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My preseason thoughts

wheat

Red Shirt
5 Year Member
There's really nothing new in this thread but just thought I'd share my preseason thoughts as the off-season doldrums are set to come to a close soon,

The offense:

Who must stay healthy:

  • Adrian Martinez. Nebraska hasn’t had a quarterback of this caliber for a long time and great quarterbacks make average teams good and good teams great. It’s not that there isn’t depth at the position, but Martinez is a cut above and losing him for any period of time would change season expectations toward the 6 wins Bill Moos talked about.
  • Dedrick Mills. A lot of the off-season RB talk has been about Washington’s legal issues. Washington is a real talent and would be missed if he is not able to play, but Miles Jones and Wandale Robinson could compensate for the potential loss of Washington. There isn’t another back like Mills on the roster and losing him would remove an important dimension from the offense.
  • JD Spielman. He's likely to be the receiver that demands the most attention from opponents and creates opportunities for other players.
  • Brendan Jaimes. The offensive line showed signs of significant improvement but is still a work in progress. Depth isn’t yet where it needs to be and keeping our best lineman healthy will be important.
Position to be the most concerned about:

Offensive line.
This group could well take another step toward a return to Pipeline status in 2019 but there are also plenty of question marks. The biggest is the center position. Will Farniok and Hunter Miller are potential candidates. There’s reason for optimism and Frost’s offense takes some pressure off the line but Martinez needs to get the ball cleanly in his hands snap after snap and the backs need some holes to run through if the offense is going to achieve it’s potential.

Position to be least concerned about:

Tight end.
Stoll is solid all-around tight end. Allen and Rafdal should be ready to take larger rolls and Legrone has a chance to be a match up problem for opposing defenses. This group had modest production in 2018 and it’s hard to imagine a situation where the group doesn’t make their presence more greatly felt in 2019.

Position that takes the biggest leap forward:

Wide receiver.
I thought about both tight end and QB here, but went against conventional wisdom. I know we lost a record-setting receiver and Morgan will be missed, Kanawai Noa softens that blow and provides the opportunity for this group to be significantly better than 2018. The improvement will come from more reliable options for Martinez. Morgan and Spielman were the primary targets by a wide margin last year, and I expect Noa and Spielman to be the go-to guys this fall. The difference will be that other guys are better prepared to make opponents pay for focusing too much on Spielman and Noa. I don’t want to put too much expectation on Wandale Robinson, but he could make for a pretty salty three-headed monster at receiver. Miles Jones should also contribute and Williams and Woodyard should be ready to make much larger contributions than a year ago. Andre Hunt got some buzz last year, so he could be ready to make a leap, too. That leaves Kade Warner. Nebraska will have the ability to put plenty of speed on the field and that should create more favorable match-ups for Warner as a possession receiver. The icing on the cake would be if McQuitty would emerge as the bigger receiver on the outside. I expect the new guys to redshirt but you never know.

Newcomers who will make an impact:
  • Wandale Robinson. It might be getting the cart ahead of the horse, but it seems like it’s a foregone conclusion that Robinson will see plenty of action. The ability to move him around will create match up issues for defenses.
  • Rahmir Johnson. There is still a need for more depth at the RB spot, especially if Washington isn’t available. Johnson seems like the guy that’s most likely going to be ready to step in to a significant role. He's another guy that brings plenty of speed to the table and that should put more stress on opposing defenses.
  • Kanawai Noa. The loss of Morgan meant that Speilman was set to carry a huge load. Noa gives the Huskers a Morgan-esque talent and should make the offense that much harder to defend.
  • Bryce Benhart. I’m not sure any true freshman offensive lineman is physically ready to step into a starting role in the Big Ten. I ultimately expect that we will try to redshirt Benhart but, if he is ready to contribute, the offensive line suddenly has a lot more flexibility and depth.
Secret weapon:

Barrett Pickering.
The schedule looks more favorable than a year ago but there are still a ton of games that a person could reasonably expect to be settled late. A good year from Pickering could be the difference between 7-5 and 10-2.

