Well well well. Another fall camp and as reports come out then we try and figure out what to expect for this upcoming season.
Here are three things I think we know, and one thing that we don’t.
Three Things We Think We Know
1. Casey Thompson is the Presumed Starter at this Point
This isn’t a surprise. However, I was hoping Frost would wait until the first possession against Northwestern to trot Thompson out there at quarterback.
Frost said that the starting quarterback role is now Thompson’s “to lose.” Apparently during the spring Thompson was dealing with an injured throwing hand. He subsequently had surgery and apparently is really spinning it.
What gives me confidence in this offense for game-one is that Whipple has made comments on multiple occasions that it’s going to be all about limiting turnovers. Being able to run the ball would make this job a lot easier.
2. The Defense is Way Ahead of the Offense
Maybe this is going to be the best defense since 2009 for Nebraska.
Well maybe not. However, from reports out of fall camp it is apparently true that this defense is a little “salty.” That helps when this is season five with almost the entire defensive staff returning. Players should understand the system and should be able to play fast. It sounds like the edge pass rushers could be the best position group on the team.
Wouldn’t it be great to see their ears peeled back on a 3rd and long and to see them get to the quarterback again and again and again?
For the offense, it is quite the opposite. It’s year one and with the exception of Sean Beckton, every single coach is new. So it has been a process for this group which is expected.
It appears that the running back room has been greatly improved. Partly, by the Bryan Applewhite, the new running back coach. Partly, by some returning backs who have showed up in shape and motivated and partly by the transfer of Anthony Grant who appears might be the presumed starter though that is not official.
3. This is Whipple’s Offense
This was a concern right? Was Frost going to be able to take a step back and allow somebody else to take complete control of the offense?
I was nervous when Frost said that he was going to take a little of his own offense and combine it with Whipple’s offense.
While that might be true, it still looks like Frost is embracing this CEO job. We shall see what happens when the offense is struggling to score touchdowns.
One We Don’t Know
Will There Be Actual Improvements on Special Teams?
Everything we have heard coming out of fall camp is that Bill Busch tried to instill a renewed focus on special teams. It appears that the team has embraced this renewed focus. This apparently includes every coach on the staff.
Every practice has started with special teams. Many players have commented about the fact the special teams drills have been the most physically demanding of the entire practice.
They gave a scholarship to a transfer punter from Furman and a transfer kicker from Montana.
Kind of like running backs, during this horrendous stretch record-wise for Nebraska, a school which has had a long line of great kickers apparently has run out of luck in that regard. We forget that Connor Culp was an All-Big Ten Kicker in 2020. Then last season he got a case of the yips. Remember 2019 where Nebraska used seven different kickers? Crazy stuff.
Nebraska also brought in wide receiver Trey Palmer from LSU to handle punt returns. The Huskers were second to last in the country in punt returns last season.
So the renewed focus on special teams with some transfer additions truly should have Nebraska feeling better about the third phase of the game.
But when game-day shows up is Trey Palmer going to return a punt at the one yard line and then somehow get tackled for a safety? Is Brian Bushcini, who was perfect from 40 yards out last season at Montana, going to shank a 25 yard field goal in the first quarter against Northwestern?