Under the Radar Husker Keys

27 Aug

Some of the ways Nebraska can have a big season in 2014 are quite obvious (give the ball to Ameer Abdullah, get solid production from Tommy Armstrong, reduce turnovers, establish a punt return game, etc.)

But there are some other keys that have kind of flown under the radar.  They may not be as self-evident as “keep the defensive ends healthy”, but they are just as important.

1.  Move on from Taylor Martinez.

Love him or hate him, he is gone.  And yet, I cannot begin to count the number of times I’ve seen and heard Martinez mentioned since the Gator Bowl ended his eligibility.  The program, fans, and media do not do themselves any favors by continually bringing him up.  Don’t compare Tommy Armstrong, Ryker Fyfe, or Johnny Stanton to T-Magic.  Don’t compare the plays that Tim Beck calls this year to what he called with Martinez.  Resist the urge to take shots at his coach-ability, his personality, or his mechanics (or the lack thereof).

There is absolutely no good in continuing to rehash the Martinez era.  And none of it matters for the 2014 season.

This isn’t to say that we should completely forget about a guy who holds a bazillion school records.  However, sometimes when you get out of a long, complicated (and possibly dysfunctional) relationship, the best thing to do is to simply move forward without looking back.

It’s over.  He’s gone.  Let’s move on.

2.  Avoid the Super Senior Jinx.

Nebraska is in the midst of a very unfortunate trend.  A player comes off of a strong junior season.  He enters his senior year looking like a potential All-American and team leader.  Then, an injury in the non-conference derails his season and throws the team into a state of flux.  The list of recent victims:

  • 2013:  Taylor Martinez.  Hurts his toe(s) against Wyoming.  Never fully recovers and is done for the season after the Minnesota game.  Spencer Long qualifies too, even though his injury occurred in conference play.
  • 2012:  Rex Burkhead.  Injures his knee in the opener against Southern Miss.  He sits out multiple games, and is not the same until the regular season finale at Iowa.
  • 2011:  Jared Crick.  Tore his pectoral against Washington.  He tried to play with it for a few games, but was clearly not the same player.

If I’m Bo Pelini, I instruct the trainers to wrap Ameer Abdullah in bubble wrap for every practice.  I also suggest treating the Florida Atlantic and McNeese State games like NFL preseason games:  play a few series and then let the backups take over – regardless of the score.

3.  Develop an “Anytime.  Anywhere.” mentality.

Much has been said and written about the five straight night games (including the late night party out in Fresno).  And since Nebraska a) plays in the Big Ten, and b) has a schedule that includes Rutgers, Purdue, and Minnesota, you can all but guarantee a couple of 11 am kickoffs.  Throw in the fact that Nebraska’s toughest games (Michigan State and Wisconsin) are on the road, and you start to see why this mentality is so important.

Nebraska is hit or miss on the road under Pelini.  For every hard fought win (Michigan, 2013; Michigan State, 2012) there is a blowout loss (Michigan 2011; Wisconsin 2011).  Nebraska’s record in road games under the lights since 2010 is 2 – 7, with an average margin of defeat of  18 points (that margin jumps to almost 28 points since joining the Big 10).

With the schedule they face in 2014, Pelini’s team needs to have a mentality of a heavyweight boxer contender eyeing a shot at the title:  I’ll take you on anytime, anywhere.

4.  Don’t shut out the media.

On the surface, you would not think that having reporters and other media members at practice would have any impact on Nebraska’s season.  But it will.  Not necessarily in the on-field results (Tommy Armstrong’s performance is going to be the same regardless of if Dirk Chatelain is at practice).  The impact comes in perception – how we as fans perceive players, coaches, and game planning/preparation.

