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B1G 2022, Potluck #3: Nebraska Football Defense/Special Teams Preview...and a Footless Goose?

We thought cars painted and half-buried in the ground was totally overdone, so we’re looking to a new icon for Nebraska...and metaphor for Huskers football.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 28 Nebraska at Illinois Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

CB Cam Taylor-Britt was the only member of the Huskers defense to go in the 2022 NFL Draft, but that’s not a suggestion that the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ 3-9 record was due to a lack of Blackshirt – the Huskers finished 15th in FEI’s defensive ratings in 2021, struggling to generate turnovers but standing tough at the right time on the field. To replace CTB, the Huskers have brought in secondary transfers Tommi Hill of Arizona State and Omar Brown of Northern Iowa, while Quinton Newsome will be a corner and Myles Farmer will fill in at safety.

I dunno, fill in how the Huskers will replace JoJo Domann if you want.

Really, if there’s a side of the ball that would consistently let the Huskers down last year in their eight losses by one score, it was special teams.

But a new kicker (Timmy Bleekrode, formerly of Furman) and punter (Brian Buschini, of Montana), both of whom were some of the best in FCS before transferring to Nebraska, might help. So might a dedicated special teams coordinator in Bill Busch–though he was already coaching UNL last year.

Whether it’s a lack of concentration and discipline, a lack of coaching, or some combination of, the Huskers actively lost games on special teams in 2021, spinning the chamber and firing a whole round straight into their foot.

So, writers:

1. Did you see enough progress out of the Huskers defense in 2021 to think they can continue to shut down opposing offenses in 2022?

2. Give us your explanation of Nebraska’s special teams woes.

3. Tell us YOUR OWN TEAM’S most recent or most iconic Yakkity Sax moment when punting, kicking, or returning the ball.

Buffkomodo: Honestly, I do believe that Nebraska has some talent on that roster. That said, the problems with Nebraska football lie in the staffing decisions and not on the on field talent department. Defense seems to be the most stable thing Nebraska has had under frost though so I’ll go with yes, I think they can shut down opponents in that Western division again this year. Granted the teams line up how Scotty thinks they will anyway.

Special teams, to me, is a direct reflection of the head coach. Coaches love to point out attention to detail and doing the little things right. Special teams can be a very small part of the game, but can have huge consequences if you mess it up (see Nebby 2021). Now I don’t want to say you can’t have a stinker of a year every now and then, but Nebraska special teams hasn’t really excelled at any point under Frost. Someone explain it to me until I get it, but how major programs fail to find one person in the nation to come kick field goals accurately is beyond me. It wasn’t just PK though that hurt Nebby, so maybe Scott needs to put some effort into managing his special teams better and not just delegate.

The best Yakkity Sax Indiana moment in recent memory wasn’t on special teams, but when Rutgers had that hook and ladder and backyard football play a couple years ago that went for a 60+ yard TD, only to be called back to a forward pass (barely). Indiana special teams wasn’t great last year for the first time in a long time, but the weakest part was certainly punting. No Sax moments there, just sadness.

Kind of…: I’ve already said some nice things about Nebraska, and I think I’m higher on them this year than most. I see no reason why Nebraska couldn’t at least be at the level they were last year. And, again, the defense really wasn’t the problem last year.

The special team woes were probably a combination of inattention and substandard talent. They’ve tried to address both. Honestly, they’re 5-7, at worst, last year if the special teams were 15% better. I think they could get significant ROI this year.

It was a long time ago, but the year Purdue made the Rose Bowl, they needed an OT win in Madison to get a piece of the conference title. Fortunately for the Boilermakers, the UW special teams were happy to help out:

Fortunately, more recent events have blunted that sour taste:

misdreavus79: If the defense returns most of the production from a unit that wasn’t all that bad a season ago, I don’t see how it can get worse this season. As long as they can continue to stifle opponents’ rushing attacks, that should be good enough to win some games in the West.

As per the special teams continued debacles, well, sometimes stuff escalates and before you know it you’ve dug a hole so deep that you don’t know how to get out and resign yourself to living in a well. A new season should be a new opportunity to stop the digging.

Does a series of failed 2-point conversions count as a special teams disaster?

Green Akers: I expect Nebraska to maintain pretty strong play on defense, in part because they do replace a lot of their departed defensive backs with high-ceiling replacements. Only real question is, do they have suitable fill-ins for Darrion Daniels and Deontre Thomas inside.

