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. What holes are still going to be there for Nebraska even after the
recruits are all in?


Bryan: Does quality depth count? Well I think that the incoming players will fill direct needs, however you wish you had two Tomerlin's and maybe another Spain/Franklin or two who could play S or WR. I think that the biggest problem right now is merely the fact that if Herian can't go at all this year that we are only one injury (and it's not just this way at TE) from total catastrophe. Depth/Staying healthy is the biggest concern that I have not just through this spring, but also this fall.

Steve: Well, I think the secondary is such a big question mark now, that there can be no quick fix even this fall. And, most of those slated to come in will be going to the cornerback position and not safety.

Also, I think that linebacker is not necessarily deep. Personally, to be comfortable, you have to think that a solid two-deep is what you want at all positions and across the entire linebacking core, I am not sure you can say that. I like Octavien and Ruud, but other than that, I'm just not sure how it's going to work out.

If there is one other position I would say will never been deep enough, it is at wideout. Thus far, we are seeing some guys step up, but anticipate NU coaches wanting at least six solid contributors and I don't think they have that yet. Looking at who's coming in, there's the potential for that, but it's just really hard to tell. As it is, I think this position will always be in flux, because of the varying ways all the wideouts will be used.

Tight End has also now become a worry spot with Herian more than likely not going this year. Cross your fingers on Tomerlin.

2. What do you consider ideal statistics from a quarterback in Nebraska's
offense?


Bryan: Like I have said before big numbers aren't a necessity of a QB in this offense, but you need a QB to be efficient and not commit turnovers. Good decisions are better than a couple of big plays sprinkled onto bad ones.

While these numbers look huge for a Nebraska QB, it is in the ballpark of where I would say our offense needs to be effective on the season: 65% completion percentage, 25 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 2800-3100 yards passing and around 500 yards rushing on the season.

Steve: The coaches have said many times that they are looking at around 65 percent as ideal. Now, For any average Husker fan, that's not ideal, it's beyond comprehension. The highest completion percentage ever achieved at Nebraska was 63% by David Humm and that was back in the day when NU ran something a lot closer to what they are running now than what they replaced, but even then, that Nebraska team only averaged around 16 passing attempts per game.

Nowadays, even that high of a percentage isn't a reach, even in a pro-style offense. Phillip Rivers at N.C. State completed over 72 percent of his passes in 2003, while approximately half a dozen other quarterbacks achieved 65 percent or higher.

65 percent is nice and ideal, but I would say that anything 60 percent or above is more than acceptable and puts NU far closer to the realm of believable, especially with a first-year QB.

When it comes to touchdowns, big-play throws, etc., I don't really concentrate so much on that, because if the Nebraska QB is throwing 60 percent or better of his passes complete, the rest will come as a by-product of their success.

Interceptions, though, that's the big one and my own magic number here is 10. No more than 10 interceptions on the year. Some might think that a high number, but because we can expect NU to pass it more if it proves to be as effective as predicted, the increase in attempts makes 10 interceptions a doable number for me.

3. What is the single most important position for Nebraska to recruit for
next year?


Bryan: There are several positions that I consider vital to the success of Nebraska's recruiting class for next year. The first is obvious and it is tight end. Even if you have Herian taking a redshirt next year, Tomerlin will be a senior and you didn't take any other prep tight ends in 2004. I think that the coaches realize this too given that they have offered at least seven true tights and maybe another player or two that can play another position as well as tight end.

Another position that I consider important is offensive tackle. Given that you really only signed one, true OT, it is critical to get in at least three this season. Again, numbers would indicate that the coaches feel the same way with 16 OTs offered, another player that can be an OT but is being recruited to play DT and an offer to a player that wants to play offense but has been offered to play defense.

After that I would say that CB is important given that Bowman and White will be your top CB recruits last year and they were both JCs. DT and LB are similar scenarios given that Cryer/Dagundero and Moore/Octavien are already on campus, but guys like Suh, Covey and Dillard will be in later this summer still mean that there is an importance there. And lastly, but not least, you will need 2-3 stud safeties in this class. Maybe Spain, Franklin and Jackson can convert to those positions, but Spain is still a JC with limited eligibility in comparison to preps and Franklin may be better suited as a CB.

Steve: Secondary, secondary, secondary. I think that Nebraska needs to load up here and keep loading up. Between the departures and everything else, Nebraska, even after the recruits arrive in fall, is not going to be in a position where they can afford to lose anyone.

Another is the one you have to load up with every year in my opinion and that's offensive line. Five a year at least and with the new criteria at NU, it begs that NU just keep going after them. You want the best you can get, but we have seen with players like M.J. Flaum, Chris Loos and Tim Green, all players looked to as starters and possibly, stars, that you cant' have enough, because sometimes, stuff happens.


