It's about guessing who will step up to fill in holes from departed seniors and underclassmen who declare for the NFL draft for some. For me, I have found myself wondering what if much more than wondering who will step up.
Nebraska has seen their fair share of change over the past year or so. They've seen their offense change from option oriented to the West Coast Offense. With that, you have seen players come and go. Players have left for the riches of the NFL, left because of injury and/or maybe they were dismissed from the team.
Putting possible personal differences aside between players and coaches, looking past possible disciplinary problems and of course trying to keep players that are with the team has got me wondering what this team might look like. I don't like to speculate, but sometimes you have to let the mind wonder. And why not let it wonder than about your Cornhuskers? I have been having a couple of different ideas flowing through my noggin as of late that I needed to get out.
I really thought about a scenario that could have happened on both sides of the football that could have benefited this team significantly, had they been true. On the offensive side of the ball some people might dwell on possibly losing Matt Herian and Brandon Jackson for the year. Others may look at the players that have left the program, particularly at the receiver position.
I want to look at another position, or set of positions, for the offensive scenario. The offensive line is a position that could look tremendously different if for just a couple of faces were still in Lincoln.
Seppo Evwaraye will only be in his second year of playing offensive line and he will be the starting left tackle. Cornelius Thomas was hurt early last year and really did not see the field at all.
While Mann was a pleasant surprise last year the other two positions per not an upgrade While Koch and Anderson all played well, the depth was not there and because it wasn't there the team who had depth concerns last year has them again.
But, what if?
I can't help but think about the flexibility that this line might have if Lydon Murtha made it through fall camp and was able to play last season. Maybe Seppo stays at RT and Murtha is penciled in at LT this spring. That would allow Thomas to move back inside to one of the guard positions or provide depth outside.
Take it one step further, imagine Richie Incognito returned this spring and was manning his natural position of center? The flexibility that would be there to allow Mann to move to one of the other guard spots possibly and back up Incognito at center solve huge holes in the depth chart.
Take it one step further again, what about Jermaine Leslie as part of this football team? We saw very little Leslie, but what you saw showed promise. You saw bits and pieces of what could have been, but you are left wanting more.
The addition of Leslie and Incognito back into this offensive line changes things dramatically. Neither one is a real far-fetched scenario to consider either. Now take in players like Roark, R. Picou, J. Picou and B. Pasteur who all may be ready to play this fall and suddenly depth isn't a huge problem.
The other scenario for defense is even less far-fetched. The biggest positions that need experience and players, it seems right now, are in the secondary. Imagine for one second if Josh Bullocks and Fabian Washington were returning this fall for their senior years.
My, how that changes the landscape.
Now many believe that there could have been some personality conflicts last year that might have caused parts of the team to under-perform and at some points not perform at all. That idea aside, Josh and Fabian would bring experience, play-making ability and skill to the secondary that is needed this spring.
I thought that the secondary would have been one of the best units last year. However, bring back Dan, Josh, Fabian and then put Bowman, White, Grixby and Shanle in as the other players right behind them on the depth chart and that would be a strong secondary based solely on their skills alone.
I still believe that White, Spain and Franklin could be contributors in the secondary this fall. However, Spain and Franklin also played offense and could move back to receiver. Also, Leon Jackson would be nice to be able to leave on offense between playing in the backfield or split out wide.
I have chosen to overlook those injuries for this article. For these scenarios I wanted to concentrate players that left the program, for whatever reason, before their eligibility ran out. It might be amazing what the four names of Leslie, Incognito, Washington and the other Bullocks might mean to this team this year in terms of talent and all other nonsense aside.
Ah, what if…