Don’t believe me?  Look at Nebraska’s spring practices.  The media had greater access to practice than they have ever had under Pelini.  While they could not report on specific things they saw, they were able to confirm a lot of the things we saw in the Spring Game.  For example:  if there was no media access and Pelini says Ryker Fyfe is neck and neck with Johnny Stanton for the backup QB job, you’d wonder what the heck is going on (and probably question the coaching staff).  With media attending practices, we can hear/read from multiple sources that it is no fluke – Stanton is struggling and Fyfe is performing very well.  In short, the media’s presence at practice gives credibility to the personnel moves Pelini makes and likely supports decisions made on Saturdays

For example:  let’s say in the Wisconsin game, Nebraska runs a fake field goal where Drew Brown takes an option pitch to the weak sideline.  Brown is stuffed for no gain and Nebraska goes on to lose by two points.  Certainly, that decision will be questioned heavily by the media (that’s part of what they do).  However, with media access at practice, reporters could note that Nebraska had been working on that play for a month, and Drew Brown has better open field moves then some of the I-Backs.  In other words, having the media at practice allows them to have more information, which allows for better analysis and less assumptions.

I know the media access will go away (or be severely limited) during the season, but I hope Pelini and his staff realize the benefits it can bring for his program – and how they are perceived.

 5.  Find a reliable long snapper.

One of the most concerning pieces of news out of fall camp has been the back injury keeping scholarship long snapper Gabriel Miller on the bench.  As a true freshman, Miller had an outstanding year with no bad snaps.  But if he can’t go (and it certainly appears that he’s going to be out for a while), finding a capable replacement is paramount.

Safety Nate Gerry has been working at the position in practice, but keeping him healthy (and allowing sideline warm up time with the holder and kicker) are big, big concerns.  Very few things can swing momentum like a blocked punt, missed field goal, or other special teams miscue.

Who knows?  Gerry (or walk-on Josh Faulkenberry) might end up being even better than Miller.  But if I’m Ross Els, it might not hurt to scour the campus for potential walk-ons who long snapped in high school.  Just in case…

U-Haul Truck-It Challenge

21 Aug

At the end of this month, my family and I are moving to a new house.  My wonderful and amazing wife has handled almost all of the painful crap associated with buying a new house (dealing with the bank, setting up utilities, dealing with Realtors, getting our daughter’s school switched, and a million more things).

My primary responsibility is the move itself – getting things packed and making sure they get from House A to House B with minimal breakage.

Originally, my plan was to call some movers to handle the actual loading and transportation of all of our stuff.  Why?  Well, a) it is easier than trying to line up people and trucks to help us move, and b) I’m not a 20 year old kid* moving into a new apartment.

*No friends, I am not 20.  But, in the immortal words of Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy, I am a man.

On the surface, hiring movers seems like a slam dunk choice.  Instead of spending the day lugging boxes, couches, and appliances up and down stairs, you pay somebody else to do it for you.

A GMC U-Haul truck

Moving Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But there is a problem:  movers are not cheap.  They charge ridiculous hourly rates, and the amount of stuff we have means they’ll be working for many hours.  Maybe I should find some friends willing to help us move in exchange for pizza and beer.

Then it hit me – the perfect way to get us moved to the new house without breaking the bank – or alienating our friends who likely have better things to do on Labor Day weekend.

My inspiration?  The 1,200 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos I’ve seen in the last week.  What if I applied the success of that campaign to my move?  Here is how it will work:

<start shaky cell phone video>

“Hello!  This is Dave and I have been challenged by FeitCanWrite.com to participate in the U-Haul Truck-it Challenge.  As you know, moving eight years worth of crap from one house to a larger house is a challenge that nobody should have to face on their own.  Dave has had two back surgeries, and his poor mother worries about him carrying heavy objects.  If he has to move everything by himself, there is a good chance that he might miss the Nebraska football game against powerhouse Florida Atlantic – and we cannot allow that to happen.  That’s why I’m here to help.

“Here’s how the challenge works:  you have 24 hours to volunteer to help Dave move or he will come to your house or place of business and dump ice water on your head.  If you don’t want to volunteer, you can donate $10 towards hiring movers.  Once you complete the challenge, you nominate three more people to participate, giving them 24 hours to act.

“Since moving sucks, I have chosen to donate $10, <holds up ten dollar bill> but I want to know what my friends will do.  That’s why I’m challenging Sammy Sucker, Jane Hasatruck, and Marty Movington to participate.

