Nebraska’s crushing loss to No. 6 Oklahoma reveals depth of despair Cornhuskers should overcome

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Sean Taylor had the reasoning for Nebraska’s long-term downturn outlined, if not solved. As his once-glorious program was being clobbered by No. 6 Oklahoma on Saturday, the 45-year-old Cornhuskers fan turned philosophical whereas leaving Memorial Stadium.

“That is our penance, and we’re OK with it,” stated Taylor, a producer of synthetic limbs from Omaha, Nebraska.

Penance? Taylor figures Nebraska’s ache might have been prevented if the college did not — in his phrases — develop into “the one college within the historical past of faculty soccer to fireside two nine-win coaches.”

Typical of Nebraska soccer lately, Taylor did not get the little issues proper. The just lately fired Scott Frost was truly the solely Huskers coach of the 5 since Tom Osborne to not win at the very least 9 video games.

That complicates the problem of a turnaround that has waited 1 / 4 century. The 49-14 loss to Oklahoma in interim coach Mickey Joseph’s debut was presupposed to be the kickoff to a brand new period (whether or not the ex-Nebraska quarterback will get the everlasting gig or not). As a substitute, it highlighted the depth of despair in addition to the deepness of the outlet from which this system should dig out.

“This one is on me,” stated Joseph, a legacy adored at Nebraska however one who’s simply getting his playbook organized to chase the job of a lifetime. “Not my gamers, not my assistant coaches. I’ve obtained to do a greater job.”

Joseph at the very least has that a part of the pinnacle teaching gig discovered: Blame your self if you lose, credit score the gamers if you win. Sadly, the ray of sunshine Joseph supplied this week obtained a bit dimmer on the last whistle.

The concept that Nebraska one way or the other deserves this distress was merely Taylor’s stadium ideology. The fact is that the Cornhuskers must get again to fundamentals. The trail to that time appears as prolonged as ever.

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“We have been tagging up [not tackling] for 4 years,” Nebraska security Myles Farmer concluded.

That is place to begin the rebuild. Final 12 months on this sport, Nebraska surprisingly performed Oklahoma off its ft, dropping 23-16. Frost was fired final Sunday after a litany of single-digit losses that confirmed an general lack of progress.

One line of thought this week: Joseph’s ascension from extensive receivers coach (and affiliate head coach) would at the very least inject new life in a once-glorious rivalry renewed final 12 months after mendacity dormant for a decade.

No such pluck from the Huskers on Saturday. After working out of scripted performs and main 7-0, they allowed the Sooners to attain the subsequent 49 consecutively.

Worse, Oklahoma ran previous and thru Nebraska. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel scrambled round a confused protection for a 61-yard landing. Tennessee working again switch Eric Grey ran for 113 yards and two scores. OU first-year coach Brent Venables continued to pump life into the protection, his specialty. At one level within the first half, 9 of 10 performs run by Nebraska had been for no achieve or a loss.

“Y’all are going to ask me all of your questions I actually do not need to reply,” Farmer informed the media. “However on the finish of the day, y’all should not in right here with us. Y’all should not at observe with us.”

Taylor’s notion that the soccer gods have spit on the Huskers is simply miserable. A big swath of the 87,000 followers left at halftime. Taylor and good friend George Jones, an proprietor of an Omaha beverage firm, could not give away passes to the unique Champions Membership throughout the road from Memorial Stadium.

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The presence of City Meyer for the Fox “Huge Midday Saturday” broadcast added spice, if solely to the coed part which chanted his identify as he made his technique to the on-field set. CBS Sports activities reported Saturday that Nebraska has made contact with Meyer, however in a sampling of opinion, few in Lincoln assume he’s proper for this system.

That is a cause to root for this turnaround. There’s nothing to not like about these intensely loyal followers who solely need to win once more. They’re actual, Midwestern. They know soccer. Forgive the likes of Taylor when he reminisces.

“We used to get 5 fats youngsters from Aurora, Nebraska,” Taylor stated. “We might get three youngsters from California, three youngsters from Florida, 5 youngsters from Texas. After which, all proper, we’ll run behind these large fats youngsters and have velocity popping out of our ass.”

As a substitute, on Saturday, Oklahoma ran 84 performs with star offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby snapping the ball a mean of as soon as each 21 seconds.

“I’ve obtained to get higher as a head coach,” Joseph repeated.

Does he have sufficient time? There are eight video games left within the season. A bowl bid already is slipping away at 1-3. Joseph actually, actually, actually needs the job.  Taylor, as certainly one of a legion of Nebraska followers, would actually like him to get it.

Joseph was a prize prospect within the Nineteen Eighties out of New Orleans who waited in line behind different Huskers to lastly get his probability in 1990. He gave blood — actually — for this program. Within the 1990 Oklahoma sport — the final time Nebraska misplaced on this sequence by 35 factors — his leg was bloodied in a ugly sideline damage. In his subsequent assembly with Oklahoma on Saturday, his crew’s lip was bloodied.

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“They do not have the swagger,” Taylor stated of the Huskers. “These youngsters needs to be the one, their d— enters the room 10 ft earlier than they get into it. That is the perspective Mickey will give them. Proper now, they’re simply beat [up].”

Based mostly on Saturday, this Nebraska rebuilding challenge — or no matter you need to name it — is larger and extra in depth than anybody thought.

It was notable — if just for irony’s sake — that Joseph wore a black shirt. There weren’t lots of his gamers worthy of that honor Saturday. In reality, Joseph took away the Blackshirts awarded to attaining defensive gamers in the intervening time as he needed the crew to begin with a clear slate.

The custom began within the Nineteen Sixties when first-team defenders had been recognized by sporting black jerseys in observe. That was greater than 50 years in the past. It solely looks as if it is going to that lengthy for Nebraska to regain that swagger Taylor longed for after Saturday’s debacle.

“We’re from that period,” he stated, “that we’re the most effective goddamn soccer crew on the planet. We’re by no means, ever not going to be superior. Oklahoma is No. 6 within the nation for Christ sakes. You can have the Inexperienced Bay Packers [as an opponent], and we’d nonetheless be cautiously optimistic we might win the soccer sport.

“There’s all the time hope. It is the hope that hurts.”

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