Overall assessment of the offense:

The offense generated a lot of yards last year but the point production wasn’t always commensurate with the yardage. That improved as the season wore on last year but competing for the West division championship will require finishing drives with touchdowns more often. Avoiding costly turnovers will also be a big part of the equation. Martinez had his occasional freshman moments last year and those need to be more rare in 2019. It’s been a long time since Nebraska could put this much speed on the field. Growth on the offensive line and doing all the little things right to avoid killing drives will be necessary for the offense to reach its full potential but this should be a unit that is as productive as any in the B1G and create some sleepless nights for opposing defensive coordinators. It is also still a young group. It seems likely Noa will start but this is an offense that still could start ten non-seniors. As good as this unit could be this year, they might just be setting the stage for Scoring Explosion II in 2020.

Defense:

Who must stay healthy:

  • Mohamed Barry. He’s the guy we can least afford to lose. He’s as important to the defense as Martinez is to the offense. He’s a highly productive player at a position that lacks depth.
  • Darrion Daniels. Yes, his brother will take some snaps and Carlos Davis played inside a lot a year ago but we really need Darrion to match the hype and stay healthy. He gives the defensive line considerable depth and permits other guys to play at positions for which they are more naturally suited.
  • Will Honas/Collin Miller. I could have gone with Domann or Ferguson here, and Honas and Miller still have plenty to prove, but inside ‘backer is a spot where we really can’t afford injuries in 2019.
Position to be the most concerned about:

Inside linebacker.
If I were making this call with a guarantee of no injuries, it would be outside linebacker but there is more depth there. I feel like we have some good talent inside but we are thin and the depth we have is young. An injury or two and we are playing true freshmen who would really benefit from a redshirt year. This could be a solid position for NU in 2019 but it could also quickly become an Achilles’ heel.

Position to be least concerned about:

Defensive line.
I expect the defensive line to make a huge jump so I’m making the DL the position group to be least concerned about. The Daniels brothers can man the NG position with C Davis sliding down in specific situations. The Davis twins, Stille, Daishon Neal, Rogers and Thomas give us plenty of depth to keep guys fresh at end. Jahkeem Green could really put this group over the top. Another year in Duval’s program and plentiful depth should minimize the ability to opponents to push the Husker DL around. The defensive backs get an honorable mention here but the lack of proven perfomance at safety gives the edge to the DL.

Position group to make the biggest leap:

Defensive line:
See above.

Newcomers who will make an impact:
  • Darrion Daniels. He should help anchor the defensive line, helping keep the linebackers clean. That would greatly help the run defense that was too porous a year ago. His presence also allows Carlos Davis to focus more at end where he is a more natural fit.
  • Noa Pola-Gates. He just seems like a guy that will be hard to keep off the field and safety isn't all that settled. I'm guessing he finds a role on this defense very early on.
  • Jackson Hannah. I hope we don’t need him to take a significant role this year but an injury to Barry, Honas or Miller and he’s likely to be called upon. Henrich's injury makes Hannah the guy most likely to get the call if we need a freshman ILB to step up.
Overall assessment of the defense:

The defense has plenty of room for growth. The secondary grew significantly last year and should be a strength in 2019 and there is reason to believe there will be sufficient depth in the defensive backfield. The defensive line has plenty of talent and depth to make significant strides against the run. It seems likely the ceiling for this defense will be determined by the linebacking corps. Barry, Honas and Miller are a solid group on the inside but depth is an issue. OLB has been a sore spot for several years. Depth at OLB isn’t bad with Ferguson, Davis, Domann and Tannor but several of those guys have had a hard time staying healthy. Also, while that group looks solid, it also appears to lack the all-conference caliber player to consistently pressure the quarterback. Can Tannor or Domann grow in to that role? Or will we struggle to pressure opposing QBs yet again? That plays in to the other area where improvement is needed and that’s creating turnovers. It’s hard to imagine this defense being a lock down unit 2019. The good news is the offense will likely score enough points to take some pressure off this unit. The defense will need to be opportunistic in creating turnovers, avoid getting bludgeoned by the likes of Wisconsin and Iowa and be good enough to get the ball back for the offense without surrendering too much field position with some regularity. That seems like an achievable outcome. This unit won't resemble the '99 or '09 defenses but the '19 unit should be as good as the Huskers have had in several years (not that that is a high bar).

