It doesn't seem like all that long ago we were watching the Cornhuskers choke it up badly against Washington in the Holiday Bowl. It was a game we were supposed to win, easily, yet when it came down to it, it was a one-sided ass-kicking not in our favor. There are a number of words one can use to describe it: embarrassing, disappointing, humiliating.
Normally a loss like that would leave a cloud hanging over an offseason, but Husker fans have had their attention distracted by significant changes in the program, protracted by a head coach who was hamstrung by a bureaucratic timeline in announcing the changes to an anxious fan base.
Shawn Watson, gone. Tim Beck, promoted. John Garrison, hired to assist Barney Cotton in straightening out an inconsistent offensive line. Ron Brown moved to running backs to make room for Rich Fisher to coach the wide receivers, replacing Todd Gilmore.
Guesses all around as to what Beck plans to do with the offense, but if he's planning on passing more, you have to wonder who's going to throw it, and who's going to catch it.
Some things will remain the same. Bo Pelini will use the word "competition" every time someone asks about a depth chart. A starting quarterback won't be named until the start of the first game against Tennessee-Chattanooga which will lead to wild speculation and the probability of yet more rumors about Taylor Martinez.
The best thing to remain the same in 2011 - Nebraska will once again have a great defense. Despite replacing two position coaches, Ross Els for Mike Ekeler at linebacker, and Corey Raymond for Marvin Sanders at defensive secondary - the Huskers return pretty good talent and depth across the defensive units and should be one of the top defensive teams again next season.
Spring practice isn't far away, beginning on March12th. Between now and then we'll do a run-through of each of the units, and then probably do it again after the spring game. It's not that anything will be decided, but at least we'll know more about what the offense might look like next season, with a heavy emphasis on "might".
As long as Tim Beck never says "He's making all the throws in practice" in reference to a Husker quarterback, we may be okay.