Welcome to the Husker Monday Marinade. Each week we will take a unique look at the week that was, the week that will be and the opinions that will drive the debate about Nebraska Football. Please feel free to add to the conversation below, share on Facebook and Tweet it!
Week 1 – Southern Miss:
George walked into the Casey’s General Store in Grand Island, NE, Sunday morning to meet with the rest of his friends in the Husker Coffee Club, with a wry, little smile on his face. See, the Husker Coffee Club meets each Saturday morning to talk about the upcoming game, and Sunday to re-hash and armchair critique a team they love to love, like most all of Nebraska.
But this day was different for George. Saturday morning the HCC was ready to have George committed to an asylum. They called him insane, that he had lost his mind. All because George declared that morning, before the Nebraska game against Southern Mississippi, that he had a vision.
George proclaimed that Tom Osborne himself, a God in the minds of Nebraskans, had told him in a dream that Rex Burkhead, the Huskers All-conference running back, was going to go down in the 2nd quarter with a knee injury. And at that time Nebraska would only be ahead 21-14. Tom said we won’t have a 100-yard rusher, and dual-threat quarterback Taylor Martinez will only run for 10 yards. And Brett Maher, the kicker who had only missed one field goal under 50 yards last season, will miss both a 44-yarder and a 41-yarder.
The Coffee Clubbers got nervous. That’s a disaster cocktail.
“I know it sounds like a terrible, boys,” George said. “But, Tom told me our defense will allow less than 100 yards passing, and they won’t allow another offensive touchdown the rest of the game. Not only that, but Taylor Martinez is going to throw for 354 yards and five touchdowns and we’re going to win by 29!”
Then, the Husker Coffee Club laughed. They didn’t just laugh, they rolled! They felt a bit relieved because it all sounded too ridiculous. Who in their right mind would believe that storyline, even if it did result in a Husker win.
True Husker football involves pounding for 200 yards rushing, not 300 passing. Really, they argued, when was the last time a Husker QB threw for 300+ yards and five touchdowns — the Bill Callahan era?
George just smiled and said, “No, actually. It was Martinez, in 2010 against Oklahoma State, where he threw for 323 yards and five TDs.”
So when George’s vision played out to virtuoso accuracy on Saturday as the Huskers beat Southern Miss 49-20, George was fully ready to gloat.
As is the rest of Husker nation. There was no Husker hangover this day. And unlike recent years past, there was no “yeah, but . . . ” feeling. This was a thorough win. They didn’t kneel the ball at the end of the first half, lacking confidence to score after SMU kicked a late field goal to pull to 21-17. Instead, Nebraska scored in less than 30 seconds and took a 28-17 lead into the half. The Husker defense bent, but they rarely broke and only allowed one offensive touchdown, and just three points in the second half, and less than 100 total yards passing.
More importantly, the Huskers showed an aspect of their offense that teams will have to game plan for for the rest of the season. Thanks to Taylor’s all-of-the-sudden passing proficiency and rope throws, not rainbows, defensive coaches have to pay attention. That will open him, Burkhead and rising star Ameer Abdullah up to a more balanced and more lethal offensive attack.
Fans are excited again, and you can feel it. And no, Husker fans are not afraid of the 49 points UCLA put on Rice. They are not afraid of Johnathan Franklin and his 214 rushing yards, and they aren’t afraid of the Rose Bowl. The Californians for Nebraska and the travelers from Lincoln will simply call it home sweet home, for one evening at least, maybe two.
That old feeling of satisfaction is back in Husker Coffee Clubs all over the state, and Nebraska is back in good business.