MaLLLLaise

If malaise can be defined as a general discomfort or uneasiness, or being "out of sorts".  Then "maLLLLaise" is the general discomfort that comes from a Groundhog day of four loss seasons that seems to have no end in sight.  Regular visitors to this site have clearly sensed a wane in enthusiasm about the upcoming season.  The national media also have muted expectations as well.  If we're going to put our finger on it at this point in time, it might be a lack of hopefulness for the most critical position on the field - quarterback. 

 

Four Losses Remembered

Rewind to the 2008 season when Bo Pelini arrived.  His job was to fix a terrible defense and the unit showed vast improvement over the 2007 train wreck.  That team, rode a potent West Coast offense directed by Joe Ganz.  There were genuine reasons to be hopeful that the defense could continue to improve and if the offense could be maintained you'd have a national contending team.

But things change dramatically on both sides of the ball in just a year.  The defense became outstanding led by Ndamukong Suh.  Meanwhile the offense backslid a great deal while left the team at 10-4 by season's end.  Still, an explosive performance in a 33-0 Holiday Bowl victory made many believe that "Nebraska's back and we're here to stay" was more than just words.

The first five games of the 2010 were promising.  The offense was exploding and the defense, while not as strong as the year before was still very sound.  A gut-wrenching home loss to Texas highlighted by a bunch of dropped passes deflated things considerably.  An anemic offensive outing at Texas A&M further damaged hopes of a promising season.  A big lead to open the final Big 12 championship game, was erased sending a disappointed Husker squad back to the Holiday Bowl where they gave a lifeless performance.

Shawn Watson was replaced as offensive coordinator and Big Ten play began, but it's fair to say that the bloom was off the rose.  The 2011 season was uneven at best where good wins over Michigan State and at Penn State were overshadowed by bad losses to Wisconsin, Michigan, and South Carolina along with an upset by Northwestern.

The 2012 season saw the offense return to form only to see the defense erode.  The Huskers lost 4 games in which they put 31 or more points on the board.  Last season was similar with the loss of Taylor Martinez contributing to some offensive struggles.  The only consistent strength over the first five seasons was the running game and that only seemed enough to deliver 9 wins, not 11 or more.

Another Season Awaits

Entering the 2013 season, we know NU has another turnover prone quarterback coupled with some unexperienced backups that haven't shown enough to take his spot on the depth chart.  There is a legitimate star on defense, but neither pass rusher Randy Gregory nor running back Ameer Abdullah are new elements for the 2013 season.  Kenny Bell can be a playmaker, but that's nothing new.  To find a new level, the team needs additional playmakers.  You might see Corey Cooper, Imani Cross, and Vincent Valentine take things to a new level, but unless Tommy Armstrong or another quarterback can find a way to deliver some production on offense without turnovers, then another 4-loss campaign seems all but assured. 

We could spend more energy exploring other topics.  For example, some are forecasting Nebraska to have one of the best linebacking groups in the country.  Is that just a depth chart mirage due to returning starters or might this group really stand out?  If so, is that enough to get the Huskers 11 wins?  History says probably not.  It is only better quarterback play that can truly provide hope. 

The quarterbacks don't have to rack up 4,000 yards or 40 touchdown either.  They just have to avoid 20 to 30 turnovers, and it's hard to be confident that that won't be the case.  For that matter, fumbles by Abdullah, Cross and even a receiver like Jordan Westerkamp are a concern as well.

It would be nice to feel a surge of confidence going into the season, especially coming off of a bowl win over a quality SEC program.  But like Bill Murray in Punxsutawney, it's hard to shake this feeling that we all know exactly what the season will hold because we've lived it again and again and again. 

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Comments 32 comments so far

And the purpose of this piece is __???

Thanks for setting the tone…..you have successfully shattered the small amount of hope that I was feeling. 
So, guess I’ll just sit at home and watch the SEC (minus Alabama) or the Big 12 (minus Texas) or the Pac12 (minus USC) until 2015. Maybe just watch the pro game, whoops I’m a Chiefs Fan. 
Damn it’s going to be a long season.
Baa hum bug…...........

Good lord.  We know you media types want to get rid of Pelini.  But for God’s sake, will you refrain from bitching until after the season starts and at least one game is played?

This is what our future recruits get to read about the University they are thinking about attending?  Good lord, was the problem that your bladder wasn’t full yet so you couldn’t piss on the American Flag to pass your time?

Enough of this negative BS, we have some very good players, its a new football year and we are starting even with everyone else. 

I don’t care what everyone is saying, it really means nothing at this point and you know if you remember in the past how accurate those pre-season polls are.

This is our team, and this is the time we need to support our team and coach; get these players to play motivated for our excited fans.