“Guys, you have 24 hours!”

<cell phone video cuts off awkwardly>

*   *   *

There are many of my friends and readers that I have helped move over the years.  Now is the time for payback.  Consider yourself tagged in the U-Haul Truck-it Challenge.  You have 24 hours to donate toward my moving expenses or share this post on Facebook/Twitter.

 

Happy Third Blogiversary to Me

20 Aug

I realized this morning that I missed the 3rd birthday of Feit Can Write.  Way back on August 17, 2011, I launched Feit Can Write with this post*.

*Technically, my blog was originally called “Feit for your Write” (hence the Beastie Boys reference in that initial post), and was launched on another blogging platform.  I upgraded the name and moved it over to WordPress about a week later.

Looking back at my very humble beginnings, I’m impressed by what I’ve built here.  In the last three years, I’ve posted 375 things, hopefully cementing my status as the web’s go to source for posts on Nebraska football, adoption, and silly lists.  A guilty pleasure is to go back and re-read some of my old pieces.  While there are some things I’d change (a phrasing choice here and there as well as the typos and dropped words that my editor doesn’t always catch), I’m almost always pleased with what I’ve written.  I like that.

In the early days, the readership was limited to immediate family members and a handful of Facebook friends who didn’t have anything better to do.  Now, WordPress shows me with almost 700 followers.  As I’ve mentioned previously, I think a good chunk of these are spam accounts, but I’m thrilled and honored to have a couple of hundred people who legitimately follow what I write.

And the readership…I distinctly remember repeatedly hitting refresh on my stats page on December 31, 2011, hoping that I would get my 2,000th all time view before the year ended (I did).  I was super pumped to hit 2,000 views in four months.  Earlier this month, I had over 2,000 views in a single day (a perfect storm of Nebraska Football, new uniforms, and a click-bait title).  Also this month, Feit Can Write surpassed 50,000 views all time.  I’m humbled and honored that people are coming here (even by mistake or bad Google search) and I hope people like what they read.

What’s next?  Well, football season is about to start so I expect to be busier with that.  The Feit Can Write world headquarters is moving in a few weeks, which means free time is going to be cut down.  I’m behind pace on the number of posts I want for this year, so hopefully I can pick up the volume while balancing work, home, and family.  I do take requests, so if there anything you’d like to see me write on, let me know.

As always, I appreciate the contributions for every one of you – your readership, compliments, shares, likes, comments, and continued support for this little endeavor.

 

Rejected ALS Challenges

19 Aug

If you have ventured on to any social media platform in the last few weeks, you know that pretty much every person in the world is participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness (and maybe, just maybe generate a donation or two) for ALS.

If you are one of the few people on the planet not familiar with the challenge, it breaks down like this:

  1. Person speaks directly into a cell phone camera and gives some spiel about being challenged by somebody higher up on the social media food chain.  Viewers resist the urge to fast forward to the good part.
  2. The participant challenges three friends, family members, or random celebrities to do the same thing within 24 hours or pay a bribe…sorry, I meant “donation”…to get out of it.
  3. A bucket of ice water is dumped over the participant’s head.
  4. They shriek and scream like somebody who just had icy water dumped on their head.  Hilarity ensues.
  5. Participant uploads the video to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, MySpace, Geocities, and/or some random AOL chat room.

The viral popularity of the Ice Bucket Challenge is greater than anything anybody could have anticipated.  Donations are through the roof, awareness is off the charts.  I’m not sure if it could be going any better.

Or maybe it could…

Just imagine if the folks at ALS had decided to go with one of the other challenge finalists:

  • Lukewarm bucket challenge
  • Dry ice bucket challenge
  • Rice bucket challenge (fried or steamed)
  • Ice Ice Baby challenge
  • Show me a receipt for your donation challenge
  • Boiling water challenge
  • Colonel’s 10 piece bucket challenge (original or extra crispy)
  • Mice bucket challenge
  • One big ass block of ice challenge
  • What else will you do to avoid giving money to charity challenge
  • Lou Gehrig challenge (have a descendant of Wally Pipp dump 2,130 of any item on you)
  • Lucky Bucket challenge (Mmm….Lucky Bucket….)
  • Ice Dixie Cup challenge
  • Feit Can Write U-Haul Truck-It Challenge
  • Lice bucket challenge – oh wait, that’s an old Fear Factor episode.
  • Harlem Globetrotter bucket challenge
  • Tell me what “ALS” stands for challenge

*   *   *

 Author’s Note:  I figured this was a pretty good entry in the WordPress Daily Challenge “Breaking the Ice”.

