Friday, April 13, 2007
Well, the weekend is finally upon us. It has been 103 days since the Cotton Bowl, and that's a hundred days where I've been really bored and in need of some college football. Obviously this doesnt carry the significance of a fall Saturday. Nothing is at stake in this exhibition in terms of standings or championships. But what this game does offer is a glimpse of what awaits us come August and September. Position battles have gone back and forth the past couple of weeks, and the performance in this game, while not determining the final depth chart, will go a long ways in seeing the strides made thus far during the offseason. So let's enjoy the last bit of Husker football we'll see for 5 months, and take solace in knowing that no matter what happens tommorow, Nebraska will win.
A few things about this weekend:
The coaching staff has made the smart move (but one that was a no-brainer) in making this game a recruiting event. While other schools, including football factories like Auburn and OU, bring in roughly 15,000 fans, Nebraska expects to draw 55,000-plus at their spring event (although I expect us to be north of the 70,000 mark). This offers a sneak peak to high school juniors a taste of what football means to the state of Nebraska and it's fans. This weekend, roughly 80 recruits are expected in Lincoln to take in the Red-White game, meaning the opportunity to make an indelible impression must be taken advantage of. And as the article points out, not only is the atmosphere a great way to build enthusiasm with recruits, the coaching staff is able to spend a lot more time with them than they would on a game day in the fall. Nebraska, who doesn't have the glitz and media attention provided to the Southern Cals and Miamis, has to capitalize on events like this when it comes to recruiting. Luckly, it's looking like its going to be a gorgeous spring day, with highs in the mid-50s and sunny.
This is a great opportunity for the Huskers, who have already been making a lot of noise on the recruiting trail this spring for the class of 2008. Among those attending the game this Saturday is stud QB prospect out of Missouri who stands 6'5", weighs 230 pounds, and runs his 40 in the 4.6 to 4.7 range. Now, ever since the Harrison Beck debacle, I've been slow to get excited about stud prep players, particularly quarterbacks. It's hard to stay that reserved when reading about this Gabbert kid though. It's looking like he may be this year's Jimmy Clausen, only he's not a douchebag like that kid is. Right now we are ranked among his four favorite schools, the other three being Alabama, Iowa, and Mizzou. He is actually headed to the latter's spring game next Saturday, where presumably Chase Daniel will be tutoring him on the finer points of picking his nose.
In an article by Sipple in the LJS, our defensive mastermind Cos is looking for big plays this Saturday from his defense. As everyone knows, these spring tilts are geared towards offensive fireworks. Last year, Taylor passed for 300+ yards in the first half alone. At the time, it seemed like offensive wizardry. In retrospect, it might have been a harbinger of things to come from our less-than-stellar secondary. I'm still not sold on Cosgrove's ability as a defensive coordinator. When he was at Wisconsin, their defensive units were never that strong, and it might not have been a coincidence that when he left their defensive play greatly improved. I think that his schemes are solid, but I think he (and perhaps our entire staff, judging by our horrible 3rd quarters last year) really struggles at in-game adjustments to opposing offenses. If he is stressing big plays this year, good for him. Obviously everyone wants big plays, but what I'm getting at specifically is turnovers. Last year, Nebraska was even in the turnover ratio, and while that may not be horrible, I've always thought winning the turnover battle was one of the three most important keys to winning games (the others being time of possession and having a larger score than your opponent at the end of the game). Obviously the last one was in jest, but I firmly believe in the first two, and I'm hoping that Cos is going to encourage his players to be more aggressive in looking for the strip-scoop-and-scores that we have been lacking the past few years. This, in addition to a more ball-hawkish secondary (I hope), will go a long way in winning more games, particularlly ones like USC and UT.
Thought Jeff Adams pointed out an interesting thing over on the Fanhouse: six teams in the Big 12 are currently looking at some form of QB competition. Even though a few of those have clear-cut leaders (Reid at OSU, Hawkins at sCUm), the fact that half of the teams in the conference are in some way auditioning multiple signal callers behind center means that either coaches really don't trust incumbent QBs or they want to give the illusion that there is always a competition for the job. In the case of KU, where the returning starter (Kerry Meier) had 13/10 touchdown to INT ratio, it might not be a bad idea not see what your other options are. The one I really dont understand is the one at Oklahoma State. I dont know why Gundy insists on getting Zac Robinson snaps at QB, Reid is by far the better athlete and passer. Why put the backup in for 10 plays a game just to mix things up? I've never believed in a multiple quarterback system, ever since Spurrier rotated Rex Grossman and Jessie Palmer (better known as the Bachelor) EVERY OTHER PLAY back at Florida. It's always been my belief that the other 10 guys in the huddle like to see the same face leading them every time they go out there, the thought being that continuity builds success.
Good news for me: a buddy of mine has a DVR, meaning that he is going to record the spring game for me. I would watch it at 8, but I'm a 23 year old college kid who has other things to do at that time of day. Thanks again to the NFL network for putting it on tape delay, assholes. Anyways, now that I know I'll be able to watch the game, I plan on doing a running diary (a'la Bill Simmons) and posting it on here. I know, all ten of you who read this are pretty excited. I've been trying to figure out what my schedule of posting is going to be. Right now I kind of wing it, but I'm thinking that I'm going to try to set up some kind of set format for each week. Have the Monday Morning QB on Mondays, Hot Routes on Tuesdays, some links and a look around the Big 12 on Wednesday or Thursday, and then a more "serious" piece on Fridays (this will usually be more in the format of an article, unlike my usual ramblings)......
My prediction for this weekend: Nebraska wins big. I'm hoping that the secondary steps up and shocks us with some shut-down play, even if the 1's arent going against each other.