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The season is over, how did we get where we are and what do we look like in 2020?

ShortSideOption

All American
10 Year Member
The season that started with so much hype, national analysts picking us a dark horse CFP team, a QB coming off a Freshman All-American campaign that had him getting odds for the Heisman, has now officially ended at 12 games for the third year in a row. As I sit here with my glass of Buffalo Trace and reflect on the season, I look back at a lot of things that were frustrating, but there were also a ton of positives that came from it. I want to go into some of the things we heard these first two years, my OPINION on them, and what 2020 looks like position by position. The overriding theme is a lot of the things we were hearing are probably true, but we absolutely made them worse and it had nothing to do with Riley or Eichorst.

Let's start with this Quote for the bar that was this season:

That was such a BS move in my opinion. 6 wins with this team and this schedule is not what the bar should have been. When it was stated before the season, I told people live and on here that it would be a massive issue if we only got to 6 wins. Here we are with message boards melting down like Chernobyl, and people questioning every thing going on. We have put ourselves in a bit of a predicament for next year with a tougher schedule, and a possible youth movement (that i'll go into later) for 2020, but we already used the "we are young" excuse for 2019. If I told you our ADs goal would be to make a bowl game in year 2 after we fired Riley, you would laugh. If I told you that we would be 0-9 against Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa, Purdue, and Indiana in 2 years, would that have been acceptable then? I know the answers there, just pointing out the lunacy of this statement.

"We need better players"
We've heard this from coaches, and in a roundabout way from the staff as well. I think this was partially true. We do need to upgrade the talent, but it goes further than recruiting. We need to develop better. With that said, We had better players than Colorado, Indiana, Purdue, and Minnesota. I won't start going into the Iowa and Wisconsin debate, and we certainly don't have better players than Ohio State. What i'm getting at, is all we had to do is go 2-2 against the first four, and we are bowling with a 7-5 record. Pretty much all of the guys on those teams if we offered would come to Nebraska. So whether you think we have better players or not, we could have the guys on those teams if we offered them. My point is, we had enough to win 7 here. Yes, we need better. But calling it out caused more issues than it needed.

"We need to establish our culture"
We heard this in regard to players recruited by the previous staff. I would agree we had guys that probably didn't work as hard we needed, or were too attached to the previous staff and didn't give our staff a fair shake. With that said, some of the "lack of buy-in" was created when you publicly tell people you need better players and guys you are counting on hear that. I can tell you with certainty that that statement made guys we really needed to be studs for us this year give some pause in full buy-in. So I could argue that some of the bad culture manifested in 2018 and 2019. Hopefully we can correct that.

"We are young and lack depth"
We certainly are. The 70%+ roster flip was something that we were "wowed" over. Articles were written on it. But did we go too far? As an example, I get that you need your own guys, but how did our LBs look this year? Avery Roberts was our most athletic ILB and would have been someone who could cover those Indiana (and other teams) WRs. But since he left and didn't fit what we were trying to do, we had guys like Mo Barry and Will Honas out there trying to cover slot WRs. We saw how that ended up. And now Avery Roberts (a 4 star) took off and is going to be an NFL draft pick due to leading his Power 5 team with a better conference record than us in tackles. What about us having a four star OLB leave and go JUCO and be committed to a team that just beat us two years in a row? What about us bringing in a four star OLB and him leaving in a year? While I agree we had some issues, again, a lot was self-inflicted. Going further into that, Mo Washington and Greg Bell, our prized four star RB recruits from 2018 both left the team. We also can not have our stud recruits getting injuries that have them out for 6 months like Nick Henrich, Javin Wright, Tate Wildeman, Casey Rogers, CJ Smith, Miles Jones, Will Honas, Noa Pola-Gates, and Ronald Thompkins. Guys that are four stars that would be providing depth at major programs get hurt and we struggle. You even have guys like Adrian Martinez, Deontai Williams, Wandale Robinson, Mo Washington, Kade Warner, that get knicked up and miss games. We need to have a clean offseason on this front.

Football coaches make football players better, put them in situations they can succeed
All of this above is fine, but what I saw from certain players regressing really concerned me. I don't disagree you want recruits that can run your offense, but as a football coach, you should be able to make football players better. There are plenty of examples of people getting better from 2018 to 2019 like Alex Davis, Lamar Jackson, and a guy like Cam Jurgens. But there are so many that regressed it was absolutely an issue. From there, you need to put your players in positions to be successful. I can't tell you how many times an offense would sub 4 guys out and 4 guys in, and we'd make 1 sub on defense putting Domann in for Nelson or something like that. But we would leave Mo Barry and Will Honas out there to cover slot WRs and against Indiana and Purdue it burned us over and over. Why didn't we match personnel? That's an example of us having the right players, coaches just need to do better. What about the swing passes that get us in 2nd and 12? Matt MIllen even started calling it out against Iowa. Again, I don't disagree we can get better guys, but players like Matt Farniok and JD Spielman this staff would have been ecstatic to get in Orlando. We unfortunately have to look in the mirror a bit.

