I guess it depends how you want to look at it. We are technically halfway through the eight game Big Ten Schedule. There is, however, that ninth game that will happen during the conference championship week.
So maybe we aren’t halfway through, it does however feel like a great opportunity to touch base with a roundtable!
Hi friend. Any initial thoughts about the Nebraska football season as it stands today?
Mike: Well, Nebraska won a game out of the opening part of the schedule. We knew the season was going to have a difficult start and while would have liked a better result against Northwestern, it’s a decent start.
Nate M: I’m glad it’s happening and I am impressed by the coaches, players and support staff. The level of adversity in a college football season can be tremendous, but now add onto the fact that there is a pandemic. I like the direction the program is heading in and I probably couldn’t have said that the past two seasons.
Jon: Luke McCaffrey made the comment, “It’s just a blessing to be on the field.” Everyone should take that to heart. This seems like a throw away year - those teams who do well will claim victory. Those who don’t should just ignore it. Having said that, I’m glad we’re playing because it provides at least some level of normalcy.
Patrick: I am still not 100% we should be playing due to COVID. The team is still young and developing but have improved since last year. It seems that Nebraska is taking the right steps to improve. Even if it is taking more time than expected.
Andy: Playing college football this year is just incredibly stupid and, damn right, I’m watching it anyway. From the 15 or so games cancelled last week to Big Ed proudly saying LSU is forging ahead since most of the team has had it and they don’t need to be tested for 90 days to the whole B1G shitshow of “we aren’t playing, now we are, and damn the 9 or 10 B1G teams with horrible scandals In the last several years, Nebraska’s the BIG problem!”.
It’s all about the cash and damn any future physical complications, they really weren’t going to give it up especially when you get to enter $0 under the salary line for labor. But Huskers? Actually guardedly optimistic. The OSU loss wasn’t as bad as the score looked. We outplayed Northwestern and getting over Penn St was much needed, 0-4 be damned.
Jill: I feel like I finally understand what Scott Frost expects from his football program. Essentially, he wants to be playing all seniors and maybe a few juniors if he has to. Nebraska is not really there yet. (Not at all)
Why so negative? I think you should be more positive. What is one thing that has surprised you, in a good way, as we are midway through the season?
Mike: Since I’m going first, I’ll take the easy answer. BLACKSHIRTS. Forcing turnovers, plus locking down in the red zone is something to build on.
Nate M: Physically the size of our defensive line. It was evident when I saw Casey Rogers in the first game against Ohio State. I was like, “whoa, we actually have some large human beings on this team now.”
Jon: The linebackers look more like the linebackers you’d want from a Nebraska team. The offensive and defensive lines look like they’re ready for Big Ten football. If I had to pick a single positive, it’s that the defense doesn’t look completely overwhelmed and horrible. They look like a functioning defense. If you’ve watched any football this year, you know that’s pretty rare.
Patrick: Linebackers! They’re not world beaters but they were the one area that made me the most nervous coming into this season. Overall, they’ve done a good job.
Andy: Defensive play-calling. I’ll probably never be sold on the 3-4 and getting rolled for 500 yards by Penn St shows much work still to be done, but when crunch time came, Nebraska attacked and mixed it up doing it instead of the lay back and get picked apart approach of Cosgrove, Pap and Banker that made me grind my teeth.
Aggressive and unpredictable - we can build on that. The offense should get on board.
Jill: Yep - the defense has been saltier than expected. #LukeReimerFanClubPresident
Just to be balanced, what is one thing that has surprised you, in a bad way?
Mike: The second half of each game. Nebraska has only scored two field goals in the second half of three games. That’s not going to cut it the rest of the season. With only three games against better competition, I’m not sure we have enough sample size to really understand why...but we can say it’s not good.
Nate M: Our offense has been below average to be kind. I expected much more. I think part of it has been because the lack of emergence of Omar Manning. Since he hasn’t shown up we have had to rely on walk-ons and freshmen. Scott Frost probably hasn’t helped either as he’s been extremely conservative with his play-calling.
Patrick: Our offense has been lackluster at best. The line has improved which is nice but the skill players are struggling once the game gets going. I’m not sure if that is lack of depth, confidence by the player or coaches, or something else. Improvement will need to be made to get through the rest of the season.
