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Monday, September 17, 2007

Game Time, Part Uggg....

So, I still think this might be too soon to talk about, but Saturday night was ugly. Like, your mom ugly.

I don't even know where to start, or if I am even mentally prepared to break it down. So I suppose I'll just throw up some thoughts. Fill in what I left off in the comments.

On with the show...

1. How Kevin Cosgrove still has a job is beyond me. Truly. This will not be as comprehensive as I would like it to be, but here are some numbers from while he has been defensive coordinator at both Wisconsin and Nebraska:
2002, Wisconsin: Gave up 23.0 PPG
2001, Wisconsin: 28.8 PPG, 370 YPG, 4.2 YARDS PER RUSH AGAINST
2000, Wisconsin: 392 YPG AGAINST, 4.3 YARDS PER RUSH AGAINST
2004, Nebraska: 27.1 PPG Against
2005, Nebraska: 21.0 PPG Against, 332 YPG Against
2006, Nebraska: 18.3 PPG Against, 331.9 YPG Against
Compared to:
2002, Nebraska: 23.9 PPG Against, 361 YPG, 3.7 Yards Per Rush Against

And we all know who the defensive coordinator was in 2002: Craig Bohl, who was run out of town on a rail.

The lack of fundamentals on defense is appalling beyond reproach. The fact that senior "All-Big XII" defensive players are still trying to arm tackle is beyond me. And where the fuck are all these high school defensive all-stars? Is it a case of the jackass coaching staff only playing seniors, or players that have been "in the system?" Call me crazy, but I am pretty sure a freshman can be completely in the wrong place the entire game as well as a senior at linebacker.

2. The "running" game. Is it just me, or does Callahan stubbornly call dive plays no matter what the situation?

Say what you will about Cosgrove, but it is not neccessarily on his shoulders that our huys couldn't tackle for shit. I don't care who the defensive coordinator is, a senior playing Divion 1A football should have the fundamentals of tackling figured out. How many times did we hit there guys in the backfield (sometimes more than once) only to have them shake it off and gain 5,10,40 yards. That is just ridiculous.

I am with you on Calahans play calling, I am not sure why he can't adjust a game plan. It was obvious that quick slants and out patterns were one of the few bright spots for the offense. Our running game was devloping too slowly for the speed of the USC defense and we weren't getting upfield with the passing game. It seemed as though we could have thrown 3,5 and 8 yard passes all day. But I guess our defense didn't keep us in it enough to do that.

The most shocking stat of the night is that Bill C is now 0-13 when training at halftime. Yikes!

On a side note, USC looked pretty fucking good.
First of all, I did not get a chance to finish this post. I did not mean for it to end where it did, but I just did not have time to finish.

That said, to your point about Cosgrove: I agree that a senior D1 player should know how to tackle. You are absolutely right, and it is unfair to pin *all* the blame on him. But what is Cosgrove's title? "Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach." He is with these guys everyday, one-on-one, dictating what drills they run, etc. So I would argue that it is absolutely on his shoulders. And if there are not better athletes and tacklers on this team, well, two points:

1. All these 3 and 4 star linebackers we've been recruiting were sorely overrated. Which means our staff does a shit job scouting recruits.
2. If Point 1 is incorrect, then it means that talent be damned, Cosgrove is a loyal guy and going to play "his guys."

I don't know what the answer is, but either is fucked. And besides the tackling, our linebackers--every damned time--were in position for incredibly easy chip blocks from the tackles, ends, and receivers. Shouldn't he change the flipping defense so our guys are in the right place to at least have a chance at a play?

And finally for Cosgrove--those running plays were straight up, high school-level dive plays. They are literally the same running plays we ran at North Platte. There is nothing complicated about them. They lined up and kicked our ass because they are bigger and stronger, but especially because we were seemingly out of position every God damned play. You have to put your players in a position to make plays, and Cosgrove flat out does not do this.

As for Callahan, I don't even know where to start. The belief that we had to go up the middle at USC is ridiculous if we don't have the speed or strength to do so. Clearly--CLEARLY--Marlon Lucky's strenght is on the edges. Why didn't we try to run off-tackle sweeps? Ever? The few times Lucky had some daylight, he did well. Why in the name of God doesn't Callahan give him that opportunity? And where was Castille? I'm glad that Glenn was healthy and ready to go for the game and everything, but shouldn't Castille have a chance when clearly Lucky can't do anything up the middle, and Glenn didn't do much better?

Either this coaching staff is just too dumb to see what the problems are, or they outcoach themselves by trying to go with stuff that USC (or whoever) wouldn't expect. It is just beyond frustrating.

Long story short: this staff will not get us to the promised land. I think that it is a very similar situation as to Oklahoma a few years ago. They had a master recruiter (John Blake) who couldn't coach. He finally gets fired, they bring in a kick-ass COLLEGE coach (God-Love-Him Bob Stoops), and they win the National Championship. This chain of events is the only thing I even have hope for anymore in regards to Nebraska Football.
First of all, USC was way better than us on both sides of the ball. Yet, our offense was able to move the ball while our defense was embarrassed. Cosgrove needs to go, not Callahan. Seriously, watch the play of our D-line and linebackers. It’s Pathetic. And it is bad coaching. I’m not talking about tackling, I’m talking about DT’s not knowing their job. I’m talking about 300 lb men running around blocks instead of clogging holes. I bet the USC offensive line is still laughing at how easy it was to seal off our lineman. The stats Mike posted show that in 2004 we gave up almost 30 points a game. Now I might be off by a year, but isn’t that when we had first round NFL draft pick Fabian Washington, and CURRENT NFL tackle leader Barrett Ruud? Bottom line: I haven’t seen one thing from Cosgrove that has shown he is worthy to coach for Nebraska.

Callahan still has time. I still see the offense improving and we did put up 31 points against the best team in the country. I know a lot of that came in garbage time but how many other teams do you think will score that many points against the Trojans this year? Mike mentioned his frustration with so many dive plays being called but I don’t think we really had a choice. We have to run the ball some, I mean you can’t pass every down. With the speed and athleticism that USC has I don’t think running to the outside is going to work so our only option was to run dive plays. The offenses biggest weakness was our O-line but Callahan has addressed this problem and landed some big offensive line recruits (1 5-Star and 2 4-stars have already committed). I do see Callahan being able to win a Championship but at the same time I don’t think any team that has Cosgrove as the Defensive Coordinator will ever win a Championship. That would have to be one amazing offense to overcome Coz.
I agree that Callahan still has time; my biggest problem with him is that our run game is as uncreative as a human could possibly come up with when he decides "shit, looks like we're going to have to pass a lot today." That's my biggest problem with him. That and his completely unexplainable personnel decisions. The way he plays freshmen is completely insane. "OK, Niles Paul. You're playing a lot against Nevada. Go get 'em!" followed by "Uh, you're sitting the next two games. And probably a lot of the season. Maybe we should have redshirted you..." I mean, it makes no fuck sense.

And that's a great point about some of the players that Cosgrove has had here--they're not chumps. But McKeown and Ruud...ugg. They have to have stronger or faster (or both) guys just hanging out on the sideline.
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