Just a few things that were thrown out this year that won't fly for 2020. This next section i'll go into our position groups for next year, starting with most concerning to least. I am not going to go into transfers and attrition. It's coming, but speculation isn't needed and i'll address them when it's public.

Linebackers
This is my biggest concern for next year. We struggled all year at ILB, yet our top 5 ILB class in the country couldn't even crack the lineup. Where was Jackson Hannah? Henrich was out a majority of the year, could we have used him? Luke Reimers was getting all sorts of press and even practicing with the 1's in certain packages, why couldn't we get him on the field? We also struggled at OLB. While Alex Davis improved, he wasn't where we needed our guy to be. Domann is our best defensive player, we have to find a way to keep him on the field. Tannor looked improved, and so did Nelson throughout the year. But with a better DL in front of them in 2019 than they will have in 2020, this is concerning. Couple that with the fact that LB recruiting only netted one high school player so far, it means we will have to rely on people that couldn't beat out Mo Barry and Alex Davis this year in the 2020 season. Dewitt went thru a rough year, but I do think guys like Domann, Davis, Nelson, and Tannor have improved. The regression of Barry concerns me for 2020. We have little coming in recruiting wise, will have a worse DL in front of our LBs, and we regressed at ILB from 2018 in 2019. Lots of obstacles.

Wide Receiver
I couldn't decide between this and linebacker, but what gave the edge to LBs is that WR is the easiest spot to see the field as a true freshman. The increase of physicality doesn't really play into it outside, so you can just be a burner and play. What's concerning is that all of the guys we were so excited about couldn't see the field to help at all. Darien Chase, Jamie Nance, Demaryon Houston, Jaron Woodyard, Mike Williams, Andre Hunt, Katerion Legrone, and Justin McGriff are all guys we needed in 2019, but for one reason or the other couldn't help us at all. The development is lacking and we need to get these guys up to speed. We return JD Spielman and Kade Warner, also throw Wandale in there. Hickman may be able to help us out wide next year as well. But we need to get some guys in that can help, and we have got to get some improvement from the guys that are here. I just don't know if i'm confident for us to get where we need to be, but I do think guys like Betts (and hopefully Manning) can be big bodied WRs coming in and play right away to give us immediate help.

Offensive Line
First, let me start by saying that I stated a lot of people regressed on this team, but I do think we showed a lot of improvement at OL. Cam Jurgens started looking very good towards the end of the year, and even though we were 5-7, i'm glad we took our lumps with him this year now. The reason I have this #3 on my list is because I think Frost has a predicament on his hands next year. We got better IMO, but do we go youth movement for 2020? We literally could keep the exact same lineup in tact. But I also know we have some guys starting that just aren't the ceiling that our staff wants. The issue is, a guy like Boe Wilson who routinely struggled was all-conference in 2018, can you really not play him? Do we start the same guys or do we go something like this: LT Jaimes, LG Farniok, C Jurgens, RG Piper, RT Benhart? Again, I think we have options here, i'm just a bit curious which way we go with this.

Defensive Line
I actually only really have one concern here, but let me first state that our DL this year is as good as we can hope for. It doesn't get better than Darrion Daniels at NG, and the Davis twins were four star recruits in the 250 mile radius that were all-conference for Nebraska in 2 sports with offers from Penn State. We lose our starting 3, which is why this is #4 for me. That said, I think Stille and Thomas at DE give us a great base, because they are both capable of starting this year, they just had studs in front of them. Damion Daniels and Ty Robinson will man the NG spot with the Polar Bear Nash Hutmacher coming in to challenge for time. We can obviously slide guys down, and Jahkeem Green, Casey Rogers, and Tate Wildeman can help give us some depth. NG is what I am really concerned with here, i'm sure we will be fine at DE again.

Quarterback
I am not concerned in the slightest that we have the talent to get us to 9 wins next year in this position group. But Frost has some things to sort out in the offseason heading into 2020. Adrian Martinez was a freshman all-american. Noah Vedral is a guy that I had to tell people he is very good after some were saying how bad he is from spring game performances, and we have him. And a guy by the name of Luke McCaffrey has looked good in his limited action this year. I have no doubt Frost has who he needs here (throw Logan Smothers in the mix). With that said, which way does he go? I can pretty much tell you Martinez will be the starter against Purdue next year, but will he have a legitimate competition? That i'm unsure of. How he handles this is going to be the biggest deal for him.

Runningback
Not too concerned here as I think Dedrick Mills really came into his own this year. Wandale Robinson can be a great change of pace for you, and then we have Rahmir Johnson that can help. With our 2020 class we should have a cupboard we are able to lean on as well. The 3 I mentioned will give our recruits and young guys time to sink their teeth into the offense and an opportunity to show they deserve PT without being thrust into a major role too soon.

Tightend
I am not worried about this at all. We return Stoll, Allen, and Rafdal, while gaining eligibility from possibly the best of the bunch in Vokolek. I am shocked we didn't use the TEs more this year (as I said we would do before the season, boy was I wrong) since our WRs were struggling so much. Hopefully Vokolek gives us the vertical threat down the seam we need.

