On the local sports scene and down toward Lincoln we found out some interesting things about our athletic heroes during the past week. Some of it was good, some of it was interesting and some of it was downright frightening.
Let’s start with something great that happened last week. It was the performance put on by the Schuyler Central High School cross country teams. The boys turned away perennial powers such as Wahoo and Logan View to win their home event in convincing style. The girls’ fourth-place finish may not sound like much but it wasn’t that long ago when there weren’t even enough girls runners on the course to count toward a team score.
Coach Rick Carter has inspired his group of runners to do some amazing things over the years and this year’s squad could be the jewel in his coaching crown. Nesrudin Yusuf and Cristobal Gonzalez will keep pushing each other as their one-second difference at the home invite proved. Then add Miguel Carrasco, who finished fifth in his first attempt at cross country, to the mix.
Granted, it is easy for hopes to soar after early success and it is just as easy for those hopes to crash and burn as the weather becomes colder and the courses become more difficult, but there is something special about this team. This is a squad that is definitely worth watching during the next month and a-half.
We learned several things about this year’s Husker football team Saturday night in Lincoln. First, there is no need to begin booking airfare for the Big 10 Championship Game in Indianapolis in December or the College Football Playoff; at least not just yet.
We learned that Tanner Lee will be a darn-good quarterback if the offensive line gives him time to throw. We also learned that Tre Bryant, who ran for 192 yards on 31 carries, is a workhorse who will help to take some of the pressure off Lee. With Mikal Wilbon and Devine Ozigbo in the wings, the Huskers can do some serious attacking on the ground. We also learned the Nebraska receivers are going to be just fine, even without a couple of injured stars.
And now (drumroll please) for the frightening part. Defense, or lack thereof. If anyone thought Bob Diaco was going to come to Lincoln and put a Notre Dame top-10 defense on the field this season that person also probably paid some pretty good money for oceanfront property in Wyoming.
Time and time again last weekend the football experts said things such as, “Well, at least they held ASU to under 100 yards rushing and they didn’t give up the huge chunks of yardage like last year.” I suppose those comments do hold a bit of clout, except for the fact that the Red Wolves threw the ball 68 times (yes, 68 times) for 415 yards and three touchdowns. So tell me again why this team needed to run?
I also heard several times that the defensive scheme was fine, but the athletic ability is still not there. Hmm. Time and time again ASU marched the ball down the field with the 5- to 7-yard screen passes while the Husker defensive backs gave them 5 to 7 yards of cushion. Do the math. With a one-step drop, no pass rush and a cushion like that, teams are going to have their way with Nebraska and the final outcome will not be as positive, albeit it nail-biting, as the 43-36 win over the Red Wolves.
Next up for Nebraska is a trip to Eugene, Oregon, this weekend. The Ducks destroyed Southern Utah 77-21 last weekend and inflicted most of the damage through the air. The Ducks also have the revenge factor going for them after the Huskers plucked them in Lincoln a year ago.
This week will be a litmus test not only for the Nebraska defense but for the entire team and coaching staff. I still believe this is a winnable game, but Nebraska has a lot to work on and improve upon if it wants to have even a little chance of returning from the West Coast with a 2-0 record.
So that is “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” in the local sporting scene over the past week. Let’s hope this week the good far outweighs the bad once again.