2019 Outlook:

Frost’s responses to the questions about 2017 UCF and to Moos’ six win statement gives you a pretty good gauge of how our head coach sees this team. We’re unlikely to run the table, but he clearly expects this team to be well north of six wins. 8-4 seems like the safe expectation but I’m going to go with 9-3. I think we stay with Ohio State until the end but lose a close game. There are plenty of tricky games on the rest of the schedule but I think Wisconsin and Iowa will get our absolute best shot and I think the Huskers win those games. I think we’ll bounce back from a loss to Ohio State with a narrow win over Northwestern but two hard fought games in a row will leave us vulnerable heading to Minnesota. As much as dislike PJ Fleck, I think that game will be our second loss. While it’s not hard to imagine us falling short against Wisconsin or Iowa, I’m going to predict the third loss will be on the road at Purdue. It’s a game Nebraska really should win but I expect us to lose a game we really shouldn’t and this seems like the most likely one. I think all three losses will be by less than one score and will set up a bit of an Unfinished Business mindset going in to 2020. 6-3 in conference doesn’t get you to a CCG in most years but could in 2019, given the expected parity in the West. I think this team has too many areas of concern to predict the miracle year but, if the right groups stay healthy, 11-1 isn’t out of the realm of rational possibility and would represent what I see as the ceiling for this team. I think the floor is 6-6 and that would likely require some key injuries.



GBR!
 
Last edited:

Red Reign

Husker Immortal
10 Year Member
There's really nothing new in this thread but just thought I'd share my preseason thoughts as the off-season doldrums are set to come to a close soon,

The offense:

Who must stay healthy:

  • Adrian Martinez. Nebraska hasn’t had a quarterback of this caliber for a long time and great quarterbacks make average teams good and good teams great. It’s not that there isn’t depth at the position, but Martinez is a cut above and losing him for any period of time would change season expectations toward the 6 wins Bill Moos talked about.
  • Dedrick Mills. A lot of the off-season RB talk has been about Washington’s legal issues. Washington is a real talent and would be missed if he is not able to play, but Miles Jones and Wandale Robinson could compensate for the potential loss of Washington. There isn’t another back like Mills on the roster and losing him would remove an important dimension from the offense.
  • JD Spielman. He's likely to be the receiver that demands the most attention from opponents and creates opportunities for other players.
  • Brendan Jaimes. The offensive line showed signs of significant improvement but is still a work in progress. Depth isn’t yet where it needs to be and keeping our best lineman healthy will be important.
Position to be the most concerned about:

Offensive line.
This group could well take another step toward a return to Pipeline status in 2019 but there are also plenty of question marks. The biggest is the center position. Will Farniok and Hunter Miller are potential candidates. There’s reason for optimism and Frost’s offense takes some pressure off the line but Martinez needs to get the ball cleanly in his hands snap after snap and the backs need some holes to run through if the offense is going to achieve it’s potential.

Position to be least concerned about:

Tight end.
Stoll is solid all-around tight end. Allen and Rafdal should be ready to take larger rolls and Legrone has a chance to be a match up problem for opposing defenses. This group had modest production in 2018 and it’s hard to imagine a situation where the group doesn’t make their presence more greatly felt in 2019.

Position that takes the biggest leap forward:

Wide receiver.
I thought about both tight end and QB here, but went against conventional wisdom. I know we lost a record-setting receiver and Morgan will be missed, Kanawai Noa softens that blow and provides the opportunity for this group to be significantly better than 2018. The improvement will come from more reliable options for Martinez. Morgan and Spielman were the primary targets by a wide margin last year, and I expect Noa and Spielman to be the go-to guys this fall. The difference will be that other guys are better prepared to make opponents pay for focusing too much on Spielman and Noa. I don’t want to put too much expectation on Wandale Robinson, but he could make for a pretty salty three-headed monster at receiver. Miles Jones should also contribute and Williams and Woodyard should be ready to make much larger contributions than a year ago. Andre Hunt got some buzz last year, so he could be ready to make a leap, too. That leaves Kade Warner. Nebraska will have the ability to put plenty of speed on the field and that should create more favorable match-ups for Warner as a possession receiver. The icing on the cake would be if McQuitty would emerge as the bigger receiver on the outside. I expect the new guys to redshirt but you never know.

