X-Tra Points - A Fan's View

The days are slowly counting down to Fall Practice. Personally, I can't wait for practice to start, and the season to begin. There are so many things to look forward to: the new players, the new coaches, and the hopes of a return to prominence for the Huskers.

The increasing level of anticipation of the fans reflects a similar increase of traffic on message boards everywhere. Fans everywhere are returning from their summer slumber, and returning back to the message boards to discuss the latest thoughts and opinions of their favorite team, the Cornhuskers.

Or, so you would think. Believe it or not, some posters on your favorite message board aren't exactly Cornhusker fans, and they love to remind you of that fact constantly.

What? Husker haters on a Husker board? What is this madness?

Yes, there are some decent fans out there from rival teams, wanting to have a honest discussion with you comparing the chances of their team and our Cornhuskers, but these friendly foes are few, and very far between. A small handful of posters - most like to call them ‘trolls' - are posting on your favorite message board with the subtlety of a nuclear explosion –their only apparent purpose is to anger and inflame the regular membership.

While I could elaborate on this subject for several pages, I thought I'd condense my views of the message board ‘troll' into a brief song. You can sing along if you like! With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan's 'The Pirates of Penzance', I present to you the following lyrics to be recited to the tune of "Major-General's Song":

I am the very model of a Forum Personality.
I intersperse obscenity with tedious banality.
Addresses I have plenty of, both genuine and ghosted to,
On all the countless message boards that my drivel is cross-posted to.

Your bandwidth I will fritter with my whining and my sniveling,
And you're the one who pays the bill to download all my driveling.
My enemies are numerous, and no one would be blaming you
For cracking my head open after I've been rudely flaming you.

I hate to lose an argument (by now I should be used to it).
I wouldn't know a valid point if I was introduced to it.
My learning is extensive but consists of mindless trivia,
Designed to fan my ego, which is larger than Bolivia.

The comments that I vomit forth, disguised as gest and drollery,
Are really just an exercise in unremitting trollery.
I say I'm frank and forthright, but that is merely lies and vanity,
The gibbering of one who's at the limit of his sanity.

If only I could get a life, as many people told me so;
If only my mother would have avoided that circus freak-show;
If I go off to Zanzibar to paint the local scenery;
If I lose all my fingers in a mishap with machinery;

If I survive to thirty, which is somewhat problematical;
If what I post was more mature, or slightly more grammatical;
If I could learn to spell a bit, and maybe even punctuate;
Would I still be the loathsome and objectionable troll you hate?

But while I have this tiresome urge to prance around and show my face,
It's simply isn't safe for normal people here in cyberspace.
To stick me in with ol' Sparky and turn on the electricity
Would be a fitting punishment for my egocentricity.

I always have the last word; so, with utmost finality,
That's all from me, the model of an Forum Personality!

And now for something completely different. More 2008 Cornhusker predictions! Yay!

(And there was much rejoicing.)

Here's my predictions for most improved player, and the critical positions on both sides of the ball for the upcoming football season:

Offensive Line –

Most improved player: Matt Slauson. The injury and performance situation had him bouncing back and forth between Right Tackle and Guard. Now that he appears to be settled in his natural position as the starting Right Guard, a leaner and healthy Slauson will be dedicating himself towards a stand-out season.

Critical Position: Left Tackle. As it appears to me now, Lydon Murtha will inherit the Left Tackle position from the departed Carl Nicks. Injury plagued for most of his Husker career, Lydon needs to step up, and step up big. He was a Big XII honorable mention last year, but he needs to improve his protection against the tougher opponents. One or more ‘matador' (Olé!) performances will likely result in some blindside hits on the quarterback, and there is precious little game experience among the backup quarterbacks.

Offensive Backfield –

Most improved player: Marlon Lucky, RB. Call it a hunch, but I think he will improve on last year's rushing and receiving numbers. All Big XII, here he comes!

Critical Position: Quarterback. The only returning quarterback with game experience, and very little at that! He has only a handful of starts under his belt, but he has been in the offense for years, and he will make a big impact. All he needs to do is maintain his composure and don't panic, and he will perform. I believe there will be plenty of early opportunities for the backup QB to get game time experience during the second half of our early games. If not, things could get very dicey if Ganz is injured, because there's very little game experience behind him on the sideline.

Receiving Corps –

Most improved player: Will Henry, WR. I'm going out on a limb with this one, because Menelik Holt is an obvious choice here. I think Henry will develop into a favorite Red Zone treat with his height. He's my choice to be the next end zone target for Ganz, replacing the departed Purify.

Critical Position: Take your pick! All will need to step up and fill the shoes of former starters Nunn and Purify. One thing the team desperately needs is a good downfield threat, to help stretch the field to open up the running game. Both Curenski Gilleylen and Niles Paul have the speed to make it happen.

Defensive Front Seven: DE/DT/LB –

Most improved player: Barry Turner, DE. Leaner and meaner than he was last year, the senior will finally meet his glowing expectations and be the backside pursuit the defense needs to get pressure on the quarterback. This in turn will help the secondary maintain their coverage. I would also keep a close eye on LB Phillip Dillard – he will turn some heads this year!

Critical Position: Defensive Tackle. The defensive line's performance is the key to the success (or lack thereof) for the entire defense. We need the boy named Suh to turn into the BEAST named Suh and finally play up to his potential! Strength and conditioning should help both Dixon and Steinkuhler to dominate matchups up front. They need to do their job by engaging the offensive linemen and preventing them from getting downfield…so the linebackers have a chance to do their job. They need to control the line of scrimmage and stifle the opposing running game, and the linebackers need to fill the gaps and TACKLE with authority (no arm tackles!) and force more second or third and long opportunities. More three and outs and fewer 40 yard or longer drives is always a good thing.

Defensive Secondary –

Most improved player: Rickey Thenarse, Safety. The potential is there, and he's now clear to grab the starting safety position vacated by Tierre Green. This dude can lay the lumber, as well as turn on the speed to run down opposing players, both on Defense and on Special Teams. With a new staff and defensive philosophy in place, Thenarse will shine.

Critical Position: Corner Back. With Grixby, Bowman, and Jones gone, the younger players now have the challenge of improving over last year's performances. With an infusion of new coaching, and player talent pool of Blue, West and the sensational Prince Amukamara, the future is bright. Things can only get better!

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