Reasons for Concern – 2014

18 Aug

As Nebraska’s fall camp continues, there is a lot of positive news, hyperbole, and high expectations being placed on the Huskers.  If you consume enough of the preseason Kool Aid, you can easily convince yourself that this Husker team is poised to win the Big Ten West and even challenge for a spot in the new football playoff.,

On the surface, I agree.  Those things are possible.  But such rose-colored glasses thinking overlooks some very serious concerns on this Nebraska team.  Things that easily turn a promising season into another four loss campaign – or worse.

1.  Quarterback.  Despite some preseason noise about being pushed by Ryker Fyfe, Tommy Armstrong will be the starter and likely will get every opportunity to succeed.  I think Armstrong did a decent job last year as a redshirt freshman coming off the bench for the injured Taylor Martinez.  Armstrong’s supporters love to point out that NU was 7-1 in games he started*.  But Armstrong has been tagged with the dreaded “game manager” label, which is football code for “not talented enough to win games on his own”.

*Let’s break down that 7-1 record:

  • South Dakota State:  Won 59-20.  12-15 passing for 169 yards, 0 INT, 1 TD.  Five rushes for 38 yards.  The Jacks are a FCS team.  They may be an above average FCS team, but let’s be honest and acknowledge there were likely 20 guys on the 2013 Husker team who could have quarterbacked NU to victory over SD State.
  • Illinois:  Won 39-19.  8-13 passing for 135, 0 INT, and 2 TD.  9 rushes for 18 yards.  It’s worth noting that the highlight of the day – Kenny Bell’s leaping, one-handed circus catch and touchdown – would have been intercepted had Bell not made the catch of his life.
  • At Purdue:  Won 44-7.  6-18 passing for 43 yards, 3 INT and 0 TD.  4 rushes for 5 yards and a TD.  Purdue is the Big Ten equivalent of a FCS team, so thankfully Armstrong’s worst game of the season didn’t hurt NU.  Against any other Big Ten team, those numbers will get you benched, beat, or both.
  • Northwestern:  Won 27-24.  15-29 passing for 173 yards, 3 INT and 1 TD.  17 rushes for 69 yards and a TD.  It is true that half of Nebraska’s points came on drives led by Armstrong.  It is also true that Armstrong’s three interceptions only led to three Northwestern points.  But mostly, it is true that Armstrong was on the sideline when Jordan Westerkamp caught the game winning Hail Mary.
  • At Michigan:  Won 17-13.  11-19 passing for 139 yards, 0 INT and 1 TD.  12 rushes for 13 yards.  Armstrong rightfully gets a lot of credit for “winning in the Big House”, but it is worth noting that he got bailed out by Ameer Abdullah catching a horrible and ill-advised option pitch on the goal line and turning it into a game winning touchdown.
  • Michigan State:  Lost 41-28.  9-21 passing for 143 yards, 1 INT and 2 TD.  5 rushes for 9 yards.  There was a lot of blame to go around for this loss, but being personally accountable for three turnovers (which led to 14 points) didn’t help.
  • At Penn State:  Won 23-20 (OT).  1-2 passing for 1 yard, 0 INT and 0 TD.  1 rush for 1 yard.  Armstrong hurt his ankle and didn’t record a stat after the first quarter.
  • Georgia:  Won 24-19.  6-14 passing for 163 yards, 1 INT and 2 TD.  10 rushes for 26 yards.  For my money, this was Armstrong’s best win, and the one that should give Husker fans hope about his future.  

