Great thread, thanks for the work it took to put all this together.
Jonathan Rose is now a Husker. It is official. That makes 2 Jonathan CB's in 24 hours from the state of Alabama to join the Huskers. They even spell their first names the same and both have 4 letter last names that are actual common words. Strange.
Jonathan will sit out this year and then will have 3 to play 3. It sounds like he is being brought in as a CB (his position at Auburn), not a safety. I still look for NU to recruit a JUCO safety if Rose truly plays CB. And it also makes more sense now than ever that one or two CBs might eventually move to safety.
One of the more enigmatic groups in the Pelini era. Every year, posters start multiple threads about how deep and talented our DL is . . . “the strength of the team,” they declare. Then someone else posts how average and ordinary our DL is, “Where are the playmakers? Where are the pass rushers?” they cry. “The biggest weakness of the team,” they declare.
The truth as usual seems to lie somewhere in the middle. One explanation we keep hearing for less than expected results is that our DL is used to “contain” the other team and not to attack. With a linebacker like Lavonte David, their job has been to occupy blockers and allow him to make plays. But David is gone now. Another thing that is unusual is that Pelini seems to bring pressure up the middle and contain on the outside with his DEs. This is a bit backward from most programs who seem to rush off the edge and try to stuff the middle. Pelini’s strategy made sense when he had Suh, but where is the off the edge pass rush he featured in 2003? Husker fans ask.
To make matters worse, last year our DL bulked up in the offseason to gear up for the Big 10. This turned out to be a mistake as they looked slow and at times, foolish chasing opposing QBs and ball carriers in the open field. This year, we have a much better understanding of the strength and fitness that is required for the Big 10.
We debate amongst ourselves how good or bad our DL is however, there is no denying the statistic that we were last in the Big Ten in tackles for loss last year. But regardless of anything tangible we can put our fingers on, no matter how well we believe the DL is actually playing, we always seem to hunger for just a little more.
We are told that with the new DL coach, that we will be more aggressive and attack more. This sounds encouraging however, I would warn that the last time I heard a Husker DC say he was going to be more aggressive with a first year DL coach, it was Cosgrove right before the Hindenburg crashed into the Titanic at Memorial Stadium.
But let’s see what we got.
Are we deep at DT? The answer to that lies in the answer to this question: Who’s still hurt and who is now healthy? The answer to this question will be one of the storylines for 2012. We had one of those avalanche injury type situations during spring ball. This could turn out to be a blessing if key players come back healthy this fall. Lots of younger players got reps.
The anchor to our DL is Baker Steinkuhler. An enigma within an enigma. Steinkiller just has never quite lived up to the expectations of Husker fans. It’s doubtful he ever could given that many feel it is a given he would be a 4 year All American had he stayed at OT. The truth is, he was discovered with a serious back condition his freshman year that took a long time to get under control and I understand will be an issue for the rest of his life. I have always said that a recruits’ ranking is nothing more than a snapshot in time. If Baker’s back condition had been known in High School, no way would he have been rated 5*s. But he is better than Husker fans sometimes realize. NTs don’t always make big plays (Suh somewhat spoiled us). Sometimes their job is to force the other team to double team and clog up the middle. Baker Steinkuhler does this very well. Plus, he comes up with a great play every now and again. All in all, Husker fans should learn to appreciate him for what is and not what they wish he was. Starting next to him will be a good battle between Chase Rome and Thad Randle. Hard to say who will have the leg up as injuries have kept both guys off the field for awhile. Personally, I think Chase Rome is a star in the making. There is good depth here if everyone is healthy and all three should play and contribute quite a bit. Behind those three, it is more of a mystery. RS Freshman Kevin Williams drew rave reviews last year but an injury set him back somewhat. If he is healthy, look out. Jay Guy has tools but not the drive our coaches would like to see although he is getting better in that regard. He played some last year and if he doesn’t improve, could still be a useful body in an emergency type player at the least. Toby Okuyemi moved inside from DE and has some promise but might need a little more time. Todd Peat Jr. has had some issues with his back that have made evaluation of his progress difficult. Walk-on Kenny Anderson is a senior who could see the field some if injuries are a factor. Jeff Uher is a young walk-on with some potential. NU brought in two good looking recruits in Vincent Valentine and Aaron Curry.
The depth holds up for the most part for the next two years if the injuries aren’t too serious and if some of the younger players step up. There are a couple of players that haven’t progressed as well as the coaches have hoped, so a sudden “light-bulb” moment out of somebody would do wonders for our depth. There is considerable promise here but NU has offered a big time JUCO to help this group get over the top.
