Pipelines are serious stuff in Nebraska. Canadian oil will flow through Nebraska before long. It won't be the only pipeline under construction. They still talk about that bunch in the roaring nineties. That group of offensive linemen that ground some of the best defensive lines in the college game to dust. It was a 60 minute battle that always saw the forth quarter turn into routes. Flat bellied three hundred pound athletes. Nebraska had that rep as being the school that created offensive linemen. So much that they named a trophy after one. Nebraska players collected a lot of hardware in the last forty or fifty years.
It was a process that took young athletic kids and did not put them on the field of play until they were seasoned and ready. They were smart and they had all the bugs removed from their collective games. It was about collecting many kids and developing them for their last year or two of eligibility. This season they have many bodies on the assembly line. At least 28 names all working to be in the rotation. Rotations were something lost in the last decade. Rotation back in the 70's, 80"s and 90's meant that there were at least two full strings of quality players that created those dams breaking frequently in the latter stages of the games. Due to gaps in recruiting and many transitions, there were not many seasons of having a rotation in the past ten or twelve years. That appears to be changing.
Fifth year seniors were coach Tenipor's goal back in his days as the offensive line guru. Lately we have seen underclassmen having to learn on the job as starters and many times without relief. Back in the day those offensive linemen were the smartest kids on the roster. Many academic All-Americans and running a very complicated and sophistic line call system. Being able to do it in their sleep. Some tall some not so tall. All with leverage and techniques with few errors. You could go through an entire game sometimes without a penalty called on the offensive front. All very in control and unmoved by the jawing of the defenders. All knowing that the wheels would fall off the defenders in the forth quarter.
Coach Cotton had to deal with several different offenses and collection of techniques used by two different coordinators. The WCO and it's passive techniques are gone now. Cotton and his assistant coach Garrison can now teach the Nebraska way of blocking again. Downhill and brutal. The Tenipor way of football that they knew so well. Cotton got a bad rap doing other coaches' bidding. Still a year or two away from having those fifth year senior fronts of the past, but edging ever closer with each season.
Seung Hoon Choi, Spencer Long, Andrew Rodriguez, Brent Qvale and Jeremiah Sirles all with experience and starts under their belts. Even some very young players with starts such as Tyler Moore and Jake Cotton. Cole Pensick, Ryne Reeves, Mark Pelini, Ryan Klachko, Mike Moody, Brandon Chapek, Justin Jackson, Brandon Thompson, Adam Kucera all with time in this offense. Close to thirty names all working to get into the rotation. Spencer Long made all conference last season and I wouldn't be too surprised if some others encroached on the lists this season. Tyler Moore a true frosh was a starter at the beginning of the 2011 season but was injured early on is back again. Jake Cotton as well in the rotation early on in 2011 returns as well.
The 2012 season looks good on paper. The 2013 season looks to be a special season when most of the linemen return again. The teaching of another new system can be replaced this year by refining what was learned last year. You have to expect some big strides the next two years. Maybe not a pipeline yet, but at least the system is aiming at the old tried and true ways of yesterday. This group has leaders now. It has time to mesh and refine it's game. To play fast and watch each others backs. Now to hopefully have it all upstairs and avoid those underclassmen mistakes and penalties. Looks to be this groups year to take a big step. To have a familiar playbook and have the game slow down, so as to not make the mistakes of the past. We watched Wisconsin and their veteran line show how upper classmen do it in 2011. It's Nebraska's turn to be the veterans for the next two years and beyond. Experience means less errors and penalties. Once the assembly line is at full capacity again, then just maybe the oil will again flow and the system will find consistency from season to season.
Whose your guess for the rotation in 2012? Maybe a little more complicated with many more names this season. Not having a spring game gives us little help. There will be a sleeper or two.
My best guess but only a guess at this point.
Jeremiah Sirles T
Spencer Long G
Ryne Reeves C
Seung Hoon Choi G
Andrew Rodriguez T
Tyler Moore and Ryan Klachko first in the bull pen. Others in the rotation Brandon Thompson, Brent Qvale and Cole Pensick.