With all spring collegiate sports being canceled due to the coronavirus, Nebraska football was without a spring game. That is, until it was announced that there would be a virtual spring game simulated with Husker legends.
The white team came out on top, erasing a 16-point deficit with three minutes left, sealing the 60-57 win with an interception in overtime.
However, there’s more winners and losers than the final score suggests.
There were so many opportunities for this virtual game to be terrible.
With sports gone, leagues have been scrambling to find ways to fill the gap. The NBA tried a few things, both of which weren’t executed extremely well. First, they televised an NBA2k tournament with NBA players. This idea wasn’t bad, but it didn’t turn out very interesting. There was no commentary, and viewers only got to hear the players talking once in a while, which at most times was awkward or dull.
There was also a HORSE tournament. The premise for this one wasn’t great, and there were multiple problems. First of all, everyone’s internet connection seemed to be awful, and the winner, Mike Conley Jr., also happened to be the only one with an indoor gym.
However, this virtual spring game seemed to be a success. There were commentators to keep the action interesting, and they succeeded. The game was interesting as well, ending in a 60-57 overtime thriller.
Current and former Huskers were brought in to participate, fans were encouraged to share pictures from home as the various streams attracted over 20,000 total viewers.
This was a good idea to begin with, and the execution was just as good.
Loser: Clock Management
I had multiple issues with the clock management in this game.
The first mistake was having 15 minute quarters. Now, I get it. Real football games have 15 minute quarters, so it seemed like the obvious choice. However, as someone who used to set up simulated Madden games with potential playoff matchups and watch them just for fun, I see this as a rookie mistake.
15-minute quarters take a long time, which actually worked out decently in this format. However, I’ve found that the stats get way too unrealistic. Most times, it’s always high scoring and a lot of plays are run. This is shown in the 57-57 score at the end of regulation and 600+ yards of offense on each side. For what it’s worth, this is a little more realistic in college football, but inexcusable given the defensive players on the field. I’ll give it a pass just this once.
However, the most inexcusable offense was the end-of-game clock management by the red team. After giving up a 16-point lead late, Wan’Dale Robinson, who was “playing” as the red team (more on that later), got the ball back with 41 seconds to go with the game tied and in possession of all three timeouts.
To open the final possession of regulation, quarterback Tommie Frazier hit wide receiver Irving Fryar for nine yards. Instead of calling timeout, the red team hurried to the line and didn’t snap the football. Frazier’s virtual arms were stretched out in an empty backfield, waiting for a snap that didn’t come until there were two seconds left on the game clock.
When the snap did come, Frazier completed a pass over the middle for nine more yards, but it didn’t matter. The horrendous decision to not go for the win after already scoring 57 points led to the red team’s defeat.
There was something in this game for everyone.
For the older Husker fans, it was seeing every legend from the glory days hit the field once more (kind of). During the game, there was an interview with Tom Osborne where he talked about the history and importance of the spring game.
For the younger crowd, they got these things, along with the nostalgia of watching NCAA 14. EA Sports’ NCAA 14 was the last installment of the widely popular college football game, and fans have been clamoring to have it back. It’s recently gotten buzz on Twitter, with people making accounts for their “Road To Glory” career mode players and even making FBS coaches mad by saying they were offered by the team.
NCAA 14 is a wonderful game, and I miss it and hope it makes a return eventually. This game brought nostalgia for both fans of the Huskers and fans of sports video games.
Loser: Trying to make it seem like Wan’Dale Robinson and Cam Taylor-Britt actually played
In the days leading up to the game, it was announced that the first half of the game would be simulated, and two “mystery gamers” would take control for the second half.
After the game, it was revealed that junior defensive back Cam Taylor-Britt and sophomore running back Wan’Dale Robinson were on the sticks for the second half.
Or so they say.
I don’t really care that much, and it’s a fun idea regardless, but I’m not convinced Robinson or Taylor-Britt was in control for the second half.
In the video shown postgame, the two throw some trash talk at each other that seems forced. However, there’s some more incriminating evidence here. Robinson quickly flashes a controller on screen several times, which seems to be a PlayStation 4 controller. Here’s the problem: The game was supposedly played on an Xbox, and even if it was played on PlayStation, NCAA 14 isn’t available on PS4, just the PS3.
It’s also questionable that Robinson wouldn’t use his three timeouts in the last 40 seconds despite moving the ball well at all other times.
It’s not a big deal, but it’s hilarious.