“Where is the big-time pass rushing end?” Husker fans keep asking. This is one of the main concerns of many fans year in and year out. Cameron Meredith led the DL with 5 sacks last year playing with an assortment of injuries. He suffered as much as anyone for trying to bulk up too much. Before his first injury, he flashed on some plays that seemed to indicate that he was ready to become a dominant end. Let’s hope he can stay healthy and can be one of the stars of this years’ defense. The other end is a spot of concern and was an ongoing issue all of last year. Jason Ankrah started almost all season and at times looked utterly lost. But he is a young player with considerable upside and he seemed to get better in the second half. He had a solid spring and could hold a key to the defense returning to form this year. Meanwhile, Eric Martin really came on in the pass rushing department in the second half of his first full year at DE. Look to him to be a key component in third down rushing situations. He is a major wildcard on the DL as no one knows what to expect but his talent, hitting, and aggressiveness makes him a scouts' dream. Joseph Carter is a JUCO who seemed to swim in the details last year. I thought he looked much more comfortable during the second half last year. If having a solid build is what it takes to be great, Carter would be an instant All American. He has the tools and Papuchis has hinted that Carter is a big part of the plan for 2012. The depth here isn’t bad and could even be good if some guys step up their games even with the departure of Josh Williams to Kansas. Part of our issue with DE stems from our last big DE class that included Donovan Vestal, Walker Ashburn, and Toby Okeyumi (now at DT). This class was largely a bust although Vestal still has a chance but it is time for him to make a move. Freshman Greg McMullen offers hope for the future (although some have speculated he could move inside) and it is not outrageous to think he could play right away. I don’t see how he could move inside given the depth issues down the road. Avery Moss is another promising Freshman but he looks to need some time. Ross Dzuris is a promising walk on.
We lose three of the top four guys for 2013 and then the fourth for 2014. Our depth is little thin here and scary if some young guys don’t step up. DE is clearly one of our most pressing issues for this class and recruiting is off to a good start with promising Christian Lacouture and A.J. Natter already verballed for 2013. I still think that a JUCO is in our future here and possibly one more HS kid (preferrably a pass rushing specialist).
Pretty basic. DT depth solid but perhaps not spectacular talent over all (assuming positive results to health issues). DE depth a major concern after this year and over all needing big time playmakers. There is plenty of young talent already on campus. How those guys fare will go a long ways in answering the concerns that fans might have. I can see it going either way, it is up to the players. We should know by the end of this year a great deal more than we know now. Let’s hope that the adjustments in strength and fitness yield positive results and that new DL coach Rick Kaczenski can help the young talent to turn the corner and realize their potential.
Over all, I actually feel pretty good about this group although DE depth down the road does concern me a little.
Next up . . . Offense and the skilled positions.
We will finish up with the Offensive Line after that.
My #1 concern position going into this season. Not because there isn’t talent or potential here, but because how enormous this position is to our success. For all the debate about Pelini, he really has been a Quarterback away from some impressive accomplishments. I believe that QB play has been the weakest link during the Pelini era. In fact, going back thru the Callahan era, no position has been as troublesome, elusive, or inconsistent. We have had ten years of so-so QB play. We have had some decent performances mixed in over the years, but over-all, we haven’t had the consistency we need to run any of the many offenses we have attempted. Furthermore, huge recruiting disappointments have hurt as well. Freeman and Gabbert come readily to mind. Untimely injuries have played their part as well. But whatever the reasons, QB play hasn’t quite been there. Consider Mack Brown and how he looked before Vince Young and Colt McCoy. Look how he has looked after those two QBs. A great QB can lift a program to new heights and also cover up a lot of issues.
With that said, I will say that this year one thing must be true:
It is time for the great Taylor Martinez experiment to be over.
This is not a slam on Martinez or his abilities. But it is time. It is time for him, now that he is a third year starter, to step up and be the kind of playmaking QB that Pelini has always envisioned.
I do not want to hear any excuses. No more talk of new offenses, young WRs, OL issues, etc. I don’t want to hear about how he is “managing” the offense. I don’t want to hear how he is learning the basics of quarterbacking. I don’t want to hear how young he is. I don’t want to hear how another embarrassing loss is everyone else’s fault but Martinez’s. When we are blowing somebody out, I don’t want to see Martinez stay in the game because “he needs the reps” when it is clearly time to give the #2 QB some reps (Can you imagine Burkhead staying in the game in a blowout because “he needs reps”). I don’t want to hear about his girlfriend crying in Math class. I don’t want hear about how the Omaha World Herald is picking on him. I don’t want to see him pouting after a bad performance telling the media, “it doesn’t matter what I say, you guys criticize me no matter what I do.” Enough.
It is time for Taylor Martinez to be the man. Time to grow up. Criticism comes with the job. And it isn’t always fair. It doesn’t matter if the criticism is unfair (often times it is, and others it isn’t), nothing good ever comes from a Head Coach or a QB complaining about the media or the fans.
Play well, and everything else takes care of itself.
Taylor Martinez has worked very hard this offseason. He is in the second year in a new offense that was tailored to his talents. He has a great running back at his disposal and a wealth of talented receivers to utilize. All the ingredients are there for a great season. He doesn’t have to be perfect. He doesn’t have to throw like Peyton Manning. He can have bad moments or tough games just like any other QB. But there are things he must do. He must lead (this team cries for leadership), he needs to show that he can retain lessons and move onto other lessons without backsliding on previous learned lessons, and he has to show the ability to bounce back once things start spiraling downhill.
These are things he has struggled with.
I don’t care if T-Mart completes 70% of his passes (meaningless statistic really), if he does these things, we could surprise a lot of people this year. If he doesn’t, another 9-4 type season filled with the usual disappointments is probably in the cards. No other player has such a direct influence on our win-loss record as Taylor Martinez.
It’s up to him. I think he has the talent to do it. But I also think some of the concerns of his skeptics are legitimate. That is why I have this position as the #1 concern.