NU has the ability to compete this fall with everyone on the schedule.  Potentially, that was true last year, but due to certain breakdowns in coaching, excessive injuries, etc., it was disappointing, of course.  The foundation is there for a decent shot at a 10-2 season, or better.  NU is adequately manned to handle the QB spot as long as the team plays to its strengths, i.e., ball control with the run; integrate TE more so this year; and minimize turnovers - move that stat from 108th to 50th range, please.  The D will be fine even without flashers and bike enthusiasts on the team this fall.

That is why this season will be so important for the program, for BOP, and the fans.  If we end up with another 4 loss season, the AD may have no choice but to POP the BOP!!!  Let’s hope that won’t be necessary.

Heck, I’m actually pretty optimistic about the Huskers.  Admittedly, I don’t have any emotional capital invested, but I also have some objectivity because of that.  When fans have suffered through some disappointing years, we sometimes try to protect are damaged psyches by taking the “expect the worst, hope for the best” type of approach.

Looking at the West division, Nebraska needs to win 3 of 4 vs. Wisc, NW, Ia, and Minn, and their chances of winning the division are very good.

I like the front 7 on defense, and the Husker offense has been good at scoring points.  There is a proven weapon at RB who can run and catch.  A little better defensive play should put them over the top.  QB is an unknown variable, but that leads me into my next point.

Every year there are players and teams that surprise us in both good and bad ways.  What if the Nebraska defense shows up in the fall and is Spartanish, and what if the QB play is much better than anyone thought it would be?  Nebraska seems overdue for some pleasant surprises.

Finally, it’s the pre-season. Everyone is undefeated and has a chance to win the B1G and go to the first CFB playoff.  Let’s be Winnie the Pooh and not Eeyore.  :)

NU could be the “cat’s meow” this fall.  We will know after the Fresno and Miami games what this fall’s team is made of.

GBR!!!

If the press is negative entering the season concerning the Huskers it might work to our advantage because if we win they will notice and will say & write good things and if we lose no one will notice and nothing will be said or written. Much better to enter the season with lower expectations than ridiculous expectations that the team has little chance of living up too. After so many disappointing overhyped 4 loss seasons what can you expect. Maybe we’ll have the 2nd coming of 1993.

GageCH ~ you make some good points.  Clearly, in recent years with the press, fans have been led down a primrose path of expectations, only to experience disappointment on the expectations side.  NU should win its non-conference games (football gods willing!), and then expectations will begin to rise for real.

I fear NU’s away game chances against Wisconsin most of all.  Then Sparty.  A very good season for NU this fall can include a 10-2 record.  If NU should lose to Wizz and Sparkie by close margins, and wins all other games, BOP’s job is secure and for the first time, NU will have gotten over the hump.

NU
It does seem to me that in recent years expectations have been unrealistic. Last year might have helped bring them down to earth. Maybe this team actually has a chance to live up to them because we are now so used to 4 losses that that is now our expectation and a 3 loss season would be a huge improvement. A 2 loss season would be awesome but it would end up killing the 2015 season because then if BOP didn’t win a nat’l championship we would be calling for his head. Endless ratrace.  Bring it on

I think that TA is going to surprise a lot of fans this year.

I’m rooting for TA.  But, to my naked eye, he’s just an average runner and average passer.  Good patience with the option, but lacks the quickness and explosiveness.  I agree with Realista, ball control with run is what offense should focus on.  Unfortunately,  I think Beck will get pass happy more often than not.

yeah, pass-happy Beck, NU attempted 29.3 passes per game last year, ranking 93rd among FBS teams.  The top 5 teams passed over 50 times per game, clearly Beck is trying to compete with the high flyers!

https://www.teamrankings.com/college-football/stat/pass-attempts-per-game  And with 44.4 rush attempts per game (couldn’t be, some of these must have been QB sacks!), NU ranked only 16th, so we really need to emphasize the run more!

Realize you’re calling the upcoming season 2013 is probably a typo, but maybe you are that confused and your pessimistic assessment for this year is equally off-target.  Believe that TA will perform better than you predict and that Cross, Bell and others will also step up on offense. Also think that defensive performance will be much more impressive this season. Certainly believe the team has a better than average chance of improving on the four losses per year performance. Hope to see at least as 10-3, and hopefully an 11-2 season. GBR!!

A true, factual review of the Pelini era. And the 4 loss (or more) predictions are what I have been saying since the end of last season. But like I told my fellow prognosticators at work, who see through rosier glasses than me, prove me wrong this fall and I will gladly eat crow, will be a very happy Husker fan!

