All Points West: Silver lining playbook, Bo still has a chance to go 10-2
     2014-11-20      By Frank Marquez    frankmarquez@geringcitizen.com
My sports editor would say, “Give Frank a moment of silence, you know, for his team’s funeral. They got beat by Oklahoma, Texas, or Kansas State, but not as bad as that 62-36 loss to Colorado in 2001.”
There’s really only one thing I can say after Saturday‘s debacle at Camp Randall except it was a debacle. Nebraska got spanked, 59-24. And it’s the kind of spanking you try to run away from, but with each swing of the paddle, you keep finding yourself getting pulled back for MORE OF THE SAME.

A young Husker knows he can’t cheat time in practice or in the weight room, take plays off during the game, or get by on talent alone, because talent will only get you so far. Though I don’t know what goes on in practice or what happens in the players’ lives outside of football, school alone is challenging enough. I do know this, Nebraska showed its backside once again for another sound beating down the stretch in November, when it counts.

There will be no Heisman for I-back Ameer Abdullah, and no chance at a national championship. This was a tough pill to swallow, but I did it. So can they, but some things need to get fixed.

The Black Shirts played as individuals — obviously, no one was hustling around the field except for maybe Linebacker Nate Gerry. Most of the players on this current squad don’t know the meaning of TEAM football. This current cast of Huskers has yet to learn how to play with pride, and more importantly with heart and conviction.

While Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon piled up the yardage and points as a one-man wrecking crew, only Gerry was able to catch him and put him down to the ground on two critical plays, but even that wasn’t enough. Unless, I’ve gotten so bad at math, weren’t there 10 other defenders lined up with him for the express purpose of stopping the Badgers’ steaming locomotive? This was the truest exhibition of a lack of discipline and fundamentals (technique).

Plus, there was no sense of urgency. I kept waiting for Defensive Coordinator John Papuchis to get in someone’s face. Only Head Coach Bo Pelini cared enough to upbraid Senior Safety Corey Cooper on a missed tackle, knowing that momentum in a game like this can swing wildly back and forth in an instant. After a first quarter 62-yard TD run by a worthy Heisman candidate Gordon, Nebraska quit. It was that simple.

For one quarter, Nebraska was successful in stopping Gordon and Wisconsin, proving that teams cannot win without a sound defense. But being up by two scores in the first quarter seemed like foreign territory. You could see it in the players’ body language. Seemingly, the Huskers forgot there were three more quarters to play. Once they proved they could stop Gordon, it was back to the old habits — Take a play off, take a whole series off, take a seat.

Hey coaches, go ahead and scratch your heads again.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Bo. Bo’s not the problem; He’s proven his mettle in Division I. He needs help, but that help would need to come from a competent staff — namely a quarterbacks coach and a true-blue defensive coordinator, one who has actually played the game. Sure, not a lot of coaches want to come and work in Nebraska for whatever reason, but if it’s about ego, Big Red needs to get over it. And, you don’t have to love all the guys walking the sideline. I’m sure Tom Osborne and Charlie McBride had their disagreements, but there was no questioning the abilities of either coach. Both of them had the sheer will and determination to learn from hard knocks, and ignore the fans calling for their heads after each painful loss.

Looking back in history, Osborne lost some doozies namely to old rival the Oklahoma Sooners from 1970 all the way up to the mid-90s. In one contest they lost by as many as the five-TD difference versus Wisconsin. In 1990, Oklahoma spanked Nebraska, 45-10. A few other things to note, Tom didn’t win a national title until nearly full two decades into his head coaching career. And when he did, eight out of the 11 of his assistants were seasoned veterans by that time, each one with at least a decade under his belt at Nebraska.

The moral to the story: with each loss, there’s another day, another chance at victory. Count two more legitimate chances against West Division opponents Minnesota and Iowa.

In the interest of fans who do not want to be reminded of the beat down Saturday, I’ll point out that there’s a difference between losing and trying versus losing and stinking up the joint. Albeit, analysts and fans alike will try to pinpoint just exactly how the wagon came unhitched and was sent careening into the sidelines. It’s natural for kids — and keep in mind they are kids — to come up with every excuse for how they got into trouble and the older wiser parents (coaches) can only shake their heads. Yes, it was one loss, but it was the way they lost.

I’m not saying Pelini needs to rouse his players with some Vince Lombardi or Knute Rockne speech, but it wouldn’t hurt. Remember, mental preparation is 90 percent of the game, the other half is physical. Or so Yogi Berra once said.

In August, Bo introduced a new motto — Relentless. Accountable. Competitive, or RAC for short. I’m not a big fan of acronyms, but it should probably spell something that makes sense so it locks into memory, and realize the players have to buy into it, too.

In this case, I would have to ask each player why he came to play for
Nebraska, and then have them answer why they think losses affect the fans so deeply and profoundly. Easy answer: It’s because this is our home.

I’m a fan because I believe. It’s a deep-seeded faith, and it’s a faith I understand.

Anyone who dons a helmet with the red letter ‘N’ should know that he has the greatest fans backing him, and the prayer the players recite before the tunnel walk is more than a prayer. It’s a way of life.

If we should lose, we’ll stand by the road,
And cheer as the winners go by.
Day by Day, we get better and better!
The team that can’t be beat, WON’T BE BEAT!

Up Next: The Minnesota Golden Gophers with game time scheduled for 9 a.m. MST at Memorial Stadium.

My advice to Nebraska: There’s only one thing to do after a loss like the one to Wisconsin — GET BACK UP!

What do you think? Email me at frankmarquez@geringcitizen.com

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