Newcomers who will make an impact:
  • Wandale Robinson. It might be getting the cart ahead of the horse, but it seems like it’s a foregone conclusion that Robinson will see plenty of action. The ability to move him around will create match up issues for defenses.
  • Rahmir Johnson. There is still a need for more depth at the RB spot, especially if Washington isn’t available. Johnson seems like the guy that’s most likely going to be ready to step in to a significant role. He's another guy that brings plenty of speed to the table and that should put more stress on opposing defenses.
  • Kanawai Noa. The loss of Morgan meant that Speilman was set to carry a huge load. Noa gives the Huskers a Morgan-esque talent and should make the offense that much harder to defend.
  • Bryce Benhart. I’m not sure any true freshman offensive lineman is physically ready to step into a starting role in the Big Ten. I ultimately expect that we will try to redshirt Benhart but, if he is ready to contribute, the offensive line suddenly has a lot more flexibility and depth.
Secret weapon:

Barrett Pickering.
The schedule looks more favorable than a year ago but there are still a ton of games that a person could reasonably expect to be settled late. A good year from Pickering could be the difference between 7-5 and 10-2.

Overall assessment of the offense:

The offense generated a lot of yards last year but the point production wasn’t always commensurate with the yardage. That improved as the season wore on last year but competing for the West division championship will require finishing drives with touchdowns more often. Avoiding costly turnovers will also be a big part of the equation. Martinez had his occasional freshman moments last year and those need to be more rare in 2019. It’s been a long time since Nebraska could put this much speed on the field. Growth on the offensive line and doing all the little things right to avoid killing drives will be necessary for the offense to reach its full potential but this should be a unit that is as productive as any in the B1G and create some sleepless nights for opposing defensive coordinators. It is also still a young group. It seems likely Noa will start but this is an offense that still could start ten non-seniors. As good as this unit could be this year, they might just be setting the stage for Scoring Explosion II in 2020.

Defense:

Who must stay healthy:

  • Mohamed Barry. He’s the guy we can least afford to lose. He’s as important to the defense as Martinez is to the offense. He’s a highly productive player at a position that lacks depth.
  • Darrion Daniels. Yes, his brother will take some snaps and Carlos Davis played inside a lot a year ago but we really need Darrion to match the hype and stay healthy. He gives the defensive line considerable depth and permits other guys to play at positions for which they are more naturally suited.
  • Will Honas/Collin Miller. I could have gone with Domann or Ferguson here, and Honas and Miller still have plenty to prove, but inside ‘backer is a spot where we really can’t afford injuries in 2019.
Position to be the most concerned about:

Inside linebacker.
If I were making this call with a guarantee of no injuries, it would be outside linebacker but there is more depth there. I feel like we have some good talent inside but we are thin and the depth we have is young. An injury or two and we are playing true freshmen who would really benefit from a redshirt year. This could be a solid position for NU in 2019 but it could also quickly become an Achilles’ heel.

Position to be least concerned about:

Defensive line.
I expect the defensive line to make a huge jump so I’m making the DL the position group to be least concerned about. The Daniels brothers can man the NG position with C Davis sliding down in specific situations. The Davis twins, Stille, Daishon Neal, Rogers and Thomas give us plenty of depth to keep guys fresh at end. Jahkeem Green could really put this group over the top. Another year in Duval’s program and plentiful depth should minimize the ability to opponents to push the Husker DL around. The defensive backs get an honorable mention here but the lack of proven perfomance at safety gives the edge to the DL.

Position group to make the biggest leap:

Defensive line:
See above.

Newcomers who will make an impact:
  • Darrion Daniels. He should help anchor the defensive line, helping keep the linebackers clean. That would greatly help the run defense that was too porous a year ago. His presence also allows Carlos Davis to focus more at end where he is a more natural fit.
  • Noa Pola-Gates. He just seems like a guy that will be hard to keep off the field and safety isn't all that settled. I'm guessing he finds a role on this defense very early on.
  • Jackson Hannah. I hope we don’t need him to take a significant role this year but an injury to Barry, Honas or Miller and he’s likely to be called upon. Henrich's injury makes Hannah the guy most likely to get the call if we need a freshman ILB to step up.
Overall assessment of the defense:

The defense has plenty of room for growth. The secondary grew significantly last year and should be a strength in 2019 and there is reason to believe there will be sufficient depth in the defensive backfield. The defensive line has plenty of talent and depth to make significant strides against the run. It seems likely the ceiling for this defense will be determined by the linebacking corps. Barry, Honas and Miller are a solid group on the inside but depth is an issue. OLB has been a sore spot for several years. Depth at OLB isn’t bad with Ferguson, Davis, Domann and Tannor but several of those guys have had a hard time staying healthy. Also, while that group looks solid, it also appears to lack the all-conference caliber player to consistently pressure the quarterback. Can Tannor or Domann grow in to that role? Or will we struggle to pressure opposing QBs yet again? That plays in to the other area where improvement is needed and that’s creating turnovers. It’s hard to imagine this defense being a lock down unit 2019. The good news is the offense will likely score enough points to take some pressure off this unit. The defense will need to be opportunistic in creating turnovers, avoid getting bludgeoned by the likes of Wisconsin and Iowa and be good enough to get the ball back for the offense without surrendering too much field position with some regularity. That seems like an achievable outcome. This unit won't resemble the '99 or '09 defenses but the '19 unit should be as good as the Huskers have had in several years (not that that is a high bar).