Defensiveback
Not concerned at all here. When our staff showed up, WR and DB were the most talent depleted spots. Travis Fisher has taken guys that aren't his (Lamar Jackson and Marquel Dismuke) and made them great pieces for this defense. He also brought in guys like Cam Taylor-Britt, Deontai Williams, Braxton Clark, and others that have showed really well. Dicaprio Bootle, Cam Taylor-Britt, Marquel Dismuke, and Deontai Williams give us a great 4 with Braxton Clark able to help out in nickel. Fisher is recruiting well and developing even better. Pretty lucky here.
 

The_CornTorch

Red Shirt
2 Year Member
Can you offer any insight into why Frost keeps drawing lines in the sand? We need better players. Don't have enough of the right types of guys.

Is there some kind of method to the madness, long term? Or is it just simply madness?

And maybe most importantly, is he still going to be talking like this next year? I think the statute of limitations just ran out on blaming our current woes on MR.
 
Last edited:

ramsker

Short...but slow
10 Year Member
Thanks for the write-up as always, SSO.

I don't even know where to start with my concerns. While the o-line seemed to "get better", there are far too many times when they miss (or don't try) to get a hat on someone . . . ANYONE. I'm not sure how Austin is handling that, but the loaf rate seems unacceptable. Mills might have scored or certainly ran a long way on that screen pass in the 4th qtr--but Hixson didn't lay a finger on anyone. And he's not the only one that seems to happen with too regularly. We need a lot more want-to and nasty up there.

I'm also shocked and disappointed in the use of the TE's. In the South Alabama game, Martinez hit Stoll up the seam on the RPO and I thought "FINALLY . . . we're gonna have a vertical TE game!" And then it pretty much got mothballed. I have no idea why. Too much sideline to sideline passing that we don't run well at all. Get north-south and put some pressure on the safeties to play honest.

On the QB's . . . I have no clue what Martinez's malfunctions were but he was much worse this year. If he's not more decisive, aggresive with the run, and more accurate with the passing next year then Frost needs to make a tough decision. McCaffrey, Vedral and maybe even Smothers by then can and will push the ball and I'd rather see someone else get an extended look than hope for 2018 Martinez to find the field again. I really do wonder if Martinez is having a Rick Ankiel moment where he's just lost his schwerve and can't get it back. Something wasn't right with him all year.
 

ShortSideOption

All American
10 Year Member
Can you offer any insight into why Frost keeps drawing lines in the sand? We need better players. Don't have enough of the right types of guys.

Is there some kind of method to the madness, long term? Or is it just simply madness?

And maybe most importantly, is he still going to be talking like this next year? I think the statute of limitations just ran out on blaming our current woes on MR.
It was an interesting tactic. I can tell you that it rubbed certain guys the wrong way. I think they were trying to set the bar low with phrases like that to give the "long turnaround" narrative some credence. I think it backfired a bit on them, but that they'd also tell you that.

Next year if he's still saying those things in year 3, it's a big issue. Not sure they'll go there as I think they know it wasn't received well and it's tough to say 3 years in.
 

ShortSideOption

All American
10 Year Member
Thanks for the write-up as always, SSO.

I don't even know where to start with my concerns. While the o-line seemed to "get better", there are far too many times when they miss (or don't try) to get a hat on someone . . . ANYONE. I'm not sure how Austin is handling that, but the loaf rate seems unacceptable. Mills might have scored or certainly ran a long way on that screen pass in the 4th qtr--but Hixson didn't lay a finger on anyone. And he's not the only one that seems to happen with too regularly. We need a lot more want-to and nasty up there.

I'm also shocked and disappointed in the use of the TE's. In the South Alabama game, Martinez hit Stoll up the seam on the RPO and I thought "FINALLY . . . we're gonna have a vertical TE game!" And then it pretty much got mothballed. I have no idea why. Too much sideline to sideline passing that we don't run well at all. Get north-south and put some pressure on the safeties to play honest.

On the QB's . . . I have no clue what Martinez's malfunctions were but he was much worse this year. If he's not more decisive, aggresive with the run, and more accurate with the passing next year then Frost needs to make a tough decision. McCaffrey, Vedral and maybe even Smothers by then can and will push the ball and I'd rather see someone else get an extended look than hope for 2018 Martinez to find the field again. I really do wonder if Martinez is having a Rick Ankiel moment where he's just lost his schwerve and can't get it back. Something wasn't right with him all year.
I think there's some guys starting out of "default", hoping we see some open competition at OL next year. But as I said in the write-up, we return everyone so it's a slippery slope.

Those plays against SAU that you reference is what I thought would be happening all year. Not sure the issue there.

There was no question that Vedral and McCaffrey looked extremely decisive and sharp when they got in. I don't know what Martinez's issue was this year. I know he was extremely beat up, but he just didn't even look close. Remember the thread applauding what he looked like preseason? I tried to temper the enthusiasm in it but if a guy like McCaffrey or Robinson regresses like he did this year i'll be pissed.
 

