all five fumbles were in Nebraska territory. Three resulted in pretty difficult to stop Sparty touchdown drives: NU 3 yard line, NU 7 yard line, NU 22 yard line. Exclude those freshman mistakes, Nebraska played really well.
3. Freshman Tommy Armstrong was thrust into the starting QB job after Taylor Martinez's injury, and he had pretty big shoes to fill. How's he done? Is he poised to take advantage of a weak Penn State secondary?
COBBY: YOU GUYS SHOULD REALLY STOP BEING SO MEAN TO THOSE PITT CHICKS. YEA, JUST BECAUSE THEY HAVE BIG FEET AND AREN’T VERY POISED DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN’T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THEIR WEAKNESS. WHEN WE WENT TO PITTSBURGH FOR A GAME A FEW YEARS BACK, PSU GIRLS WERE MY PRIMARY TARGET, BUT I HAD NO PROBLEM THRUSTING WITH MY SECONDARY CHOICE WHEN THOSE PITT CHICKS WERE ALL THAT WAS LEFT OVER. FAT GIRLS NEED LOVE TOO.
David: Fine. He’s looked like a freshman at times, but the talent is apparent. He’ll get better with time. He’s not a great passer, but he’ll put pressure on the defense and runs the option pretty well, so if the defense isn’t disciplined, he can burn them. And, as we’ve seen, NU can run on about anyone, so look for the burden of production to be on Ameer Abdullah and the offensive line, more-so than Armstrong.
Aaron: Tim Beck (our offensive coordinator) likes to take a shot down field about once a quarter. Expect it when the Huskers get to about mid-field. I think Tommy got his first TD on one of those plays last weekend against MSU otherwise his accuracy isn’t that great yet. They really don’t throw much with Armstrong and when they do, they try to give him an easy read not too far downfield. I would be more concerned with stopping the run against Nebraska than their passing game this year.
Husker Mike: He’s played like a freshman… and has been really poor with taking care of the ball in more games than just last week. He’ll improve over time. He has a strong arm, but his problem is getting into a rhythm with his receivers. Kenny Bell has had to bail him out with multiple acrobatic catches on some deep passes. So that’s a matchup to watch.
4. The Nebraska D has had some truly terrible games this season, especially the ones against Wyoming, UCLA, and Minnesota. What went wrong, and how will Bill O'Brien look to exploit its weaknesses?
COBBY: WHAT CAN I SAY. I’M TERRIBLE AT BEING DEFENSIVE. I TRY TO BE MORE OFFENSIVE BECAUSE IT’S MORE FUN THAT WAY. IF YOU WANT TO EXPLOIT OUR DEFENSES’ WEAKNESS, THOUGH, I’VE GOT TWO WORDS FOR YOU: CHEERLEADERS. JUST PACK IN THE HOTTEST/SLUTTIEST/ETC CHEERLEADERS BEHIND THE NEBRASKA BENCH. GET LIKE A THOUSAND OF THEM AND HAVE THEM "SAY THINGS" TO OUR PLAYERS. SHOW ‘EM A LITTLE SKIN. THESE KIDS ARE 19-22 YEAR OLDS AND THEY CAN BE EXPLOITED. I MEAN, LOOK AT THE GAMES THAT WE HAD TROUBLE WITH THIS YEAR. THERE WERE THESE HOT WYOMING COWBOY CHICKS, THOSE EXQUISITE BEACH BABE MODELS FROM SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, AND LASTLY, THOSE GOPHER-FACED CHICKS FROM MINNESOTA. I HEARD THAT YOUR TEAM HAD TROUBLE KEEPING THEIR EYES OFF OF GOLDIE AND HIS PACK OF WILDEBEESTS, TOO. CHEERLEADERS. THEY WORK. TRUST ME.
David: The defense struggled to get its feet under them early. Since the first quarter of the Northwestern game, the defense has seemed to turn a corner. The team doesn’t even look the same as the defense we saw in the games you listed. What went wrong was that there was a bunch of youth and inexperience that was learning how to play at this level and communicate how they needed to. It’s possible they revert back, but there seems to have been a mentality change the past couple of games and I don’t expect that to happen.
Aaron: This year was the youth movement on defense. The first few games were really about figuring out which eleven guys to put onto the field to give us the best chance to win. Something hit home after the Minnesota game, though. They haven’t been lights-out since, but they have improved drastically the past few games. It should be fun to see if our defensive line can continue to be as disruptive as they have been lately.
