Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Big Red Roundtable: Return of Bo Edition

Well, now that the coaching search has ended, it's time to reconvene the Big Red Bloggers to see where Husker football is and where it might be going.

The 2007 season finished with a disappointing 5-7 record. Very few people expected this. What went wrong?

Just about everything? Seriously, this season exposed some deep problems in this program in terms of developing players, both physically as well as with fundamentals. Guys like Adam Carriker, Zac Taylor, and Brandon Jackson covered up those problems in 2006, but when they departed, cracks appeared. USC exposed those cracks, and by the time October arrived, the team was in disarray. In the end, what we found was that Bill Callahan built his staff with recruiting in mind and in this day and age where everybody has talent, you've got to be able to develop players and coach 'em up. This staff simply wasn't up to the task.

Bo Pelini takes over as head coach. Good move or bad?
Great move. It's the move that should have been made four years ago. Pelini addresses many of the glaring needs on this team. He's a fiery leader who inspires his team to outperform the opposition. He's an accomplished defensive mind who's led top defenses at three different schools in the last five years.

Nebraska fans were divided after the last coaching change. Do you see fans finally uniting?
I'm not sure...I'd sure like to think so, as I think it was pretty clear this season that changes were absolutely required. Bill Callahan might have salvaged his job in September if he would have made changes in September after the Ball State game, but allowing the defensive collapse to continue most of the season pretty much meant that he was a goner by mid-season.

By that same token, the return of much of the 2003 coaching staff probably won't sit well with the staunchest defenders of the previous coaching change.

How would you like to see Bo Pelini fill out his coaching staff? Anybody or anything in particular you are looking to see?
It looks like it's filling out quickly. On offense it looks like an interesting mix of old (Ron Brown, Barney Cotton) and new (Shawn Watson, Ted Gilmore). Can these guys mesh? On defense, it looks like Pelini is going to bring back much of his 2003 staff with a couple of additions. That looks outstanding, as the 2003 defense played harder and better than any Husker defense this century.
I feel fairly confident the defense will be much improved in 2008. My questions revolves around the offense. How much of the "West Coast Offense" will remain? Will we have a cohesive group of coaches? Then there are some more specific questions that I want to see answered. How do we replace receivers like Maurice Purify and Terrence Nunn? We lose a lot of experience at receiver. And most importantly, what happens with Marlon Lucky? Lucky is a great talent in the open field, but hasn't been exploited because he's been used primarily as a I-back. Is there a way to better utilize him and get him the ball in space?

What do you think the expectations are for Bo Pelini? Do you think he needs to win x amount or do x by a certain date?
I don't think coaches should have specific requirements to win a certain number of games. Too many variables came into play. I think Bill Callahan could have survived a 7-5 or 6-6 season this season under certain circumstances. For example, several close losses and a lot of injuries forcing him to play younger, inexperienced players. Back in the preseason, I thought he needed to win 10 games, and that was mostly to show progress. If there had been a rash of injuries at quarterback and Patrick Witt started most of the games this season, I probably would have been more receptive to 5 or 6 losses.

With that in mind, Bo Pelini should show consistent progress, winning the games he should win and not getting blown out by someone he should beat. In this day and age of college football, winning ten or eleven games each and every year might not be reasonable. Heck, Florida only won 9 games this season. Even the best programs are occasionally going to have a bad season or two. Right now, I'd be happy with a winning record in 2008. I have a feeling my expectations may go up just a little bit as next season approaches though.

What do other Big Red Bloggers think?

1 comment:

Stan said...

I agree with pretty much everything you said in this blog. It will be interesting to see if Pelini can bring all the coaches together for a common cause of getting the Big Red machine going again.

Here's my thought on Lucky. I have always been confused at Callahan's game plans. Especially over the last two seasons. I think the same could be said for his use of Lucky. In today's game, the guys making big impact at the skill positions are the guys who are used in a variety of ways. Case in point, Reggie Bush, Devin Hester, Dante Hall, etc. We need to get Lucky out into the open field at all costs. I think we should have run a lot more screens to him personally, both from the running back and wide receiver positions. Get him the ball on a reverse, a flea flicker, something. Be creative. Just get him the ball and make him a multi-purpose back. He is talented enough to do it all. Get him the ball. Especially with a lot of our wide receiver talent leaving this year, here's a great opportunity to showcase Lucky for the pros as well. Just my thoughts.