Hello everyone and a happy final football-less (probably not a word, but who cares football is back) weekend, unless you count preseason NFL.
I am a Nebraska Cornhusker fan from the rural part of the state, it is Sunday and I'm killing time this afternoon. So I have decided to give my two cents on the Huskers football team.
I'll start off telling you, I do believe we can win every game in the regular season. At the same time though, being a realist, 11-1 or 10-2, would likely win the North. Given you think that there are two games Bo and the staff won't have the guys ready, and somehow we do end up with latter. I just don't see it myself, I'll give you that Texas will be tough, but a new QB, lots of new faces on defense, and a new offensive scheme, Carl will have the defense more than ready to fool the youngster. Nebraska wins by 17 at home.
The other game that stands out to a football fan, is playing at College Station and the 12th man. It won't be an easy game either way, but until A&M can show some defense, I foresee a 10 point win by the Big Red.
Missouri will once again have an offense. The Tigers have to come to Lincoln, breaking in a new batch of WRs, and replacing the heart of an average defense. This will prove too much—Nebraska by 20.
So, as I stated before, I'm saying 12-0.
Having gotten that out, there lets see what might make me feel that way as we look at positions and who might be looking to shine.
Since it is Nebraska and we did end the 2009 season with the number one scoring defense lets start there.
The Defensive line
DE Pierre Allen will be one of only two seniors on what will likely be one of the nation’s best defensive fronts. He will be playing along side a couple juniors (DT Jared Crick and DT Terrance Moore), but otherwise it’s a lot of underclassmen. Having said that, Crick will be the focal point from across the way, at the same time if you put too much time in stopping Crick, the former 4-star, recruit Allen will be there to make you pay.
Injuries were a huge problem for Allen and Moore last year. Having both healthy this year will give the NU defensive coordinator Carl Pelini and Jared Crick plenty of help up front.
There are plenty of guys to watch for this year, as a talented group of young players look to make a move up the depth chart. Obviously sophomore Baker Stienkuhler will be in the game at DT, as will sophomore Cameron Meredith at DE, both of whom have a very good shot at starting this season.
Beyond that, at the tackle position look for redshirt freshman Thaddius Randle, walk-on sophomore Justin Jackson, and true freshman Chase Rome to all see the field this fall.
Looking at the DE behind Meredith and Allen, one might keep an eye out for sophomore Josh Williams and freshman Jason Ankrah, both these young men will have bright futures if they can stay healthy and continue to develop.
This is probably the toughest position to say who will make the field this year. With so much talk of the new nickel package called the Peso, it seems there are only two spots for seven or eight guys. Talk about your competition Bo, there it is, I wonder how much of this Peso we will be looking at in 2011 in the Big Ten which has a handful of spread offenses at the most.
That is for another day, back to our young, talented, and unproven LBs. Sounds from camp have coaches saying you better know both spots on the second level or you probably won't play one.
The players looking to take part, in what they can only hope is, a rotation are all underclassmen—aside from one lone former walk-on from up the road at Chase County High in Imperial NE is junior Matthew May. Lavante David is also a junior but via the junioe cllege ranks, both of these players will see time this year as David appears to be the new fastest backer, passing May and sophomore Sean Fisher.
The remainder of the group is all sophomores and it includes Fisher, along with former high school all-American candidate Will Compton. These two saw the most playing time last season and looked young. Thankfully senior Phillip Dillard finally pulled the North end back around and solidified the LB position.
Fisher and Compton will both see the field more, as they both have taken to coaching, especially Fisher. With freakish size (6-6 235 lb.), safety speed (4.4 40), and the smarts of a Rhodes Scholar, Fisher has all the tools to cover any TE without a miss match. Were he lacks, is run support due to the fact he's 6-6, leverage is a big deal, that’s were Compton comes in, with a solid all-around game.
All four of these players, along with sophomores Alonzo Whaley, Eric Martin, and Graham Stoddard will see lots of time this season. Whaley and Stoddard are both kind of unknowns at this point, with Martin making a name for himself last year as a special teams standout.
The Defensive Backs
The third level of Nebraska's defense, much like the front four, has a chance to be one of the best in the country. With depth gal our, much of which could start at a large percent of D 1 schools.
It obviously starts with the returning starters, All-American CB candidate senior Prince Amukamara and junior Alfonzo Dennard, both of whom will likely have NFL careers. The safety position is not so lucky losing both starters to the NFL.
Trying to say who will start at safety is easier when you start looking at that depth I spoke. There are the true safeties, senior Rickey Thenarse, who is known for being an athletic hard hitter, junior Austin Cassidy, who is also getting time at Peso. There's sophomores P.J. Smith and Courtney Osborne, both have shown signs of greatness, through in the smart junior former QB Jim Ebke, and one would think that would be plenty for one team.
So, what does DBs coach Marvin Sanders, Carl and Bo decide to do but put former starting CB at Anthony West into the fold. Now having all that known, it also appears last year's dime back Dejone Gomez is working in at the safety position.
The list just goes on in the Nebraska defensive backfield, as we've been through all that and still haven't even mentioned Eric Hagg, who will officially be the starting Peso back the first week. Marvin Sanders claims Hagg is the type of player a defense is built around, and I admit he has the tools. At the same time, I remember in Blacksburg, VA, and biting on play action, and once more at home against Iowa State.
The depth at CB is just as scary for opposing coaches starting with former starter junior Anthony Blue, who's finally full speed from two knee surgeries. Then with standout RFr. like Andrew Green, Dijon Washington, and Lazzari Milddeton(who has been playing peso also) and there is all kinds of defensive schemes you could see from the Big Red this year.
Over all the defense is deep across the board, yes a lot of that depth is young and/or unproven but you'll hear this a lot from college football is about player/person development and Nebraska has one of the best at that in Bo Pelini.
After all that we finally make it to the offensive side of the ball.
The offensive line
Depth is the biggest thing, all along the offensive line. The loss of Mike Smith will not help, but at the same time it’s a chance for another young player to step up.
Let’s start in the middle where it looks as if junior Mike Caputo will likely be calling the shots. Caputo has plenty of strength finishing second to Suh last year in lifting, and plenty of speed, size being his only downfall, and it is only a downfall if it is in pass protection. He will likely be backed up by RFr. Nick Ash and local boy Cole Pensik.
The guard spot starts with two seniors in Keith Williams and Rickey Henery, both will being pushed by young players like monsters Brent Qvale, Brandon Thompson, and Mike Moudy just to mention a few.
The tackles will be competing all year just like everyone else along the line, but the right side looks to be the Jones again, with senior D.J. Jones and Marcel Jones. The left side is much less solidified with Jr. college transfer Jermarcus and RFr. Jeremiah Sirles. I expect to see a lot of different players at a lot of different spots for the first few weeks of the season before an actual starting five are settled on.
Well it is getting late and I have to work tomorrow, so I will be back to run down the offensive skill positions.
Thanks for reading