Finally, we have an idea of the size of the "SaveRosenblatt" movement: about 1.9% of the city of Omaha. Earlier today, a parallel campaign to recall Mayor Mike Fahey over the plan to replace Rosenblatt Stadium came up a dismal failure as they only obtained 40% of the signatures needed to force a recall election. The opposition to the Mayor's plan always seemed bizarre, and now with the city close to securing a long term agreement with the NCAA, perhaps it's time to dismiss the "SaveRosenblatt" folks as lunatic fringe.
Speaking of lunatic fringe, it seems the few remaining members of the Steve Pederson fan club took a lot of joy over the fumble on the opening, tribute play of the spring game. I guess now that they've been completely marginalized, they have to find SOMETHING to hold onto after their hero nearly ran the program into the ground. But if there was any doubt that the vast majority of Husker fans are glad that the last four years are history, it was erased on Saturday afternoon when over 80,000 showed up in Lincoln for a freaking scrimmage. Jon from CornNation reported that fans started lining up around 6:30 in the morning, even though they were assured of getting a seat in the stadium.
After digesting on the spring game for a few days, I'm still not sure what to think about the Huskers in 2008. It certainly didn't clarify much, other than I think the defensive line is much improved. (Either that, or the offensive line isn't as strong as we've been told.)
The success of the Husker offense is going to revolve around Joe Ganz managing the game and the stable of Husker running backs being productive. I came away from the Spring Game even more impressed with Roy Helu and Marcus Mendoza. I already liked Quentin Castille as well. That's four backs who look like they can contribute. And if Kenny Wilson can somehow get healthy again, that would make five.
Wide receiver is going to be the question mark offensively. Nate Swift and Todd Peterson are going to be the anchors, but some of the young receivers are going to have to step up this spring. Curenski Gilleylen can stretch the field, but will need to improve his hands. Chris Brooks one-handed catch showed he has good hands. With the depth at I-back looking even stronger, I've got to believe that we'll see Marlon Lucky split his time between I-back and wide receiver. If you want to get the best players on the field, you need both Lucky and either Helu or Castille on the field at the same time occasionally.
Defensively, should Husker fans be pleased or worried that a walk-on and a recently converted I-back were among the stars at linebacker last Saturday? I guess pleased, when you consider the lack of depth going into the spring. Certainly, I think the position will be stronger than I thought it would be a month ago. But it's still cause for worry, because that position only went from being a major liability to a concern.
The biggest takeaway is watching and listening to the change in attitude in the players. Almost to a man, they all seem happier than before, and it shows on the field. Will that make a difference next fall? Hard to say, but considering how horrible things were towards the end of 2007, it couldn't hurt.
But even if they improve...does that mean a better record in 2008? Improvement could mean that thirty-point blowout losses simply get cut to single digit losses. In 2004, I knew that the team would struggle with the transition in offense. In 2008, it's not so much a change in methodology but rather a change in attitude and coaching. I still could see a 9-3 or even a 10-2 record, if everything breaks right and we see incredible improvement on defense. On the other hand, 7-5 isn't hard to fathom with road trips to Norman and Lubbock, plus games against solid teams like Virginia Tech, a top-ten Missouri, and a Kansas squad coming off an Orange Bowl victory.
Maybe we'll find out more in the remaining months...but I have a feeling we really WON'T know until the end of September or perhaps the middle of October. Until then, it's all speculation.