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Bye-Week Roundtable: What Next for Husker Football?

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The progress is clear. The fact it isn’t enough is also clear. What does a program do now?

NCAA Football: Michigan at Nebraska Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

The Huskers are 3-5 with four games to go. Winning three of those four to gain bowl eligibility seems like an impossibility for the team that lost to Illinois and Minnesota. There is a glimmer of hope for the team that destroyed Northwestern and hung tough with Oklahoma, MSU and Michigan (but just a glimmer). Without a .500 record, it also remains to be seen what changes Trev Alberts may (or may not) decide to make.

There are four games left - Purdue, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

What are your thoughts about this season? Besides #TNHFEGBR?

Nate M: I disagree with Jon regarding #TNHFEGBR. There is always hope and there will always be hope. Now whether that hope is grounded in something solid and dependable is a different story. My thoughts on this season is that I’m just tired. What is the purpose of going through the next four games? Have people made their minds up about this team already? Can it be changed if Nebraska goes 1-3 or 3-1?

Brian J: Disappointment. All the one score losses, the injury to Teddy Prochazka and the bad loss to Minnesota have all added up. I thought this team would cruise to being bowl eligible and now it looks like we’ll have another losing season.

Patrick: I am kind of beside myself on what has happened to so far this year. Not exactly sure what to expect this second half. Nebraska could go 3-1 and they could also go 0-4. It’s seems like it is up to the football gods at this point.

Todd: I thought that this team would be 6-6 and that is still a possibility. However, if they do get there, it won’t be the route most of us thought they would take. These Scott Frost teams are maddening because they show glimpses of being a great football team, but they are not there and I am at the point where I do not believe they will get there under his leadership.

Mike: Disappointment...then optimism...then excitement...then THUD. Back to disappointment. I’m with Nate, because the team’s play against Oklahoma, Michigan State, Northwestern and Michigan gives me a really strong belief the program is on the right path. This past week’s bed-pooping against Minnesota was deflating (hence Jon’s “There’s No Hope”), but it was just the one step back after a few steps forward.

Andy: Almost everything I thought this year could be is still in play, anywhere from 4-8 to 9-3 with the bottom line being, “Can they learn how to win?” Then they came out of spring looking like a team that could hang physically with almost anyone. Illinois was an incredible gut punch, but they started to earn respect by losing one score games to Top 10 teams everyone thought they would lose by 30.

Hell, at least taking Michigan to the wire brought out the pissy-pants crybaby in Jimmy-poo Harbawl again. We have now proudly been added to his not short list of teams - and an entire conference for that matter - deemed cheaters by the ultimate average whiny white man.

Jill: Boo! OK. Ooooh, so close! Wow! Close again. Wut?

Jon: There’s still quite a bit of this season left. We have talent all over. We have talent everywhere but the offensive line, but you’d swear to God that Frost is like some general who won’t attack until he has both overwhelming firepower AND numbers. For a guy who once said stuff about not being afraid, he’s certainly played about as conservative as he could with his offense, especially in the red zone.

This team has made progress. What have you seen that the program can build on for 2022?

Nate M: All of the progress has been made on the defensive side of the ball from what I can tell. Nothing else is going to matter on offense until the offensive line gets things figured out. Maybe the running backs are better than we know. Maybe the quarterbacks are better than we know. It doesn’t matter until the offensive line starts doing their job.

Brian J: I really like the direction this offense has gone to. The option look with more of a diverse quarterback run game has really made this offense more explosive.

Patrick: Defense is pretty fun to watch when they don’t play the receivers soft. Keep that up and we will turn into West of the Missouri Hawkeyes.

Todd: Relative to the defense, I agree 100% with Patrick. They are fun to watch and have shown that for the most part they can trade punches in the Big Ten. There are some good athletes there and a majority of them are coming back. There is definitely improvement with receivers on the other side of the ball. The offensive scheme is creative, but until there is consistency I cannot say there is progress.

Mike: I thought the offensive line was starting to show some signs of progress with Teddy Prochazka at left tackle, but then he hurt his knee. Presuming Prochazka returns healthy next year, NU should have five returning starters on the offensive line with only one of them a senior, and that should be something to build on.

Andy: I nitpick here and there but this is the best I’ve felt about a Blackshirt defense since 2009. Moving Teddy and Nouredin into the starting lineup had the line looking like something special. Of course, Teddy got hurt. Then Rahmir not only fought his way to the top of the RB pile but started to pop big plays. Hello, concussion.

And yes, some exceptions but Frost is finally feeling the confidence to open up the playbook. Adrian is putting up some big numbers, and yes, mistakes are still part of the package but not near as many.

Jill: The defense took a big step forward this year. They lose enough pieces that I worry that side could take a step back, but maybe they won’t. I think we have to see progress from the o-line to take this program where it wants to go. Any of the running back roulette bodies seem plenty capable. They just need some lanes.

Jon:

What is one change you think should be made for 2022?

(there’s obviously more than one, but we’ll narrow it down)

Nate M: Go out and find the best field goal kicker you can. Then go and find a quarterback, unless you think he’s already on the roster, who can execute your 2-minute and 4-minute drill.