What of depth? Our QB position is almost synonymous with Taylor Martinez for the next two years. But there are some interesting players behind him. Depth at QB has not been the greatest over the past decade, at times we have been scary thin. QB depth is hard to develop due to the fact that athletes tend to transfer if they don’t see an opportunity to start in front of them. It is hard to blame kids for this because the simple fact is that QBs don’t develop sitting on the bench. Generally speaking, a QB has to play in order to get better. So even if a QB doesn’t transfer, how much are they really worth if they do not play?
That brings us to our current situation. On paper, the depth looks to be improving. We have a young backup with promise named Brion Carnes. But how good is he? Critics of Martinez often question Carnes’ abilities when it is stated that there is a big gap between Martinez and Carnes. But honestly, Martinez is a two year starter and Carnes a RS Sophomore with little experience (and no real significant experience), how could they be close? I have no doubt if Martinez goes down with an injury, we would see a significant drop. The question is, for how long? If Martinez was injured for 5 or 6 games, would Carnes grow into the position with significant playing time? I don’t know the answer one way or the other. Everyone has their opinion, but I don’t know if anyone really knows for sure. That is the nature of being a #2 QB behind the established #1.
Of course, Carnes isn’t for sure the #2 QB. Freshman Tommy Armstrong is looking like a future star who could be ready sooner than later. Given the number of snaps Carnes received last year, I don’t know if Husker fans would like to see Armstrong burn his redshirt to be the #2 QB. The question would be if Martinez were to get hurt, it would be hard not to burn Armstrong’s redshirt even if Carnes slid up from #2. Armstrong would then become the #2 (if wasn’t already) and would always be a play away from getting into the game. This would be a painful decision to make late in the year if you bypassed opportunities to play him earlier in the year. This will be interesting to watch.
Behind these two, Ron Kellogg Jr. isn’t a bad sort of guy to have around. As walk-ons go, he is downright a luxury to have. He has some experience and if a rash of injuries would occur, he has a strong arm and has been in the system awhile. Bronson Marsh is done with safety we are told and will be a full time QB. RS Freshman Tyson Broekemeier is an interesting walk-on talent. So is true Freshman walk-on Ryker Fyfe. Pretty decent depth and some quality walk-ons at a tough position to walk-on.
But of course, QB is all about taking it to the next level. Johnny Stanton is verballed for the next class giving Nebraska another potential star at the position. There was talk of possibly taking two QBs in this class, but I tend to think the coaches like where the position sits right now.
Our depth in the future looks great. Martinez has another season and could be an extremely rare 4 year starter. Meanwhile Carnes is still young (although it is tough to be blocked above with talented guys nipping at your heels from below), and Armstrong and Stanton give Husker fans plenty to hope for in the years ahead.
Maybe, just maybe, we now have the quarterbacks in place for the program to make a prolonged run back to the top of the elite class of teams. Our immediate future seems tied to Taylor Martinez. But our long term future appears to be in great hands. No position should be more fun to watch in the years ahead.
Next, RB’s, WR’s, & TE’s. I was going to do one post for all the skilled positions, but wanted to concentrate on QB by itself. I will finish with the OL.
Great, Great post HiO. I agree, Pelini is a consistent QB away from being a double digit win team the past few years. It's time for TMart to shoulder this team and either take them where we expect them to be, or the experiment that will last 3 years after this year, should probably be over. It's time for him to win us a game or two, and make sure that we don't lose any by his mistakes. A lot of great college QBs would have killed for the opportunity to have a 3rd and even 4th year as a starter. But many had to come in as RS Jrs or even Srs and get the job done. Where you are more mature then, Taylor's growing process needs to show that it has improved immensely. No more stupid mistakes. When the line breaks down make a play. Check to the right plays. Don't fumble.
Some good news today:
Jared Afalava is officially cleared and qualified. Huge development going forward! I have removed the underline from Afalava's name.
Five very deserving walk-ons are granted scholarships: OLs Spencer Long, Seung Hoon Choi, and Justin Jackson; DB Justin Blatchford; & K/P Brett Maher. Congratulations to all of these players! I have removed the asterisk (*) from their names.
Running Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End
When Husker fans get excited about our future, chances are they are looking at our skilled position players that our QB has to work with. For 2012, all the elements are there for Taylor Martinez to have a huge year. Down the road, there are a couple of concerns that need to be addressed particularly at Tight End.
Rex Burkhead is a good running back . . . hmm.
Rex Burkhead is a very good running back . . . a great running back . . . hmm.
Rex Burkhead is . . . well, Rex Burkhead. There, that says it.
Rex Burkhead defines this position at Nebraska for 2012. A longshot Heisman Trophy candidate, he is everything that Husker fans love in a running back. Productive, steady, dependable, tough, team oriented, elusive, there is not much he isn’t capable of doing. He can catch balls out of the backfield. He gets the tough (and I mean TOUGH) must-have yards. He blocks. He even runs the wildcat and throws the ball well. This will be his senior season, if anybody deserves to have a great injury free season, it is Rex Burkhead. He is the heart and soul of this offense. We all know about Rex Burkhead, but what about the rest of the cast of characters?
Last year, it was Rex and the three Freshmen. Although extremely talented, the three freshmen just could not earn the confidence of the coaching staff to avoid over-using “Super”-Rex. It is important this year to develop some additional options to spell Rex occassionally and keep him fresh for later in the season. And of course, Rex will be leaving after this year, so we need someone to step up to be his replacement in 2013.
