It’s Q&A time again. this week we’re going a little different. The entire staff at Corn Nation responded this week rountable style to my questions about the Cornhuskers in advance of Saturday’s game.
T-Mill: The natives are obviously restless in Lincoln. I might as well ask: is Mike Riley gone or can he save himself?
Jon Johnston: 80% probability he’s gone. He might be able to save himself but his team better come around very very fast and win all its games except Penn State where they’d better at least be competitive. Other way he isn’t gone - if nobody else wants the Nebraska job, a distinct possibility.
Husker Mike: It’s becoming clear that the Mike Riley hire was a mistake. The fan base seems to have given up on him. I think the only way he can save himself now is to win out - and that includes defeating Penn State in Happy Valley next month.
Patrick L Gerhart: I would agree with the above. The general feel is that he is gone. It’s tough because 3 years is not enough time to turn a program around, especially since there has been a new offense, new defense, and multiple coaching changes in those 3 years. Was he the right hire? We may never know if he gets canned at the end of the season.
Andy Ketterson: 99.5%. Sure, he COULD still pull out a winning season, but along those lines, I have all my eligibility left and COULD walk on tomorrow as a 53-year-old Slash Stewart QB/Flex Back and amass 1200 all-purpose yards in our last 5 games.
Look, the thankfully former AD Shawn Eichorst sold the fan base on terminating Pelini and his 66-27 stretch because we needed someone who would compete for conference and national titles. (The real reason was that Chancellor Harvey Perlman hated him and Pelini acted like a dick too often and didn’t win a conference or national title in 7 years.) Eichorst then hired a guy who in 14 years as a college coach never showed the slightest clue how to do that, but at least wouldn’t say mean things about him. And NU fans really hoped that Lincoln magic or something would cause karma to grant this nice man the sudden ability to build a consistent winner.
Instead, we got exactly what was on the label of the Coach Riley container and the results have been as stupid and disappointing as magic. When the stadium starts emptying at halftime for the wrong reason, it’s over.
T-Mill: What was the secret to beating Rutgers? Why could we not find the end zone? WHY?
Mike: That’s one of life’s big mysteries, much like losing to a Darrell Hazell team.
Patrick G: I just want to state that it is 2017 and this is a question. Someone seriously just asked “What’s the secret to beating Rutgers?”.
Andy: If still embattled at halftime, have your QB chuck them a wet dream pick-six interception to start the 2nd half. New Jersey is an awful place where Sopranos-type things happen and the landfills double as graveyards. A small gift like that fills people from that loaded diaper of a state with a glimmer of hope that immobilizes them long enough for you to regain the lead with a long TD drive and a couple of FG’s.
At least that worked for us.
T-Mill: How has the bye week helped the Cornhuskers after a disappointing defensive effort at home against Ohio State?
Jon: It’s allowed a whole extra week for us to ruminate how bad that game was and allow it to fester from a lesion into a wholly infected gangrenous limb. It’s been great. The “Greatest Fans In College Football” have spent their time tearing down everything possible about their own program like that night you got really drunk and went on about how great your ex-wife was to your current girlfriend except that it wasn’t a night it was two weeks and then you wondered why she wasn’t around when you finally came out of it because you’re a self-absorbed ass that can’t see another person’s perspective were a gun pointed at your crotch.
Patrick G: Bob Diaco said that we are on our way to becoming the best defense in the country. So, I’m going to go with him on this. (shrug)
Andy: I got drunk and bitched about my ex-wife for two weeks. Or wanting to be the 90’s Huskers again. Or something.
T-Mill: Our coach called Tanner Lee the best quarterback Purdue has faced outside of Lamar Jackson. Is this wild hyperbole?
Jon: No. Looking at Purdue’s schedule, there aren’t a whole lot of great quarterbacks on the list. Alex Hornibrook is manageable. Iowa? Minnesota? Illinois? Northwestern? Even Michigan… so, no it’s not hyperbole.
Mike: If you pulled out Will Smith’s little flashy memory-wiping thingy from Men In Black after the Huskers played Rutgers, Tanner Lee has actually been a not-all-that-bad quarterback. He’s not the NFL prospect that some frauds tried to sell us over the summer, but he’s shown flashes of being a pretty decent passer.
Patrick G: Sure, if you’re going off what happened at the Manning Academy. Seriously, doesn’t that program take a hit with the hype Lee got coming out of it and his performance this year?
He’s good, but not great. Though, he is showing growth as the season goes on. Unfortunately, we are deep enough into the year for it to not make much of a difference. I will say that if our offensive line has healed up by Saturday then there is a good chance he could start to pick apart Purdue’s secondary. Opening up breathing room for our I-Backs to make their way through and cause some problems.
Andy: He has actually been better of late although most of the awesome Ohio St. stats came after it was 42-0. However, he DID at least force the Buckeyes to drive roughly the length of the field 8 straight times by avoiding turnovers. That was eight. Straight. Times. Shit.
T-Mill: Purdue is coming off of one of its best rushing game of the season and the Nebraska run defense has struggled. Is this a cause for concern?
Patrick G: Eh, Purdue is 88th in the nation in rushing yards so it does not concern me too much. Nebraska isn’t that great on rush defense but unless you’re a Wisconsin running back they will bend and not break. Purdue's backs will most likely keep the game going but that’s about it. Also, Rutgers is a hit or miss team this year so I wouldn’t hold on to closely to those stats from the last game.
I just want to state right now that I’m the basketball guy for Corn Nation. Do you know how many of us there are? Just one. Want to know how many football writers? A bajillion! This tells you how the blog is doing in regards to dealing with this season. Nebrasketball makes you able to deal with anything.
Andy: Everything’s a cause for concern right now. Why not toss on the pile the Boilermakers adding a ground game to their arsenal?
T-Mill: What has been the biggest problem with the defense?
Patrick G: Well, it’s a totally new scheme for one. We went from at 4-3 to a 3-4 and are just starting to see some progress in the unit. Outside of that, our secondary is beat up, our linebackers are underperforming, and our nose guard can get tossed around.
Andy: It’s easy to blame Diaco and then talk about how he’ll need at least 13 years to install his new scheme, but the fact is that two years of getting regularly torched by any offense with a pulse under Riley-buddy-hire DC Mark Banker may have left him a crew that is just too used to spinning in place when the tsunami starts washing over them and their DC would only stare blankly.
T-Mill: Even though Purdue is coming off of its worst game of the year, the Boilers are favored. Is this right? Wrong?
Jon: It could very well be that the psyche of the Nebraska team has been squashed into the ground. We’ll find out Saturday night if they have any fight in them.
Patrick G: Sure, Nebraska is physically and psychologically beat up. I honestly do not think Vegas has any clue what this Nebraska team can do and that’s not good considering we are well over half way done with the season. That and it seems that everyone still thinks that Michigan/Purdue game was a week ago. You folks are still the “little engine that could” of the West….no pun intended. It’s a weird world we live in.
Andy: Although I cocked an eyebrow originally, it’s probably spot-on. Although head-to-head comparisons are far from a solid measuring stick, we outgained Rutgers 306-194 and Purdue dominated them yardage-wise 474-217, which makes that 14-12 loss just scream “fluke”, I believe, and apparently so do the bookies. The Huskers have a solid talent advantage, but they have seldom shown up to play at kickoff. Purdue is playing consistently with fight and confidence. We haven’t done that for some time.