2019 Outlook:

Frost’s responses to the questions about 2017 UCF and to Moos’ six win statement gives you a pretty good gauge of how our head coach sees this team. We’re unlikely to run the table, but he clearly expects this team to be well north of six wins. 8-4 seems like the safe expectation but I’m going to go with 9-3. I think we stay with Ohio State until the end but lose a close game. There are plenty of tricky games on the rest of the schedule but I think Wisconsin and Iowa will get our absolute best shot and I think the Huskers win those games. I think we’ll bounce back from a loss to Ohio State with a narrow win over Northwestern but two hard fought games in a row will leave us vulnerable heading to Minnesota. As much as dislike PJ Fleck, I think that game will be our second loss. While it’s not hard to imagine us falling short against Wisconsin or Iowa, I’m going to predict the third loss will be on the road at Purdue. It’s a game Nebraska really should win but I expect us to lose a game we really shouldn’t and this seems like the most likely one. I think all three losses will be by less than one score and will set up a bit of an Unfinished Business mindset going in to 2020. 6-3 in conference doesn’t get you to a CCG in most years but could in 2019, given the expected parity in the West. I think this team has too many areas of concern to predict the miracle year but, if the right groups stay healthy, 11-1 isn’t out of the realm of rational possibility and would represent what I see as the ceiling for this team. I think the floor is 6-6 and that would likely require some key injuries.



GBR!
Kudos what a GREAT analysis

Really enjoyed reading it and for the most part agree with your thoughts
 

Lavaman

Rebel Scum
5 Year Member
Two stats that will be especially key this year:

Offense: Penalties. If the young guys can play disciplined football, this offense will do big things. I'm worried about drive killing penalties which are common in young offenses, especially with the youth at center.

Defense: Turnovers. We have got to force more turnovers. A defense that can create a lot of turnovers can cover some deficiencies. One of the best ways to do that is to get to the QB often, which I think they'll be better at this year.

The position I'm most worried about is RB without a doubt. The stable looks pretty good on paper, but we have seen very little from any of them except Washington, and we don't know what the heck is going to happen with that yet. The newcomers are going to have to pick up the offense quickly. If that group emerges as a solid one, it's going to be really tough to stop Nebraska. On the other hand, if we can't find a consistent threat, it puts a lot more pressure on Adrian
 

ShortSideOption

All Big 10
10 Year Member
There's really nothing new in this thread but just thought I'd share my preseason thoughts as the off-season doldrums are set to come to a close soon,

The offense:

Who must stay healthy:

  • Adrian Martinez. Nebraska hasn’t had a quarterback of this caliber for a long time and great quarterbacks make average teams good and good teams great. It’s not that there isn’t depth at the position, but Martinez is a cut above and losing him for any period of time would change season expectations toward the 6 wins Bill Moos talked about.
  • Dedrick Mills. A lot of the off-season RB talk has been about Washington’s legal issues. Washington is a real talent and would be missed if he is not able to play, but Miles Jones and Wandale Robinson could compensate for the potential loss of Washington. There isn’t another back like Mills on the roster and losing him would remove an important dimension from the offense.
  • JD Spielman. He's likely to be the receiver that demands the most attention from opponents and creates opportunities for other players.
  • Brendan Jaimes. The offensive line showed signs of significant improvement but is still a work in progress. Depth isn’t yet where it needs to be and keeping our best lineman healthy will be important.
Position to be the most concerned about:

Offensive line.
This group could well take another step toward a return to Pipeline status in 2019 but there are also plenty of question marks. The biggest is the center position. Will Farniok and Hunter Miller are potential candidates. There’s reason for optimism and Frost’s offense takes some pressure off the line but Martinez needs to get the ball cleanly in his hands snap after snap and the backs need some holes to run through if the offense is going to achieve it’s potential.