The great hope of Husker fans for 2013 and beyond may have been Aaron Green. But Green just never seemed comfortable in Lincoln and left the program. But back-up duties will likely go to sophomore Ameer Abdullah in 2012 anyway. Word is that Abdullah had outplayed Green in the spring at that is what led to Green’s departure. It will be interesting to see Abdullah this year to see how much he has improved. Last year, he seemed to show improvement running between the tackles as the year progressed. A fast elusive running, he also made a name for himself returning kickoffs, leading the Nation in this category as a true freshman for much of the year before teams began kicking away from him. His one flaw? Hanging on to the football. He looks to be bigger in the upper body for his second season and big things could be in his future.
The departure of Green had several ripple effects. The first of which was the return to running back of promising Braylon Heard. Faced with a glut of three talented running backs, the coaches decided to try Heard at CB where he seemed to be doing very well. Heard had been right with the other two freshmen RBs for playing time last year before an injury wiped out his second half. Having played CB in the spring, he is now back at RB even though he may still see some time on defense if the situation warrents. A redshirt is not a bad option here. Whereas Abdullah is a small, slippery, quick, elusive runner, Heard is more of a straight up fast downhill runner giving the Huskers with an interesting contrast of running styles to choose from going forward.
Next on the depth chart is the power running option the coaches have wanted. Some fans have voiced confusion as to the need for a short yardage back as Burkhead is so good in those situations. Short yardage plays are particularly hard hitting grinding type of plays and the thought is that Burkhead can be saved some wear and tear by sitting out on at least some of these plays. Also, Burkhead is the type of back that absorbs punishment, a big back can dish out the punishment. So instead of Burkhead being worn down, a big back can soften the defense for Rex later in the game. Mike Marrow is the first option for this type of assignment as he may see some time at RB as well as being in the running for the starting FB position. Another option is true freshman Imani Cross who arrived in fall camp looking physically ready for action and testing positively in speed drills. He could be another Cody Gleen type of running for Nebraska.
Meanwhile, the 105 roster for Fall Camp had some interesting freshman walk-ons on the roster. King Frazier, Graham Nabity, and Jordan Nelson, all made the squad. King Frazier is one in particular who had other opportunities besides walking on to Nebraska. This looks like a good group. Zach Taylor and Marat Kuzu fill out the rest of the walk-on RB roster—a pretty impressive group for a tough position to compete at Nebraska.
At Fullback, the search for Tyler Legate’s replacement continues. A great battle is shaping up between Mike Marrow and C.J. Zimmerer. Expect both to play and contribute. Senior walkon Graham Stoddard isn’t bad, but probably switched position too late to be a factor here. But walk-on FB Andy Janovich made the Fall Roster and definitely is one to watch. The position seems well manned for 2012.
The future is all about replacing Rex Burkhead at feature back. But at Fullback, 2013 looks great, but we will lose our top two FBs for 2014. These numbers need to be beefed up a bit as only 2 FBs will remain. But they look like capable options at that point. FB is generally filled by walk-on type players or position switches (or both). LB and TE are two positions that often provide options at FB. Don’t be surprised if the staff gives out some FB offers in the next class.
But back to Running Back, Abdullah appears to have the upper hand with Braylon Heard providing very promising competition. Between those two, the deep looks solid. Imani Cross looks like a possible steal of last years’ class. The numbers behind those three will need to be beefed up a bit. NU is on the lookout for a solid RB in this years’ class and a great RB will undoubtedly be one of our top priorities in the 2014 class. The 2013 search hasn’t exactly excited NU fans, but we seem to be very good at plucking good RBs seemingly out of nowhere in years’ past.
There is a lot to be excited about here, both now and down the road. We are young, deep, and talented at this position with a variety of playmakers. Kenny Bell had a breakout year as a RS Freshman and looks to get even better going forward. Blessed with great speed and toughness, he has all the ingredients to be one of the best ever at the position for NU. Junior Quincy Enunwa is more of a tough possession receiver than Bell, but he is not immune to making big plays downfield. Besides his obvious receiving talents, Enunwa is a ferocious blocker as well and gives NU a tremendous one-two punch at wideout. Husker fans bemoan the fact that he did not redshirt however, there is plenty of talent coming up behind these two. That leads to Jamal Turner. Uber-talented, the former QB should be much more settled in his second season at his new position. Last year after making an early splash, he disappeared after a sub-par performance against Minnesota where he dropped a sure TD pass and blew multiple assignments. Last year, Turner only played in the slot where he had difficulty blocking the bigger inside players. Look for him to get more opportunities outside the hashmarks where his explosiveness could lead to some big plays. As exciting as Turner could be, he will probably have difficulty jumping ahead of reliable Senior Tim Marlowe. Some fans find that unexceptable as they have never believed that Marlowe was worthy of the scholarship coming out of High School. But Marlowe has been steady, productive, and the ultimate team player often doing the dirty work asked by the coaches. He’s faster than most people realize, and we should be happy to have him. Next up is Taariq Allen, the RS Freshman who is turning heads in camp. I am told Allen only redshirted last year because of our depth at the position. Allen probably plays similar to Enunwa from what I am told, so expect toughness, blocking, and solid routes and hands if that is true.