The special teams thing seems pretty straightforward - they didn’t have a coach! Which is not to say most special teams coaches actually know how to kick, punt, or long snap, but you at least need a point of accountability and organization on those units. As to the last question, you can’t make me think about the Arizona State game again. You CAN’T, that’s ILLEGAL.

BoilerUp89: Nebraska’s defense was mostly fine last year. The offense and special teams were the trainwrecks that kept things leaving the tracks. It’s not a great defense, but it’s serviceable. I see no reason to think that it can do the same this upcoming year - it’s not like the West has a bunch of juggernaut offenses (Purdue is the only team that wants to play a game in the 40s).

As for special teams woes, I still can’t figure out how Nebraska got sanctioned for having a non-official special teams coach conduct on field training when they don’t have an official special teams coach. And all so they could have TWO linebacker coaches. Just really asinine stuff.

MNW:

A Nebraska Cultural Icon

I…what?

Andy the Footless Goose was a plucky little fellow who embodied the indomitable Nebraska spirit. Born without feet, he waddled helplessly on stumps until Gene Fleming adopted him and fashioned little boots that allowed Andy to walk almost normally. Andy became a celebrity and even appeared in national magazines and on The Tonight Show. Tragically, the famous fowl was murdered in 1991. The crime remains unsolved, but this large memorial at the site of Andy’s former home keeps his story alive. [Only In Your State]

I’d make BRT answer for this if she were here and not gallivanting around Europe like Leslie Knope, so…uh…help, please, writers.

1. Will you commit, today, to bringing Andy the Goose’s murderer to justice?

2. If no, why not?

3. Did I want to analogize Nebraska football to a goose with no feet? Show your work.

4. Would this goose have been able to kick a football farther than some Nebraska punters? Why or why not?

5. What’s one iconic waterfowl from wherever you are that you think I ought to know about? And why did you murder it?

Buffkomodo: No. Not a fan of animal prosthetics other than when dogs/cats with…not working hind quarters…get hot wheels for legs. Then it’s adorable and I melt and laugh at the same time. I’m not a great person.

You did, tried to say Nebraska football was on a downward spiral (goose with no legs) until Scott Frost was brought in (the prosthetic) only for everyone to realize that life at Nebraska isn’t as easy as life at UCF (murder of said goose). Or that Scott Frost was a one trick pony (goose with no legs) who needed a power 5 job (prosthetic legs) to prove he’s the real deal, only for reality to be that maybe he’s not the great head coach we want him to be (murder of said coach, I mean goose).

As funny as a yes would be, human with bad leg beat goose with plastic legs. I honestly don’t know anything about fowls in southern Indiana, other than half the people I know are St. Louis cardinal fans. You can take them out if you wish, MNW.

Kind of…: Geese can be pretty mean, so Andy can go to hell for all I care. As for Nebraska analogies, of course it was intended. I don’t have to show any work. I just have to point out the numerous incidences of Scott Frost peacocking and/or squawking and the metaphor is obvious.

Iconic is asking a lot, but the Union Terrace in Madison features plenty of waterfowl that many find cute/adorable, but that I (would have) murdered.

misdreavus79:

  1. No
  2. Because I don’t have the time.
  3. I think I’m getting an F in this assignment.
  4. Well if it’s missing feet that’s a no, right? Right?!
  5. I don’t know about Massachusetts, but have you heard about New York rats?

Green Akers: Going to take a page from our inspiring elected leaders on this one: thoughts and prayers to Andy’s family and the whole footless goose community. Am I going to do anything about it? LMAO no you dipshit.

And I’m not saying anything else without my attorney present.

BoilerUp89: I’m pretty sure when a goose is killed it’s called hunting, not murdering. Goose meat is also highly nutritious. Since the goosehunter did nothing wrong (assuming they had a hunting license — if Nebraska even has such things), I see no reason to involve the authorities or get involved in any way.

Last season, the Cornhuskers punting game probably would have been better if it involved a goose with no feet. Oh, I’ve already answered your next question. And look, the birds were already dead when I fed them to that jet engine. As for why I fed them to the jet engine, well the engine looked hungry and we didn’t have any chicken available.

MNW: Lotta REALLY fucking suspicious goose-murderers in the comments above.

RIP, Andy. Someday we’ll find your killer and bring them to justice.