Interesting times in HuskerLand... where our season was completely over in November, no conference title game, and no bowl game to look forward to and see our Cornhuskers play one last game before we sink back to waiting for September again. But it's uncharted waters for me, as we ended the season on a surge. And even though we were 4-8, the momentum is there. In here I will go over my position by position breakdown and where I see us heading into 2019. Quarterback: Well... I'm not sure there's a more exciting position for the 2019 season. We all saw what Martinez is capable of, we saw how poor our offense looked when he either wasn't in the lineup, was hurt and not playing 100%, or when we literally didn't have another scholarship player to come in if we lost him. Those won't be issues next year. Noah Vedral available, Matt Masker and Andrew Bunch available, and in comes our 2019 recruit Luke McCafferey in case we need a fifth string guy. Our offense opened up exponentially when our QB run game was able to be used, and I do think between our starting QB being gimpy and not having another scholarship guy to run in there, our play calling was tentative first half of the year and caused some of our struggles. Once you started seeing QB run game and a healthy guy, our scheme countered teams like Ohio State that clearly had more talent than our offense, but kept us in the game the entire time. There's not a ton that needs to be said here except excitement is there for 2019. Runningback: I hate to start this negatively, but we absolutely have to find someone that can replace Ozigbo. Maurice Washington is outstanding, but he can't replace what Ozigbo did (kind of like losing Morgan, i'll get into that in our WR area). Washington has his niche, and I understand he will get a year of S&C, but that's not going to be enough to get him to Adrian Peterson level (which is what he would be if people think he would be able to replace our bruiser, Ozigbo). I just don't think it's fair to go there, and Washington needs to stick with who he is (and get healthy, another knee, yuck). I think you have 2 options to replace him, the first is on the roster, Jaylin Bradley. But he is a flight risk currently, as he couldn't play this year and our RB class is going to be top 3 in the nation, he's getting recruited over. The other is Dedrick Mills who is a four star JUCO RB out of Garden City (thank you again Coach Sims!) I happen to know that this staff is interested in taking JUCOs that will be here for the spring due to them being more apt to be ready to play in the fall, and they want Nebraska to be known as a place where if you are a JUCO kid that comes here, you can expect to play (it's a big reason we mutually parted with Jackson last year). This kid is Greg Bell, and while I know some of you weren't impressed with Bell, remember that he was hurt basically the entire time you saw him play. You are also bringing in 4 star Rahmir Johnson, 4 star Wandale Robinson (could play WR), and what would be a 4 star in Ronald Thompkins. That room is stacked, and guys like Jaylin Bradley and Miles Jones better start doing the right things off the field and/or getting healthy or you get left in the dust in a hurry. They may even add one more guy here. Long story short, we will have a ton of talent in the room, but not a ton of FBS experience. Our offense gets guys in space tho, and that is an equalizer to the lack of FBS starts. Wide Receiver: This gets somewhat scary when you think about losing the school's leading WR Stanley Morgan and the fact that Domick Watt couldn't make it here in the 2018 class. We are stacked in the slot with JD Spielman, Miles Jones, Wandale Robinson, and others. I expect Kade Warner to fully move outside in 2019 to give us some help there. Can Mike WIlliams go out there? Will Andre Hunt figure it out? Will McQuitty be around in 2019? There is ample opportunity for 4 star Jamie Nance out of Oklahoma or 3 star Darien Chase to get in this starting lineup year 1. With McGriff and Watt not being here at WR from the 2018 class and being our only two "big WR recruits", it leaves a massive void out wide. Someone has to step up, and I think that makes another big time WR commit in the 2019 class likely. Tightend: We return a ton of experience here with Jack Stoll, Austin Allen, and Kurt Rafdal. Katerian LeGrone took his redshirt year, McGriff bounced back and forth between here and OLB, and we have Hickman from Omaha Burke committed (assuming he stays at TE, could go OLB). We are experimenting with Cam Jurgens to center, but this position looks to be extremely solid in 2019, and I hope we start to utilize it more as we did down the last 4-5 games. When we were able to stretch the defense laterally, it opened up some plays for Stoll, and guys like Allen and Rafdal were working the field vertically. A guy like Hickman could be your "catch all" and be able to do both. I feel pretty good about this spot, especially with the reports of Legrone doing so well he made our 4 star switch positions. Offensive Line: Much like with Tim Beck's offense, I don't think you have to be dominant here to be successful. While I would love to have 4 stars across the line, we are going with athletic "projects" (for lack of a better word) because we have a bunch of Ameer Abdullah's and Taylor Martinez's being recruited to run the ball. To put it more simply, with Beck/Frost offenses, you don't have to be perfect and can just freeze someone with the misdirection or block someone for much less time and that is enough to get massive gains. With the Riley/Callahan offenses, you had to be perfect. You had to hold your block longer and be dominant up front to be successful. We don't need that, but if we ever start pulling in top tier OL talent along with what's happening at the skill positions... watch out. We return our two tackles Jaimes and Farniok as well as our starting RG Boe Wilson. 