Brian J: Get a quarterback in the Portal. I like Adrian Martinez and other than a couple of blunders he has played really well. This isn’t a shot at him. If he returns for 2022 I’ll be fine with it and the offense can have a lot of success. But maybe it’s time for a change of scenery for Martinez who can finish his career off somewhere else would do wonders for him and allow this program to also move into a different direction.

Patrick: One thing......how about Valentino’s pizza at the stadium that doesn’t taste like cardboard......whatever, I’ll still eat it. I think we should move to the wishbone offense or at least the triple option. I think that will make the fans happy just because it has the word option in it.

Todd: A new head coach. Many will disagree for a variety of reasons, but I do not see Scott Frost being able to produce a championship caliber football program at Nebraska.

Mike: The only coaching change I would even consider is replacing Greg Austin and/or Mario Verduzco. While Austin has been an improvement over his predecessor, that group has progressed the least of any in the program. And with Mario Verduzco, not many schools can afford to have a dedicated quarterback’s coach; not sure if those resources couldn’t be used elsewhere to better benefit.

Andy: Find a way to not just want to win but believe it’s going to happen. And whoever figures that out, let me in on that secret. We can harp on the coaches all we want but at the end of the day, players just need to make some plays. Not picking on the boys - trust me, they know this better than anyone.

(Case in point - WHERE WAS THE QB SNEAK UNDER CENTER? people shouted. You mean like Buffalo’s the next day? Like the coaches should have known Yant was going to start slipping and sliding before he got the ball and trusted Adrian to dig through a dogpile on a bad wheel? Just don’t stumble and that’s 6.)

Jill: I tend to think Frost needs to cede playcalling duties and focus on being a head coach. I still don’t trust special teams, but unsure what other coaching changes could get more attention focused there.

Jon: Fire most of the offensive staff and replace them with people who know what they’re doing. If Frost is running this offense, then he needs to fire himself. Between them, Austin Allen and Omar Manning have 3 TD receptions. THREE!

Remember all the pre-season talk about having bigger receivers and how that would make a difference in the red zone? It only makes a difference if you throw them the ball. This area alone makes it clear to me this staff has no clue as to what they’re doing on offense. Another year of these bozos will yield the same result.

Any predictions for the rest of the season? (If you dare)

Nate M: I guessing they go 2-2 and miss out on a bowl because they decided to lay two eggs. One at Illinois and one at Minnesota. That is upsetting. If they go 2-2 then they finish the season with five wins, when they should have had 7. The opportunity was sitting right in front of their face and they screwed it up.

Brian J: I think they can win two more games. This team is good (at least better than the record indicates) and just needed a break. I believe after the bye the rejuvenated team has a great shot to knock off Purdue. Then I think they can get either Wisconsin or potentially ruin Iowa’s quest to make the Big Ten Title game. But I can also see Nebraska losing every game moving forward.

Patrick: The Goddess of Anarchy will still reign supreme in the fourth quarter from here on out. I have no clue if that will be good or bad for Nebraska. Oh yeah, that and I will still love Cornhusker football. I would say more but Jon has told me I can no longer quote existentialist philosophers this season. Sorry folks.

Todd: I have no flipping’ clue! I truly believe they have the capacity to win them all, and we all know they could lose them all as well. I’ll be there cheering for them and hoping for a win, but I have to say I am not at all optimistic.

Mike: The Huskers have lost two of the three most winnable conference games on the schedule, so that’s put them under the gun to get to bowl eligibility. While they could win them all, the past history indicates that’s a long shot. The evidence to date suggests they’ll go 4-8 with the remaining schedule; I think they’ll go 5-7...and if they get to five wins by Thanksgiving, I like their shot to finally get the Hawkeyes and a bowl bid.

Andy: I can’t argue with any of the logical thoughts here, so I’m going with a .500 scenario which has us dancing until the sun comes up. I mean, for the love of everything decent - in this conference of perverts, cheaters, player abusers, player killers and racist dickweed coaches, I really do ask myself what Nebraska has done to deserve toweling off one game-winning opponent money shot after another from our collective faces.

So here’s what’s happening. We’re going to find a way to stumble and bumble to 5-6 and then somehow beat the dog-ass Iowa Hawkeyes in a dick-stomping, soul-crushing manner which causes them excruciating anguish as we cash in on one of the many breaks we are due.

Of course, it leads to a bowl victory and all manner of turnaround but that’s a story for another day. :-)

Jill: Ranked teams on the schedule is bad news for Frost’s Huskers. Wisconsin, even unranked, has been bad news for Frost’s Huskers. I don’t see a plausible scenario that gets Nebraska to bowl eligibility. This team is so unpredictable though that 3-9 is just as possible as 7-5. Okay, 3-9 is way more possible than 7-5. I’m going to hope for this program to take a step and finally beat a ranked team.

Jon: We could win every game. We could lose every game. If we only win one more, we can look forward to 90% of Husker fans not giving a single shit about this team over the offseason, not buying tickets, not buying shirts, not spending money, and mostly being in malaise. Last year’s offseason was terrible. If this holds, the next offseason will be unlivable.