I'm not laughing anymore

Taylor throws for record against Iowa State

Can we call the win over Iowa State a message in a bottle? More specifically, can we label the fashion in which that win came? Yes, there was good defense as always, but there were 431 other reasons to look at this game as important. Now one has to wonder if you can look at it as pivotal as well.

I'll admit it, I didn't expect it. Heck, not only did I not expect it, I would have bet darn good money against it. But, come on, not even you, the all-knowing armchair QB could have sat in your La-Z-Boy/Throne of Omnipotence and seen even close to the following:

36-55, 431 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions

If that isn't enough, nobody could have seen this either:

Cory Ross: 15 rushes, 37 yards – 8 receptions – 131 yards

Throw in two touchdowns through the air with one on the ground and statistically, it's almost ridiculous.

11 receivers for Nebraska against Iowa State, four with at least five receptions. Seven receivers producing double digits in yards receiving. Oh, and ala the old commercial saying with a little bit of a twist: "Where's the motion?"

Uh-uh, no way, no how could anyone have foreseen this, at least to this extreme

But it happened

How?

Did Bill Callahan break out the "real"
playbook for Iowa State?

Ok, first let's get the conspiracy theorist out of the way here as there have been some that have said that head coach Bill Callahan has been holding onto the "real" playbook until conference play arrives.

They (the coaches) were quite willing to accept the fact that it meant risking losing at least two of those early games to do that.

Yeah, and I am sure it was Callahan himself telling Zac Taylor to throw under 44 percent of his passes complete, just so everyone was convinced.

The passing game wasn't working, the running game was…..well, sort of. So when we hear following the game that approximately 11 of the first 15 plays were scripted passes, you are thinking that this is either one of the gutsiest game plans you've ever seen based on recent results or simply one of the dumbest.

Considering the outcome, I'd say the former is more accurate.

What happened was what I basically said couldn't happen or at least, I didn't think was likely.

Through three games the Huskers had as many rushing touchdowns from the quarterback as they had passing:

1 each

Through three games, the completion percentage was below 50 percent and actually below the output of Joe Dailey last year, a QB that wasn't considered suitable for this system.

This offensive line had given up more sacks than last year at this point and in three games. Plus, we saw a Husker offense do its best to stop itself with turnovers in game one, dropped balls in game two and penalties in game three.

It was pretty obvious Nebraska would be ready to set some all time yardage marks in the passing game against the first "real" opponent of the season.

In all honesty, about the only thing about my prediction that I actually got right was the fact that Nebraska would win.

Quite frankly, I'm baffled.

Normally, this is where I say, "No, not because I didn't think it would work, but because……….".

I can't say that, because I DIDN'T think it would work. Yes, I thought Taylor had some ability, but up to this point, I had seen a quarterback that was tentative in the pocket, held onto the ball a little long at times, didn't exhibit a lot of confidence in his short throws and wasn't very consistent overall.

Add to that the seven sacks, stemming somewhat from his apparent lack of mobility and some to his offensive line. It was all just too much to ignore.

It was going to be all running in this game with just enough passing to fool someone into thinking that they could do it on a play-to-play basis.

Yep, they ran just enough to tally the eighth lowest rushing total in the history of the Husker program.

Taylor not only didn't look tentative in this game, he looked confident. From the first pass to the last, here was a guy that was stepping into his throws, delivering most on the dime and when there wasn't a play there, he took off.

Not at a 4.4 clip, but at a 4.7 (Ok, that's probably being nice) clip that worked, because Taylor knew exactly when to run.

His presence in the pocket was extremely good, possessing that seemingly ingrained trait to all good quarterbacks in that they feel the pressure as it's arriving, step up into the pocket and make a play downfield.

In addition, Taylor got the crap kicked out of him a few times, but this time around it was somewhat to do with the line, but even more to do with the coverage down the field.

Nebraska defense continues to pile up
sacks



In all instances, some a little slower than others, Taylor got up, went back to the huddle and continued on his record setting day.

While I am certainly willing to admit that this could be a one-time thing and defenses will now not be expecting Nebraska to just run, because that's all they can do, I can emphatically say that this young man proved me completely wrong.

Ok, sunshine is over, now let's get to some harsh reality, the kind that you don't want to talk about when a Husker team came out with what could be a momentum building game. As if the last one over Pitt wasn't enough:

317 yards

That's what Iowa State got in the air and while it's not 431, it was enough to take what could have been a convincing win and turned it into an overtime thriller or for the Cyclones, nightmare.

The secondary that had gotten torched last year by Meyer, Davis and Blythe, once again got torched by Meyer, but the award for triple digits receiving went only to one receiver this time around, Austin Flynn grabbing the honors. And instead of Lornell McPherson getting abused, it was the converted running back Tierre Green who found himself getting picked on repeatedly.

In fact, the inexperience of the entire secondary showed in spurts throughout the game.

I hear Texas Tech is coming to town

That's all taking into account that the defense did very well, especially at the line, tallying 6 sacks and an impressive 8 quarterback hurries. Corey McKeon was once again his solid self, notching two of those sacks, totaling another double-digit day in tackles with 10.