4. What happens to the Nebraska offense if Brandon Jackson and Matt Herian
are both lost for the season?


Bryan: Let's hope that Tomerlin, Lucky, Glenn and Jackson are ready, qualified and are fast learners. I don't see how you can keep Tomerlin and Lucky from playing right now. Glenn may have been a redshirt candidate, but you can just about see him being used similarly to how Jackson was used last year as a single back. L. Jackson on the other hand, if he makes it to Lincoln this year, will see the field but at what position?

If B. JAX goes down for the year and Herian is out that means that Lucky will be receiving about 25-30% of the snaps from RB (if I were coaching) and that Tomerlin will be a 50-60%of the snaps guys maybe coming out more as you would use Phillips as an H-Back to run a lot of traps, but don't fall into the personnel packages trap that Solich and Co. did basically screaming what
type of play they were going to run.

Steve: Well, it's kind of obvious to say that it puts pressure on other players to step up, but it's good that Nebraska got Justin Tomerlin, because athletically, he appears to be fairly comparable to Herian in what he's able to do as far as speed, agility and Tomerlin is a guy that it is said you don't have to question about his wherewithal in going after a ball, something you can't necessarily say about Herian.

At running back, Thomas Lawson has been a big boost for Nebraska as he's not as totally well rounded as Jackson and not quite the athlete, but Lawson is a big back, decent quickness and reasonable speed, plus his work ethic is unquestionable. Oh, and there's a few other running backs coming that shouldn't be too bad as well.

Nebraska will miss them and it will hurt, because both are solid players with great potential this year, but Nebraska will have guys that can potentially fill the holes vacated by those two.


From ISUforNU:

5. Where do you see the new recruits (Brooks/Tomerlin) and others fitting
in? Who currently (in spring practice) is looking like they can play this
fall?


Bryan: Players like Brooks, Hardy and Hunter will be expected to come in and compete for playing time immediately. Their physical skills and ability won't allow for them to be sitting on the sideline. These kids are difference makers and the types of players that this offense needs to have in order to be successful.

Tomerlin on the other hand will be switching from defense to offense and at a position where he will ultimately need to be ready to come in and play immediately, especially if Herian red-shirts this year.

Although I am working on purely hearsay and other informative sources, there isn't any way that you shouldn't plan on seeing all of the players who transferred in at semester. Octavien and Taylor appear to be starters while Dagundero, Cryer and Moore add instant depth to positions where depth is needed desperately.

Steve: The quick answer as to who is presently here out of the new recruits that can play right now, all of them. The junior college guys that got here in January are proving good to the hope you have for guys having the luxury of being mid-term transfers. Every single one of them should play this year and I suspect that two will start (Taylor and Octavien) and if Moore can get ahold of making the calls, he'll have a decent shot as well.

As for those coming in, pick any of those slotted to play CB, Safety or WR and they will have a shot to play. That's serious as there are still a lot of vacancies to be had in starting and adding depth.

The other junior college guys are also players you can consider, but the big question is, are they in shape? If every single one of the junior college guys coming in is indeed in shape, I don't think you can count any of them out.

As for the high schoolers coming in, now that Roark has been moved to center, he's got a great shot at making the two-deep and Rodney Picou will have every opportunity in the world to fill a guard spot, probably the one where Greg Austin sits right now. I think Rodney will at the very least, get a great look and this kid is big enough to play.

Harrison Beck is the big question, but based on how things have progressed thus far during spring, his chances are looking better and better for the two-deep or at the very least, a spot on the three deep, suiting up for every game and traveling with the team. This could end up being a great educational experience for him and if things work out perfectly, he won't have to waste a down.

All of the running backs have a shot, especially with Jackson going down for an indefinite period of time.

Phillip Dillard to me at least, is the big unknown. There are three guys sitting at MLB right now. With the move over of Moore, I don't think that it's real feasible to think that Dillard is going to get in there, but you never know. Dillard is a player and he's a physical specimen, plus in just one week down in San Antonio, he took to being the QB of the defense like a natural. That's a big key for the MLB spot, so we'll see.

There is one name, though, that I think everyone has forgotten about and that is Ndamukong Suh. With the newfound depth at DT, it seems like he's a logical redshirt. And, even with his prowess on the offense, it seems like it's not dire there as well. I think that Suh is such a stud player, that he WILL see the field his first year, whatever side of the line it's on. I know that realistically, he should be an automatic to redshirt, but this kid is special. Can Nebraska keep him off the field for a year and get four years out of him that should be incredible for everyone? Hopefully, but I wouldn't be surprised if we see Suh out there as a true frosh.


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