Well, here we get to an actual gameday which gets us away from Deadspin-gate. And what better way to get to gameday with the Question and Answer session?
With that, we go to our steady diehard, Jesse Collins from Off Tackle Empire to tackle some of the issues Nebraska is going to deal with on the field Saturday as they take on South Dakota State.
1. So, no Taylor Martinez on Saturday. Sounds like Tommy Armstrong Jr instead. Does this scare you at all?
Scare? Well, at this point, nothing Nebraska does can scare me. I'm comfortably numb... or desensitized. Whichever sounds less painful. But to your question, I actually am pretty excited to give Taylor some rest and get that Turf Toe healed up a bit. SDSU isn't exactly a pushover, but they're also not MSU. A strong running game - which Armstrong should give Nebraska - will be the recipe for success. With that said, I think that it's absurd that fans are excited like Tommy Armstrong, Jr., is the answer to all our ills. He's still young and needs some experience before he is the gamechanger. Nonetheless, more snaps for what looks like a big part of the future isn't a bad thing. On that note, how much is it killing Stanton to be sitting on the sidelines watching? I know he's even younger, but I bet he's chomping at the bit to get his chance (not happening this year, but I like where our QB situation is at right now).
2. What changes do you think we could expect for Tommy on offense?
I mentioned this in passing on CN Live, but expect to see some option game. While Martinez is the much better Read-Option guy - or so I've heard and seen - Armstrong has proved that his option feel is really strong. Now, the problem with having a new guy in and trying to run a different package is that fumbles - already an issue - could amplify. Forgetting that, I'm hoping we see Option, Option, Playaction, Toss Sweep, Playaction, Dive. Just some really methodical playcalling by a guy who likes to outsmart himself. We have some really good sets, and in the extremely limited time we've seen Armstrong, he has proven he has talent and athleticism, so I'm hoping we go in and have fun. I also fully expect to see at least one gadget play. I think Bo really does want his kids to have fun, but doesn't know how. I'd like to see the Fresno State/Varsity Blues hook and lateral to Long.
3. There have been a whole lot of distractions this week, obviously, for the team. Do you have any reservations, after seeing how quickly last week how fast some players seemed to go in a shell, that this week may be a hangover?
I actually have a feeling you will see the opposite as a whole. For what it's worth, Nebraska generally has played better after a loss under Bo. Some of that is that it's easier competition post loss, but I think a lot of it is that these kids really do focus better when there is adversity. It's kind of obnoxious to watch, but time and time again you see that regained focus when things are tough. Has there been any tougher week than this under Bo? Maybe that first Wisconsin loss? I think that week - with the media and fans calling for his head on a silver platter - was probably the most stressed this team had gotten before now. Even moreso than the Big Ten Championship because it was so new then still. So yeah, I don't think I'm too worried about a hangover. If anything, I'm nervous they come out so jacked that they play like they did against Texas in our last year in the Big XII. Emotions will be fascinating to keep tabs on.
4. Who/what has been your biggest surprise on the team so far for the Huskers?
Stanley Jean-Baptiste by far. Now, he wasn't perfect by any stretch against UCLA, but he has proven that his ball skills are lightyears ahead of where he was even at the end of last year. One of my, and I'm sure other Husker fans, biggest complaints wasn't that he couldn't stay on guys, it was that he couldn't judge where the ball was once it was in the air. How many times did he put his hands up late, or misjudge a jumpball, or just flatout make a bad break to the ball? What's crazy about him is his length and width. He covers ground much faster than opposing QBs think he can - proving that once again against UCLA - and he should be playing on Sundays. Honestly, without him, our defense would have that much bigger of a hole to fill, which is scary to think of.
5. On the other part of it, who/what has been your biggest disappointment on the squad?
Tim Beck? I mean, it's gotta be him, right? We expected John Papuchis to be in over his head because he absolutely is in over his head. I don't doubt that he's a good defensive mind, and he's really probably doing stuff that Bo tells him to, but he's young and inexperienced and we get all that. Beck, on the other hand, got a raise because schools wanted him to be a head coach. Now look, I actually really like his game planning - much like I don't mind Bo's game planning at large - but the absolute inability to adjust is infuriating. Of course, it's probably more a reflection of his experience level than anything but like I said the other day, I knew UCLA would adjust at halftime and I knew we wouldn't. Oh, and that stupid playaction fly play? That stupid play needs to go away. We have receivers who can make plays in space. How about instead of going for the home run that obviously isn't working, go for the slant in the flat that's open all day? Sorry, I could rant and rant. I just want Beck to prove he can adjust in season. He's probably regretting not taking a HC position when his stock was highest. I'm not ready to write him off because he's smart, but man... With the talent Nebraska has, there is zero reason he shouldn't be steamrolling competition.
6. Score prediction time. Tell us the Jackrabbits cant possibly win in Lincoln.... can they?
We aren't losing to the Jackrabbits. This is not a knock on SDSU, but I actually think that all the frustration - both with an ugly loss to UCLA and the insanity of this week - will boil over into a big win on the scoreboard and emotionally. I think Memorial is going to be behind the team 110% (#ALLTHECLICHES) on Saturday - moreso than if this was just another game against SDSU - and I think we're going to see some kids out there just having fun playing football. The biggest wildcard is trying to figure out what exactly Tommy Armstrong brings to the table. Score? I suck at this... Let's say 41-17 Huskers.