AlaskaCorn

Baba Vanga
2 Year Member
The season that started with so much hype, national analysts picking us a dark horse CFP team, a QB coming off a Freshman All-American campaign that had him getting odds for the Heisman, has now officially ended at 12 games for the third year in a row. As I sit here with my glass of Buffalo Trace and reflect on the season, I look back at a lot of things that were frustrating, but there were also a ton of positives that came from it. I want to go into some of the things we heard these first two years, my OPINION on them, and what 2020 looks like position by position. The overriding theme is a lot of the things we were hearing are probably true, but we absolutely made them worse and it had nothing to do with Riley or Eichorst.

Let's start with this Quote for the bar that was this season:

That was such a BS move in my opinion. 6 wins with this team and this schedule is not what the bar should have been. When it was stated before the season, I told people live and on here that it would be a massive issue if we only got to 6 wins. Here we are with message boards melting down like Chernobyl, and people questioning every thing going on. We have put ourselves in a bit of a predicament for next year with a tougher schedule, and a possible youth movement (that i'll go into later) for 2020, but we already used the "we are young" excuse for 2019. If I told you our ADs goal would be to make a bowl game in year 2 after we fired Riley, you would laugh. If I told you that we would be 0-9 against Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa, Purdue, and Indiana in 2 years, would that have been acceptable then? I know the answers there, just pointing out the lunacy of this statement.

"We need better players"
We've heard this from coaches, and in a roundabout way from the staff as well. I think this was partially true. We do need to upgrade the talent, but it goes further than recruiting. We need to develop better. With that said, We had better players than Colorado, Indiana, Purdue, and Minnesota. I won't start going into the Iowa and Wisconsin debate, and we certainly don't have better players than Ohio State. What i'm getting at, is all we had to do is go 2-2 against the first four, and we are bowling with a 7-5 record. Pretty much all of the guys on those teams if we offered would come to Nebraska. So whether you think we have better players or not, we could have the guys on those teams if we offered them. My point is, we had enough to win 7 here. Yes, we need better. But calling it out caused more issues than it needed.

"We need to establish our culture"
We heard this in regard to players recruited by the previous staff. I would agree we had guys that probably didn't work as hard we needed, or were too attached to the previous staff and didn't give our staff a fair shake. With that said, some of the "lack of buy-in" was created when you publicly tell people you need better players and guys you are counting on hear that. I can tell you with certainty that that statement made guys we really needed to be studs for us this year give some pause in full buy-in. So I could argue that some of the bad culture manifested in 2018 and 2019. Hopefully we can correct that.

"We are young and lack depth"
We certainly are. The 70%+ roster flip was something that we were "wowed" over. Articles were written on it. But did we go too far? As an example, I get that you need your own guys, but how did our LBs look this year? Avery Roberts was our most athletic ILB and would have been someone who could cover those Indiana (and other teams) WRs. But since he left and didn't fit what we were trying to do, we had guys like Mo Barry and Will Honas out there trying to cover slot WRs. We saw how that ended up. And now Avery Roberts (a 4 star) took off and is going to be an NFL draft pick due to leading his Power 5 team with a better conference record than us in tackles. What about us having a four star OLB leave and go JUCO and be committed to a team that just beat us two years in a row? What about us bringing in a four star OLB and him leaving in a year? While I agree we had some issues, again, a lot was self-inflicted. Going further into that, Mo Washington and Greg Bell, our prized four star RB recruits from 2018 both left the team. We also can not have our stud recruits getting injuries that have them out for 6 months like Nick Henrich, Javin Wright, Tate Wildeman, Casey Rogers, CJ Smith, Miles Jones, Will Honas, Noa Pola-Gates, and Ronald Thompkins. Guys that are four stars that would be providing depth at major programs get hurt and we struggle. You even have guys like Adrian Martinez, Deontai Williams, Wandale Robinson, Mo Washington, Kade Warner, that get knicked up and miss games. We need to have a clean offseason on this front.

Football coaches make football players better, put them in situations they can succeed
All of this above is fine, but what I saw from certain players regressing really concerned me. I don't disagree you want recruits that can run your offense, but as a football coach, you should be able to make football players better. There are plenty of examples of people getting better from 2018 to 2019 like Alex Davis, Lamar Jackson, and a guy like Cam Jurgens. But there are so many that regressed it was absolutely an issue. From there, you need to put your players in positions to be successful. I can't tell you how many times an offense would sub 4 guys out and 4 guys in, and we'd make 1 sub on defense putting Domann in for Nelson or something like that. But we would leave Mo Barry and Will Honas out there to cover slot WRs and against Indiana and Purdue it burned us over and over. Why didn't we match personnel? That's an example of us having the right players, coaches just need to do better. What about the swing passes that get us in 2nd and 12? Matt MIllen even started calling it out against Iowa. Again, I don't disagree we can get better guys, but players like Matt Farniok and JD Spielman this staff would have been ecstatic to get in Orlando. We unfortunately have to look in the mirror a bit.

Just a few things that were thrown out this year that won't fly for 2020. This next section i'll go into our position groups for next year, starting with most concerning to least. I am not going to go into transfers and attrition. It's coming, but speculation isn't needed and i'll address them when it's public.

