We are now one week from Northwestern game week. Here at Corn Nation we have been fighting through the muck and grind that is the off-season. Now it has been several weeks of reports coming out of fall camp.
Now it’s time to give your answers to the most pressing questions of our time. Well, questions related to Nebraska football.
Let’s start with the hardest and most difficult question of all.
Give me one reason not to drink the Kool-Aid! No, that’s not a question, but you get my drift. Oh, and no repeat answers.
Patrick: Why should you not drink Kool-Aid? A canister of pre-sweetened grape Kool-Aid contains 16 grams of sugar per serving, more than half of the American Heart Association’s recommended daily intake for women and almost half the recommended amount for men. There, don’t drink Kool-Aid.
Mike: Well, Nebraska hasn’t had a winning football season since Obama was president. Some skepticism is warranted.
Todd: That’s easy . . . this team has done nothing to this point to prove to us that anything is going to be any different. Until they get out on the field and prove that things have changed, stay away from the sugar drinks.
Andy: Because we’re f**king cursed!! Because to quote Aaron Altman in Broadcast News (deep dive, but stay with me), Mike Riley, while being a very nice guy, WAS THE DEVIL!!
Think about it. Got a job where he influenced a Gawd-fearing (Husker) nation? Coaxed along Calibraska flash over substance? OK, he didn’t get all the great women.
So maybe burn him in effigy before the home opener. I mean, unless there’s others like me who don’t think an actual exorcism is overkill. Because to do nothing at the risk of more weird breaks, key injuries and having a 5-7 season we try to call improvement is simply stupid.
Jill: Past results seem to be indicative of future performance for this coaching staff. Changes have been made, but I’m in full “prove it” mode. I’m not touching that nasty Kool-Aid.
Nate M: I see no reason not to drink the Kool-Aid.
Nate P: After the last two disappointing seasons, I did not drink any Kool-Aid this offseason. I will wait until after the Oklahoma game before making a decision. Also, the offensive line still worries me.
Jon J: Because there’s still no sign that Scott Frost is taking full responsibility for this program. Statements he makes shows he believes the mess he’s made is someone else’s doing.
Frost on OL in training camp: "The guys wear monitors that track overall output and 100 other statistics, and they're more than doubling, in a lot of cases, the amount of effort that they put out the last couple years in practice." #huskers— Sam McKewon (@swmckewonOWH) August 13, 2022
The obvious question - isn’t Frost the guy in charge of making sure they were putting forth maximum effort? If so, he seems to be completely unaware of it, otherwise he wouldn’t think this let alone say it.
With the hiring of Mark Whipple to run the offense, do you think it will be a net-positive that Scott Frost will embrace a CEO type of role?
Patrick: Net-positive. Every team or organization needs a cranky old man. It always makes things better. As for Scott being more of a CEO? Let’s work on being a general manager.
Mike: Every CEO sets the overall direction of their organization, but most don’t sit back and detach themselves from everything. Frost has big ideas on offense, but attention to detail has been lacking throughout his tenure. If Whipple can provide that attention to detail and buy-in to a new joint vision, it can work.
Todd: I think too much is made of the CEO type coach. Heck, Nick Saban gets down on the field and works fundamentals with defensive players. Maybe this is a case of removing someone who is inept by giving them a promotion. Maybe Scott Frost does less damage with more distance from what happens between the lines.
Andy: Net positive. An offense which finished 2nd in the conference in yards does not need a complete overhaul, but it does need a head coach who is not worrying about each offensive call while trying to manage a game, especially in the red zone.
But the idea of a coach who used to be lauded for his concepts and play-calling, now being able to observe the big picture while checking in with players, coaches and coordinators - occasionally dialing up a suggestion for Whipple in the occasional key moment?
I like that very much.
Jill: Ask me again in four or five games.
Nate M: I think that if it’s the little things that have hindered this program since Frost got here then then taking a step back can only be a benefit.
Nate P: It should be a net positive since Whipple will be able to mix in some good schemes in the passing games to complement Frost’s ideas for the running game.
Jon J: Net positive, although it seems like a band-aid approach to keep him around as a “Nebraska guy”.
After being the greatest 3-9 team of all-time in 2021, are you expecting Nebraska to flip the script and become the greatest 9-3 team of all-time this season? No, you don’t have to give your final prediction. That can be for next week.
Patrick: I expect this team to perform like a hot pocket burning the roof of my mouth.
Mike: Expect? Hell no. But it’s not ridiculous for that to be a very real possibility. Nebraska easily could have won four or five more games last season. So when you replace Michigan State and Ohio State with Indiana and Rutgers on the schedule, is a six game improvement impossible to contemplate?
Todd: Since when is “great” ever attached to a 3-9 record? Here’s a little deeper look at last years “great” team. Over the course of the nine games they lost, they only held a lead 18% of the time. To me that shows that they were not anywhere as close to winning games as some people want to believe. Maybe latching on to the eight losses by one score statistic was the only piece of positivity that people could find to hold on to.
Andy: I look at this year’s schedule and 8-0 is a very real possibility. But if, and only if, the belief they can finally win matches the strength, conditioning and talent. They proved last year they could play with just about anyone in the country - they just couldn’t do what it took to beat them. I really believe in this group and think 9-3 is attainable.
But if the mindset and bad luck hasn’t changed, so is 5-7. (And it’s not “great”, Todd. It’s “greatest”. Respect the 3-9.)