It seems like the pressure was there, but one reason why Iowa State still got yards down the field was because of Meyer himself. His mobility, as you would assume, was a definite factor in him being able to create from nothing at times. Meyer wasn't making a lot of runs down the field, but he was buying himself time in the backfield to deliver to receivers that were able to eventually get open.

Nebraska did limit him considerably, though, and stopped him when it mattered most.

I have to tell you that as bad as it seemed at times, as a Husker fan you have to be pretty thrilled with how Nebraska came out of this game. Last year the Huskers didn't have the kind of consistency and maybe at times, ability to overcome a performance like Meyer had today.

This group, though, with both offense and defense, was able to stem the tide and create a few ripples of their own. If not for two dropped balls in the end zone, one by Frantz Hardy and the other by fullback Dane Todd, this could have been a very different game.

As it is, I actually think how this game ended up going was the best thing that could have happened to the big red.

Nebraska had not trailed in a game this year. Trailing in a game, especially in overtime, is a test of attrition and mental fortitude. Nebraska was down twice in this game, Iowa State leading at one point 13-10, when Nebraska tied, only to see Iowa State go back up again in the overtime period. Nebraska answered once more and then again, to take the lead for good.

Nebraska has also not been in an overtime game and that's not just this team, but ANY Husker team ever, inside Memorial Stadium.

Oh, and let's not talk about Nebraska's history over the last 40 years when they had to rely on the pass to win games.

There's irony here, but more than anything, there could be a little destiny as well.

Now, don't get all in a bunch, I'm not talking about titles, though, Nebraska is in as good of shape as anyone else in the north division to at least try for something like that. What I am talking about is a team that did something I didn't think they could do:

Realize in a game what they were seeing in practice every day

I have no doubt that since the season began, this team practiced very well. I saw the spring game, so I have seen how Zac Taylor and a staunch defense can overmatch their opponent and at times, dominate.

Coming into this game, I also think that whatever game plans this coaching staff had, they were seeing them work in scrimmages certainly better than they had worked in the real thing.

But, they had never actually seen it happen when it mattered.

That has to mean something. The coaches preach, they teach, they scold, they mold and when all of that doesn't happen in a game, what does it ultimately mean?

I don't know

Ross now part "Rice" with record in
receiving yards for a running back.
But, when they do all of that and it works and quite well, what does THAT ultimately mean?

Again, I don't have a clue.

It does prove a few points, something that defenses of teams they are about to face are taking down as notes for the future:

Nebraska can pass and their short game seems to be just fine if you give Taylor enough time.

Nebraska's pass blocking isn't actually too bad, but I don't believe it's a coincidence that they are much better now than previous games, the one difference with this contest being FAR less motion and shifting than we have ever seen out of a Bill Callahan offense.

Blitzing Taylor isn't a gimmee anymore as he's proven to have good pocket presence and enough savvy to know when to move and most of the time, where.

Oh, and Cory Ross is Cory Ross. Running or receiving, this guy is as big of a threat as Nebraska has had in years.

All that equals an interesting dilemma for me, because I am not one to underestimate the importance of a win like this. I do believe in watershed moments and those sparks that can propel a team for the rest of the year.

Again, I am not talking titles here, but when you come off a 5-6 year, you don't have to talk titles to feel happy about the progress your team is making.

And they made progress, perhaps the most in any one game in Callahan's two years at the helm. Unlike the Baylor game last year, where Joe Dailey set the passing record Zac Taylor just broke, people were still wondering if Dailey could do something like that again.

The biggest difference here is that Dailey's success came more off the big play than it did the consistent play and it's the consistent play that tells you whether something is a fluke or legit.

Right now, Taylor seems legit.

Does that mean Nebraska can beat Texas Tech when Mike Leach brings his ruthless offense into Memorial Stadium?

Well, yeah, but not because Nebraska is better, but because anyone can beat anyone on a given day.

It's not like Texas Tech is USC. They just have such a potent offense between the 20s and as noted, Nebraska's secondary needs help. BUT, Hodges isn't as mobile as Meyers is and if the Kansas game is any indication, their (Tech's) offensive line isn't quite up to par with Iowa State's as well.

If there is one thing I got from his game, outside of pure shock for most of the contest, it's that whatever system this is and whatever you want to call it, the players believe in it, top to bottom. And now they have actually gotten to see it work.

Not against a tomato can foe either, but against a ranked team, a conference team, a division team.

That's huge

It's impossible to say what this victory will do for the overall record, but you didn't have to look hard to see what it did for a team. Emotional victories are one thing, but this was more than about a win, it was about proving on the field that everything they did off the field actually worked.

Their timing was impeccable in debuting that efficiency and I don't think it's so clear cut anymore that certain games are just losses waiting to happen.

IF Nebraska can keep up this kind of consistency and yes, get back to using the running game as well, they have the defense and mostly solid special teams, to beat most of the teams on their schedule.

About 2:30 yesterday afternoon, I wouldn't have said that, bet on it, even acknowledged it. I probably would have laughed if it had came out of someone's mouth.

I'm not laughing anymore.

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