Shooting Point Blank

There's a fever gripping the streets of Lincoln these days, folks and I ain't talkin' the urge to kick the pigskin off of the tee come September 3rd. It's the type of illness that spreads when talk of much ballyhooed freshmen and junior college transfers don't hold onto the starting spots, or in some cases, back up spots. Oh yes, you're quite familiar with the plague I speak of: Depth Chart Madness.

When Nebraska signed a class that would've made Zeus jealous with their might back in February, every Cornhusker fan from Omaha to Sidney, or at least a fair majority of them, expected results and expected them yesterday.  So, naturally once the freshmen and juniors-to-be stepped on campus and we heard such things as Steve Octavien battling for time with Bo Ruud or, Heaven forbid, Harrison "The Annointed One" Beck slips past Joe Ganz on the quarterback spot, what's a fan to do?

Is it that these young men, these fine, upstanding athletes just aren't as good as they said they were?  Did those dastardly recruiting services sway us again with their fancy talk of stars and All-American bowls?  Is Memorial Stadium herself going to cave in with disappointment come the fall?  I say ‘nay!". 

What needs to be understood by several members of the fan base in regards to the depth chart is this: it doesn't exist.  Sure, Coach Callahan can come out and say "Well Joey Ganz had himself a heck of a day and is number two on the chart," or Phil Elmassian can come out and praise Tierre Green and Cortney Grixby until his face turns blue, but lemme let you guys in on a little secret: There is no chart.  There won't BE a chart, at least not now.

This so called depth chart is wet, freshly poured concrete and it's not going to be firm until, oh, 6 P.M. on September 3rd right around the time pigskin meets plastic.  Even then, things are going to be malleable enough to slip around should someone have some major gaffs.  Also, I think that what's being presented with the Charto De Depth (as they say in some Latin American countries that don't exist), is an aura of competition.

Oh, so Mr. Bowman, you're all that and a bag of Frito Lay's eh?  Prove it.  We've got a guy who has been touted as one of the fastest to take to a position switch since the Dali Lama and a young guy who, while he may not be the tallest cornerback in the Land of Oz, is pretty darn athletic and can make plays when he wants to.  So, you want that spot?  You're going to have to take it, nay, tear it from their hands. 

One thing that Coach Callahan has preached from Day One, and this is something that, at the time at least, made people very excited, was competition.  The idea that the best players would play and you're asking for results?  The first true freshman started on offensive last year since the Lindy Hop was popular and socially acceptable dance.  There would be no more Senior Rites of Passage where just because you stuck it out for four or five years, you earned a slot.  If you can't hack it, you rack it and I, for one, couldn't be happier with the idea.

Despite the craziness that is running rampant when it comes to who fits where and when, some surprises have emerged.  Take Corey McKeon, for example.  This young man was a heck of an athlete coming out of his state, but no one really took the kid seriously.  In fact, some people expected him to do the Andy Birkel Shuffle out of Lincoln.  Now, he's looking at a possible, and depending on whom you ask probable, starting position when the Black Bears of Maine come to town.

Competition breeds success and it also breeds luck, because when you get down to it and as clichéd as it sounds, luck is only preparation meeting heads with opportunity.  The preparation is being taken care of right now and once the Black Bears take the field and we actually get down to brass tacks and do this thing, they're going to realize that 2004 and 2005 may be close on the calendar, but they're nowhere close when talking about cohesion, unity and competitiveness of the Nebraska football team.

In summarization, whatever you hear in regards to the Chart, go ahead and place your forefingers in your ears, point your eyes skyward and say "LALALALALALALA" really loudly because until you see it on the field, don't take it as fact.  Typically, that's not my style, but here, it'll have to do.  Don't freak, don't worry, the studs will separate themselves from the scrubs (and honestly even the scrubs are looking pretty good these days, eh, Coach Kennedy?).  Soon, it'll be here and we'll know once and for all who'll be starting. 

Questions, comments and quips about Stew Bradley's Lightning Bolt can be sent to Blankman71@cox.net


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