Jill: There was nothing that should be called “great” about last year. Except maybe for that Northwestern game. That was pretty fun, but I wouldn’t call it great. Let’s get to bowl eligibility before we start talking about nine wins.
Nate: This is pretty simple. Take all of the 3-9 teams in the history of NCAA football and put them in a tournament. Would last year’s football team win that tournament?
Nate P: Never say never, but the team will have to exceed expectations in many facets of the game.
Jon: I have zero expectations for this team anymore.
Special teams. Special teams. Special teams. The reports out of fall camp have made it clear that there is a renewed focus on special teams with the hiring of Bill Busch. Do you think it will translate on the field and why?
Patrick: One time I was on a long hike up in Montana and I was attacked by gnats. So, I started running, and the gnats went away. This shit isn’t rocket science.
Mike: Nebraska’s tried so many things to make special teams work since 2014, and pretty much nothing has worked. So maybe this will work, though when people point out “hey, he’s a great recruiter”, that doesn’t fix special teams debacles.
Todd: It better! Otherwise, there is a wasted coaching position on the staff. Make nine more field goals last year and you have a winning record. Outside of the punter kicking the ball where he wasn’t supposed to against Michigan State, the woes on the punt team weren’t because of the guy putting his foot into the ball. Special teams will be better not because of the two new guys kicking it. They will be better when players do their job and don’t make stupid mistakes. Period! That is the key to success for all aspects of the Nebraska football team. Stop making stupid mistakes! Play with discipline! That’s on the head coach to instill.
Andy: Bleekrode and Buschini alone should be good for a 2-3 win turnaround. Trey Palmer and Anthony Grant appear ready to give the Huskers a return threat they’ve lacked since the Pierson-el days. And some of the 1st-teamer names who will apparently be on the field for kickoffs and punts are definitely eye-opening. I’m ready for a year of not always sharting pellets on punt returns and extra points.
Jill: Ask me again in four or five games.
Nate M: I hope so. My current nightmare is that on Nebraska’s first possession against Northwestern, they get to 4th and 8 on the 20 yard line. Then Buschini shanks it.
Nate P: I’m actually really optimistic about special teams this season. Like Andy said, it could help us get 2-3 wins this year.
Jon: Our special teams should be better if only because someone appears to be paying attention to them.
Pick one position group to surprise Husker fans. Pick one position group to disappoint Husker fans.
Patrick: Surprise - The first aid station now has Star Wars band aids! Disappoint - Concessions stand. I believe that the Valentino’s Pizza will taste even more like cardboard than in past years.
Mike: Quarterback could be the surprise. While I’m still an Adrian Martinez fan, I like the prospects of Chubba Purdy, Richard Torres and Heinrich Haarburg for the future. Disappointment is probably going to be the offensive line again. Wanting the lines to be better doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be better.
Todd: Running back is going to surprise. The OL is going to create more space and there are some guys that are going to get some yards. Plus, a couple are also good pass catchers and will move the ball forward doing that. Two thousand yard rushers this year! The disappointment is going to be in the form of kickoff return because fans love to see teams return kicks, but with the new rules what they are, Cornhusker return men should fair catch every time. Fans will be disappointed if they do that, but that’s smart football in this day and age.
Andy: The offensive line will surprise and not just because they’re the group which has the most folks worried. 1) As an opposing defensive coach said anonymously in an article, a lack of size and strength wasn’t their problem last year. 2) Teddy is back, appears to have no ill effects and has gotten bigger. And taller. 3) I love what actual Chicago Bears coached by Donovan Raiola had to say about him. 4) I love even more the philosophy of a guy who cheered his older brother at Nebraska then played at Wisconsin - this group is coming at people.
Disappointed? Anyone in South Stadium still looking to take a piss in under 40 minutes.
Jill: Surprise? Pass rusher. I don’t expect greatness, but Nebraska has had zero in that department for years. A semblence of a pass rush would make me happy. Disappoint? I hope it is not the o-oline. Or the d-line. I’m gonig to be a wimp and say whichever group gets hit hardest and earliest by injuries.
Nate M: I hope the OL will surprise. Though I think the pass rushing will be the one that jumps out. Unfortunately, I’m concerned about the ability to defend the run.
Nate P: I think the wide receiver corps will surprise a lot of people. I really like some of the recruits and transfers that are coming into Lincoln. Unfortunately, I think the offensive line will continue to disappoint.
Jon: Offensive line run blocking will be a happy surprise. Defensive line run stopping will be a disappointment.
Lastly, I thought your answers to the first question were kind of weak. What color of Kool-Aid should Nebraska fans be drinking?
Patrick: No Kool-Aid
Mike: Is this even a question in this state? Of course, you are supposed to buy Kool-Aid by the flavor, not color. Cherry and strawberry are awfully different flavors...
Todd: Stay away from that crap! Drink it and set yourself up for extreme disappointment.
Andy: Red, natch. With a generous helping of alcohol both strong and cheap. Insulin’s not a bad idea either. But yep - red. LFG!
Jill: Kool-Aid is awful. I won’t buy the stuff. My husband sneaks it home and leaves a colored powder residue all over the kitchen because he still doesn’t understand how to make the stuff without making it airborne.
He’s getting more creative in hiding it because he knows I’ll toss it in the garbage on sight.
Happy football season!
Nate M: What about purple?
Nate P: Strawberry Kool-Aid is the answer.
Jon J: Is there black kool-aid? I’d think that would be the color of bitterness. All y’all realize red is the color of anger, right?