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*** Fall Practice Primer

This will probably be my first and only installment prior to camp. Things have been on the hush down there, and I completely get it. Once we start getting things on tape I will open it up a bit, but until then, I will go pretty high level. I'll try to do a positional breakdown and go from there.

Let's start with why you are all here, then you can go back to your day and not read any further. I truly do think heading into the scrimmage that Frost did not know who was going to start. Damon Benning on the radio had a great explanation on the QB race, and I agree with him completely... "Tristan Gebbia is not going to lose the starting job." Basically, what that means is, TG just doesn't make mistakes. He's quick with his decisions, and may not hit the homerun for you, but he's not going to lose you the game. Conversely, right now AM looks a bit like a true freshman. It could be him still reading the defense and not catching the snap, or other little things, but I think if Akron was this week, TG starts. That being said, AM reminds me a bit of when you hear a baseball scout talk about a major prospect and they say "he makes it look effortless". Watching AM do some things like pull away from a defender or other things involved with his athletic ability just look effortless. While a kid like TG has to put everything he has into the pass, it looks forced. Not a bad thing, I just think one guy is a bit more physically gifted than the other. I still maintain that the starter week 1 won't be the starter for the whole year, but going back to Bennings quote, if the starter is Martinez, we should all be VERY excited, because he TOOK the job from Gebbia. Gebbia won't lose it.

We have an embarrassment of riches here. Even with Miles Jones dealing with an extremely minor injury, you still have Bell, Bradley, Bryant, Washington, Ozigbo, and WIlbon. That's before you count guys like Spielman and Lindsey motioning into the backfield or for jet sweeps. In an awful analogy, I look at us a bit like how the Patriots use their RBs. We can split them out wide, put them in the backfield, there's a ton of uses for them, so there's plenty of spots for each guy to get their due. Earlier in fall camp, I basically thought that Oz and WIlbon were going to be lost in things as the staff got "their guys" carries. With what I saw, I think there's a place for Ozigbo. I'll go into it in the OL portion.

Wide Receiver
So this is the position I just don't know enough about. You have Morgan, Spielman, Lindsey, and whoever else you want to put on there. But i'm not impressed with who they line up against, and at times our offense goes so fast that they aren't ready for it. So I don't get a gauge of how good we are 1 on 1, and our offense gives us a glimpse of the challenges it can put on a defense. But I just don't have a handle on how we will be there.

This position is interesting. You have Jack Stoll who can do pretty much everything he is asked. But you have certain guys that are better at what they do than Jack Stoll, they just can't do the other things as well. Stoll gives us a good base to build around. But Austin Allen is a 6'8" monster that could do really well in a play like this where even if the safety doesn't forget about him and covers him, throw it up to him:

Don't sleep on Rafdal either. Extremely athletic and had the best practice out of any of the TEs one of the times I was there. I think we have a few options there to be more than serviceable. Jurgens i'm excited to see what he's like once he is 100%.

This is where it gets fun. We have 3 veterans in the middle with Foster, Conrad, Farmer. Jaimes and Farniok as our bookends give us some great young talent to be excited about. And guys like Boe Wilson, Hunter MIller, and John Raridon give us a few names to back us up. I still worry about tackle if one of our starters go down. But our OL had a great push the day I was there. With how big and veteran the inside of our OL is, I can see a big role for Ozigbo or Bell this year just going north/south up the middle. You also have inverted zone reads where the RB can take off to the outside and your QB is up the middle which would seem suited for Martinez. But I need to throw caution again, I think our offense poses such great challenges for our defense, that i'm not sure if it's our guys winning one on one deals, or the scheme and tempo allow us to win. Either way i'm excited to see it against someone other than our own guys.

Let's hop into this right away since we just talked OL getting a push. Our staff is very high on our DL. Between Stille, Stoltenberg, Akinmoladun, Davis, Davis, Daniels, and Thomas, that's 7 dudes that can play FBS Power 5 football. But we got pushed around a bit, was that scheme, was that getting tired? Stille will be the best of the bunch, that kid is a monster. Stoltenberg I think is serviceable up the middle, but I believe Daniels will be a stud when his career is all said and done here. Akinmoladun is bigger and stronger, i'm hoping he shows improvement his final year here. The Davis twins and Thomas are all extremely athletic players that we should feel good about having them as "backups" right now. But the bottom line is I don't have the film, and OL definitely won the day.

This area really shined for me. Honas is the only guy that can square up Washington (only time i've seen Washington get hit hard), Young and Barry also doing well at ILB. Weinmaster can help provide some depth along with Miller, but Miller has been moved around so much he's probably a step slow and Weinmaster is somewhat limited. He gets where he needs to be though, so I think Ruud feel comfortable with him on a gameday. Where it gets fun is OLB. Dixon is a beast, Gifford is a returning starter (I think he's not 100% yet but still looks good), Ferguson finally done getting messed around with and looks good, Tannor reminds me a bit of the Striker kid from Oklahoma if you remember him. Can get him in on pass rushing downs to find his niche while he struggles reading everything. Then Guy Thomas and Alex Davis obviously have the ability to fight for a spot. Our linebackers made a ton of tackles 3 or 4 yards down field, and this could end up being a strong spot for us. If our DL plays the way the staff thinks they can, our front 7 could be very good against the run. We just aren't quite there yet.

And here is the biggest question mark for the whole team. We very well could have two first year Nebraska players starting at safety in Neal and Deontai Williams. Knowing where to go is paramount, and Neal can get everyone lined up right. Deontai is in a battle with Aaron Williams, Antonio Reed, Dismuke, Domann, and the two freshmen. In my opinion the cream hasn't risen to the top yet, but I think we can be serviceable here. Corner gets scary. We have a kid who hasn't played the position before and is a true freshman doing everything he needs to to eventually start first year on campus. There's just so much you can't know until the bullets fly on a Saturday. Lamar Jackson looks so good in some practices, but you are constantly reminded of his lack of physicality last year. Eric Lee is pretty sound fundamentally, but his size limits him sometimes. I really have no clue at this position and Fisher will get them ready, but corner recruiting for 2019 is so important.