Husker Mike: To build on Aaron’s response, Nebraska lists nine freshmen on defense on the two-deep roster on the defensive line and at linebacker. Bo Pelini had some recruiting failures on defense his first three season, and he’s been playing catchup. The last three games, the youngsters seem to have gotten the hang of what they are doing and have played more like what a Bo Pelini defense wants to be. Do they have another Minnesota game-like hairball to cough up yet? Good question.
5. Nebraska ranks last in the Big Ten in turnover differential. Is that more due to offensive sloppiness or an inability to make big plays on defense?
COBBY: IF YOU'RE GOING TO TALK DIFFERENTIALS, YOU’LL NEED TO ASK SOME OUT-OF-WORK MICHIGAN MAN. THEY’RE THE AUTO MECHANICS OF THE LEAGUE, NOT US. I’LL TRY TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION, THOUGH. AS FAR AS I KNOW, IF THE CAR DOESN’T TURNOVER, IT SHOULDN’T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE VEHICLE’S DIFFERENTIAL. IT PROBABLY HAS MORE TO DO WITH A BATTERY OR A SPARK PLUG. MAYBE YOU JUST NEED A NEW STARTER, BUT WITH PENN STATE'S SANCTIONS, I’M SURE YOUR DEPTH IS PROBABLY AN ISSUE SO YOU’LL JUST HAVE TO MAKE DUE NO MATTER HOW SLOPPY THEIR PLAY IS. AND IF YOU HAVE AN INABILITY TO MAKE BIG PLAYS ON THE CHICKS WITH YOUR ROADSTER, GET A BICYCLE AND HANG OUT AT THE LIBRARY.
Aaron: It seems like forever since Nebraska has had a year where the defense can get/force turnovers. It’s like the coaching staff discourages it in favor of teaching other fundamentals. And the offense? I stated earlier that I just don’t get why a college level program has so many "oops" turnovers like Nebraska does. It doesn’t make sense.
Jon: Nebraska had the five turnovers against Michigan State, all by freshmen. Four turnovers against Northwestern, three interceptions by Armstrong, a redshirt freshman. Three interception against Purdue, again by Armstrong. Of the 23 turnovers so far this season, 13 have been by freshmen. There is a problem with our defense not getting takeaways to even that out.
6. How do you see this one shaping up?
David: I look for the NU defense to continue to build on what they’ve done the past three games and get a bunch of pressure on the quarterback and try to take away Robinson, which will be easier said than done. On offense, I think the Huskers will look to establish the run and grind it out. Abdullah’s rushed for 100 yards in every game this year except vs. UCLA where he fell two yards short. I look for that to happen again. I don’t think either team pulls away from the other, assuming we don’t see something crazy like one team turning the ball over five times, but I think NU grinds this one out.
COBBY: SHAPE UP? WHEN THE ROTC COMMANDER TOLD ME TO SHAPE UP OR SHIP OUT, I DECIDED TO SET SAIL FOR THE PROMISED LAND ALONG "O" STREET IN LINCOLN. THERE ARE PLENTY OF BARS AND HOT COLLEGE CHICKS THERE TO MAKE ME FORGET MY SORROWS WIN OR LOSE. WHICH, BTW, WE WON’T LOSE THIS WEEKEND. I’VE ALREADY MAILED IN THE CHECK TO WWW.BUYABIGTENREPLAYOFFICIAL.COM SO I KNOW WE GOT ANY CLOSE PLAYS IN THE BAG. VIVA LA 1982!
Aaron: I haven’t watched too much of Penn State this year, but they have had some real head scratchers. Getting smoked by UCF!? Getting beat by Indiana and almost losing to Illinois? Letting Purdue score during a meaningful part of a game? Nebraska is really banged up, but we were still able to move the ball against MSU, the toughest defense we will play all year. They went into the Big House and got a win. I don’t see why they can’t win at Beaver Stadium. As long as we aren’t -5 in turnovers, I think we can muster out a win against Penn State again.
Jon: The game entirely depends upon how many turnovers are committed by either team. Obviously, Nebraska hasn’t done a good job of taking care of the ball lately, and all those inexperienced guys will be playing in front of that PSU crowd for the first time. Ball security and shutting down Allen Robinson are keys for the Huskers. Penn State’s offense should get some points, but I’d say the first team to 27 wins it. Therefore, Nebraska 30, Penn State 24. (Like that logic? IT WORKS FOR ME!)
p.s. We’re a real confident sounding bunch, aren’t we?
Check out COBBY and other assorted caricatures at Corn Nation. They're good dudes.
More from Black Shoe Diaries:
- Success With Hyperlinking Reminds You To Always Do The Right Thing
- Penn State To Play in 2014 Charleston Classic
- Know Your Foe, Week 12: Nebraska Cornhuskers
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