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How much better can Nebraska’s offense get? // B1G 2019, Nebraska Potluck #2

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From the McRib to McSorely, we’re talking the best comebacks in the offensive and offenses.

KFC Launches Controversial Double Down Burger Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images

On we march, straight into Day 2 of Nebraska Week.

Are you having fun yet? Are you a Nebraska Cornhuskers fan who’s wandered in here and wondered why the hell a picture of a KFC Double Down is gracing the front page of a Big Ten football blog?

Nebraska fans, this is more for us than it is for you, because we love to learn about the cuisine innovations that you’ve given us. (It’s not the Double Down; we’ll get there.) Since we’re preparing ourselves to declare NEBRASKA BAKK, we’re also going to slow down and appreciate the culinary contributions of Nebraska to the world. And why not enjoy something that’s also periodically bakk?

Question #1: Fast Food Comebacks

Hell yeah, baby, the McRib was invented in Nebraska! [Don’t let the Nebraska History Museum rain on your parade by saying it was just the technology...what the hell do historians know?] From about a dozen different sources:

In the 1970s, the National Pork Producers Council asked University of Nebraska Professor Emeritus Roger Mandingo to come up with a product made from pork trimmings that could be sold to McDonald’s. McDonald’s chefs came up with the shape of the patty and the special sauce.

THERE’S SO MUCH TO UNPACK HERE. Roger Mandingo, most notably.

So talk about your favorite fast food comeback: Is it the McRib resurfacing? Szechuan Sauce? The KFC DoubleDown? What would you drag out of retirement?

Beezer07: Burger King sold cheesy tater tots for what seemed like a while and now doesn’t. It’s more likely that they sold them for about three months but I ate enough to last three years. Either way, taking a surprisingly well-made tater tot and injecting it with cheese was delicious back in 2007 and it’d be delicious now. Tied with cheesy tots for “please bring this back” is the Taco Bell volcano burrito. That thing was awesome, any time of day.

WhiteSpeedReceiver: As a simple child of the 80s and 90s, there is one answer for me: Pizzeria Chips.

BRING THEM BACK, KEEBLER! And don’t scrimp on the sodium.

BigRedTwice: I thought it was hilarious when Amigos brought back the horrifying “Yankee Burrito” a couple of years ago, mainly because I remember my brother eating those disgusting things on the reg in our youth. (For the uninitiated, it’s a hot dog wrapped in American cheese, and then wrapped in a fried burrito. You should never eat one.)

I don’t have any fast food comebacks, but I was very sad that Pure Leaf Tea apparently has gotten rid of their honey green tea flavor. I haven’t seen it in ages, though now they have about 400 other gross flavors.

MNW: I put the Double Down here specifically because I never tried it the first couple times around, and it’s one of the great regrets of my life. I mean, I’m not a particularly small man, but I feel like I’m ready to try Atkins again, and Double Down seems right up that alley.

Poll

Which would you want to see come back?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    McRib, again
    (29 votes)
  • 22%
    Double Down
    (24 votes)
  • 14%
    Cheesy Tots
    (16 votes)
  • 18%
    Taco Bell Volcano Burrito
    (20 votes)
  • 3%
    Pizzeria Chips
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    Yankee BUrrito
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    Pure Leaf Honey Green Tea
    (4 votes)
  • 7%
    OTHER! (Comments, yo.)
    (8 votes)
108 votes total Vote Now

Question #2: Year-to-Year Improvements

Football: Let’s look at some quarterbacking numbers:

A and B are the two seasons of McKenzie Milton under Scott Frost, and C is Adrian Martinez’s freshman year. Having already led all freshman QBs by producing 291.5 yards of total offense per game, Martinez could be an unholy terror if the second year jump under Scott Frost is any indication.

And Nebraska fans should be (and probably are!) understandably optimistic, again, about Scott Frost’s ability to develop an offense. Take a look at the jump in those stats and rankings in his two years at UCF, along with Nebraska’s first year with Frost at the helm.

Now, there are some caveats: Devine Ozigbo is gone. Stanley Morgan is gone. Maurice Washington...uh…

With the addition of JUCO C Josh Wegener and speedster recruit Wandale Robinson—who’s evoked Rondale Moore comparisons—along with the continuity offered by WR J.D. Spielman and OL stalwarts Brenden Jaimes and Matt Farniok, the pieces are certainly there for the Huskers to take a leap.

With that in mind, and excusing the delusion of the Omaha World-Herald writer who “would not be surprised to see [Martinez] in New York as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy” (that’s not a cherry-picked quote—that shit is straight outta the tap), carve out the middle ground where the Nebraska offense finishes in 2019. Should we be expecting Adrian Martinez to clean up at the Big Ten PotY awards, or will the defenses of the Big Ten West put a damper on a coming-out party?

Bonus: Who’s the biggest individual year 1-to-year 2 leap you can recall in your program’s history?

87townie: It’s a wee bit disingenuous to compare that 2017/2018 UCF team with this Nebraska team. That 2018 squad put more kids in the NFL than any other year except 2003 (Asante Samuel’s class). In other words, that UCF team was loaded with talent.

Nebraska has an outstanding quarterback. As we saw last year, that’s not always enough. He’s going to need a lot of help from the big boys up front.