Linebackers
This is my biggest concern for next year. We struggled all year at ILB, yet our top 5 ILB class in the country couldn't even crack the lineup. Where was Jackson Hannah? Henrich was out a majority of the year, could we have used him? Luke Reimers was getting all sorts of press and even practicing with the 1's in certain packages, why couldn't we get him on the field? We also struggled at OLB. While Alex Davis improved, he wasn't where we needed our guy to be. Domann is our best defensive player, we have to find a way to keep him on the field. Tannor looked improved, and so did Nelson throughout the year. But with a better DL in front of them in 2019 than they will have in 2020, this is concerning. Couple that with the fact that LB recruiting only netted one high school player so far, it means we will have to rely on people that couldn't beat out Mo Barry and Alex Davis this year in the 2020 season. Dewitt went thru a rough year, but I do think guys like Domann, Davis, Nelson, and Tannor have improved. The regression of Barry concerns me for 2020. We have little coming in recruiting wise, will have a worse DL in front of our LBs, and we regressed at ILB from 2018 in 2019. Lots of obstacles.

Wide Receiver
I couldn't decide between this and linebacker, but what gave the edge to LBs is that WR is the easiest spot to see the field as a true freshman. The increase of physicality doesn't really play into it outside, so you can just be a burner and play. What's concerning is that all of the guys we were so excited about couldn't see the field to help at all. Darien Chase, Jamie Nance, Demaryon Houston, Jaron Woodyard, Mike Williams, Andre Hunt, Katerion Legrone, and Justin McGriff are all guys we needed in 2019, but for one reason or the other couldn't help us at all. The development is lacking and we need to get these guys up to speed. We return JD Spielman and Kade Warner, also throw Wandale in there. Hickman may be able to help us out wide next year as well. But we need to get some guys in that can help, and we have got to get some improvement from the guys that are here. I just don't know if i'm confident for us to get where we need to be, but I do think guys like Betts (and hopefully Manning) can be big bodied WRs coming in and play right away to give us immediate help.

Offensive Line
First, let me start by saying that I stated a lot of people regressed on this team, but I do think we showed a lot of improvement at OL. Cam Jurgens started looking very good towards the end of the year, and even though we were 5-7, i'm glad we took our lumps with him this year now. The reason I have this #3 on my list is because I think Frost has a predicament on his hands next year. We got better IMO, but do we go youth movement for 2020? We literally could keep the exact same lineup in tact. But I also know we have some guys starting that just aren't the ceiling that our staff wants. The issue is, a guy like Boe Wilson who routinely struggled was all-conference in 2018, can you really not play him? Do we start the same guys or do we go something like this: LT Jaimes, LG Farniok, C Jurgens, RG Piper, RT Benhart? Again, I think we have options here, i'm just a bit curious which way we go with this.

Defensive Line
I actually only really have one concern here, but let me first state that our DL this year is as good as we can hope for. It doesn't get better than Darrion Daniels at NG, and the Davis twins were four star recruits in the 250 mile radius that were all-conference for Nebraska in 2 sports with offers from Penn State. We lose our starting 3, which is why this is #4 for me. That said, I think Stille and Thomas at DE give us a great base, because they are both capable of starting this year, they just had studs in front of them. Damion Daniels and Ty Robinson will man the NG spot with the Polar Bear Nash Hutmacher coming in to challenge for time. We can obviously slide guys down, and Jahkeem Green, Casey Rogers, and Tate Wildeman can help give us some depth. NG is what I am really concerned with here, i'm sure we will be fine at DE again.

Quarterback
I am not concerned in the slightest that we have the talent to get us to 9 wins next year in this position group. But Frost has some things to sort out in the offseason heading into 2020. Adrian Martinez was a freshman all-american. Noah Vedral is a guy that I had to tell people he is very good after some were saying how bad he is from spring game performances, and we have him. And a guy by the name of Luke McCaffrey has looked good in his limited action this year. I have no doubt Frost has who he needs here (throw Logan Smothers in the mix). With that said, which way does he go? I can pretty much tell you Martinez will be the starter against Purdue next year, but will he have a legitimate competition? That i'm unsure of. How he handles this is going to be the biggest deal for him.

Runningback
Not too concerned here as I think Dedrick Mills really came into his own this year. Wandale Robinson can be a great change of pace for you, and then we have Rahmir Johnson that can help. With our 2020 class we should have a cupboard we are able to lean on as well. The 3 I mentioned will give our recruits and young guys time to sink their teeth into the offense and an opportunity to show they deserve PT without being thrust into a major role too soon.

Tightend
I am not worried about this at all. We return Stoll, Allen, and Rafdal, while gaining eligibility from possibly the best of the bunch in Vokolek. I am shocked we didn't use the TEs more this year (as I said we would do before the season, boy was I wrong) since our WRs were struggling so much. Hopefully Vokolek gives us the vertical threat down the seam we need.

Defensiveback
Not concerned at all here. When our staff showed up, WR and DB were the most talent depleted spots. Travis Fisher has taken guys that aren't his (Lamar Jackson and Marquel Dismuke) and made them great pieces for this defense. He also brought in guys like Cam Taylor-Britt, Deontai Williams, Braxton Clark, and others that have showed really well. Dicaprio Bootle, Cam Taylor-Britt, Marquel Dismuke, and Deontai Williams give us a great 4 with Braxton Clark able to help out in nickel. Fisher is recruiting well and developing even better. Pretty lucky here.
Great writeup. I think we get to 9 wins in 2020 - finally - but Frost would be wise to zip it about the players from this point forward. No need for it, only causes bad vibes and hard feelings.
 

