A lot of people have criticized me for my friendship with AJ the Huskerh8r... ("He's the enemy", "You're a traitor", etc. And those are the ones clean enough to reprint!) Truth be told, he's a good, entertaining writer, and on a lot of things, he's been right. We both recognized recognized the clusterfool of the "Great Raider Flunky" early on, though AJ enjoyed it a heck of a lot more than I did. And we both took our shots from the "kool-aid drinkers" who totally bought into the whole Steve Pederson/Bill Callahan fraud and refused to listen to voices of reason. AJ really reveled in exposing their responses for their complete lack of substance.
So imagine my surprise when I found myself today in AJ's cross hairs, accused of gulping the Big Red "kool aid". Granted, we don't see quite eye-to-eye about Bo Pelini. I'm cautiously optimistic he's going to turn things around in Lincoln, and he thinks there still are major problems with Husker football. Fair enough. Pelini is 1-0 as a head coach...and that was five seasons ago. He's got to put together a football team from a squad that was left behind as road kill by much of the Big Twelve last season.
Recently, we talked about Joe Ganz and whether it would have made a difference last season if he had gotten a chance to play earlier last season. In hindsight, I truly believe that Joe Ganz was the better quarterback last season. In Ganz's three starts, Nebraska scored 167 points. In Sam Keller's last six starts, Nebraska scored 166 points. No matter how you look at it, Nebraska's offense became much more effective once the unheralded Ganz took over.
AJ disagrees, though. He points out that Ganz lit up Kansas State (#89 in defensive pass efficiency) and Colorado (#73). On the other hand, he dismisses Kansas (#9 in defensive pass efficiency). He points out that Keller played against USC (#6 nationally in defensive pass efficiency) and Wake Forest (#14 nationally). Fair enough. But then he forgets how Keller played against Oklahoma State (#103 nationally) and Texas A&M (#91).
In his nine starts, Sam Keller threw for 14 touchdowns. Joe Ganz threw for 16 touchdowns in six games (3 relief appearances, 3 starts). He suggests that Ganz's passing stats were inflated by garbage time when Nebraska was down by 40 points. Which isn't exactly true. Ganz did throw one touchdown pass when Kansas led by 45...but also threw touchdown passes to give Nebraska a 14-7 and cut a Kansas lead to 28-21 and 48-31.
But when AJ talks "garbage touchdowns," he's got his statistics all backwards in this case. Against Southern Cal, Keller threw two touchdown passes in the final five minutes of the game to turn a 49-17 deficit to 49-31. Against Oklahoma State (remember, #103 defense in pass efficiency), Keller threw two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to avert a home shutout. That's four out of Keller's fourteen touchdowns in "garbage time". In contrast, Ganz threw two fourth quarter touchdown passes against Kansas State when Callahan ran up the score. So by my math, that's three garbage touchdowns for Ganz versus four for Keller.
AJ can disagree with me all he wants, but the statistics sure show that Ganz was the more effective quarterback last season.
But AJ didn't stop there, as he starts setting the stage to claim that Husker fans are going to turn Joe Ganz into the next Steve Young. AJ had a lot of fun last year with Husker fans prematurely anointing Sam Keller as Jesus Christ, Quarterback. So why not go for the sequel with Joe Ganz in the lead role?
Except I've never made a case that Ganz is going to be that kind of quarterback. I think he was better than Keller, but we don't know about the other contenders. I've liked Patrick Witt's makeup and I've heard nothing but good things about his play. Zac Lee is supposed to be very mobile and has a cannon for an arm. I'm not assuming anything. Ganz has the edge in experience at this point. I'm curious what we'll see from all three quarterbacks in the spring game.
Is Ganz the answer at quarterback? Don't know. I do firmly believe that much of Nebraska's problems can be placed on Bill Callahan and Kevin Cosgrove, but that's just a belief. We simply won't know until this fall. Right now, it's just an opinion. Or maybe just a hope.
We won't know for sure one way or another until this fall. Until then, it does make for an interesting debate.