Sunday, August 09, 2009

Football Is Back

Yesterday, the Huskers kicked off pre-season practice. My season tickets arrived with a nice-set of retro-style design. Tonight, the NFL Hall of Fame game. Yes, it's just practice and an exhibition game, but it's still football. I don't know if it's a sign of what to expect this season, but when the first touchdown of the season was scored by a punter on a 40 yard fake punt with a fake reverse, you have to figure that once again, we should expect the unexpected.

So now that practice has started, what is there to focus on? First, let's set aside those things that aren't worth focusing on in the pre-season:
  • Zac Lee. Barring injury, we know he's the starting quarterback.
  • Roy Helu and Quentin Castille. One of the best running back tandems in the Big XII.
  • Defensive Line. Ndamukong Suh is a potential first round draft pick; Barry Turner and Pierre Allen might make the Blackshirt front four one of the best in the Big XII behind Oklahoma.

So what is the focus?
  • Wide Receiver. The Huskers will need playmakers to replace Nate Swift and Todd Peterson. We know Menolik Holt will probably lead this group, but who else? Is it Niles Paul? Brandon Kinnie? Marcus Mendoza? Antonio Bell? What about Tim Marlowe or Khiry Cooper?
  • Offensive Line. Phil Steele thinks Nebraska's line is the second best in the Big XII. I'm not so sure about that. I'd like to see some of the backups start to challenge and build depth. This might actually be one of those things that we won't get a good read on until the Virginia Tech game.
  • Linebacker. Phillip Dillard sounds like he's addressed whatever issues moved him from starter to fourth string this spring. Even if Dillard doesn't start, I think Nebraska's linebacker corps will be stronger than it was last season. I'm just curious how the two-deep is going to set up. Will Blake Lawrence step up his game? Will Sean Fisher and Will Compton break through? What about Mathew May? And in the nickel, who will be the top two linebackers?
  • Secondary. Will any of the freshmen who redshirted last season, such as Courtney Osborne or P.J. Smith, shake up the two deep? How will Anthony Blue look? And can these guys cut down on the breakdowns that made November games so much closer than they really were?

I just finished a preview of Kansas State for CornNation, leaving only Colorado on the opponent previews. A lot of people have been suggesting Colorado is a "sleeper" pick in the Big XII, so I've been trying to do some extra research there. And frankly, I'm not seeing it. I'm trying to keep an open mind with the Buffs, but other than some "recruiting experts" touted some incoming players, I see far more negatives than positives. Help me out; what have I missed?


AJ said...

Good analysis, but "Roy Helu and Quentin Castille. One of the best running back tandems in the Big XII" is way off. Hell, they're not even the best tandum in the north.

Castille and Helu
231 att
1270 yds
13 TD's
5.491 ypc

Washington and Moore
217 att
1267 yds
18 TD's

Kool Aid man says, OH YEAH!!!! Other than that...good job. :)

Husker Mike said...

Helu and Castille put those numbers up as backups, not as the starter and his backup.

And you didn't disprove me either. All you've suggested is that Mizzou's tandem should be included in that discussion of "Best Tandems".