Position to be least concerned about:

Tight end.
Stoll is solid all-around tight end. Allen and Rafdal should be ready to take larger rolls and Legrone has a chance to be a match up problem for opposing defenses. This group had modest production in 2018 and it’s hard to imagine a situation where the group doesn’t make their presence more greatly felt in 2019.

Position that takes the biggest leap forward:

Wide receiver.
I thought about both tight end and QB here, but went against conventional wisdom. I know we lost a record-setting receiver and Morgan will be missed, Kanawai Noa softens that blow and provides the opportunity for this group to be significantly better than 2018. The improvement will come from more reliable options for Martinez. Morgan and Spielman were the primary targets by a wide margin last year, and I expect Noa and Spielman to be the go-to guys this fall. The difference will be that other guys are better prepared to make opponents pay for focusing too much on Spielman and Noa. I don’t want to put too much expectation on Wandale Robinson, but he could make for a pretty salty three-headed monster at receiver. Miles Jones should also contribute and Williams and Woodyard should be ready to make much larger contributions than a year ago. Andre Hunt got some buzz last year, so he could be ready to make a leap, too. That leaves Kade Warner. Nebraska will have the ability to put plenty of speed on the field and that should create more favorable match-ups for Warner as a possession receiver. The icing on the cake would be if McQuitty would emerge as the bigger receiver on the outside. I expect the new guys to redshirt but you never know.

Newcomers who will make an impact:
  • Wandale Robinson. It might be getting the cart ahead of the horse, but it seems like it’s a foregone conclusion that Robinson will see plenty of action. The ability to move him around will create match up issues for defenses.
  • Rahmir Johnson. There is still a need for more depth at the RB spot, especially if Washington isn’t available. Johnson seems like the guy that’s most likely going to be ready to step in to a significant role. He's another guy that brings plenty of speed to the table and that should put more stress on opposing defenses.
  • Kanawai Noa. The loss of Morgan meant that Speilman was set to carry a huge load. Noa gives the Huskers a Morgan-esque talent and should make the offense that much harder to defend.
  • Bryce Benhart. I’m not sure any true freshman offensive lineman is physically ready to step into a starting role in the Big Ten. I ultimately expect that we will try to redshirt Benhart but, if he is ready to contribute, the offensive line suddenly has a lot more flexibility and depth.
Secret weapon:

Barrett Pickering.
The schedule looks more favorable than a year ago but there are still a ton of games that a person could reasonably expect to be settled late. A good year from Pickering could be the difference between 7-5 and 10-2.

Overall assessment of the offense:

The offense generated a lot of yards last year but the point production wasn’t always commensurate with the yardage. That improved as the season wore on last year but competing for the West division championship will require finishing drives with touchdowns more often. Avoiding costly turnovers will also be a big part of the equation. Martinez had his occasional freshman moments last year and those need to be more rare in 2019. It’s been a long time since Nebraska could put this much speed on the field. Growth on the offensive line and doing all the little things right to avoid killing drives will be necessary for the offense to reach its full potential but this should be a unit that is as productive as any in the B1G and create some sleepless nights for opposing defensive coordinators. It is also still a young group. It seems likely Noa will start but this is an offense that still could start ten non-seniors. As good as this unit could be this year, they might just be setting the stage for Scoring Explosion II in 2020.

Defense:

Who must stay healthy:

  • Mohamed Barry. He’s the guy we can least afford to lose. He’s as important to the defense as Martinez is to the offense. He’s a highly productive player at a position that lacks depth.
  • Darrion Daniels. Yes, his brother will take some snaps and Carlos Davis played inside a lot a year ago but we really need Darrion to match the hype and stay healthy. He gives the defensive line considerable depth and permits other guys to play at positions for which they are more naturally suited.
  • Will Honas/Collin Miller. I could have gone with Domann or Ferguson here, and Honas and Miller still have plenty to prove, but inside ‘backer is a spot where we really can’t afford injuries in 2019.
Position to be the most concerned about:

Inside linebacker.
If I were making this call with a guarantee of no injuries, it would be outside linebacker but there is more depth there. I feel like we have some good talent inside but we are thin and the depth we have is young. An injury or two and we are playing true freshmen who would really benefit from a redshirt year. This could be a solid position for NU in 2019 but it could also quickly become an Achilles’ heel.