Generally, we like to have 6 guys rotating at WR. We have a solid five and some competition for spot #6. First up is Senior Steven Osborne. Not a bad guy, he just has never quite made the improvements or adjustments necessary to move up the rotation. Time is running out for him. Sophomore Tyler Evans is working for some playing time and could develop into a solid receiver but is 2012 the year? Look for him to move up eventually if not this year. Another candidate for spot #6 is RS Sophomore walkon Tyler Wullenwaber, often mentioned among the fastest guys on the team. Senior K.C. Hyland is another walkon who could easily see the field if the position wasn’t so deep. He is in the running as well. But of course, most eyes are on true Freshman Jordan Westerkamp who has impressed so far in the early going. The question is, is it worth burning a redshirt for the #6 spot on the rotation. An interesting decision that may come down to how many early injuries we have. Westerkamp is a future star in the making. Also of note, Freshman walkon Brandon Reilly made the 105 roster so he may be one to keep an eye on.
After 2012, the depth holds up very well thru 2014. We have already added Kevin Gladney as a verbal to the 2013 class and look to add one more. We will need to be careful that down the road, all these young players don’t cause us an issue with attrition when their careers are over. We will need to keep adding a couple of players in each class and we should be in great shape.
In a nutshell: 2012 . . . good, beyond 2012 . . . potential train-wreck.
It was funny last year listening to people say we had no need to recruit Tight Ends because Kyler Reed and Ben Cotton were only Juniors. Well, now they are Seniors and we are passed time to beef up our roster.
But first the good. Ben Cotton may be the best blocking TE in the country. And he really isn’t a bad receiver either. Of course, we would like to see more, but honestly would we rather see Jamal Turner with more touches or Ben Cotton? The truth is, we need Cotton to make a certain amount of catches, but he really isn’t needed that greatly in our passing game. He is in there for his blocking which he does as well as just about anyone on our offensive line. An underappreciated player, Husker fans should realize just how good he is and how much we missed him when he was hurt last year. Speaking of missing someone last year, Kyler Reed struggled with hamstring issues seemingly all year last year. After a breakout Sophomore campaign, Husker fans were dreaming of an All American type year from the hybrid TE. Really not the same type of TE that Cotton is, he is more of an H-Back. Blessed with great spped and receiving skills, Reed has difficulty blocking in a true TE scheme. His job is to be a playmaker. Healthy again, he should be one of T-Mart’s primary receiving threats in 2012. Behind the big 2, Junior walkon Jake Long has quietly established himself as a solid #3 TE. Look to him to see plenty of time on the field this year and 2013. The depth drops off after that. RS Freshman David Sutton has settled in well at TE from what I have heard. Give him some time and he has a chance to be a good one. As for 2012, hopefully he will see some action as he will be one of the only returning possibilities going into 2013. Sam Cotton will be a true Freshman this year and shows some promise. Senior Conor McDermott just moved to the position and isn’t a bad guy to have around. Freshman walkon Trey Foster is on the 105 man Fall Roster so he could be someone to keep an eye on.
After Reed and Cotton are gone, we are razer thin with little experience or depth. Jake Long has yet to catch his first pass in spite playing quite a bit and who knows where Sutton will be at this time next year. Sam Cotton will be coming off a redshirt year and Trey Foster will be here. That is it. The full TE roster as it now sits. Of course, players can be pulled from other positions however, FB and LB (the two most likely positions) may also be looking for extra hands. Then in 2014, Jake Long leaves. That means in 2014, there is not a single player on the roster who has played a down of football going into this year at TE. Greg Hart has verballed for the 2013 class and one more HS TE is being recruited. But obviously, this position screams for a JUCO. In addition, we absolutely cannot have injuries at this position.
Some good, some bad here. For 2012, is there enough depth behind Burkhead to get the job done.
Who will redshirt at RB? Heard? Cross? Will WesterKamp redshirt at WR?
How will we replace Burkhead at RB? Are Abdullah, Heard, and Cross the answers. Can Abdullah curb his fumble issues?
We look strong on paper at all these positions in 2012. Including TE.
If Abdullah, Heard, and Cross step up, there is a lot at RB to be excited about going forward. Fullback also looks well manned.
WR looks strong now and for years to come with exciting playmakers.
But the huge drop off at TE looms large. Obviously, when we say JUCO, Beau Sandland is the name everyone is talking about. How bad the dropoff at TE is should be illustrated by the fact that Sandland is the only prospect (non-verballed) I have mentioned by name (or really even alluded to) in any of these previews. This is one of the bigger holes we have seen in some time especially if you consider that you need more than one TE, but several for the different types of TE’s that are needed (blocking, receiving, H-Back, etc.) plus to be able to have enough bodies to run the occassional two or three TE sets.
Keep your fingers crossed on Sandland. He could be the missing ingredient for success in 2013.
Next, we finish with a look at the OL.
Jonathan Rose has been cleared. Adding him to the depth chart at CB.
My thoughts on Tyler Moore.
Before I post my OL thoughts, I feel the need to sound off on Tyler Moore. I wanted the OL post to be free of my rambling thoughts of Tyler Moore, but also felt the need to address his departure because it is a topic that will pop up from time to time over the next couple of years. And hiding it in here is my attempting to reserve my comments for those familiar enough with me to better understand what I am trying to say.
First off, Tyler Moore was one of my favorite Huskers. Notice the word was.
I should also say that I have a pretty good amount of knowledge of what went down when he left. No, I don’t know exactly what happened. But I have been told some pretty good accounts from some reliable sources. The devil is in the details, of course. I have noticed that some of the accounts slightly contradict on another. I suspect that what I am hearing is often times opinions mixing in with the facts.
