As time goes, the actions that have taken place in the last few days could either be considered insightful or knee jerk. Such is the grandiose difference between a season of redemption or one of utter futility. Nebraska made it's first changes in hopes of righting a ship that was teetering to the point of going under.
First, Quarterback. A position almost as vital to NU as the offensive line, Jammal Lord was the heir apparent to Heisman Trophy winner, Eric Crouch. Such was his burden, but it was one he was willing to bear as was his team willing to support him through every effort. The effort thus far has failed and though(during today's press conference) the coaches had eluded to the fact that they know who their starter at QB will be, their lack of stating who that is obviously lends to the assumption that it will not be Lord, giving way to either Mike Stuntz or true freshman, Curtis Dukes.
At left cornerback, an energetic and intense Pat Ricketts was supplanted by his talented back-up, Fabian Washington. Ricketts' performances have not been horrendous, but as most have seen in games against attacks with key receivers, those receivers were usually strategically placed in front of the overwhelmed DB. In Ricketts' last showing against Iowa State, it was clear that there was no limit to his fight, but his limit in sheer talent is what was the largest difference. Fabian was in sporadically, but in those times, he intercepted two balls and forced one fumble. This performance was no doubt the final key in unlocking the door to the starting role for Washington.
At running back, the coaching staff refused to acknowledge anything officially, but the biggest news at I-back was that David Horne would playing this weekend against McNeese state, which means yet another true freshman will find the field for Nebraska. The depth chart didn't reflect this change as coach Solich stated that the situation with Thunder Collins had yet to be determined, thus causing the official delay. Regardless, Dahrran Diedrick will not see his position as the starter change.
The defensive line was also not immune to the changing tides as Jon Clanton finds himself as no longer the starter at defensive tackle. Patrick Kabongo's performances, especially in the game against Iowa State (he had 15 total tackles) certainly vaulted the gentle giant ahead of his teammate, now starting along side, Ryon Bingham. Clanton has moved over to back Bingham up, while LeKevin Smith now becomes the back-up to Patrick
At Rush End, Demoine Adams relinquished his spot to aggressive charging, Trevor Johnson. Adams' lack of real effectiveness throughout this year along with Johnson's opportunistic play have certainly lent to this change. The hopes here are that Trevor can defend both the pass and the run, something that Adams has had problems with throughout his career. Thus far, Johnson has played in all five games, recording 9 total tackles, five of those for losses and one quarterback hurry.
One last real noticable change was Daniel Bullocks now receiving the starting nod at Rover, former starter, Aaron Terpening dropping all the way down to third string. Bullocks' back-up will be starting free safety, Philip Bland. Daniel's brother, Josh is listed as the third string FS, behind Bland and Jerrell Pippens.
All these changes can be translated one of two ways. Either's it's a desperate ploy, trying to regain some sense of stability and find a badly needed combination so that the offense and defense can become mutually effective. Or, it's a calculated move from careful consideration that now is played out, hoping that this new combination will be the key to NU stopping the blood flow.
Considering the timing, the former seems the logical choice.
Whatever adjustments that were considered necessary, it leaves only questions in it's wake. Were these the right choices? Were the right players replaced? Was it players that were the problem in the first place? With more than half a season to go in this elongated year of football, only games will answer the questions, only weeks of performances on the field along with attitudes off will give everyone the good or bad of it all.
Basically, no matter what the staff decided on doing or not doing, only time will tell.
For questions or comments, Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619