One of the most memorable football games I have ever attended in person happened a few years ago. I had been to opening weekend in Lincoln against Florida Atlantic, but this was McNeese State - a team we should literally not have to worry about. Sure, they were considered a decent FCS team, but Nebraska should be able to handle them, right? There are literally still clips of Ameer Abdullah saving the Cornhuskers that day, and I should have realized that things would be tough sledding for Nebraska from that point on.
Turns out, I did not realize that. What I’m trying to say is that four years, later, I still get surprised when expectations of how Nebraska should deal with an opponent clash with the reality of the situation. Last year, eight losses, Bob Diaco coaching defense about as well as our writers put out content, and the rightful end of the Mike Riley era made for what any normal fan would call a rough year, but uh, I’m not sure if you’ve heard. Nebraska has Scott Frost now.
Right. Cool. Let’s just get this preview done without adding too much more hype to the machin...
SCOTT FROST WILL WIN A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP IN YEAR TWO!!!
(I’m so sorry, I don’t even know where that came from. This is gonna be a long week.)
About last season...
Look, there’s really only so much to talk about. Nebraska went 4-8 with losses to pretty much every team with a pulse sans Purdue. The last three weeks of the season were bloodbaths in which Minnesota, Penn State, and Iowa ran over a beleaguered defense that looked less prone to action than I do when someone mentions the word “exercise”.
Bob Diaco came in on a white horse promising to turn Nebraska’s defense around and instead threw players under the bus, looked like a petulant child, and was ran out of town. Mike Riley’s offense was led by an INT machine in Tanner Lee - who ended up being Nebraska’s only draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft because the world is strange. Oh, and then there is the whole thing where the Athletic Director was ran out of town early in the season leading to basically a slow funeral march for the staff and team.
Basically 2017 was terrible and SCOTT FROST IS HERE SO IT’S OKAY!
Offensively speaking, things have gotta be looking up, right?
There are an inordinate amount of thinkpieces out there already about what Scott Frost’s offensive identity is, and so I’m not going to even try to add to the noise. Let’s just say it’s fast, it focuses on finding weaknesses in a defense, and it uses really fast players. Basically, it’s literally the opposite of the Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf offense. Lucky for us that we only spent the last few years recruiting to that!
But seriously, the one thing we’ve left for Frost and Company is a ton of potential talent. Stanley Morgan returns as probably the second or third best WR in the conference. JD Spielman was a revelation at the spot as well. Oh, and Tyjon Lindsey was an Oregon recruit for Frost in the same offense at WR before that went to hell. Ok, maybe Nebraska can run this thing?
Nebraska also adds transfer Greg Bell to an incredibly strange RB room that includes Devine Ozigbo, Mikale Wilbon, and Jaylin Bradley. You’ve got some speed and strength to play around with in that group, but nothing proven yet either. The OL has been inconsistent the past few years, but there’s also a lot of athleticism and stars in that room. I guess what you can say from the offense is that last year was a completely different system that will be challenged a lot in 2018. It will look great sometimes and go three and out in 12 seconds other times. It’ll be weird.
The quarterback will be...
Oh right, we’ve got ourselves a quarterback competition. It really comes down to True Freshman and early enrollee Adrian Martinez - Four Star, dual threat, former Tennessee commit phenom who looked the part in the Spring Game - facing down Tristan Gebbia - a Four Star, pro-style, really accurate and strong passing RS Freshman. My money is on Gebbia to start the year because it just seems like the safe play, but don’t be surprised to see Martinez early and often. I think he finishes the year.
Nebraska was terrible defensively in 2017.
Oh, you want more from me? Schematically, we’ve gotta look at UCF, and while they weren’t always a defensive stalwart, they did force a ton of pressure and turnovers. Let’s just assume that Nebraska is going to increase their defensive efficiency immensely. I’m excited to see if Carlos Davis finally gets to go bananas on defense. He’s probably the strongest guy in the program and it’s time to not have him hesitant. Depending on how you like to think about things, Nebraska returns a lot of experience. Now we’ll see if they can actually stop someone with the ball.
Caleb Lightbourn is back and he was decent last year finishing with an average just over 42 yards per punt. Incoming Freshman Barrett Pickering will be handling field goals which basically means anything can happen. People will return the football, and I’m not sure who at this point, but last year was awful in this regard so let’s just hope it’s better in 2018.
So about that schedule... Any predictions?
Yes, I have them. Mainly, I think 6 wins would be fabulous and I’m not so sure we’re guaranteed to get there. The schedule is pretty brutal for a first year coach with crossovers against Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State. The Big Ten West is still anybody’s division more or less, so maybe Nebraska takes a few wins there and takes care of Colorado, Troy, and Akron, but even that is a tall task. Really, all I want to see is progression on offense and defense and the Scott Frost era started off with a good foundation. After last year, it’s all a person can or should hope for.
2018 Nebraska Cornhuskers Schedule
|Sat, Sept 1||vs Akron|
|Sat, Sept 1||vs Akron|
|Sat, Sept 8||vs Colorado|
|Sat, Sept 15||vs Troy|
|Sat, Sept 22||@ Michigan|
|Sat, Sept 29||vs Purdue|
|Sat, Oct 6||@ Wisconsin|
|Sat, Oct 13||@ Northwestern|
|Sat, Oct 20||vs Minnesota|
|Sat, Nov 3||@ Ohio State|
|Sat, Nov 10||vs Illinois|
|Sat, Nov 17||vs Michigan State|
|Fri, Nov 23||@ Iowa|
If you’re talking to a Nebraska fan...
It depends, do you want to hear about Scott Frost? If you do, please ask. If you don’t, I highly recommend not talking to Nebraska fans.