I was heartbroken when I heard what had happened. I knew before it went public. And I knew right away that the eventual outcome was likely to be disappointing no matter how it turned out. As a fan, perhaps I take sports too seriously. But regardless, I needed time to sort my own feelings.
During all of this, the story broke into the public. And immediately, it grew wings and flew in every direction. On top of my own disappointment, I now had the privilege of reading all kinds of wild ramblings from various angry fans. Some of which I knew were wrong, some of which I knew were right, and many of which I had no idea.
The blame game started. It was Bo Pelini’s fault. Barney Cotton was to blame. Tyler Moore was a punk. He is to blame. No, his father. No, his girlfriend. Garrison got thrown under a few buses. How ‘bout our AD, you know that guy? I even read a comical post on another site that blamed Urban Meyer. I have no idea if it was tongue and cheek.
Through all of this, I really didn’t know who to blame. I just knew that Tyler Moore was gone.
My wish now is that he never comes back.
In all the blame games, there is only one person that I truly know is blameless. I can’t say if Pelini should have done this or done that. I can’t say that Moore should or should not have been benched last year presumably for a false start. I really don’t know. I’m not sure anybody can say for absolute sure.
But there is one person who cannot be absolutely blameless. And that person is Tyler Moore.
Perhaps he was justified for being frustrated or unhappy or whatever. He could be totally justified. I read some posts that stated that they knew for a fact that he was unpopular on the team and lazy and had a sense of entitlement and so on. I myself have heard that he is a good kid and a hard worker. I’m willing to accept that.
Whatever his motives are for quitting, they flew out the door when he childishly walked out on his teammates.
Sometimes life isn’t fair. For example, you may be justified for being upset with your child for whatever reason. They don’t make their bed, they don’t eat their veggies, and so on. But being right flies out the door the second you smash them over the head with a 2 by 4 and send them to the hospital. At that point, you are wrong.
Not that Tyler Moore did anything that despicable, but the point is that your actions sometimes override the perceived fairness of a situation. Given adversity, how did you handle it?
I don’t accept the 19 year old excuse. I have seen 39 year olds act the same way. I have seen 16 year olds stand and face the fire under far worse circumstances. I am not a coach but I did study to be one. I, at one point, had a playbook and a written set of coaching philosophies. I also have a strong work ethic that mirrors that coaching philosophy I dreamed up years ago. Once when I opened a new restaurant, I told my employees, “You can spit on me, yell at me, curse and call me names, but if you walk out on me, the sound of that door closing is also the sound of the locks being changed. You ‘re not getting back in.”
That is something I have always believed in. Many coaches believe the same way. It is a hard lesson. I always explained that to my employees so that they knew 100% the consequences of such an action. I have no idea if Pelini ever gave such a speech. If he didn’t, perhaps he should.
But back to Moore. I have read that we must all forgive Moore and wish him well. I’ve also read that regardless what happens now, he will always be a Husker.
I have read that we are all hypocrites because Jonathan Rose is coming here and all situations are exactly the same and must be viewed exactly the same way. This is too silly to even discuss.
Bottom line. Moore is gone. It’s up to each of us if we feel like forgiving him or not. I don’t think forgiveness is the issue since after all this is football, just a very small portion of life. I think forgiveness issues should be reserved for far greater transgressions.
Myself, I do not wish him ill or well. He is not a Husker. He doesn’t get to call himself a Husker. He doesn’t get to brag about his record-setting career as a Husker, and that like an NFL Free Agent, he decided he had accomplished all that could be accomplished here and moved on elsewhere. Just business, no hard feelings.
As a Husker, he was a failure. There is no other way to spin it. Perhaps he will do better as a Gator. Many young kids have made mistakes and learned from them. If Moore is able to do so, more power to him.
I won’t lie and say that I think we are better off without him either. His leaving hurts. It is a setback. He is a very talented player and if he grows up a little, he could have a wonderful career. But I think we will be fine too. We’ll survive, and I suspect he will too. That’s life.
My point isn’t to be vindictive. I apologize if my thoughts ruffle a feather or two. For those who disagree with me, you are entitled to your opinion, and I am entitled to mine. You can respond if you like, no offense but I probably will not respond back. No offense. I feel the need to say it once, and once is enough. This is how I feel, I do promise that in the future I will speak of Moore only when appropriate to do so and with as much objectivity as the comment warrants. In other words, I’m moving on.
I can’t imagine Moore coming back. I can’t imagine if I were his teammate how I would deal with it. If Moore somehow decides to come back, I suppose as a fan I will wish him well, but behind the words, I would take a wait and see attitude. I suppose it would be easier for Moore if he didn't come back. Coming back would not be easy under the circumstances. It would probably be easier for him that he move on and start fresh somewhere else. If he did, I couldn't blame him one bit for that.
If he doesn’t come back, I expect there will be some kind of statement. I’m sure he will be humble and apologetic and that is fine. More power to him if he handles such a situation with dignity and class. Again, I don’t wish him ill. I’m just ready to move on.
And in the future, I may even root for him, or I may decide to root against him. I guess I will know when I know. It’s funny, I actually kind of root for Gabbert and as far as Freeman goes, I neither root for him nor against him. It’s just a game and time heals all wounds. Even wounds that aren’t that serious to begin with when you stop and think about.
Okay, I’m done talking on this subject.
Onto some football!!!!!!!
