Now that we've digested the news about Kenny Wilson's and Zack Bowman's injuries it's time to ponder the question:
Who's the Husker we can least afford to lose for next season?
This is part one of this story. Part two that includes the pick will be published later today.
Bowman's injury hurt us two-fold in 2006. First he's an excellent cornerback and we need him on the field. Second, we didn't have much depth behind him. If his injury did one thing for the secondary in 2006, it forced corner Andre' Jones a full season of experience heading into this season. Kevin Cosgrove thinks that Bowman will recover from his recent knee injury and be back for the 2007 season. JUCO transfer Armando Murillo arrived early so that he'll be ready for 2007. I realize we haven't seen him in Husker red yet, but just say his name out loud - Armando Murillo - as in "My name is Armando Murillo. You killed my father, prepare to die!". I think he'll do fine.
The defensive backfield will have corners Grixby (who I'm not down on as much as the rest of you, apparently), Jones, Murillo, and possibly Bowman. Safeties will include Tierre Green, Larry Asante, Ricky Thenarse and Major Culbert (unless he gets switched to running back), so there will be an upgrade to this position over last year.
Another candidate - Maurice Purify. He is a difference maker as he showed during the final moments of last year's Texas A&M game. But according to recent practice report, we have a lot of good receivers, so there's no need to worry about that position, right?
What about Marlon Lucky? Losing Kenny Wilson for the season hurts a lot. We lose a great player in a position where we need the depth. Lucky was second on the team last season in rushing with 728 yards, and fourth in receptions, so a loss there would definitely hurt offensive production. Keep in mind that Cody Glenn didn't catch a single pass out of the backfield last season- that will have to change in 2007. Newcomer Marcus Mendoza sounds good, but he's not going to know about the offense to make a huge impact in his first season. Clearly Marlon Lucky is key to a successful season.
The most obvious player we don't want to lose is Sam Keller. He's another guy we haven't seen in Husker red, but the reviews around him are glowing hot. Still, I don't get the feeling that the drop-off from Keller to Ganz is as huge as most people seem to think (or maybe I'm being overly optimistic - you tell me). Backup time and a trick play aren't enough to say much about Ganz no matter how you look at it. Linebacker Corey McKeon chimed in lately about the difference between Ganz and Keller:
In the final analysis, "It's hard to choose, because you have a guy who knows how to take advantage of a defense, but also a guy who knows how to read a defense."
While Keller gets the press, Ganz gets the public relations shaft even though we haven't seen much of him in action either.
Still, I can't shake the feeling that the offense isn't what we need to worry about in the upcoming season. The offense should be fine barring any more major injuries to our running backs. Clearly, we'd rather not lose anyone, but football is a violent game with massive collisions. If there aren't going to be any more injuries, y'all had better be doing very nice things for everyone in your life and increasing the universal Husker karma.