Husker fans and coaches (especially the coaches) should get down on their knees and thank the B1G officials who put together Nebraska's 2013 conference football schedule. They may have saved the jobs of the coaching staff and a lot of pain and suffering for Husker fans. And there are two big reasons why.
Ohio State and Wisconsin.
These two opponents the Huskers faced in their first two years in the B1G have been replaced with Illinois and Purdue (Pur-don't?). Whew!
Simply put, the schedule gives Nebraska's talented but inexperienced defense precious time to mature. And with the early season injury to Taylor Martinez, the schedule gives Husker backup QBs Tommy Armstrong Jr. and Ron Kellogg III a chance to develop their skills as well.
It would be unlikely, given what we know about the Huskers thus far, that NU would beat either OSU or Wisconsin. And if that were so, NU would be facing three losses (assuming they beat Purdue and Minnesota) heading into November with games remaining at Michigan and Penn State and home games with Northwestern, Michigan State and Iowa.
Lose another two or three games (not out of the question) and you have a season that could put the coaching staff in trouble or maybe get them fired. (Remember last year's miracle wins at Northwestern and Michigan State?)
Once again, thanks for the schedule!
Through five games, the Huskers are right where most people thought they'd be. Even the loss to UCLA came as no big surprise, considering the Husker D and the early season injury to Nebraska's all-conference quarterback, Taylor Martinez.
(What the outcome would have been had Tommy Armstrong Jr. played is the subject for another column.)
We knew the defense was going to struggle early in the season (and it has). But even with the temporary (?) loss of TM, the Huskers could emerge in November as a much improved football team capable of winning a conference championship. Stranger things than that have happened.
A QB controversy exists only in the minds of some fans and sports writers. There has been some discussion regarding Tim Beck's alternating QBs and that doing so is somehow bad for the team. I disagree.
Given the level of competition (South Dakota State and Illinois), it was wise for Beck to get as many meaningful snaps for both backups as possible. If TM is still not able to play later in the season, I look for Beck to stick with the hot-handed QB.
Even if #3 returns later in the season, the Huskers will have something they haven't had in a very long time: depth at quarterback.
RETURN OF THE NATIVE?
I hope TM comes back with a vengeance, but if he doesn't, Tommy Armstrong Jr. and Ron Kellogg III will be more than capable. While TM gives us some very high peaks, he has also shown flashes of some not-so-good valleys. To date, the two backups have enough talent and stability to lead the Huskers down the stretch.
HUSKER FANS SALUTE THE TROOPS
Our Sixth Annual Husker Fans Salute The Troops is this weekend at the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln. The event is sold out and not open to the general public. But what Husker fans can do is attend the 7 p.m. showing of Ryan Tweedy's excellent movie, "Through These Gates," Saturday night in the hotel's main ballroom. Tickets at the door are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Doors open at 6 p.m.
You may contact the writer at HuskerDan@cox.net