Ahh, the Offensive Line. I’ve saved the best for last. The source of so much discussion and concern amongst Husker fans. Are we getting better? Are we getting worse? Will the depth hold up this year? When will the pipeline return? Why are we rotating players so much? What of our OLine Coach? What of Tyler Moore? What of Ryan Klachko? Why isn’t Ryne Reeves at center?
It’s been a looonnnggg offseason.
First. The loss of Tyler Moore does have quite the effect on the depth chart but mostly in the long term. I expect that we will be okay in the short team and long term we will have time to make the appropriate adjustments. Ryan Klachko was a total bust during his time here (one of the three biggest busts of Pelini’s tenure—Chris Williams and J.T. Kerr are the others) and his offseason departure does not practically affect our depth except in the minds of those who hadn’t realized he was never going to meet the lofty expectations that fans had for him.
There is a possibility that Moore could come back after this year, but this analysis assumes he will not be back. If he came back, then I would treat his return almost like he was a new recruit.
So let’s look at who actually is here.
Brent Qvale is healthy and back at Tackle and was pushing Tyler Moore for first string honors even before Moore left. Qvale has travelled quite the road already. It seems with every change of offensive strategy, his best fit on the OL has moved back and forth between Guard and Tackle. He’s the perfect tackle for the new system, and he is healthy for the first time in a long time. Once a basketball standout, he has the quick feet and athleticism to go with his massive size. Look for him to man Left Tackle. Right Tackle should see another weary traveler who may have found his home in Andrew Rodriguez. Hard to believe he is already a Junior, Husker fans have been waiting somewhat impatiently for A-Rod to deliver on his promising tools. A better fit at Guard in the recent system, he is back at tackle where he has always felt more comfortable anyway. We have heard his work ethic has ramped up this offseason. If true, the sky is the limit for A-Rod. Battling both these two, is almost forgotten Freshman starting tackle (now Junior) Jeremiah Sirles. After starting all year during his RS Freshman season, he had surgery in the offseason of that year and really was never close to 100% at any point last year. But he fought through the injuries and managed to sub into the lineup whenever necessary. Back to 100%, he'll play both tackle positions and should see as much PT as Qvale and Rodriguez regardless of who wins the starting jobs outright. In reality, Sirles backs up both positions (assuming he does not win a starting job outright). On paper, I have selected Jack Cotton as the backup at one of the positions as Cotton was well on his way last year before a brutal injury derailed his season. It is doubtful he will ever be 100% this year but is expected to make a full recovery eventually and that he should be able to play this year. If for some reasons he isn’t a go this year, a medical RS may be in his future. In any case, Cotton could be a star in the making once he is healthy. He can also help out at Guard and his final destination on the line may be decided by which position needs him the most. Next in line is promising Zach Sterup. Another large man, Sterup is also a former basketball player of note and has shown a lot of promise so far and just needs some time. Paul Thurston joins the team as a promising Freshman who should be in the mix down the road. As for walk-on, don’t be surprised if Junior Brandon Chapek makes a move if an injury or two were to hit. The staff likes him very much. Junior Brodrick Nickens and RS Freshman Adam Kucera are a couple of walk-ons with the size to play tackle. None of the incoming walk-on Freshmen look like tackles to me.
Down the road, you start to see the numbers at tackle shrink up a bit by 2014 on the back end. This is where the loss of Moore could be felt. This means that the search for an Offensive Tackle for this class becomes a hot priority. Grab a great OT, and we are in pretty good shape here assuming the young players develop.
OFFENSIVE GUARD & CENTER
Center is probably the #1 concern of fans over the long offseason. I’m actually okay with center as I think we will be adequate there and very solid at Guard. The first order of business for most fans is Ryne Reeves. Why is he not at center? Reeves had shoulder surgery in the offseason. Snapping the football is one of the toughest strains on your shoulders there is for a lineman. It makes sense for him to play at Guard, get his feet under him in game situations, and then re-evalute in the offseason. I have him as the #1 Center for 2014, but there is no guarantee that he will ever play Center. Time will tell. This year, we have seen a three-way battle for starting Center. First in line is Junior Cole Pensick. Of the three, he has a big experience advantage after serving as the backup the past two years. I don’t recall ever noticing a drop-off when Pensick entered some ball games for Caputo—sometimes in the heat of hotly contested battles. The concern with Pensick is the same as Caputo—his size. There are those who doubt he has the girth to hold up in the middle of the line. Like Caputo, Pensick is strong for his size so time will tell. However, Pensick may not be the starter after all. In Fall Camp former walk-on Justin Jackson has made a bold move for the starting job. Jackson is a Senior who has been on the verge of serious playing time seemingly forever. Trapped on the defensive line behind solidly established DTs, Jackson moved to OL last year and specifically to Center sometime thereafter. Of the three candidates, Jackson probably has the highest ceiling and athletic ability. His issue is that Center is a tough position to learn on the fly. The mental aspects of the position have been challenging for Jackson to overtake. If he has turned the corner mentally, he could surprise some folks. He is also healthy for the first time in a long time. Third on the Center list is probably the purest Center in the group, RS Sophomore walk-on Mark Pelini. Pelini is very intelligent and a natural center. He is probably a very usable guy to have on the depth chart at the very least. There was some talk that Sirles or Spencer Long might take a crack at center. Those possibilities did not play out however.
