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B1G 2020, Nebraska Potluck #3: Blackshirts and Red Beer—Gross Things That Definitely Exist

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Erik Chinander and the Nebraska defense need to take a huge stride in 2020—but are “good defense” and “Scott Frost-coached team” compatible? Also...what is red beer, and why?

Nebraska Spring Game Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

We talked yesterday about Nebraska’s offensive potential, but...at some point they oughta realize a little defensive potential, huh?

The Huskers went from 94th in total defense in the first year of Scott Frost and DC Erik Chinander on the job, but just to 67th last year. A defense supposed to generate turnovers is under water in the take-give. In-game adjustments have been...uh, if you could name one, I’d be appreciative. Slants and receivers underneath...well, if you tried covering them, maybe that’d help.

While the Huskers rose to 55th in defensive S&P+ in 2018 and are poised to hold that spot again in 2020, the question remains as to if it’ll be good enough. Nebraska gets the return of S Deontai Williams, Dicaprio Bootle remains All-Name at CB, and JoJo Domann anchors the linebacking corps — but the Huskers have to replace their entire defensive line: Ty Robinson, at 6’6” and 315, is a massive defensive end who should anchor the rebuilt line, with Darrion’s younger brother Damion Daniels bringing his 340# to the NT spot and the lighter Deontre Thomas bookending him.

Eric Chinander is emphasizing the size and length his new players will have to better fit the Huskers’ 3-4 system, but after spending the last 5-6 years as an average-to-bottom half defense, we’ll wait for proof on that with Nebraska. So tell me, writers:

(1) Any reason to feel positive about the Nebraska defense going forward? Will we see a return of the Blackshirts any time soon?

(2) Give us a recent defense that, for all its playmakers or big names (like Khalil Davis) just could not get off the field or impose its will.

Jesse: So uh, here’s the thing. I kind of do feel positive about the defense. I know, I know. It’s not great, but hear me out for a second. The line play should actually be better this year despite losing the Davis twins, and I think it’s partly because they have recruited for a 3-4 finally. I believe Ty Robinson steps into a starting position as a RS Freshman this year, and I think he’s going to be a star. He’s kind of grown into the size he needs for the Big Ten, and I think he won’t get pushed around as easy as Khalil was when our OLB weren’t rushing full speed ahead.

The LB are still a huge question mark, as I mentioned on Monday, but I can live with that if the secondary is as good as I hope it will be. Deontai Williams should have been a star last year but an injury in camp took him out and put Nebraska in a position where it was starting young guys everywhere. That experience should pay off this year.

As for a defense that should have played better than it did, give me 2012 Illinois who was terrible but also had Akeem Spense.

Stew: Gotta see it to believe it. UNL’s strength, it’s secondary, may not be the greatest strategy in the Big Ten West. Really, the only team that’s gonna be a real asset is against Purdue. And in a 3-4, the LBs NEED to be the best part, just look across the division at wisconsin. If the LBs don’t know where to go, or can’t get there, teams are just going to gash that defense in the running game.

BRT: The world is terrible, and also, I assume, so is our defense. They may feel free to prove me wrong at any time though.

WSR: I feel pretty confident that the Nebraska defense won’t make you feel terrible BRT, but that’s just because we’re not going to have any games.

One of the big problems the “blackshirts” have been facing is that they just can’t get people off the field without a bit of luck. The easiest explanation? They’re soft. Teams have ran over and past for more than 220 yards per game at 5.6 a pop both years of the Scott Frost era. That’s a recipe for disaster anywhere, especially in the B1G West. I’m loathe to give Scott Frost any credit, but when he was standing in front of the media calling the team soft for wearing sweatshirts while wearing a sweatshirt, he may have been partially right.

pkloa: There’s a good chance the blackshirts don’t give up a single yard this year.

Beez: I am 100% pro-3-4 defense, as I think it can basically be a silver bullet for teams who can’t get elite talent at four d-line positions. Will it work in Nebby this year? Probably not, but it’s absolutely a step in the right direction!

I’m going to nominate Michigan’s defense the last two seasons. Just specifically the game against OSU from two years ago where they gave up approximately 3 games worth of points and passing yards in a single game against OSU.

While we’ve paid homage to Nebraska’s signature, wholesome drink—the pride of Hastings, NE: Kool-Aid!—Huskers football has been anything but an ice-cold glass on a warm day and a wholesome Fourth of July parade down the town’s Main Street.

Instead, it’s been angry press conferences. Blown leads to hated rivals and Sun Belt teams. Nary a Heroes Trophy in years—how have they not beaten fucking Iowa?