Where does that leave us?  Give Armstrong credit for wins against Illinois, Michigan, and Georgia.  If you’re feeling charitable, you can count South Dakota State and Purdue as well.  The Michigan State loss is on his tab.  But I can’t give Armstrong credit for the Northwestern or Penn State wins just because he took the first snap.  

Add it all up, and that 7-1 record as a starter is more like 3-1.  That’s still good for a redshirt freshman against some big competition, but it gives a better representation of his season than a bogus 7-1 record.

Quarterback depth is a big concern.  Fyfe seems like he would be a serviceable replacement, but after that it gets scary in a hurry.

2.  Defensive End.  Defections, recruiting misses, and suspensions, oh my.  If it wasn’t for Randy Gregory destroying the curve like he does with unsuspecting quarterbacks, this position might be number one.

3.  Kicker.  Lost in the feline fun of the Spring Game were these ugly stats:  the lone scholarship kicker misses an 18 yard FG attempt, a PAT, and has another PAT blocked.

In his post-spring remarks, Bo Pelini specifically mentioned incoming freshman Drew Brown, and most fans are targeting the little brother of legendary kicker Kris Brown as the answer.  But what if Brown can’t get it done either?  Looking back at 2013, one can easily point to three games (Wyoming, Michigan, Penn State) where a Nebraska win was directly enabled by a Pat Smith field goal and/or a miss by the opposing kicker.  I don’t think it is a big stretch to say that the difference between an 8-4 regular season and a 5-7 one was a competent field goal kicker.  One other stat to chew on:

Is 2014 the year Nebraska fans realize just how good they’ve had it with kickers over the last decade?

4.  Defensive depth.  Nebraska lost three defensive starters (Charles Jackson, Leroy Alexander, and Michael Rose) in the first week of fall camp.  There are guys on the roster to take their places, but they are young and mostly unproven.  What happens if they don’t produce or get hurt?  The lack of proven depth at several defensive positions should not be confused with the next one…

5.  How long will it take to get the defense up to speed?  Bo Pelini likes to tinker and experiment during the first few games of the season.  He likes to play with lineups and combinations of players looking for a unit that will perform up to his high standards.

The end result is typically a strong defense that peaks down the stretch.  But the downside is the potential for blown assignments and statistically ugly performances while Bo aligns his chess pieces  (see the first three games of 2013).  If the offense struggles out of the gate, the defense needs to be able to carry the team, not burden them by giving up 35 points per game.  Pelini and Papuchis better have it figured out by the Fresno State or Miami games.

6.  The schedule.  There is not a single gimme on Nebraska’s road schedule.  Fresno State has a long history of knocking off big name schools at home.  Michigan State is the reigning Rose Bowl champ.  Northwestern is thisclose to being 3-0 against Nebraska in the Big 10.  Wisconsin has routed NU in two of their three meetings.  Iowa seems to be embracing the Heroes Game rivalry (or at least the opportunity to beat NU) more than Nebraska has.

Given the minefields Nebraska will face on the road, there is no room for error on a home schedule with Miami, Minnesota, and three other B1G teams good enough to steal a win in Lincoln.

7.  How many of Nebraska’s demons return in 2014?  Pelini critics can easily rattle off the list of things that have plagued Nebraska squads under Bo:  penalties, turnovers, punt returns, getting beat by inferior teams, blowout losses, and sideline meltdowns.

Frankly, it’s unrealistic for even the biggest Bo-liever to think all of these things go away in 2014.  The concern is how many of them reappear, when, and at what cost?

At the risk of being called a hater, downer, or worse, it’s worth noting that despite these obstacles, Nebraska could still challenge for a division title, win nine games, and play in a January 1 bowl game.  But it is tough to see Nebraska going much farther unless they can avoid these landmines.

Time will tell.

The Best and the Worst of America

14 Aug

Tonight, my daughter woke up crying.

A dry diaper, a few ounces of formula, and some gently rocking on Daddy’s chest got her calmed down and back to sleep.  While I waited for her to get into a deep enough sleep so I could move here back to bed without waking her, I scrolled through Twitter on my phone.