3 out of 5 coming back isn't bad at all. We currently have Desmond Bland committed who we had penciled in starting somewhere on the interior. I've heard too many things about him to know what's going on at this point. He could be here in the spring or decommit, so someone smarter than me can fill us in. Bland and Benhart getting here for 2019 makes me much less worried about things along the front. They give us so many options. We aren't extremely deep, but if we get Benhart to be pushing for time, all of a sudden you can slide Farniok down to a guard spot. If Bland shows up, you don't have to rely on Hunter Miller or Will Farniok and you can have more time for Cam Jurgens to figure it out. Raridon is a four star option for us, Sichterman is our most athletic lineman that could do some things out wide, if Gaylord sticks around is that something we can rely on out wide if there's an injury? I like our options, but Bland is a big piece of it. Let's watch that recruiting front there. You also have guys like Michael Lynn and Matthew Anderson Offensive Summary: If there ever was anything to not be worried about, I would think it is Frost's offense in year 2 after a year of learning things and looking at the skill guys coming in. Our offense can put people in position's to succeed, and quite honestly there's not a ton to write about here. We finished 27th in total offense, but we can probably work on scoring a bit more as we finished 57th. None of those scream at me as needing to be fixed, and i'm sure they will be even better. It will be really fun to watch our offense with all the skill position players we have coming in go from people like Spielman and Washington in the backfield, and the very next play line up 5 wide without subbing so the defense can't match it. That means the defense either has to have LBs chasing those guys around, or DBs in to fill gaps in run fits. Exciting. Defensive Line: This one all of a sudden became a fun one to discuss with the transfer of Damion Daniels brother to the program. As I discussed in another thread, we were stopping the run just fine while Stoltenberg was healthy. All of a sudden you lose him, rely on Peyton Newell or Carlos Davis to do something he hasn't practiced, and things get scary. With the addition of Daniels, it gives you all sorts of options. I think the recruiting pitch went a little something like "we will get you on the field wherever you can make the most havoc, but we just lost our 2 NGs to graduation". I also think Davis is better at DE. Long story short, I think they will try Daniels everywhere but settle on him at NG. Damion and Darrion Daniels at NG, Carlos Davis, Khalil Davis, and Ben Stille at DE with guys like Deontre Thomas, Tate Wildeman, and Robinson in the mix at DE, it gives you a ton of options. We have Garrett Nelson slated for OLB but I do think he will end up being like Ben Stille 2.0 and sliding down to DE, and Mosai Newsom out of Iowa coming in, (along with Robinson I mentioned before). You also have Nebraska local Ethan Piper, who is slated at DE but could move over to OL or slide down to NG. DL line looks very good next year. I will caution people you lose the Davis twins and Daniels next year, it can get thin in a hurry. But we have a lot of options here for 2019 and some more good news coming. Attrition could happen here but it may just be a shift to the offensive side of the ball as well. Basically there was a lot made about our defensive line, and besides one Davis twin, we are playing a ton of 2 and 3 star guys along the line. What's going to happen when we start being able to play 4 stars along this line with guys like Daniels, Davis, Robinson, Wildeman? And then you have guys like Stoltenberg and Stille being the guys giving rests or pushing the four stars to startinstead of leaned on? Should be fun times ahead. Outside Linebacker: This is where it gets interesting. We lose arguably our best defensive player in Luke Gifford, Tyrin Ferguson was hurt essentially most of the year, and behind them you have Alex Davis if he stays, Breon Dixon, and Caleb Tannor. Guy Thomas gone, Quayshon Alexander all but gone, where do you go from there? You're bringing in Graham, and you could slide a guy like Wright down to OLB, but where's our Javonte Jean-Baptiste and Caleb Tannor commit for this class? We need a difference maker here, and I think one is coming. That being said, what happens at safety or OLB with Domann will be interesting. I think we beef him up just a bit more and he takes over for Gifford, you then try to keep Ferguson healthy, and your backups are Tannor, Dixon, and Davis. If Dixon ever figures out his off the field stuff, he is a starter, but that's part of the guess work when you are taking transfers or recruiting. Tannor just needs more time in the weight room. We have to find our dudes here, and I expect Domann to stay at OLB. I expect attrition here. Inside Linebacker: Coach Ruud went an interesting route this year, essentially playing Dedrick Young and Mo Barry every snap down the stretch. If you don't have guys you trust behind them, it makes sense, it just doesn't help development. Will Honas blew his knee out. Colin Miller and Weinmaster just couldn't insert themselves to the lineup. And the defense is still looking for that Adrian Martinez recruit. Ruud may have found it with Nick Henrich and Jackson Hannah. Two highly ranked recruits that will be calling our defense from the middle. We also have Garrett Snodgrass in the mix starting out at ILB as well. Long story short I think we start with Honas (if healthy) and Barry in the middle, Weinmaster and Miller will fill them in, and whoever gets ready the quickest between Hannah and Henrich will play immediately. That will most likely all be dependent on health as well. Also don't lose track of Joey Johnson here, he almost made the staff play him this year. Long story short, just like the offense starting to get young 4 stars on the field, our defense will soon be doing