Spring Stumpers: Answers to THE questions

There's too many questions, just too many questions about this Spring. Well, the only way you are going to answer them is if you ask. So, we do and we here at BRR do our best to answer some of those oh-so-important questions that are keen to the mind of your average-everyday-husker-fan. And, we let you get in on the fun. Check out this week's Stumpers for Spring.

1.  ShouldHarrison Beck plan on red-shirting this year?


Bryan:  In my opinion, yes.  That doesn't mean take the year off though.  I would have this set up like a class.  He would still take snaps as my #3 (if he were the #3) and still suit up.  He would be the

"clipboard guy", but more importantly there would be learning.


This would be structured in such a way that he would be thinking about the play, seeing the defense and then stating where he would go with the ball. I would have him working directly with someone upstairs and learning all the time.


Now, there is a chance, albeit a minor one, that Beck can come in and make an argument through his play to be the man this year.  He has come up through this system, he is a crafty QB, great arm and a leader.  What you would like to have happen this year is see improvement in the QB position from last year with either Taylor as the starter as a result of the competition he brought by coming to Nebraska for the spring.  What shouldn't happen is dangle the possibility of Beck losing the redshirt from week to week if one of Taylor, Dailey or both are capable of leading this team this year.


Steve: First, you have to look at a situation where you have six scholarship quarterbacks when Harrison arrives. Now, think of a true freshman starting. That's not good. It's not to say that Beck won't come in and just take the position for himself, but it doesn't speak well of the players already there or even the recruiting of the position if a true freshman is starting over players that have been in the system or started a year at this level or the junior college level.


Give Beck all the credit in the world, but the best scenario here is that either Zac or Joe is the man this year, giving Beck the time to learn everything he needs to know, participate in practices and be there at home and on the road at games as the number three guy.


To me, there is simply no downside to that. Think of all that potential Beck has. Think of all those possibilities that he could have under center. There is such a thing as a baptism by fire, but for Beck's sake and the sake of the team down the road, I would prefer to have his segue into this team be a little more gradual.



2.  Do you think more zone coverage this year is the fix the secondary



Bryan:  No, and I will tell you why.  Regardless of what type of defense is being ran the pressure on the receiver was the problem last year.  There were too many times last year that the 7 yard cushions were given to the receiver and the down and distance was 3rd and 4 or 4th and 3. We did not play a tight coverage man last year.


Our biggest problem was the inability to get up and physical with the receivers last year and that was mostly because of their size (Washington was a hair under 6-foot and McPherson was maybe 5-foot-10).  That has changed.  Now you bring in Bowman, White, and Franklin who are all over 6-foot tall who can get up there and bump the receiver.


I don't think that zone coverage is the fix all when it comes to improving our defense against the pass.  I think that we have to be physical against the receiver, play the proper distance off the ball and what was most needed was a change in personnel.  With DeFrand out now, I sure hope that Bowman is the real deal.


Steve: The instantaneous answer for most, especially looking at what happened two years ago is yes, it would be that fix. I don't agree in that, the zone worked, because there was someone called Demorrio Williams literally changing the way offenses played the pass rush of the Huskers.


Double-digit sacks from any one player is going to make quarterbacks get rid of the ball quicker, thereby shortening the field the secondary has to cover, thus eliminating a lot of the over the top passing plays.


On the surface, the zone looked like the perfect mix, but it started with the line and it starts there this year as well. Nebraska has to get pressure off their four-man front. If they can do that, the secondary will have flexibility and a comfort level, no matter what scheme they are running.


If there isn't any pressure, they will have the same problems as they did last year. It starts with the line, not with the coverages in the secondary.



3.  2.  Do you believe that, to some degree, there was a sacrifice of the

season last year to boost recruiting and to implement as much of a system as

possible for this year?


Bryan:  To some degree?  Maybe.  Regardless of what some conspiracy theorists are saying when it comes to sacrificing last season, you become more efficient in your practices with reps.  It was going to

happen anyway.


If I were the coach last year and it was my philosophy to change Nebraska's offense like Callahan did and I had to recruit a new type of player to help run it; I too would have used last year's performance as a selling point for recruiting.


It's an easy sales pitch, "Come in and get a chance to play early atNebraska."  That is cut and dry.  I don't believe though those games were purposely lost to prove that point. 


It was a square peg in a round hole and it was pretty much a given that last year was going to be a painful year.  Heck, it was a painful season the year before under Solich despite still winning 9 games.  It wasn't how we won games under Solich that will be remembered, it was how badly Nebraska lost to Texas and Kansas State that will.


Steve: In a word, yes. Coaches are going to try and win games, but you had only to listen to head coach Bill Callahan's comments after the Kansas game, when he was well over the top in his praise of the defense and when asked about the offense, he nonchalantly said and I'll paraphrase to an extent, "Oh, they did enough."


No coach and I mean NO coach literally throws a season down the drain out of reasoning that they can't win with such and such players, but when it came down to forming every single player into what they wanted, I think the staff realized that they just didn't have the time.


You can remember, that was a theme of sorts, Callahan coming from the world of the NFL, where time seemed to be limitless in what you could do to acclimate players to your style of defense or offense.


In college, it's 15 practices in the spring, about the same in the fall and there you go, season is starting.