My Twitter feed was dominated by two topics.  Both are taking place in the same state, and are only separated by about three or so hours on the interstate.  But, they are worlds apart.  They show us how great we can be, while demonstrating how bad we are.

*   *   *

I’ve been a fan of the Kansas City Royals for most of my life.  It just made sense – Kansas City is the closest Major League team to my eastern Nebraska home, and when I was in the formidable years when a boy picks the teams they like, the Royals were winning.  Granted, since that World Series title in 1985, being a Royals fan has been an exercise in masochism, frustration, and pity from friends and family.

Now imagine being a lifelong Royals fan born and raised in South Korea.

That brings us to the happy side of my Twitter feed.  SungWoo Lee has been a passionate, hardcore Royals fan since the 1990s – all while living in South Korea.  His dream has been to come to KC and watch his beloved Royals play.  Thanks to the efforts of some KC fans on social media, SungWoo has been living every baseball fan’s dream for the last week:  meeting players, throwing out the first pitch, hanging with Hall of Famer George Brett, and watching the Royals go on an eight game winning streak to move into first place.

One of the guys responsible for bringing SungWoo to KC is a guy I follow on Twitter, The Fake Ned (@TheFakeNed).  He has been tweeting about SungWoo’s visit pretty much non-stop.

Basically, the whole SungWoo experience has been one magical fairy ride that has made the most jaded of Royals fans believe.

*   *   *

Meanwhile, 230 miles east on I-70 sits the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.  For everything good and wonderful going on in Kansas City, something ugly and scary is going down in Ferguson, MO.  A young black man was shot and killed by police, which has led to civil unrest, protests, police attacks, and a racially charged powder keg of a town.

 

What.

The.

Hell?

*   *   *

I’m seeing and reading about these things while my not yet one year old black daughter sleeps on my chest.  I think that is what makes it so real and so difficult for me.  Someday I’m going to have to explain this world that we live in to my children.

I’m going to have to tell my children that sometimes you can follow all the rules and still be arrested – or worse.  Explain to them that in many parts of the greatest nation on earth, the color of their skin entitles them to the right to be treated poorly.  Try to instill a respect for an authority that sometimes has no respect for them.  Attempt to raise good, honest, hard-working adults who are not jaded and disillusioned by racism and prejudice that I’ll never truly know.

And I have to balance that brutal honesty while hopefully getting them to believe that there really are good people in the world too.  People that will open their arms for a guy from the other side of the globe, treat him like royalty, and make us believe in the inherent good in people – even if he’s of a different race.  All because he’s a fan of the same historically crappy baseball team that we like?

*   *   *

Since I’m struggling to put a pretty bow on all of this, I’ll let The Fake Ned have the last word:

 

Nebraska’s 2014 Alternate Uniforms Reviewed

2 Aug

Yesterday, Nebraska revealed the adidas TechFit uniforms they will wear against Illinois on September 27.  This is the third year of Nebraska wearing alternate uniforms, and as you may recall, I haven’t exactly been fond of the previous editions (2012, 2013).  So how do the new ones grade out?

Helmet

Easily the best component in the whole ensemble.  The matte red with the black sans-serif “N” looks sharp on its own.  Adding the slice of black on the rear of the helmet brings a unique (but not completely original) touch.  The overall lid is easily the best of the three Nebraska alternates to date – even if it may contain a hidden message of anarchy.

Grade:  B+

Jersey

I didn’t care for last year’s black jerseys (only Blackshirts should wear black jerseys.  Period.)  I like having Nebraska wear red jerseys at home.  So there’s that – and yes, it’s all downhill from here.

My son isn’t old enough to ask for something like a Huskers alternate jersey, which is too bad because this one would be a pretty easy do-it-yourself project.  You would only need three items:

  1. A red shirt – preferably a form-fitting workout type shirt.
  2. Duct tape – classic silver
  3. Electrical tape – basic black

All you would do is put the duct tape on the shirt in the shape of whichever number you want, then put the electrical tape over the top.  Boom.  You just saved $59.99, and made something just as beautiful as this jersey.

