Final Preseason Thoughts 46 pages and 20,000 words later. . . . Each year I do this, I start with one position group and move through them one by one. Usually, by the time I get to the end, the first position groups have evolved in a way that makes me want to go back and edit them a bit. This year was no exception. The first group was the DB’s and that group has had some serious twists and turns. Gone is Will Jackson. Boy, that worked out unexpectedly. But Jackson served his purpose to the staff. By grabbing Jackson the way they did, it put everyone in the CB room on notice. Lamar Jackson seems more focused than ever before—we’ll see if that translates to performance. I felt all along that fans were underestimating Dicaprio Bootle and it looks like he will start at CB and will move to the nickel when we go with an extra DB. Eric Lee is nowhere to be found in the depth chart but the real shocker is the play of the two freshmen, Cam Taylor and Braxton Clark. Caution is needed here, they are both young and are bound to make mistakes. But making this kind of move bodes well for the future. I mentioned in the analysis that Ethan Cox was impressing the coaches. He is the #2 nickel and keep an eye out for him. Also, Moses Bryant had a great camp—so much so I did not bother mention him in the RB discussion as someone who could move back there. He is solidly in the coaches plans at CB. Meanwhile, safety looks deeper than it has in a long time. Tre Neal has taken one of the spots along with Antonio Reed and Deontai Williams. Marquel Dismuke made a move up the depth chart and JoJo Dohmann is solidly in the coaches plans again after an incredible recovery. There may be even more good news as the season progresses as Aaron Williams appears that he may finally be approaching 100% in his recovery from his shoulder issues. I don’t remember a fall camp with so many departures. Not only did Will Jackson leave, but Avery Roberts and Tristan Gebbia left as well. As for Roberts, a fresh start might be what he needs. The shine was gone from his early bright star of promise. Even after he changed his attitude and began to work, something just seemed lacking. His departure shallows up the numbers after this year, but luckily we have two terrific prospects verballed who seem capable of playing early. Meanwhile Collin Miller looks like inside backer is going to be his home—as speculated. Miller had a great fall camp. At OLB, it was good to hear some good comments regarding Guy Thomas but the redshirt talk concerning OLB Breon Dixon took me by surprise. I have heard that he still makes some mistakes in spite of his potential. But of course, everyone is talking about Tristan Gebbia leaving. It is shocking that a kid can transfer a week into the school year, but that is what happened. Honestly, in the long run it is probably best for everyone—including Nebraska. Gebbia was never going to accepted by Husker fans as long as Martinez was here—NU loves themselves a great running QB. The thing about his leaving is that it really hurts us THIS YEAR. In my QB breakdown, I detailed why we should be fine next year IF someone transfers. That analysis still goes. We should have three very usable QB’s next year plus an incoming freshman who could redshirt but still be available for 4 games. Plus, who knows where Masker sits at that point. He is our third string QB this year and could see some action—up to four games without redshirting. It will be interesting if we have an early blowout if Frost tries to get his feet wet. But if Martinez is the real deal and can avoid injuries, we will never really miss Gebbia. But those are big “ifs”. Based on that paragraph, I definitely do not believe Nebraska will recruit a second QB next year. But based on Roberts being gone, the odds have increased that NU could recruit a JUCO ILB. Congrats to Bryan Reimers, Jacob Weinmaster, and Wyatt Mazour on being awarded scholarships. I was surprised to see Reimers in the two deep amd not McQuitty. I wonder if McQuitty is nursing a bit of an injury but the coaches told the recievers not to worry about the depth chart—many will play. Weinmaster becomes a bit of a more important piece to the puzzle with Roberts gone and Mazour is said to be in the two deep at the Duck-R position with Miles Jones who made a big splash in the latter half of camp after nursing some early injuries. Speaking of RB, I was not surprised to see Ozigbo where he is. In the spring game, there was so much talk about how good Andrew Bunch looked, but if you look at his TD drive, it was the tough running of Ozigbo that made that drive go. Wilbon not being in the 4 man 2-deep shocked some but others felt vindicated by the development. Washington is a star in the earliest stages. Get some weight on him and watch him run. I have been on record as predicting 8-4 this year and I am still sticking with it with one caveat. With Gebbia gone, all bets are off if Martinez gets hurt. In other words, with a healthy Martinez, I still expect 8-4. Without him, 6-6 may be more realistic. If Bunch goes down as well, we probably don’t win another game at that point. There is such a fine line there. But the mood is different this year. Last year, I felt the preseason mood was ugly. Fans were saying if we don’t win 9 or 10 games, fire the coaches. I always feel that fans want the coaches to fail when they talk that way—usually talk like that is to set up the expectations to make it happen if things don’t go right. This year, the talk is that if we can just go to a Bowl game—that’s a job well done. It’s funny how expectations change depending on rather or not the fans believe in the coaches or not. But the truth is, that talk will change if fans don’t see progress on the field. I really do wonder if we struggle to a 6-6 record, what the mood would be in the offseason. Some folks would say “job well done. We’ll see improvement in year two.” But if Martinez is healthy and we go 6-6, what is on our roster in 2019 that would give fans such optimism for improvement? Some fans would stay the course, but some fans would bolt or waiver. That’s the nature of the beast. Personally, I think this team can be pretty good if things go right. They should improve as the season progresses. Hopefully, Frost’s dedication to strength and conditioning pays dividends. I feel good about where NU football is. Hopefully, Frost can catch a break or two and get this thing off to a good start so that fans won’t have to be so patient in the face of other skeptical fans. This is supposed to be fun. Be good to each other. We all want the same thing. Go Big Red. Take care all.