To cope with this hangover, we’re going to grab one of those signatures of small-town Midwestern bars: A red beer.

The bland cousin of a Michelada, red beer is basically what it looks like: tomato juice or bloody mary mix + shitty light beer. That’s it. That’s the tweet.

So give us your hottest red beer takes, writers:

(1) Wouldja/haveya/whyyyyy, and
(2) Is there anything weird you’ve been known to mix with/put in regular beer? Share those tailgate and townie bar recipes.

Stew: No. But I also just plain don’t like tomato juice. So this is not for me.

As for beer mixes, I’ll plug the Milwaukee Lunchbox, which is a shot of gin into an IPA. It’s really good. You should try it.

But something I used to enjoy quite a bit in college were Strip and Go Naked beer cocktails. A light beer mixed with lemonade and vodka. Since we were in college we just made giant batches of it for an afternoon. A 1.75 of cheap vodka, a 12er of cheap, light, beer, and some lemonade concentrate mix and/or some lemonade powder mix.

BRT: I had literally never heard of this until I began working in a small-town restaurant and bar at age 16. It turns out, as MNW notes, that it really is a popular drink in a small-town Midwestern bar. It doesn’t sound very good to me, but there are worse questionable choices for people to make (see the Bad Ideas Power Poll from a few years ago, for example.) Red Beer didn’t even make the list.

I came to beer late in life, and consequently am a snob about it, so I don’t dilute its essence with anything weird because I paid $5 a glass for it.

WSR: Yeah, I’ve had a Miller Lite with tomato juice from visiting Nebraska fans before. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad at all. I could be convinced to have another one, especially if you replaced the beer with a Minnesota one or Nebraska one.

And as for concoctions, my very old and very cantankerous German grandmother has spent most of my life making some horrific variation of boilermakers. Ingredients? Blatz and Yukon Jack canadian whiskey. I can hear your stomach churning right now, so I’ll share the recipe fast: Get an ice cold mug out of the freezer, pour a shot of whiskey in, and then fill up the mug with your Blatz. Then put that sonofagun down before the mug defrosts.

Just typing it out gave me goosebumps, which is what thinking about that horrific mix has done every time since the first time she shared it with me.

pkloa: Suppose I’d drink one of those if offered, but no chance would I buy one. Like Stew, I don’t like tomatoes very much. Also like Stew, I enjoy Milwaukee Lunchboxes. Seriously, next opportunity you have, try one. Even if you’re the “I’m not an IPA person” person, try it anyway.

My actual concoction is homemade grapefruit bitters (not claiming I did them right) in hefeweizen. The notes highlighted dance on both the front and read taste buds.

MNW: I have never had one of these or a michelada, but...nah, that’s a no from me. Bloodies are only palatable if/when you make them at least ½ vodka and ¼ hot sauce, so I don’t think a straight “beer + tomato juice” joint is getting it done here.

Stew is, of course, preaching the gospel here. The best part is that there are so many different styles of IPA and gin that you can mix and match them—and enjoy a range of flavors.

The only other beer mixology experiences that come to mind:

  • Your pretty standard Radler-style mixture, adding lemonade. I had a delicious pub ale at Molly’s Pint Brewery in Murphysboro, IL, just down the road from Southern Illinois, where they did this. It was good. I recommend it, but I do not recommend “putting a pickle in the saison”, which I can promise you is (1) not a euphemism, and (2) a terrible way to waste a saison.
  • The South Dakota Martini: Take Coors Light (or similar light beer). Add 2-3 olives. Sip.

Beez: I’d sip that red beer but I would not like it. I can’t deal with tomato juice as a drink, and no, I don’t “just have to try this one bloody mary because they make it the best!” so stop asking. Tomato juice is a garbage food.

I….don’t think I’ve ever mixed anything with beer. Does doing car bombs on St. Patrick’s Day count? It does? Great! I’ve done that.

Poll

Red beer?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Hell yes!
    (31 votes)
  • 31%
    Sure, if it’s offered.
    (41 votes)
  • 44%
    Absolutely not.
    (57 votes)
129 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which of these mixtures appeals to you?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Strip-and-go-naked
    (16 votes)
  • 20%
    The Milwaukee Lunchbox: A RANGE OF FLAVORS
    (27 votes)
  • 9%
    A Boilermaker
    (12 votes)
  • 18%
    Shandy
    (25 votes)
  • 12%
    Red beer
    (16 votes)
  • 12%
    Car bombs?
    (17 votes)
  • 5%
    /sniffs dismissively: "I would NEVER."
    (7 votes)
  • 9%
    Something else you’ve forgotten, you oafs.
    (13 votes)
133 votes total Vote Now