I’m not a fan of the pattern in the chest and shoulders.  What is that?  Lightning bolts?  Tiger stripes?  As I said last year, if adidas insists on having some print pattern on the jerseys, make Nebraska’s unique – like the outline of the state, small letter “N”s, or a micro print of Bo Pelini holding a cat.

But my biggest gripe is the missed opportunity.  As the uniform patch tells you, 2014 is the 125th season of Nebraska football.  I didn’t expect Nebraska’s alt to be a true throwback, but I was hoping it would at least draw some inspiration from an old Nebraska jersey*.  A faux-retro Bugeaters jersey would have been beyond amazing, which is clearly too much to ask.

*Technically adidas was inspired by Nebraska’s past, as the all-red is from the 2012 alternate and the divided numerals are from the 2013 version.

Grade:  C

Pants

I’m not a fan of the red on red look.  I didn’t care for it in 2012, and I don’t like it any better in 2014.  I can understand that the kids – and these things are designed with 18 year old recruits in mind – may not want white pants, but I’m not sure they want to look like ketchup bottles either.  I think the pants would have been much better in black.

I’m undecided on the leg stripes.  Initially, I hated them – more electrical tape! – but I’ve come back towards indifference.  Putting an “N” in the stripe is interesting.  I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either.

Grade:  C+

Accessories

As if there was any doubt that these alternate uniforms are all about getting you to buy things, the photo gallery on Huskers.com has more pictures of the gloves, shoes, and undershirt (3) than they do of the entire uniform (2).

The undershirt cracks me up.  Where to start?  The “N” on the sleeve is odd.  Aside from the unanswered question of why there is only one, there is the problem that unless you’re walking around in a permanent gun show flex (as all alternate uniform models are), that “N” on your arm is going to look like a “Z”.

The giant “N” looks like something a super hero would wear (“It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  It’s Nowledge Man!”).  Maybe the super hero concept helps to explain the reappearance of the lightning bolts on the sleeves.

But the biggest source of amusement will be seeing these shirts on Husker fans this fall.  Our model is an obviously fit young man, in the middle of a flex which raises his chest and shoulders.  The skin-tight shirt looks good on him.  Joe Fan at the tailgate or in row 78 probably won’t be as slender as the model, and likely will just be standing there not flexing.  I guess what I’m trying to say is I fully expect these base layer shirts to look ridiculous on anybody with more than 10% body fat.

Every time I see the receiver gloves that make a picture/logo when put together, I’m always surprised that they do not produce more 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalties than they do.  Again, this is another missed opportunity for the outline of the state, a big bullseye for Tommy Armstrong, or a picture of Bo holding a cat.

I think the cleats are rather ugly – especially with the black dress socks – but no more so than the rest of the ensemble.

Grade:  C

Overall

I don’t like these uniforms.

I know, that’s not exactly breaking news given my disdain for the two previous versions.  I’ll freely admit my grades are skewed by who I am:

  • I’m old enough to be the father of a Husker player, so I’m not in the target demographic for these uniforms.
  • I’m unabashedly traditionalist.  I’ve gone my whole life knowing what Nebraska will look like when they come out of the tunnel.  Red jerseys, white pants, the iconic white helmet with the simple red “N”.  The details of that look have changed over the years, but the core stays the same.  I like that.

But as we enter the third year of alternate uniforms (with my third straight bad grade), I’m beginning to think the biggest issue is my expectations.  I want Nebraska to have something cool.  Something unique yet classic.  Something the five star recruits want to wear, but the farmers at the coffee shop will like.  Admittedly, that is a tall order.  Yet every year, I keep expecting the design team at adidas to deliver it.  Unfortunately, I don’t think they can.*

*Nor am I sure that Nike, Under Armour, Reebok, or any other apparel provider could deliver something I’d love, but I wouldn’t mind seeing their concepts…

I think for 2015, I will need to greatly lower my expectations.  I should expect adidas to provide Nebraska something that is on the line separating flashy and gaudy.  Something that looks like it came off a generic corporate template, instead of being inspired by Nebraska’s rich history.  I should expect a mediocre alternate from adidas, because that is all they have ever given us.

Grade:  C-

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