To cop out of actually writing something, and to give Cyclone fans a look at the Cornhusker side of things, Jon of CornNation has graciously decided to help us out with answering a few questions about Nebraska, not to mention a look at what he thinks about our hiring of Chizik.
1. Has Sam Keller been living up to the hopes and dreams of Husker fans so far?
Keller started the season a little rough, but against Ball State last weekend, he completed 29 of 37 passes (78%!) for 438 yards with three TD’s and one INT. Never mind that we nearly lost, the fact is the guy lead us back for the win, showing poise in the process.
There was a fair amount of rumbling out of Arizona State after his transfer that he was cocky, brash, or a jerk. None of these have come to fruition.
2. Will Marlon Lucky be the guy that we really should be worried about on Saturday?
Lucky has been doing okay. Not great, but that’s due to the offensive line more than anything Lucky hasn’t done. I’d be more worried about Keller and the receiving corps. Given time, they can shred any defense and you cannot shut them down because the ball gets spread around quite a bit.
3. Nebraska has looked progressively worse each game. Should we read anything into that?
Yes you should. The team is struggling, especially the defense. Our defense has given up more yards and a higher per play average since the season began.
This weekend begins Big 12 play for both teams - so it’s time for the Huskers to get their crap together and have a good game. The USC loss took a lot out of them emotionally. They wanted to play well but did not, and it’s tough when you’re best isn’t good enough. A loss might kill the rest of whatever life is left in the Blackshirt defense and with that the rest of the season would be up in the air.
4. What's your opinion of Gene Chizik so far?
He has a tough road ahead of him. When you lose to Northern Iowa but beat Iowa, there's only one conclusion to be drawn. McCarney's players have stopped playing for Chizik, but aren't so empty of pride that they can stand losing to the Hawkeyes.
This isn't uncommon under a new coach and it'll make for a long season. Anyone coaching in Ames has a monumental task. It's not so much that it's "Ames, Iowa" like everybody says, but it's the lack of heavy funding that's found in Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.
Chizik has his name to sell to recruits, the fact that he’s been there, done that, but he needs to establish momentum early. Whether he can be a head coach you can’t judge in just a few games.
5. How do the Huskers view Iowa State as a program? Does a loss to Iowa State just burn like salt in an open wound?
It would burn worse than that this week. I was there in '92 when we lost, and it sucked badly, but we bounced back quickly because that’s who we were then.
Right now, Iowa State is seen as a lost team trying to find an identity. I think ‘Clones fans knew who they were when McCarney was there. The teams played hard for him, but just could never get over that hump and grab a conference win. After four years of Bill Callahan, Nebraska’s offense has an identity, but the defense is struggling to the point of coming apart.
To start Big 12 conference play in 2007, you have two teams coming together to find themselves. A loss for either team will say a lot about the rest of the season.
Nebraskans count on Iowa State in Lincoln as an automatic win. Believe me, a loss this weekend would be more like salt poured in the open wound of your arm just got lopped off and it’s lying on the ground.
6. Cornhuskers or 'Huskers?
Ha! They're really interchangeable, but "Huskers" is easier to scream and fits on a t-shirt better than "Cornhuskers". The days of having a high percentage of Americans involved in agriculture has passed so there isn't the worry about name recognition that there might be otherwise.
Still, I'm a traditionalist. They're the Cornhuskers. "Huskers" is good for marketing, but we are the Cornhuskers. Without the Corn, my blog would be "Nation", pretty bland, don'tcha think?
Thanks a ton, Jon.