Jon: Mike already said it. It’s like they’re shocked they have to play two halves of football and don’t know what to do with the second half. This from Cornhuskermemes IG sums it up as best as I’ve seen:
Andy: It’s not just this year but I believe the 2nd half play and the offensive playcalling are 100% connected. Starting with the Northwestern game his first year, we’ve seen time and time again - magnified this season - a first half lead or fantastic effort against a tough team followed by the offense crawling into a shell and the defense stuck on the field forever.
Or am I the only one taking bets on “Screen or QB Draw?” on every 3rd & medium or long? Keep your damn foot on the gas and stop trying to back into wins.
Jill: No Andy - you are not the only one. The offense appears to be a guessing game in which the coaching staff doesn’t trust their young talent and is trying to hard to protect them from themselves. The conservative game plan gets figured out by the opposing team, halftime adjustments ensue and...sigh.
Of the remaining four games on the eight game schedule, which is the most important game to win?
Mike: Well, they ALL are important. But if I have to pick the most important one, it’s a win against Iowa. Whether or not you agree that Iowa is Nebraska’s top rival (they’re not), Nebraska has lost five straight to the Hawkeyes. One of the first steps to getting Nebraska back to the level that Husker fans aspire their program to be is to stop losing games like this one. Beating teams like Iowa isn’t enough; we fired the last coach who did that regularly. Continually losing to teams like Iowa is a clear sign that Nebraska isn’t making much progress.
Nate M: Mike is right but if I had to pick one game on the schedule I wanted to make sure we won, it would be Minnesota. We can’t lose to a dumpster fire at this point. We could. Iowa would be a close second.
Patrick: I would say Iowa at this point. They are probably the best team Nebraska will be playing during he remaining schedule and would be a a nice takeaway from this rollercoaster of a season.
Jon: The next one.
Andy: Oh hell yes, Jon. Just like a hockey goalie, the most important shot you will ever face is the next one.
Jill: Yep. The next one. Assuming we have a next one.
Nebraska currently sits at 1-2. They have four games left. Assuming the rest get played, what are you guessing will be the final record for Nebraska?
Mike: I’ll go with 4-3, though I do think 5-2 is a definite possibility. Purdue is the game that concerns me most at this point, though it’s starting to look like Rondale Moore isn’t going to play this season.
Nate M: I would love to hear what is going on with Rondale Moore. Having played the most difficult part of our schedule I think we could win out, however I think some teams are going to stack the box with McCaffrey and he’s going to have some growing pains. We go 2-2, so we finish 3-4.
Patrick: I am going with 4-3. Illinois is terrible as well as Minnesota’s defense from what I can tell. I think we will split the Purdue and Iowa games at this point. However, things change on an hourly basis right now so ask me again in a week.
Jon: I’m not doing this. I am living one day at a time. I know it sounds cheesy, but I’m just gonna take each game as it comes without expectation and enjoy it as it happens.
Andy: It looks like 4-3 or 5-2 is doable, but I’m holding off until we show some consistency and stop putting the offense in a coffin in the 2nd half. The more I think about it, the more blame I put on the offense for those 500 yards given up by the D. They did fine when the offense moved the ball and gave them rest.
Jill: I am waffling but will go with 3-4 or 4-3. Minnesota has been turrible and Iowa is still Iowa-competent. Purdue - I don’t know much about so that one could go either way in my mind.
Any words of wisdom on any subject whatsoever?
Mike: Nebraska probably played their three toughest opponents to start the season. Wear your dang mask, and hopefully the Huskers will be able to play six more games this season.
Nate M: From Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men
”You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.”
Jon: My wisdom comes from John Bernard Books -
It isn’t always being fast or even accurate that counts. It’s being willing. I found out early that most men, regardless of cause or need, aren’t willing. They blink an eye or draw a breath before they pull the trigger. I won’t.
“But all I ever settled for is that we’re born to live and then to die, and... we got to do it alone, each in his own way. And I guess that’s why we got to love those people who deserve it like there’s no tomorrow. ‘Cause when you get right down to it - there isn’t.” - Louden Swain - “Vision Quest”
You know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change, but pretty soon, everything’s different.
~Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes
(Let’s hope we can say that about our Huskers soon)