Friday, September 04, 2009

Prelude to the 2009 Husker Football Season

We're now less than 24 hours until another new season of Husker football begins. It's easy to overdo the superlatives, and try to make it something more than it really is. It's simply three and a half hours of football that captures the hearts and minds of most of an entire state. So tomorrow we'll don our red shirts and hats, and make the trek to Lincoln or in front of our television.

What will I be looking for?

Linebackers. Last year, the Blackshirts muddled through with a converted running back and a bunch of walk-ons as linebackers. This year, the only returning starter at linebacker is now essentially third on the depth chart at his position. Sean Fisher and Will Compton, two redshirt freshmen, are expected to start.

Secondary. Towards the end of the season, breakdowns in the secondary led to most of the points the defense gave up. FAU quarterback Rusty Smith is good enough to exploit any breakdowns, so this is a good opening test for this bunch. How well have they learned what Marvin Sanders wants? And are they ready to begin forcing turnovers?

Wide Receivers. Niles Paul is supposed to have made a huge jump. Who else will jump up and fill the hole left by Nate Swift and Todd Peterson?

Rex Burkhead. We've heard the hype, including the stories from Plano where doubters were quickly converted.

Zac Lee. Can he be a competent manager of the offense? Can he progress through his reads and not force the ball? Can he make plays with his arm and legs when necessary?

HuskerVision HD. How will the new screens and ribbon boards affect the atmosphere. Will they be intrusive? Or will they enhance the experience?

It's important to remember this is just one game, and by itself, it won't completely tell us how good Nebraska is - or isn't. Husker fans had a misguided sense of optimism after the 2007 season opener when the Huskers dominated Nevada, as it was all downhill from there. We don't know how good Florida Atlantic is or isn't, so it's important to not get too concerned either way. The main goal for tomorrow is for the Huskers to play well and not get injured. And of course, enjoy Husker football once again!

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