With those circumstances, you simply do what you can do, but I don't think that anyone realistically thought that this team could be magically turned into what they wanted. So, they did what they could with the time they had, but with that said, I don't think the actual results bothered anyone all that much.


Instead, I think it was how Nebraska lost some of those games that probably got under the coaches' skin more than anything. It's one thing not to have the time to teach them certain things, but I think in their eyes, the players failed to a degree at doing some of the things they DID have time to teach them.



4.  Can the same front four that proved almost totally ineffective last year

actually provide pressure on the QB this year?


Bryan:  Ironically an "ineffective" up-front four last year was still more effective than under Bohl and Nelson.  These guys are getting better, there isn't a doubt about it.  I also think that there was a fair

amount of injuries that took away from last year.


The biggest had to be Carriker against Southern Miss.  The thought about the cheap cut-back still fires me up.  He had been coming into his own that spring and summer and was a force to be reckoned with.  After that play though, he wasn't the same for the rest of the season.


I don't believe that Thomas was ever a great option at DE.  Wali Muhammed will need to keep his head up rushing the QB at this level.  There were too many times where he would lower his head and leave his feet to try and sack the QB. 


I would look for Dagundero and Cryer to get PT early and often this season. I hope that the pair of Moore and Carriker can stay healthy all season this year and that Muhammed can get back on the field soon.  I don't know if Potter or Turner should be counted on this fall to provide instant depth, but that shouldn't make or break this DL.  Like I said the other day when I saw a picture of Steinkuhler, I have him pegged as a guy that looks like he is ready to make a move this year.


Steve: That's the 64,000 dollar question. Can Nebraska get pressure off of their four-man front?


Well, you have to look at why they didn't get that much pressure last year or at least, what teams were doing to them that seemed to slow them down.


The biggie is depth and the fact that Nebraska had none on the defensive interior. Matt O'Shea, gone for the year. Brandon Teamer, oft-injured and mostly ineffective. That left Titus Adams and Le Kevin Smith to bear the brunt of the load and the defensive pressure from the outside wasn't working.


Benard Thomas had probably his best year last year, but it was still a far cry from anything expected of him since he arrived at Nebraska. Adam Carriker was and is the best rush end Nebraska has, but he had to deal with a nagging ankle injury almost the entire season.


If Cryer and Dagundoro are good to go, that helps immeasurably. It would seem that regardless of the last few coordinators on defense,  Nebraska has been used to substituting quite liberally, to keep bodies fresh.


Don't expect that to change and of course, it will help, plus everyone has a year in this system now, which is always going to help.


If this were the exact same defensive front from last season, I would say that there would be no significant change in their success. The fact that there is depth, at least on the interior right now, with at least the potential of some more depth coming in, that should help considerably. There has to be a push up the middle, though. There simply has to be.


If they can get that, everything else should fall into place.


From ntxhusker:


5.  Why has Nebraska taken so many chances on recruiting players that are

having a tough or almost impossible, in some cases, of qualifying?


Bryan: I really feel like there wasn't anyone taken that the coaches felt that there wasn't optimism would be in Lincoln come this fall. Now, we have all heard rumors about Jackson, Hunter, Franklin and J. Picou and it seems like some of those can be put to rest.


The only one that can really be called a tough or almost impossible road of qualifying this fall would have been Leon Jackson.  The reason I say this is he didn't receive his academic waiver from the NCAA until December or even January.  How you don't diagnose or suspect a learning disability up to a senior year is a little beyond me, but that is another story.


The bottom-line here is, Nebraska needed play makers and guys like Franklin, Jackson and Hunter are those types of players.  Not all play makers have the types of grades necessary to get qualified at that moment.  So you take one of two options and that is help them get qualified all the way up to the last moment or you place them.  This class was put together with the idea (given the sheer numbers and size of this class) that not everyone would be available this fall.  However, I think that things are working out better than expected given that David Harvey might be gray shirting like Hickman is.


I also don't think that Nebraska can pick and choose yet when it comes to a few positions until some things are proved on the field.  I would say that a big year is needed this year to show improvement in the passing game to try and lure some of the top WRs still into Lincoln.  While players like Chris Brooks will be there this year he was one of many top rated HS WRs to get an offer and only one of many to actually accept it.


Steve: It's mostly unrealistic to make assumptions as to one's grades at the end of their senior year when you are recruiting them while they are still a junior.


Sure, some may show signs of academic struggles, but during the process of recruiting, one of the messages you continually send is how important grades are and that they are necessary to participate at the next level.


If someone is borderline as a junior and they are a Marlon Lucky or Brodrick Hunter, do you shy away, because you think that there could be an issue down the road?


Of course not. You go after them, but obviously, you emphasize during that process that grades are the only way they are going to make it, no matter where they attend school.


I don't think that you can avoid kids that are close or even marginally close, if you truly feel they are the playmaker you want or need. I think you limit yourself and the opportunities you have.


Let's say Nebraska shied away from Marlon Lucky and he did qualify, as he is expected to. What would some say about Nebraska then? They dropped the ball? They should have had better insight as to what was going to happen?


Recruiting is a gamble, no matter how you look at it. All the film study, all the conversations, letters and visits, they guarantee nothing in the end. You might end up with a 4.0 student that never sees the field or you could get a kid out of junior college that wins a Heisman.


That's the way it goes, but I don't think that you can totally eliminate what might be considered risks, especially if they can help you in the end.



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