Friday, August 31, 2012

Prelude to the 2012 Husker Football Season

Once again another season of Husker football is upon us. I'll admit it, I'm optimistic about the Huskers this season. I don't buy into the talk of 7-5 or 8-4, and frankly, I don't think the doubters have much of a case for their pessimism, other that "Nebraska lost 3 regular season games and should have lost to Ohio State."

All that is true, but I still go back to, at it's core, I think Nebraska can defeat anybody on their schedule this season. Wisconsin doesn't have Russell Wilson, and the game is in Lincoln.  Michigan still has Denard Robinson, of course, but caught quite a few breaks last season. And almost nobody believes that Northwestern was really better than Nebraska. I'm not predicting 14-0, mind you.  I think they'll lose a couple of games this season and finish the regular season at 11-2, and hopefully go back to the Rose Bowl with a B1G trophy.

Some people say I look at Nebraska with rose-colored glasses; they may have a point. But I also don't look at everything with a negative bias either - even during the Bill Callahan days. Heck, I even sensed a quiet optimism about that horrible 2007 season; boy was I wrong there.

Bo Pelini mentioned playing for championships this morning at the Big Red Breakfast, which reminds me of the 2007 talk about playing for a national championship. Granted Pelini didn't use the "national" context, but what's wrong with talking about playing for championships?  Shouldn't that be the goal?  And the Big Ten championship is something that certainly is in reach for this year's squad.  It's a tough schedule, mind you...but there's nobody on that schedule that the Huskers cannot beat.  (The reverse is also true: outside of Idaho State, there isn't anybody on that schedule that the Huskers cannot lose to.)

I'm not feeling down about Taylor Martinez; he improved dramatically in his game management abilities at the end of last season.  If his ankle is finally recovered and he's improved his fundamentals for his passing, he can seriously be the best quarterback in the conference.  (Martinez's numbers aren't that much behind Denard Robinson.)  I want to see if Jamal Turner is finally ready to show us all of the talent that wowed us in the 2011 spring game. It sounds like he's ready to be a full-time player and not to be a liability without the ball.

Will we see depth evolve on the offensive line?  Will I see the second-teamers able to spell the first-teamers in the second quarter?  Keeping guys fresh up front builds depth and wears down defenses. Will we see Imani Cross at I-back?   Can Ameer Abdullah or Braylon Heard be trusted to give Rex Burkhead a break during games?

Last year's biggest problem was the defense, in my opinion.  I don't think Pelini has forgotte how to coach defense, but something wasn't right last year.  Even without Lavonte David, I think this team could be better on defense if only because I think they'll be better coached.  I'm anxious to see what the Rich Kaczenski and Terry Joseph bring to the table.  Kaczensi has an impressive record of turning out NFL talent at Iowa, and with last year's injury plagued bunch, I'm looking for a major jump in production up front.

In the secondary, it just seemed that Corey Raymond just never clicked with Pelini or the players. Players were out of position too often.  Can Joseph fix that?  I think he's built a better relationship with his players, and I'm excited to see the new guys.  Everyone knows about Mo Seisay, but I'm more curious about the Jacksons.  Harvey caught my eye in last year's spring game, and Charles is an up-and-coming youngster.

Tomorrow it all begins. I'm still on record wishing that the season didn't begin until the week after Labor Day, but that's just me.  I'd love to have one final long weekend before football begins, but if the money says we have to start this weekend, start this weekend we will.

I'm not buying Ralph Russo's prediction; with Southern Miss starting a quarterback who's never thrown a college pass and a few questions on defense (outside of defensive end Jamie Collins; watch for #8), I'm predicting a 38-9 Nebraska victory.

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