A good offense starts with the line (right Wisconsin?).Fortunately, the offensive line are all experienced players. That will help improve this team from last year.

In PSU terms, I think Trace McSorley had the biggest year 2 to year 3 jump I’ve ever seen:

The 2017 campaign had one fewer game played. His rushing stats also improved dramatically. He had almost equal attempts both years, but increased his YPC from 2.5 to 3.5. And he scored 11 touchdowns in 2017 vs 7 the previous year.

All those stats have to be put in the light of an improved offense under Joe Moorehead as well as using Saquon Barkley as your option guy…

WSR: Ready for the hottest of hot takes? If Nebraska isn’t one of the 3 top offenses in the West, they’re a colossal failure.

I mean, please ignore the fact that there are only 3 teams in the division that even try playing “offense” (No, wisconsin, you aren’t one of them.) And with Martinez more than likely being one of the 3-4 best players in the division and more than likely being able to develop and grow more, I fully expect that they should be one of the more entertaining teams to watch this fall. Yards and points shouldn’t be an issue, and I really hope the defense doesn’t improve so teams can take turns racking them up.

Dead Read: I think the offense is going to be formidable.

Should he stay healthy, I expect Martinez to throw for 3,300 yards and run for 500. Depending on how many games Nebby wins, Martinez has a chance to be on the All-B1G team, though probably not first team. I think Spielman will get about a thousand yards receiving, and the running game could get close to a thousand out of the top running back.

Who will that RB be? TBD. The line really needs to pick up its game, particularly in short yardage situations. Win or lose, the offense should be fun to watch. They will put points on the board.

The defense, on the other hand? /shudders/ The defense will probably put points on the board, too. [More on that tomorrow!]

BRT: Offensively, I will spend the season being terrified about Adrian Martinez’s health. I’m afraid those bastards in Colorado will do him dirty again. They really are the worst. Barring that, I expect the offense to be good enough to keep the Huskers in contention in most of their games.

Beez: Martinez’s health with be key to whether he finishes behind OSU’s Justin Fields in the QB All-B1G spot and behind Fields, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, and Rondale Moore in the POTY competition. If Martinez is healthy, Nebby’s offense we’ll be good, he’ll finish just behind all those guys I mentioned, and Nebby will have the third-most total yards of any offense in the B1G. If he isn’t healthy...uh oh. Nebby’s WRs are great, but no Martinez and an unknown QB won’t be ideal.

To WhiteSpeedReciever: Nebraska plays “real” offense, as does Purdue (well...Rondale Moore does).

Assuming Wisconsin isn’t one of the teams who plays real offense...who in the West does other than those two? Granted, I forget who the bottom feeder teams in the division are, but I’m fairly certain Minnesota and Illinois are two of them and they will be bad on offense. Northwestern was terrible on O the year they won the division, although with a highly-touted QB transfer they should REALLY be able to run Bowser up the middle a bunch.

Is Iowa the other “real” offense?

beez: Martinez’s health with be key to whether he finishes behind OSU’s Justin Fields in the QB All-B1G spot and behind Fields, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, and Rondale Moore in the POTY competition.

If Martinez is healthy, Nebby’s offense we’ll be good, he’ll finish just behind all those guys I mentioned, and Nebby will have the third-most total yards of any offense in the B1G. If he isn’t healthy...uh oh. Nebby’s WRs are great, but no Martinez and an unknown QB won’t be ideal.

To WhiteSpeedReciever: Nebraska plays “real” offense, as does Purdue (well...Rondale Moore does).

Assuming Wisconsin isn’t one of the teams who plays real offense...who in the West does other than those two? Granted I forget who the bottom feeder teams in the division are, but I’m fairly certain Minnesota and Illinois are two of them and they will be bad on offense. Northwestern was terrible on O the year they won the conference, although with a highly-touted QB transfer they should REALLY be able to run Bowser up the middle a bunch.

Is Iowa the other “real” offense?

MNW: Um, I’m not sure why we’re just suddenly counting out that Northwestern, led by Pat Fitzgerald and Mick McCall, will deny all their instincts and run an offense that plays to its quarterback’s strengths instead of just running Isaiah Bowser over and over again. Come on, guys.

I’m most curious to see what Nebraska does when they’re moving the ball on the ground. I don’t doubt that Martinez and Spielman will put up All-B1G numbers through the air, but someone to balance the threat Martinez poses with his leg would be nice. I’m thinking about his 125-yard rushing performance against Minnesota and wondering—”Dear God, what if he can sustain that?” Teams like Northwestern and Michigan had more success at containing Martinez on the ground, and barring Nebraska’s evolution into a full spread offense—which ends well, I know—they still need to run the ball to win the West.

Poll

Where does the Nebraska offense finish?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Best in the Big Ten!
    (45 votes)
  • 48%
    Best in the West, but Ohio State still exists
    (100 votes)
  • 19%
    Just outside the top tier of B1G offenses
    (40 votes)
  • 10%
    Sophomore slump—mediocre or worst
    (21 votes)
206 votes total Vote Now

Now that the “grunt and spit and drink a beer” part of the potluck is over, tell us how you think the Huskers offense will fare in 2019. Is this team one running back away from a Big Ten West-leading offense? Can Scott Frost continue the Year 1-to-Year 2 transformation he showed at UCF? Will we see Adrian Martinez in New York?