As for future of center, it is hard to evaluate due to the fact that so many players can eventually change from Guard to Center of vice-versa. But the center position and depth holds up pretty well thru 2014. There are a number of recruits and young lineman who could make their way to Center in the next year or so. The position is in better shape actually then it has been in a long time.
At Guard, Spencer Long is now on scholarship after an All Big Ten season as a Sophomore. He is probably our most talented lineman and Sundays playing football could be on his horizon. The other Guard position is another new scholarship athlete in Senior Seung Hoon Choi. I had been hearing about these guy for a couple of seasons before he arrived on the scene last year. This guy is super strong and probably our most effective run-blocker. Big things are expected from our interior this year with these two guards. Backing them up, is a host of talented players, most have whom have yet to make their mark. Senior Brandon Thompson is first in line. Another player who has rotated between Guard and Tackle, Thompson has fought injuries his entire career. He was solid last year before injuries derailed his season, but he offers an experienced back up who can be counted on to back up both Guard positions and Tackle as well. Next up is probably Ryne Reeves. He could be a future star in the middle at Guard or Center. There is so much depth here due to the versatility of others. Cotton can back up here. So can Pensick. Sophomore Mike Moudy is a solid looking talent trying to navigate up a talented depth chart. RS Freshman Given Price could also see time almost anywhere on the OL and is loaded with talent and having a good camp. True Freshman Corey Whitaker was having a great camp before a season ending injury guaranteed a Redshirt. He should be good to go in 2013. Junior Nick Ash has done nothing but struggle and is not in the mix at this time. There are some interesting walk-ons as well. RS Freshman Will Sailors has turned some heads. A couple of incoming Freshman walk-ons to watch are Garret Johns and Dylan Utter. Again, these players add potential depth to both Guard and Center.
Looking ahead at Guard, we lose Choi next year but the depth holds pretty well. In 2014, the key issue isn’t having enough bodies, but just sorting out who will play where. To me, that is a good thing. There seem to be enough bodies. Two more “bodies” should arrive next year in the persons of 2013 verbals Dan Samuelson and vastly underrated Zach Hannon. I think the future looks solid in the interior.
I am not ready to declare a return of the pipeline. However, there does to appear to be solid talent flowing through the pipes. In addition, although the HS talent in Nebraska has been somewhat down by most people’s standards, we have been having good luck plucking walk-ons and inserting them into our OL. The coaches are very excited about the incoming walk-ons and optimistic that more talent maybe on the way from the walk-on program.
In any case, the talent seems to be there. Now the coaches need to keep recruiting solid numbers into the system, find the right fits for the available talent, and coach the players to maximize their potential.
The future may be bright.
Now let the games begin!
HIO, once again this is a fantastic thread that I keep coming back to consult. I am sure I will be looking at it all year. You add a valuable dimension to our understanding of recruiting. One point of frustration. Your comments on Moore, left me baffled. Sometimes some of you gurus, RR, SSO, and others talk past the rest of us because of your more thorough knowledge. Having said that, I appareciated your comments on Moore, at least what I understood.
You and I have traded a few PMs on this subject so we both know how we felt/feel about it....I'd just like to say this a thoughtful post that I can find little or no fault with what you have written....I feel pretty much the same as you know....
As a recently retired USAF officer this part of your post really struck me as ringing true:
I had a similar saying to my NCOs and Officers 'you can say anything you want to me behind closed doors....man to man/woman and it won't be held against you.....the same will not be tolerated in public....you don't show up a fellow warrior (teammate/coach) in public'.....I also had a motto I followed my whole career....I expect you to give me your best all the time.....be a team player, be loyal (it goes both ways) and don't lie or try to deceive me'.....we go into battle together and we have to trust and believe in each other and any violation of that makes you a weak link and a detriment to the team.....if you can't follow those simple rules then its time for you to move on....
I told my employees, “You can spit on me, yell at me, curse and call me names, but if you walk out on me, the sound of that door closing is also the sound of the locks being changed. You ‘re not getting back in.”
Finally my dad who was and is my hero always told me quiting is easy....he said staying and fighting is hard and proves what kind of man you are....and its easy to blame others and hard to look in the mirror and realize you are responsible for your life and where it ends up not someone else....there will always be people you will work or play for that you may not like...hell sometimes you walk into a room and someone decides that they don't like you based on your looks....its up to you to overcome that and succeed....my Dad was right then and he is right now....
Thanks for this post....it needed to be said....and what FWIW check six my friend....I'm behind you and have your back on this one....
Originally Posted by HuskerInOkieland
Notre Dame only had one Rudy but Nebraska gets a new crop of Rudys every season
Chase Rome is the latest to take his ball and go home. Goodbye.
Meanwhile, Tyler Wullenwaber is out for the season. Wullenwaber had worked his way up the depth chart from nowhere and may have been on the verge of becomming a real fan favorite. Hopefully, his injury is not too serious and he will be back next year. Good luck.
Will Wullenwaber's injury pull the redshirt off of Westerkamp?
Kevin Williams is seeing the field at DT while still recovering from a pretty serious injury last year. Look for Todd Peat to perhaps work his way into the rotation as he continues to work thru his back issues.
Rumors flying that we will go to a 3-4. The perfect nose tackle for the 3-4 would be Vincent Valentine. The coaches seem pretty committed to redshirting Valentine who has some body sculpting left to do. But who knows?
Chase Rome returns. Added to the depth chart. We shall see exactly where he fits in.
It is official, Tyler Moore is officially no longer a Husker.