As mentioned, the game was on AFN at 1900 here in Iraq. Now, when the game is on at 0300 only the diehards show up. For a prime time game, especially between 2 ranked teams, the fans come out of the woodwork. Our First Sergeant (head enlisted over HHT), 1SG Cleveland, organized an outdoor barbeque out on the patio that he just built. They had it all, brats, burgers, chips, salad, pop, NA beer, and 2 flat screens to watch the game on. The S1 showed up in force of course, we even picked up some nice steaks to get our grill on. You can find more pictures on Hammer's blog as well.
This is an early shot of the patio and people starting to gather. I'm checking out College Football Gameday, one of my favorite shows.
Another shot of Grill Zilla. This has been entirely fashioned from spare parts found around the base here. The grill on the left is a rotisseire and the one on the right is a charcoal grill. We cooked our steaks on the little Webers up front to avoid the brat and burger backup.
SSG Johnson was the grill master, and my t-bone was..... you guessed it, Awesome! Best cut of meat I've had in Iraq without a doubt. We even timed it perfectly so that we started eating right before kickoff and finished up just as the game started.
By the time the game got started I bet there were close to 30 people gathered around the tv. It was a fun way to watch an entertaining, although heartbreaking game. For me, this one ranks right up there with any of our Texass losses as far as pain. I felt after the game like somebody had dug my heart out of my chest with a dull spoon. I almost threw up at the end I was distraught. In no particular order, here is what I thought was good and bad about the game:
- Unlike Solich coached teams, Callahan's teams are always in games. I remember a time where if we got down by more than 7 the game was all but over. In this game I wasn't nervous being down in the 4th quarter as we can move the ball when the game is on the line.
- Brandon Jackson is a stud. That TD was phenomenal against a great Texas defense. We watched in disbelief as the TV coverage switched to his brother during the run. Hammer and I were discussing and can't remember that ever happening before. Ever.
- Halftime adjustments were outstanding. The second quarter was pretty sad as far as pass protection and run blocking, but the second half was entirely different. Taylor with time to throw is a good thing. Night and day picking up the blitz and pass rush.
- I was really impressed with our defense. They kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win. Lots of big stops when we really needed them. Texas was leading the nation in points scored per game and Blackshirts kept them off their game for the majority of the game.
- I wish I could have been there in person, because it sounded like the crowd was a loud of any in recent memory from start to finish.
- I thought the play calling was solid, it was clear early that we weren't going to be able to run right at them, so we threw the ball more. I was worried we were going to keep trying to pound the rock but we had to take what the defense was giving. Once the pass pro help up we were then able to move the ball and then work some nice runs in.
- I liked the pass call on the last 3rd down. If you complained that Cally was too conservative the last few weeks, then you can't complain that he wanted to seal the victory. The fumble sucked but I don't think the play call was the problem here. I went back and forth on this, as punting to them with less than 2 minutes and no timeouts would have tough for them to score, but this is Texas and if we are 2 yards away from the win, I say go for it.
- Special teams. Wow. For this late in the season we had some bonehead plays that could have (and maybe did) cost us the game.
- Turnovers. Goes without saying that they killed us.
- Dropped passes. A couple of big ones that hurt us.
- Penalties. Some dumb ones. We needed to be perfect and we weren't.
- Clock management. No excuse for this at the end of the game. I don't know why we didn't call a timeout when they pushed the ball inside of the 10. At that point they are a chip shot away from going ahead, let's start calling timeout and save some clock.
- I still can't believe that Texass threw the ball on 3rd down in double coverage. I know our corners are not very good but that is a risk that I wouldn't take. We came close to picking it off and ending the game. I really don't get it.
- The return on the last play was lame, especially since we just needed 3 points. Run the ball right up the field and save the clock.
- I am not going to let this go until someone confirms it for me. I think on the first hail mary, that the ball either hit Nunn in the hands or the helmet. Did anyone else see the same thing?
- 3 Fumbles in the last 4 minutes (McCoy fumble on sack, Nunn fumble, Texass fumble on final drive). All go to Texas. Just one goes the other way, and we win. You can argue they got the bounces, but alot of it was good coaching and hustle. Cryer celebrates instead of seeing the ball and going after it. Nunn's ball goes right to the defense. On the last fumble, an o lineman is 15 yards down field to recover the fumble. That hurt.
I think in a few days I'll be able to see some positives. Like we stayed with the number 5 team and had a chance to win. We still control our destiny in the North. We proved we are back, somewhat. For me, I think the only consolation is that this loss was incredibly painful. This is a good thing I think. Back in the day, I took each loss personally and was sick for days after a loss. In the last 5 years, I've kind of gotten used to the Huskers getting beat in big games, small games, at home, to Kansas, whatever, and been able to respond with a shrug and a memory of better times in the past. Last night, the pain was back, which shows how far this team has come. So, back to work, gotta somehow put this one behind us, and get ready of Okie State next week. go big red (lower case due to my Husker hangover).