There’s been a whole lot written about Scott Frost and our beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers ahead of the 2019 season. This is the only season in my history in which Husker fans have tempered their expectations more than outsiders, particularly national pundits.
Who’s right? Who’s wrong? We’re going to find out soon enough, as college football starts this weekend when Florida meets Miami (FL) Saturday evening. Should be a good, angry game to begin the season. (Later Saturday night Arizona takes on Hawaii, so yay!!!!, the first Saturday night of college football season!)
We’re doing predictions galore here at CN. We’ve been asked by SBNation to answer the following questions on behalf of our teams, so... here we go:
1) Who is Nebraska’s most important player on offense this season?
Answer: Adrian Martinez
Why: This is pretty obvious. We have Martinez, for whom the ceiling is extremely high and after that the drop off is pretty far. Martinez has already shown he’s capable of carrying the team farther by making plays from the quarterback position. The rest of this team, i.e., the offensive line has not yet progressed to the point they can simply have their way with opposing teams. Maybe that’s in the future, but certainly not this season.
2) Who is Nebraska’s most important player on defense this season?
Answer: The guy in the middle of the defensive line.
Why: Nebraska’s defense was 107th nationally last year giving up 5.00 yards per carry, and 96th nationally in rushing defense, giving up 195.75 yards a game - that’s why.
Mohamed Barry lead the team in total tackles last season with 112 (second was Dedrick Young II, which is somewhat of an indication that Barry was one of the few players who could actually tackle anyone). He’s important, but he needs help.
Damion Daniels, Darrion Daniels, Jahkeem Green, Carlos Davis - one or more of these guys is going to have a good season clogging up the middle of the defense in order for our beloved Huskers to have a decent season.
Who’s it going to be? Let’s go with Darrion. Why? Because I have family associated with Oklahoma State, and it would cheese them off to see a guy transfer to Nebraska and have a stellar year. It would be payback for that damned NCAA baseball tourney loss.
3) What should be the biggest change between last year and this year?
Answer: Overall Physical Strength
Why: See the previous answer for starters. Nebraska loves its lines. Last season they were pushed around on defense and Devine Ozigbo had to create his own yardage in the running game.
That shouldn’t happen this season. The dough that Mike Riley left behind should be gone and we should see a Nebraska team that won’t be bullied by Big Ten Conference foes.
4) What is Nebraska’s most important game on this schedule, and why?
Answer: Ohio State
Why: It’s the game early in the season that sets the stage for the rest of it. Will Nebraska have an average season, above average or great? If it’s going to be great, it starts with beating the Buckeyes in Lincoln. (I am of course assuming a 4-0 record going into that game.)
Earlier I predicted that Michigan would win the East and the Big Ten. After talking with Ramzy Nasrallah of the Buckeye site 11 Warriors, now I’m not so sure. He made some excellent points about Michigan, specifically about how they approach that rivalry game.
The Buckeyes have great lines. We’ll get an idea of how far Nebraska has come in developing their lines if they don’t get pushed around in that game. We’re going to see how well the Blackshirts can handle a mobile quarterback in Justin Fields. And by that time we’ll have figured out who on offense is going to be a playmaker besides JD Spielman and Martinez.
5) What is your prediction for W/L record and postseason destination?
Answer: 10-2 regular season. Loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game.
Why: Because the season is getting really close and I’m drinking the Kool Aid. Losses to Minnesota and Northwestern, because that seems to be how things go with the Wildcats. 8-4 is more realistic, but, hey, who said I had to be realistic?
There’s a lot of “ifs” in the works, but if the national pundits are all gaga on our beloved Scott Frost, who am I to argue? Surely guys who do this for a living know better than I, right?