I didn't get home until near midnight after leaving the delirious Rose Bowl. Of course, I had to watch BSPN, et cetera. When I woke up Sunday I spent until early afternoon devouring all the media, traditional and Internet, and, of course, watching the Fox DVR. By the way, I thought the production values were high and Gus Johnson, et al., were great IMO.
But one thing stood out during and after the game and all the joy. We left at least 16 points on the field in or near the red zone. We could have had an easy victory. Do we have an issue here regarding play calling or our scheme?
We lost 4 points on a blown referee call for pass interference that never happened. No matter how many times you watch the replay, there is no evidence of an illegal pick on the Johnson TD. We kicked a field goal instead. It cost us four, but not our fault.
We lost at least three on a chip shot field goal when Thigpen fumbled and Nebraska recovered in the red zone. Fumbles happen. Our fault, but no issue.
Then we missed two short field goals, very makeable, but missed. Yes, poor execution by our young freshman, but he is improving greatly, and with a little more confidence, I think he will be fine. Cost us six points.
Add it up. We left 16 points on the field, 4 on the refs, the rest on us. Can we improve it through different play calling?
Call me old-fashioned, when we get in the Red Zone, especially college, I think of this as four down territory. The spread seemed great getting us up and down between the twenties, but I was disappointed we didn't run more the closer we got near the red zone. We stalled more than a few times when we had a chance to put the game away. I think part of it was a failure to run power plays when deep in Nebraska territory, particularly near the ten yard line.
We set up some diamond packages I think, that are supposed to offer a power running option, but if IIRC we put one in motion every time, which removes one linebacker from the middle, but also reduces our power. If we run a few more power plays, maybe we don't have to settle for field goals as much.
I don't mean to quibble. With any normal luck we would have scored over 50 on Nebraska's Blackshirts, a score more reflective of our dominance. But sometime over the next few games I am sure we will need the ability to run some power plays in a short yardage situation. It would be nice to know that once we reached their ten yard line, our opponent really can't stop us in four down territory. Just a thought.
I'm sure Mora and Mazzone have got this figured out already. I just haven't seen it the first two games. Maybe some of you football guys could tell me what their likely plans are in the future.