Sunday, November 18, 2007

Revisionist Thinking on Bill Callahan

Well, it took a few days, but an attempt to rethink the expected coaching change at Nebraska finally emerged. Steve over at BigRedNetwork asks whether Husker fans really want to "toss out an offense that’s producing the most points we’ve seen since Tom Osborne was the head man?" Or more simply, is the Bill Callahan offense finally ready to explode? Shouldn't we wait and see what Joe Ganz can do in a full season as the starter?

It's an interesting idea, but we've heard these arguments before. After running up the score on Kansas State, it's true that the offensive numbers have improved. So why not giving Bill Callahan another chance?

For starters, while Joe Ganz has looked good in his two starts, the Huskers have serious questions to answer on offense in 2008. Quarterback looks promising with a now experienced Joe Ganz and an intriguing Patrick Witt. (And let's not close the door on Zac Lee either...) Running back looks to be solid with Roy Helu and Quentin Castille having another year of experience. Marlon Lucky, despite his shortcomings at I-back, could flourish if used more as an all-purpose back to showcase his talents in the passing game as well as on kick returns. But who else will catch passes in 2008? Maurice Purify, Sean Hill, Terrence Nunn, Todd Peterson, Frantz Hardy, and Dan Erickson are all seniors. Here are the returning receivers: Nate Swift, Menelik Holt (2 career catches), Chris Brooks (1 career catch), Niles Paul (1 career catch). Sense an issue here? Lack of experience at receiver is going to present an issue in 2008, and when combined with the steep learning curve in this offense, would serve to temper expectations for 2008.

Looking at Joe Ganz, he looks to be the type of player that could adapt to many systems. He ran several option plays against Kansas. He threw for 500 yards last weekend. While Bill Callahan can certainly take some pride in the development of Ganz, Ganz appears to be a more than capable quarterback.

Finally, four years ago we were told that a change in the direction of the program was needed. Nebraska fired a 75% (career and final season both) winning percentage coach, and replaced him with a coach that has lost 6, 4, 5, and 6 (and counting) games each year. Recruiting services generally like the incoming players, but few young players see playing time. Questions about talent development have become huge issues. This roster has question marks for next season at wide receiver and linebacker. Even the commitment by the head coach towards the program can be questioned, as he no longer wears Husker apparel except when required by contract to.

73 points and 702 yards are great numbers, but it was just one game in a season filled with sub-par performances in all aspects of the game. Husker fans should be pleased for the players who had a big game, but sadly enough, the burden of evidence is already clear as to where this program is headed.


brandon said...

You make valid points, Mike, but I think you're being a bit harsh on Marlon. He's been a guy who's been pretty far up on the "Trying to Bail our Asses Out" list.

After all, 950 yards rushing, 560 yards receiving and even 20 yards passing all with 12 TDs ain't chopped liver, though admittedly you'd think that last number would be a bit higher.

Husker Mike said...

Actually, I think I'm being more harsh on Bill Callahan than Marlon. I think there are better, more creative ways to use Marlon Lucky than as an I-back. He's not a traditional running back, yet we keep trying to use him as such.

Anonymous said...

Callahan did much the same with Cory Ross, repeatedly pounding him up the middle until he has an injured knee and turf toe. But virtually every time he put Ross in space, say by throwing to him in the flat, it would break for an 80 yd. touchdown. Poor utilization of personnel is a Callahan trademark.

Anonymous said...

Are you so dumb you don't remember T.O. doing his TV show in suits all the time? He rarely wore Husker gear except on game day.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Mike on many of your points but I would point out that Petersen is a Junior now so he is coming back, Swifty is a Grade A Wide Receiver. Yes, Chris Brooks has been a huge disapointment to be sure, so we can't really count on him for production. But you mentioned Niles Paul... just in passing... this young man is going to be good. And I believe mr Holt is in the same mold as Purify ... a big boy with more speed than Purify. Let's not forget Mr. Gilleylen.... yes alas a greeny (freshmen) but lets see what he can do. My Freinds and I have been saying the same thing about Marlon all season.... would love to see him play a flanker type position. Very good in the open field.

Husker Mike said...

Holt and Paul certainly have potential...but I usually wait for players to perform on the field before setting any expectations, and so far, Holt has only seen spot action at best. Paul has seen even less time.