it with 2 four stars committed at this position. Cornerback: We return two starters in Bootle and Jackson, who got so much better throughout the year. You have Cam Taylor who was pressing for playing time. Things get a little scary as we only have one commit at corner currently, legacy Javin Wright. You have Braxton Clark who was redshirting, but I also expect attrition here. We have to pull in a good corner this class, and we will with guys like Mayo and Starks still floating around out there. The interesting thing is, whether it was the corners unable to handle the islands Chinander put them on, or the loss of Stoltenberg, we really changed up what coverage we ran late in the year. Will Chinander stick with that to start next year? Or will we go back to trying what he is used to doing with another year under our belts? Safety: This is what worries me along with OLB. We lose Tre Neal, Aaron Williams, and Antonio Reed. Deontai Williams is really the only guy getting meaningful snaps returning. So pencil him in as a starter. From there you have Dismuke, and two freshmen that redshirted that struggled with injuries and being in college. Little scary on our end, especially since there could be attrition here as well (tho you have to like the depth chart at this spot so when the attrition happens it will be a bit interesting). Help is on the way in the recruiting class with Quinton Newsome, Myles Farmer, and possibly Javin Wright. I just don't feel confident here and this position has to have a huge spring. Defense summary: I feel pretty good about everywhere except OLB and safety. Safety probable #1, I think if we leave Domann at OLB that will alleviate things. I sent people in panic mode when I stated there were "about 50 things that needed to get corrected before the pass rush" when we were in the top 50 of that category. Luckily, there are things that were not good that got much better down the final month. Things like penalties, fourth down conversions, turnovers forced, any special teams statistic, 3 down conversion defense, coverage busts where Ohio State and Northwestern guys were running completely free down field, etc. A lot of those actually got much better, the pass rush, not so much. I'm hoping with more established corners in 2019 we can bring some more help off the edges and up the middle to get home. There were a few times against Ohio State and Iowa that I saw us not quite get home, but force a quick throw. The bottom line is it needs to be improved for 2019. We will only go as far as who we replace our safeties with tho in my opinion. Hoping we are confident there for the coming season. Offseason: The one thing that is glaring to me is the massive amounts of injuries we had this year. While I could glass is half full it for you and say our starters stayed relatively healthy, a prime example for places where we didn't develop depth due to soft tissue injuries are at DE and ILB. Will Honas who would be slated to start this year blew his knee out. Daishon Neal, season ending knee injury. Tate Wildeman, season ending knee injury. Casey Rogers, injured. Deontre Thomas, multiple and season ending. Mick Stoltenberg, knee (tho that's not anything coaching or S&C related). Long story short, we lost a ton of development opportunity with kids being out. Heck, our prized skill recruits both had to sit games out due to knee injuries as well. Martinez and Washington both had to finish the year with knee braces. Conrad injured. Spielman injured. Greg Bell looked like he was carrying a plow he was so injured. Cam Smith, Cam Jones, Tyrin Ferguson, JoJo Domann, David Alston, Miles Jones, Andrew Bunch, I think that's enough to list off right now. Bottom line is we have to get better here. If this was Dobson or MP year 2 I would be absolutely unloading on them. I fundamentally disagree with many of the things we are doing in the weight room and I do think it's causing these issues. Lifting as much as you can with bad form and limited ROM in an effort to say how much you are doing and instill a psychological advantage can lead to some bad things down the road if you aren't careful. All that said, what we are doing is going to make us better if we can keep ramping up this walk-on program like we are. Development is going to be paramount and a priority. When you have 150 kids on your roster with 40% of them being here for 3 years or more, you can deal with the injuries I rattled off. It's tough year 1, and that's where 4-8 came from. What we are doing with having administration with Moos and the head coach on board with our S&C coach will take us a very long ways. Remember that circuit we are all happy about us doing? MP tried to do that, and it got shut down by administration after one time of doing it because of the twitter responses. Kids could sit out of weight lifting if they were sore. Those things aren't happening now. Dedrick Young played with a bad shoulder basically half the year and refused to sit out. Other guys fought thru things that they would have sat out with before. They are instilling confidence. And it all comes from everyone being on the same page. The first circuit workout MP did, he was told to shut it down to not get in trouble. The first one this new staff did they sent 2 kids to the hospital, and the response was "we even scaled it back, that's how out of shape they are". That response floored me, because most people are hoping they don't get fired at that point, these guys threw it back on the kids. It's why this philosophy just didn't work for some of the players recruited. But we are going to be better for it in the end. This offseason is going to take us further than we have seen in awhile. I'm excited to see what these guys look like entering the spring. Can we get a bunch of Ozigbo transformations? That excites me for guys like Washington, Tannor, Taylor, etc. All I got for now before heading to watch Miles somehow find a way to lose to Crayton again.