Position to be least concerned about:

Defensive line.
I expect the defensive line to make a huge jump so I’m making the DL the position group to be least concerned about. The Daniels brothers can man the NG position with C Davis sliding down in specific situations. The Davis twins, Stille, Daishon Neal, Rogers and Thomas give us plenty of depth to keep guys fresh at end. Jahkeem Green could really put this group over the top. Another year in Duval’s program and plentiful depth should minimize the ability to opponents to push the Husker DL around. The defensive backs get an honorable mention here but the lack of proven perfomance at safety gives the edge to the DL.

Position group to make the biggest leap:

Defensive line:
See above.

Newcomers who will make an impact:
  • Darrion Daniels. He should help anchor the defensive line, helping keep the linebackers clean. That would greatly help the run defense that was too porous a year ago. His presence also allows Carlos Davis to focus more at end where he is a more natural fit.
  • Noa Pola-Gates. He just seems like a guy that will be hard to keep off the field and safety isn't all that settled. I'm guessing he finds a role on this defense very early on.
  • Jackson Hannah. I hope we don’t need him to take a significant role this year but an injury to Barry, Honas or Miller and he’s likely to be called upon. Henrich's injury makes Hannah the guy most likely to get the call if we need a freshman ILB to step up.
Overall assessment of the defense:

The defense has plenty of room for growth. The secondary grew significantly last year and should be a strength in 2019 and there is reason to believe there will be sufficient depth in the defensive backfield. The defensive line has plenty of talent and depth to make significant strides against the run. It seems likely the ceiling for this defense will be determined by the linebacking corps. Barry, Honas and Miller are a solid group on the inside but depth is an issue. OLB has been a sore spot for several years. Depth at OLB isn’t bad with Ferguson, Davis, Domann and Tannor but several of those guys have had a hard time staying healthy. Also, while that group looks solid, it also appears to lack the all-conference caliber player to consistently pressure the quarterback. Can Tannor or Domann grow in to that role? Or will we struggle to pressure opposing QBs yet again? That plays in to the other area where improvement is needed and that’s creating turnovers. It’s hard to imagine this defense being a lock down unit 2019. The good news is the offense will likely score enough points to take some pressure off this unit. The defense will need to be opportunistic in creating turnovers, avoid getting bludgeoned by the likes of Wisconsin and Iowa and be good enough to get the ball back for the offense without surrendering too much field position with some regularity. That seems like an achievable outcome. This unit won't resemble the '99 or '09 defenses but the '19 unit should be as good as the Huskers have had in several years (not that that is a high bar).

2019 Outlook:

Frost’s responses to the questions about 2017 UCF and to Moos’ six win statement gives you a pretty good gauge of how our head coach sees this team. We’re unlikely to run the table, but he clearly expects this team to be well north of six wins. 8-4 seems like the safe expectation but I’m going to go with 9-3. I think we stay with Ohio State until the end but lose a close game. There are plenty of tricky games on the rest of the schedule but I think Wisconsin and Iowa will get our absolute best shot and I think the Huskers win those games. I think we’ll bounce back from a loss to Ohio State with a narrow win over Northwestern but two hard fought games in a row will leave us vulnerable heading to Minnesota. As much as dislike PJ Fleck, I think that game will be our second loss. While it’s not hard to imagine us falling short against Wisconsin or Iowa, I’m going to predict the third loss will be on the road at Purdue. It’s a game Nebraska really should win but I expect us to lose a game we really shouldn’t and this seems like the most likely one. I think all three losses will be by less than one score and will set up a bit of an Unfinished Business mindset going in to 2020. 6-3 in conference doesn’t get you to a CCG in most years but could in 2019, given the expected parity in the West. I think this team has too many areas of concern to predict the miracle year but, if the right groups stay healthy, 11-1 isn’t out of the realm of rational possibility and would represent what I see as the ceiling for this team. I think the floor is 6-6 and that would likely require some key injuries.



GBR!
If you wrote this... well done sir! Excellent write-up.

Agree that Martinez must stay healthy. That said, we have backups now that can get us wins against Colorado, Troy, etc. as opposed to last year. Vedral and Bunch are capable to get us W's where last year Bunch wasn't and Vedral wasn't eligible. I'm curious on Mills, because I would have said Bell needed to stay healthy, and he didn't and transferred out and we were still fine. I'd agree there tho. Spielman we have some options at the Duck spot, Robinson, Jones (who won't play much there this year unless an injury happens) and some others are more than capable to fill that role.