We are going to struggle sometimes. As i've been preaching, everything that Vegas thought was a reason for us to take a step back in 2017 is still here in 2018 (new QB, new defensive coordinator). You then add in a new HC that brought a new offense and new offensive coordinator, there's going to be hiccups. For us to hit the overs, we have to win every game we are favored in AND upset a team we are a 6 point dog or greater against preseason. I think Scott Frost is a good enough coach that we can win a game or two we are underdogs in. But first year can also bring you a loss or two you don't expect. I still see 7-5, but 6-6 or 8-4 certainly wouldn't surprise me. 9-3 or 5-7 would surprise me, one way or the other.

But for me, it will be interesting to see what we pride ourselves on. What's important to the coaches. If we find out our defense can't stop anyone, do we just highlight our offense, show how many points we can score and use that narrative "we just need a few playmakers on defense" for the 2019 class? Or if our defense isn't up to snuff, does our offense protect it and not go as fast all the time as we would like? First year at UCF, the defense carried the offense. It will be interesting to watch.

Other Notes
Strength and Conditioning is working. What they are trying to establish is a mentality. Jason Peter brought it up, but half the battle is the mental edge over your opponent that come 4th quarter you were stronger than the other guy, whether that was true or not. Us having our kids put more weight on the bar and do it is a psychological boost. We are making great gains (no they aren't quite as great as they list, but no football media guide is ever 100% truthful).

Accountability to go along with the strength training. Just as I said our stretching/warm-ups wasn't our issue in the other thread, our S&C and what we did (didn't do) there wasn't our issue. A head coach and athletic director that makes kids do the right things is going to help more than whatever the workouts are. Again, make sure you take advantage of the training table. Don't reward kids with days off from lifting. Our previous strength staff had an Epley disciple on it, we did this metabolic circuit with the previous staff, but when it gets shut down it's tough to continue to do. If Owens and Lindsey would have had the issues that they did with a different administration, these workouts would have been shut down again. But as Frost said "we have the right people here now". You have to have your AD, academic staff, strength coach, nutritionist, all pulling in the same direction. So your AD pulled what you could or couldn't do, nutritionist didn't care if kids didn't go to the training table, coaches told S&C staff their players needed a few days off, so you have less kids in the weight room doing a secondary workout, and we wonder why we went 4-8?

Unity of purpose This goes along with accountability as well as my next injury section, but you hear Tanner Farmer mention that you were getting pulled in so many different directions. Chemistry can cover up a lot of blemishes. You think about Collin Miller being scout team MVP as an edge rusher, then Diaco coming and him moving to ILB, how can you be good? Same with Ferguson, now he's in one spot and challenging for a starting role. Heck, our defense wasn't the issue under Riley, but we ran 3 different defenses all 3 seasons. First season what it was, second season our lawyer decided we needed to rugby tackle and changed angles, then we told our head coach we need to hire Diaco and went 3-4. How are the kids supposed to do their best when it's a brand new system every year? Trust me, Chinander being on board with this offense helping their defense and being the best scheme in the country is huge.

Injuries I'm excited we won't be talking about these. It got a little out of control with how forward Mike Riley was with them, and then the media having access to practice and quoting "soft tissue injury" when a kid was literally just sitting out to rest soreness. I also think that our new way of making you earn your spot is going to help tremendously. If you sit out, you aren't automatically re-inserted to where you were on the depth chart. You hear about in the 90s that guys didn't want to sit out, because you never knew where your reps would go and if you would get them back. We had starters missing the entire week of practice then starting on Saturday. That makes it kind of difficult to get ready.

That's all I got for now. Feel free to roast me as i'm sure there's kids I forgot or just had a bad day the couple times I saw them. 7-5.
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Agree largely on the QB race. I think Gebbia most likely gives us the best chance to win today, whereas Martinez has more upside.
Gebbia won't lose us games, in my opinion. But Martinez has a special enough talent he could go out and win us a game we maybe shouldn't. I just don't think he's quite there yet. Could have been watching at the wrong time tho.
This area really shined for me. Honas is the only guy that can square up Washington (only time i've seen Washington get hit hard), Young and Barry also doing well at ILB. Weinmaster can help provide some depth along with Miller, but Miller has been moved around so much he's probably a step slow and Weinmaster is somewhat limited.

And here is the biggest question mark for the whole team. We very well could have two first year Nebraska players starting at safety in Neal and Deontai Williams. Knowing where to go is paramount, and Bryant can get everyone lined up right.

infinite thank-yous for sharing. a couple questions:

  1. is Honas going to start? i know a couple weeks ago you thought the coaches we're waiting for him to take that job, do you think he has taken it?
  2. is moses bryant going to start at safety?? my jaw is on the floor - just didn't see it coming *edit* nevermind you even beat me with the edit and i didn't see it
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Agree largely on the QB race. I think Gebbia most likely gives us the best chance to win today, whereas Martinez has more upside.

Could well be, but it's just our guess having seen only snippets here and there. Guessing that the next two weeks will help sort that out...so possibly the question becomes "at what point does AM's progress overtake the positives that TG brings?" It will be interesting to see unfold - I could see it going both ways - right out of fall camp, or even as late as midway through the season. Of course, an injury changes everything, but I am happy we seem to have at least three serviceable guys in there.

I have not heard a peep about Reed or Dismuke from coaches or media. Are they getting lost in the schuffle?


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