This Just In…
It’s been quite the offseason.
Watching the Penn State disaster unravel like a cheap oriental rug has been disturbing to say the least. A bit on that later, for now I want to focus on the upcoming season and what we as Husker fans can reasonably expect to see out of our beloved team.
A lot of the national publications have the Huskers pegged in the middle of the Top 25 - I would have to agree with that based on what we saw last year and what we have returning. We have listened to rave reviews on the progress of our illustrious signal caller, who can run like the wind and has the accuracy of a blind archer with one finger. Will this offseason work result in on-season success? Time will have to tell with that, but based off of what we have seen in the last two years, any improvement with his touch on intermediate routes will be welcomed.
One thing that must return is his legitimate threat to take over a game with his legs. Being a more polished passer will help tremendously, and anyone that has superman in the backfield automatically gains an advantage - just keep away from the kryptonite. In all seriousness, Martinez’s health will be the key factor if this offense is just average or great. If he is completely healed and can split defenders the way he did in the K-State game two years ago, this offense will have no problem piling up touchdowns old-school style. We all know Burkhead will produce, and with a great season could make a run at NU’s fourth Heisman trophy.
We are going to be a bit green at WR, but there is great potential in this group. The addition of Westerkamp has many people in the program excited and if the rumors of Martinez's new found inner Joe Montana are accurate, then we are in for a treat.
On the defensive side of the ball there are more questions than answers. The loss of David will be great, as will Dennard, but there is enough left over for this defense to be above average. Getting some of the younger kids some early reps and the addition of some JC talent has given this defense hope of taking a step back to elite status.
Will it replicate the juggernaut of 2009 - not likely, but if the defense can manage to keep teams to an average of 15-20 points per game, that should be enough for this team to win 10 games. I think the truth of what this defense will be is somewhere in the middle - neither great nor bad, just average. We all know average is not what we want - just ask Steve Pederson…
All in all I think the Huskers will have their struggles this year but should have a solid chance of contending for a B1G title this year. The key stretch will be the middle part of our schedule where we face Wisconsin, Ohio State, Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State.
We all know what happened last year against the Wildcats. If the Huskers are caught napping they could look at going 1-4 or worse 0-5. If the Blackshirts can manage to keep the scoring low and Martinez and Burkhead can deliver on the offensive side of the ball, then 4-1 is a really strong possibility. This is of course assuming that NU doesn’t sleepwalk during the nonconference schedule, as there are potential traps at UCLA and the season opener with Southern Miss - who by the way went 12-2 last year. When was the last time NU was 12-2?? Seems like so long ago...
The season is fast approaching and I am looking forward to my first trip to Lincoln on 9/15. Yes, I am almost embarrassed to admit that I have put it off this long. I have long followed our Huskers to outposts such as Oklahoma, Louisiana and California, and Florida last year for the Capital One Bowl. Sadly I have had tickets to a game in Lincoln and something has come up preventing me from attending, but this year is reserved for pure bliss as I step into the old stadium and experience what most people reading this already have.
The season is drawing ever so close and you can almost smell the crisp fall wind blowing…wait, that must be a dream since it has been nearly 105 every day since February here in Texas. Hmmm…dreams - we all know they can come true, so let’s crack open those interpretation books and get our sleeping medications ready - who knows, we may be in for a dream season…just don’t pinch yourself…
-On another note, I wanted to chime in quickly about the sanctions levied against the Nittany Lions. Like many of you I don’t think the punishment fit the crime. How could it when you factor in how many families and individuals were impacted by the heinous crimes that were committed. There is neither a punishment nor monetary penalty that can make up for what occurred at that campus. I think the NCAA looked at all avenues, and while I would have supported a suspension, or death penalty of at least two years, I am also not a fan or supporter of that team.
What it all comes down to is money - this is a big-time program that would have likely crumbled, or been severely hindered if the NCAA had swung down the hammer and given out the mythical death penalty that SMU experienced so many years ago. A four-year reduction in scholarships and heavy fines is a start, but maybe they should have been a bit harsher on the scholarship limit. Taking half of them away would have been a good start in my opinion.
While the university did not get off easy by any means, it could have and should have been much worse. Bottom line is that PSU will have some down years but they will recover. The only hopes are that the many families will be able to do the same. It will take time, and lots of it. Start your watches and remember them in your prayers and know that everything happens for a reason and will work out in the end - if in fact there ever is one here…