Your 'Offensive Line' for position to be most concerned about is spot on. Tho you could probably just say 'Center' there. We feel like we have 3 or 4 guys that can play at guard and 3 or 4 that can play at tackle. But we are still searching for just 1 guy that can man the controls from the center spot.

Hoping you are right at WR. We have a bunch of talent, but not a ton of proven talent. Can we get them up to speed quickly? Nance got here in the spring and you could see what the coaches liked about him while he was running around, but the game was moving pretty fast for him. Will the same happen to Chase and Houston? Can Woodyward, Williams, or Hunt step up? Again, lots of talent, but they gotta get consistent and comfortable. They got the tough part taken care of, being fast.

Defensively I actually like where we are at inside linebacker. We have a 2 deep of guys they feel comfortable with that have been in the system with Barry, Honas, Miller, and Johnson. From there, you add a top 4 Inside Linebacker recruiting class with Henrich, Hannah, and Snodgrass. You also have Reimers as a walk-on to be excited about. I would put my biggest concern at OLB. Starting a guy that graded out worse than Guy Thomas, Simon Otte, and Jordan Paup on one side. Then two injury prone guys on the other. Not very deep there, so looking for a true freshmen to possibly make an impact.
 

wheat

Red Shirt
5 Year Member
If you wrote this... well done sir! Excellent write-up.

Agree that Martinez must stay healthy. That said, we have backups now that can get us wins against Colorado, Troy, etc. as opposed to last year. Vedral and Bunch are capable to get us W's where last year Bunch wasn't and Vedral wasn't eligible. I'm curious on Mills, because I would have said Bell needed to stay healthy, and he didn't and transferred out and we were still fine. I'd agree there tho. Spielman we have some options at the Duck spot, Robinson, Jones (who won't play much there this year unless an injury happens) and some others are more than capable to fill that role.

Your 'Offensive Line' for position to be most concerned about is spot on. Tho you could probably just say 'Center' there. We feel like we have 3 or 4 guys that can play at guard and 3 or 4 that can play at tackle. But we are still searching for just 1 guy that can man the controls from the center spot.

Hoping you are right at WR. We have a bunch of talent, but not a ton of proven talent. Can we get them up to speed quickly? Nance got here in the spring and you could see what the coaches liked about him while he was running around, but the game was moving pretty fast for him. Will the same happen to Chase and Houston? Can Woodyward, Williams, or Hunt step up? Again, lots of talent, but they gotta get consistent and comfortable. They got the tough part taken care of, being fast.

Defensively I actually like where we are at inside linebacker. We have a 2 deep of guys they feel comfortable with that have been in the system with Barry, Honas, Miller, and Johnson. From there, you add a top 4 Inside Linebacker recruiting class with Henrich, Hannah, and Snodgrass. You also have Reimers as a walk-on to be excited about. I would put my biggest concern at OLB. Starting a guy that graded out worse than Guy Thomas, Simon Otte, and Jordan Paup on one side. Then two injury prone guys on the other. Not very deep there, so looking for a true freshmen to possibly make an impact.
Thanks (I did write it).

I really thought about OLB as position of greatest concern. I think you've convinced that's probably a bigger issue than ILB. Domann and Ferguson need to stay healthy and neither has done that during their time at NU.

I also agree WR has talent but a lot that is unproven.

I'm ready for the season to get here and start seeing what we have
 

ShortSideOption

All Big 10
10 Year Member
Thanks (I did write it).

I really thought about OLB as position of greatest concern. I think you've convinced that's probably a bigger issue than ILB. Domann and Ferguson need to stay healthy and neither has done that during their time at NU.

I also agree WR has talent but a lot that is unproven.

I'm ready for the season to get here and start seeing what we have
Spot on. Honas hasn't stayed healthy either so that hurts at ILB. But OLB has two injury prone guys on one side, and an unknown on the other, with his backup transferring out this spring. Quayshon Alexander, Breon Dixon, and Guy Thomas all leaving makes that room so thin.
 

inthedeed

Red Shirt
5 Year Member
nice write up. special team play may be the area that decides a bunch of closely contested games this year. seems like this portion of the game gets ignored. maybe with added team depth and speed we will see a big leap on punt returns with improved blocking and/or punt rush. dont have the facts/stats to confirm this but not sure we were very good in recent past. a good punt return is just like a turnover only arguably better. you bash em in the face, force a punt, then take over in good field position(win/win).
should have just called this punt return instead of special teams
 
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