HuskerTea

Red Shirt
5 Year Member
The season that started with so much hype, national analysts picking us a dark horse CFP team, a QB coming off a Freshman All-American campaign that had him getting odds for the Heisman, has now officially ended at 12 games for the third year in a row. As I sit here with my glass of Buffalo Trace and reflect on the season, I look back at a lot of things that were frustrating, but there were also a ton of positives that came from it. I want to go into some of the things we heard these first two years, my OPINION on them, and what 2020 looks like position by position. The overriding theme is a lot of the things we were hearing are probably true, but we absolutely made them worse and it had nothing to do with Riley or Eichorst.

Let's start with this Quote for the bar that was this season:

That was such a BS move in my opinion. 6 wins with this team and this schedule is not what the bar should have been. When it was stated before the season, I told people live and on here that it would be a massive issue if we only got to 6 wins. Here we are with message boards melting down like Chernobyl, and people questioning every thing going on. We have put ourselves in a bit of a predicament for next year with a tougher schedule, and a possible youth movement (that i'll go into later) for 2020, but we already used the "we are young" excuse for 2019. If I told you our ADs goal would be to make a bowl game in year 2 after we fired Riley, you would laugh. If I told you that we would be 0-9 against Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa, Purdue, and Indiana in 2 years, would that have been acceptable then? I know the answers there, just pointing out the lunacy of this statement.

"We need better players"
We've heard this from coaches, and in a roundabout way from the staff as well. I think this was partially true. We do need to upgrade the talent, but it goes further than recruiting. We need to develop better. With that said, We had better players than Colorado, Indiana, Purdue, and Minnesota. I won't start going into the Iowa and Wisconsin debate, and we certainly don't have better players than Ohio State. What i'm getting at, is all we had to do is go 2-2 against the first four, and we are bowling with a 7-5 record. Pretty much all of the guys on those teams if we offered would come to Nebraska. So whether you think we have better players or not, we could have the guys on those teams if we offered them. My point is, we had enough to win 7 here. Yes, we need better. But calling it out caused more issues than it needed.

"We need to establish our culture"
We heard this in regard to players recruited by the previous staff. I would agree we had guys that probably didn't work as hard we needed, or were too attached to the previous staff and didn't give our staff a fair shake. With that said, some of the "lack of buy-in" was created when you publicly tell people you need better players and guys you are counting on hear that. I can tell you with certainty that that statement made guys we really needed to be studs for us this year give some pause in full buy-in. So I could argue that some of the bad culture manifested in 2018 and 2019. Hopefully we can correct that.

"We are young and lack depth"
We certainly are. The 70%+ roster flip was something that we were "wowed" over. Articles were written on it. But did we go too far? As an example, I get that you need your own guys, but how did our LBs look this year? Avery Roberts was our most athletic ILB and would have been someone who could cover those Indiana (and other teams) WRs. But since he left and didn't fit what we were trying to do, we had guys like Mo Barry and Will Honas out there trying to cover slot WRs. We saw how that ended up. And now Avery Roberts (a 4 star) took off and is going to be an NFL draft pick due to leading his Power 5 team with a better conference record than us in tackles. What about us having a four star OLB leave and go JUCO and be committed to a team that just beat us two years in a row? What about us bringing in a four star OLB and him leaving in a year? While I agree we had some issues, again, a lot was self-inflicted. Going further into that, Mo Washington and Greg Bell, our prized four star RB recruits from 2018 both left the team. We also can not have our stud recruits getting injuries that have them out for 6 months like Nick Henrich, Javin Wright, Tate Wildeman, Casey Rogers, CJ Smith, Miles Jones, Will Honas, Noa Pola-Gates, and Ronald Thompkins. Guys that are four stars that would be providing depth at major programs get hurt and we struggle. You even have guys like Adrian Martinez, Deontai Williams, Wandale Robinson, Mo Washington, Kade Warner, that get knicked up and miss games. We need to have a clean offseason on this front.

Football coaches make football players better, put them in situations they can succeed
All of this above is fine, but what I saw from certain players regressing really concerned me. I don't disagree you want recruits that can run your offense, but as a football coach, you should be able to make football players better. There are plenty of examples of people getting better from 2018 to 2019 like Alex Davis, Lamar Jackson, and a guy like Cam Jurgens. But there are so many that regressed it was absolutely an issue. From there, you need to put your players in positions to be successful. I can't tell you how many times an offense would sub 4 guys out and 4 guys in, and we'd make 1 sub on defense putting Domann in for Nelson or something like that. But we would leave Mo Barry and Will Honas out there to cover slot WRs and against Indiana and Purdue it burned us over and over. Why didn't we match personnel? That's an example of us having the right players, coaches just need to do better. What about the swing passes that get us in 2nd and 12? Matt MIllen even started calling it out against Iowa. Again, I don't disagree we can get better guys, but players like Matt Farniok and JD Spielman this staff would have been ecstatic to get in Orlando. We unfortunately have to look in the mirror a bit.