You guys realize Tommy Armstrong was a freshman last year right? That he was going into the season as a backup qb behind a four year starter? I think he did a fine job under the circumstance. If he shows even just a normal fresman to sophmore year bump we are going to be in great shape.. Stop throwing these kids under the bus, especially the guys that have just started.. It takes time to learn to do things right and it takes making mistakes to best learn from them.. Im excited about this year and the future.. Go Big Red!

@quack:

“And the 4 loss (or more) predictions are what I have been saying since the end of last season.”

Which means nothing since they have played 0 games since then.

“Entering the 2013 season, we know NU has another turnover prone quarterback.”

What makes it even worse is that its 2014.

Oh, the sky is falling again, yada yada.  I already proved earlier this year—2014, btw—that TA had significantly FEWER INTs as a rs frosh than your big name deadoned vets from last year, names like Bortles Manziel, Hogan, Boyd, Miller, Bridgewater, and that guy from LSU—and others.

Dont lay all your misery on the QB, guys gotta block, rcvrs run the right routes and catch the ball.  TEAM, remember that oñe?

If our D takes it to the next level, we’ll be alright, decent shot at 10 wins, maybe more.  Its really mostly about the D.

~seasoned~

TDogg,

re: “TA had significantly FEWER INTs as a rs frosh”

Good point, except that you need to look at %INTs, because as I pointed out above, NU ranked 93rd in passing attempts last year.  i.e., the best way to avoid an INT is to not throw.  Even better stat would be turnovers per play, taking into account # plays from scrimmange (pass and run) versus INTs and Fumbles.  Exclude punts.

B78,
You are correct.  In fact, the best way to not fumble is to not rush the ball.  So, if you dont pass or rush, then what?  Youre not part of the ‘punt to win’ crowd are you?

The best way for me not to have a pigeon poop on my head is to not go outside, because I aint got no pet pigeons.  The best way for me not to read Realistinha and Siete bitchin bout BOP or to get attacked by group think is to not come to this website.

Stats arent linear:  what IF my WR runs the wrong route 50% of the time or I have a DT up in my face 75% of the time I drop back to pass?  What if my OC calls 30 yd slants over the middle in traffic 50% of the time whereas OC for Mr. Hi % QB calls dink and dunk every play?  What if I have to throw in 60 MPH cross winds in sub zero weather in the Great Plains and QB Hollywood is in LA LA Land?

Bottom line, TA thru less than 1 INT/games he played in, Johnny Fuhball thru >1 INT/game last year.  TA INTs @ 6%, we can live with that, but most likely he can cut that to 5 or 4% in ‘14, which is well within the realm of acceptability.  Oh wait, TA thru more TD passes than INTs, imagine that.

NE Fan is looking for a scapegoat, so obviously they are gonna blame a rs frosh QB because NE Fan is generally a spoiled, whiney, short sighted baby.

I like how TA plays the position. He is a gamer and a play maker. He can through the ball. Watch some of his high school highlights. 7-1 as a freshmen, that’s pretty dam good. As long as Beck doesn’t confuse him and the rest of the offence, TA will win games.

TDogg, re: “You’re not part of the ‘punt to win’ crowd are you?”

Actually, I rather like the approach in the following link, an approach I thought Solich should have taken against Miami.

http://www.sportsgrid.com/high-school/the-football-coach-who-never-punts-and-always-goes-for-the-onside-kick-explains-all/

I think you’d have to have a good team to pull that off:  to not get in 3rd and long and to have a D that can shut them down.  Plus, not alot of FG kickers in h.s. that can hit it from 50+ on a regular basis, so I spose you could get away w the on sides kicks.

His aproach would probably be the fastest way to get fired as a college coach.

You don’t need a Heisman winning QB to produce excellent team results.  Experience will likely improve on TA’s performance and consistency.  What matters are the following: 1) significantly improve on turnover margin rate; 2) 4 out 5 plays should be runs; 3) start returning some punts; and 4) throw to your tight end.  Ball control will keep the defense fresh and effective.  If this happens, all will be well in Huskerland.

TA certainly didn’t look like a greatly improved QB in the spring game, in fact he looked more like a confused, rattled, backup QB than the Backup QBs who appeared poised and cool headed.  It isn’t just the poor passing and turnovers that plague TA, the entire Offense just doesn’t seem to spark like it should under his leadership.

Even Johnny Unitas had bad games, just ask Joe Namath.

That is a true statement.

What would Namath know about Unitas?  He might be a little more familiar with Earl Morrall.  Oh yeah, Unitas did come in at the end, injured as he was, and led the Colts to their only TD.

Even Tommy Frazier his first year playing wasn’t great.  That came later with game experience.  TF deserved the Heisman.

Even Kobe or MJ had some bad games, though I cant think of any.

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