Just a few things that were thrown out this year that won't fly for 2020. This next section i'll go into our position groups for next year, starting with most concerning to least. I am not going to go into transfers and attrition. It's coming, but speculation isn't needed and i'll address them when it's public.

Linebackers
This is my biggest concern for next year. We struggled all year at ILB, yet our top 5 ILB class in the country couldn't even crack the lineup. Where was Jackson Hannah? Henrich was out a majority of the year, could we have used him? Luke Reimers was getting all sorts of press and even practicing with the 1's in certain packages, why couldn't we get him on the field? We also struggled at OLB. While Alex Davis improved, he wasn't where we needed our guy to be. Domann is our best defensive player, we have to find a way to keep him on the field. Tannor looked improved, and so did Nelson throughout the year. But with a better DL in front of them in 2019 than they will have in 2020, this is concerning. Couple that with the fact that LB recruiting only netted one high school player so far, it means we will have to rely on people that couldn't beat out Mo Barry and Alex Davis this year in the 2020 season. Dewitt went thru a rough year, but I do think guys like Domann, Davis, Nelson, and Tannor have improved. The regression of Barry concerns me for 2020. We have little coming in recruiting wise, will have a worse DL in front of our LBs, and we regressed at ILB from 2018 in 2019. Lots of obstacles.

Wide Receiver
I couldn't decide between this and linebacker, but what gave the edge to LBs is that WR is the easiest spot to see the field as a true freshman. The increase of physicality doesn't really play into it outside, so you can just be a burner and play. What's concerning is that all of the guys we were so excited about couldn't see the field to help at all. Darien Chase, Jamie Nance, Demaryon Houston, Jaron Woodyard, Mike Williams, Andre Hunt, Katerion Legrone, and Justin McGriff are all guys we needed in 2019, but for one reason or the other couldn't help us at all. The development is lacking and we need to get these guys up to speed. We return JD Spielman and Kade Warner, also throw Wandale in there. Hickman may be able to help us out wide next year as well. But we need to get some guys in that can help, and we have got to get some improvement from the guys that are here. I just don't know if i'm confident for us to get where we need to be, but I do think guys like Betts (and hopefully Manning) can be big bodied WRs coming in and play right away to give us immediate help.

Offensive Line
First, let me start by saying that I stated a lot of people regressed on this team, but I do think we showed a lot of improvement at OL. Cam Jurgens started looking very good towards the end of the year, and even though we were 5-7, i'm glad we took our lumps with him this year now. The reason I have this #3 on my list is because I think Frost has a predicament on his hands next year. We got better IMO, but do we go youth movement for 2020? We literally could keep the exact same lineup in tact. But I also know we have some guys starting that just aren't the ceiling that our staff wants. The issue is, a guy like Boe Wilson who routinely struggled was all-conference in 2018, can you really not play him? Do we start the same guys or do we go something like this: LT Jaimes, LG Farniok, C Jurgens, RG Piper, RT Benhart? Again, I think we have options here, i'm just a bit curious which way we go with this.

Defensive Line
I actually only really have one concern here, but let me first state that our DL this year is as good as we can hope for. It doesn't get better than Darrion Daniels at NG, and the Davis twins were four star recruits in the 250 mile radius that were all-conference for Nebraska in 2 sports with offers from Penn State. We lose our starting 3, which is why this is #4 for me. That said, I think Stille and Thomas at DE give us a great base, because they are both capable of starting this year, they just had studs in front of them. Damion Daniels and Ty Robinson will man the NG spot with the Polar Bear Nash Hutmacher coming in to challenge for time. We can obviously slide guys down, and Jahkeem Green, Casey Rogers, and Tate Wildeman can help give us some depth. NG is what I am really concerned with here, i'm sure we will be fine at DE again.

Quarterback
I am not concerned in the slightest that we have the talent to get us to 9 wins next year in this position group. But Frost has some things to sort out in the offseason heading into 2020. Adrian Martinez was a freshman all-american. Noah Vedral is a guy that I had to tell people he is very good after some were saying how bad he is from spring game performances, and we have him. And a guy by the name of Luke McCaffrey has looked good in his limited action this year. I have no doubt Frost has who he needs here (throw Logan Smothers in the mix). With that said, which way does he go? I can pretty much tell you Martinez will be the starter against Purdue next year, but will he have a legitimate competition? That i'm unsure of. How he handles this is going to be the biggest deal for him.

Runningback
Not too concerned here as I think Dedrick Mills really came into his own this year. Wandale Robinson can be a great change of pace for you, and then we have Rahmir Johnson that can help. With our 2020 class we should have a cupboard we are able to lean on as well. The 3 I mentioned will give our recruits and young guys time to sink their teeth into the offense and an opportunity to show they deserve PT without being thrust into a major role too soon.

Tightend
I am not worried about this at all. We return Stoll, Allen, and Rafdal, while gaining eligibility from possibly the best of the bunch in Vokolek. I am shocked we didn't use the TEs more this year (as I said we would do before the season, boy was I wrong) since our WRs were struggling so much. Hopefully Vokolek gives us the vertical threat down the seam we need.

Defensiveback
Not concerned at all here. When our staff showed up, WR and DB were the most talent depleted spots. Travis Fisher has taken guys that aren't his (Lamar Jackson and Marquel Dismuke) and made them great pieces for this defense. He also brought in guys like Cam Taylor-Britt, Deontai Williams, Braxton Clark, and others that have showed really well. Dicaprio Bootle, Cam Taylor-Britt, Marquel Dismuke, and Deontai Williams give us a great 4 with Braxton Clark able to help out in nickel. Fisher is recruiting well and developing even better. Pretty lucky here.
I have read books shorter than that post.Thank you for taking the time and effort put in.Candid insight into our Huskers team.Good post.Thank you.Keep the faith.GBR.
 

Hugoniot

Recruit
Any word to Gaylord getting a medical redshirt and coming back?

I think we move to your second O-line prediction with Jamies, Farniok, jurgens, piper, benhart.
 

Full Husker

Recruit
5 Year Member
SSO, thanks as always. Your comments have me pondering what the team will look like in about 290 days. I like your projected and optimistic view of a new offensive line lineup, but I think it has to include rotation of the freshman tackle from Kansas with substantial plays in four games, so he is ready to be the new left tackle in 2021. Defensively, I would like to hear your thoughts on getting pressure on opposing qbs? How would you do it and how do we get the rushers there? What is your view of special teams, which means both kicking and defending against returners? Final comment, I think (or I hope) that Mills continues next year what he has been doing the last three games. He has the potential to be a beast.

Finally, on buy-in and leadership. I have been thinking about it all season and it finally dawned on me. Frost, the coaches and the players should regularly watch "12 o'clock High" for the young this is a black and white movie about world war II. Gregory Peak has to create buy in and get total commitment with high responsibility. It has some lessons, I believe.

I look forward to the next evaluation. I plan to try your drink of choice.
 
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chops52

Recruit
5 Year Member
Thanks for the write up. The one thing you mentioned and other posters commented on was TE down the seem. The problem I see is who will throw that pass? How many wide open down the seem passes were missed this year. I can remember three in the Purdue game alone that would have been touchdowns. Those were not the TE either but WR that can catch up to a slightly overthrown ball. You said AM was banged up, was it so bad it affected mechanics? If so, then that is on the staff. Again thanks for the write up.
 

ThrowFar60

Red Shirt
2 Year Member
Thanks for the write up SSO.

1 question. You’ve always been pretty highly critical of Duval. What changes/improvements would you like to see heading into 2020?
 

Hville

Junior Varsity
2 Year Member
I've said it elsewhere, but.....Nebraska's biggest problem is its head coach. Not suggesting for a minute that he should go or that he won't go on to be a great coach, but he alone is likely responsible for 3-4 losses over the last two years.
I agree with this. And I disagree with anyone who says SF or any of the other staff such as Chin need to go. I think they are the right people but they need to do some self evaluation regarding where they have this team. So many people are looking at our personnel issues and questioning the talent. Especially the QB. Get our fundamentals down first. Get these guys tackling, blocking and running routes correctly and then see where the talent gaps are. WE play fundamentally sound this year and we win at least 4 more games. And this is even with AM who some seem to think is terrible. Switching QB's will not solve our fundamental problems and since the back-ups are unproven and none of them have won a game I question how great they would need to be to cover up our other issues.

I think this staff should set a goal of being the best tackling and blocking team in the NCAA next year and that will probably get us 9 wins.
 

Bean

Grey Shirt
5 Year Member
Thanks for the write-up as always, SSO.

I don't even know where to start with my concerns. While the o-line seemed to "get better", there are far too many times when they miss (or don't try) to get a hat on someone . . . ANYONE. I'm not sure how Austin is handling that, but the loaf rate seems unacceptable. Mills might have scored or certainly ran a long way on that screen pass in the 4th qtr--but Hixson didn't lay a finger on anyone. And he's not the only one that seems to happen with too regularly. We need a lot more want-to and nasty up there.

I'm also shocked and disappointed in the use of the TE's. In the South Alabama game, Martinez hit Stoll up the seam on the RPO and I thought "FINALLY . . . we're gonna have a vertical TE game!" And then it pretty much got mothballed. I have no idea why. Too much sideline to sideline passing that we don't run well at all. Get north-south and put some pressure on the safeties to play honest.

On the QB's . . . I have no clue what Martinez's malfunctions were but he was much worse this year. If he's not more decisive, aggresive with the run, and more accurate with the passing next year then Frost needs to make a tough decision. McCaffrey, Vedral and maybe even Smothers by then can and will push the ball and I'd rather see someone else get an extended look than hope for 2018 Martinez to find the field again. I really do wonder if Martinez is having a Rick Ankiel moment where he's just lost his schwerve and can't get it back. Something wasn't right with him all year.
Agree. HCSF needs to solve his QB problem. Next year's schedule is tougher than this year. If any of our QBs have the same type of performance AM had this year, we will have a losing season next year too.
 
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