last we saw the Nebraska Cornhuskers, they were capping a forgettable
season. But alas, it’s a new year. The calendar reads “March
2005.” Robin sightings abound, weeds are beginning to grow in
my backyard, and Gary Barnett is issuing denials…yes, it must
question is, does better football await?
follows is a Scarlet Commentary pre-spring assessment of the 2005
quarterback position is going to look different; it’s just a
matter of how soon.
Joe Dailey isn’t supplanted as the starting QB by fall, I’ll
be amazed. Someone—either Zac Taylor, Harrison Beck, or Jordan
Adams—will move ahead of Dailey. Actually, it wouldn’t
surprise me at all if Taylor beats out Dailey by the end of spring
about Zac Taylor is that NU coaches also brought in two other players
from his same junior college, Frantz Hardy (WR) and Justin Tomerlin
(likely a TE). The coaching staff seems to be tinkering with things
in order to pave the way for Taylor.
O-line again has the chance to be solid, and we’re finally going
to get to see Lydon Murtha’s 6’ 7” 315-pound frame
crashing into defenders.
running back corps headed by Corey Ross will be fine, with or without
Marlon Lucky and Leon Jackson. If these new recruits end up academically
ineligible, look for the Tierre Green spring experiment on defense
to come to an early end.
Terrence Nunn, Isaiah Fluellen, Mark LeFlore, Grant Mulkey, will be
bolstered by the aforementioned Hardy and probably a couple more newcomers
to be determined. This year’s recruiting class was heavy on
receivers—Callahan apparently feels like he can never have too
many. I think all the guys we have already are good, some even teeter
on being game-breakers, but they need someone to get them the ball
more efficiently. Regrettably, we may not be seeing much of Matt Herian
this spring. The tight end spot should be interesting.
secondary warrants concern. Last year, Cosgrove and Elmassian couldn’t
seem to figure out what they were doing here and why—meanwhile....oops
we just gave up another TD pass. Can two new cornerbacks play better
in 2005 than two experienced ones did in 2004? The coaches have seemed
high on Cortney Grixby from the very beginning. His play last year
left a lot to be desired. Titus Brothers looked good at times. Tierre
Green was All-Metro as a defensive back in high school, so maybe he
can make a mark. Based on his 5-star recruiting rating and Callahan’s
effusive praise, Zackary Bowman would seem like a lock for one of
the starting corner positions. But if he ends up starting, it will
go against the trend: JUCO cornerbacks who come to NU rarely end up
Blackshirts (recent examples: Donald DeFrand, Clifford Brye, Brandon
Harrison). In fact, you have to go back to the late 80s (Bruce Pickens
and Tim Jackson—though the latter became a safety) to find a
period where JUCO DBs cracked the first team.
for safeties has been sparse lately, so it’s anyone’s
guess who will join Daniel Bullocks as the other safety. Mike Stuntz
made All-State as a defensive back in high school, so maybe he can
make a dent here. I’m not sure if Andrew Shanle is going to
scare many opponents, but he’s not bad.
appears one of the new starting LB’s will be Steve Octavien,
and he’s expected to be solid. He’s one of the two JUCO
linebackers already enrolled at NU that I think will make an impact.
Dontrell Moore will be in the mix, too, if not a starter. A rotation
on the outside of Octavien, Moore, Stewart Bradley, and Bo Ruud should
make us decent here. Lance Brandenburgh, who was a highly recruited
2004 signee, should be intriguing in the middle. If he is good enough
to hold off Phillip Dilliard—who doesn’t arrive until
the fall—we might not be bad here.
statements about last year’s defense show he understands our
pass rush was generally weak. Enter Ola Dagunduro and Barry Cryer
along the D-line, both JUCO transfers who will participate this spring.
Having Jared Helming back on defense should help, too. Le Kevin Smith
and Titus Adams are still around, as are Adam Carriker, Jay Moore,
and Wali Muhammad. All of these guys need to make the transition from
“pretty good” to sacking opposing QBs at key moments in
I don’t expect anything noteworthy here this spring. In the
fall, hopefully Jordan Congdon can make an impact in the kicking game
and Robert Rands will make a (sorely needed) difference in the return
than Nebraska, of the teams that generally finished in the top 10
in the various recruiting rankings this year…
(13-0), Oklahoma (12-1), Georgia (10-2), Iowa (10-2), Tennessee (10-3),
Michigan (9-3), Miami (9-3)
St (8-4), Texas A&M (7-5), Florida (7-5).
were bowl teams last year and finished with a better record than NU.
seasons ago Utah was 5-6.
finished 2004 11-1.
was a ho-hum 8-5 in 2003.
year later they went undefeated.
2001, USC was 6-6 (new coach’s first season).
next year they were 11-2, and then went on to win back-to-back championships.
Oklahoma and Ohio St. went from 7-5 records in their new coach’s
first seasons to national championships the next.
Notable Incoming Players
according to the Omaha World-Herald:
Dillard (LB), Harrison Beck (QB), Marlon Lucky (RB), Leon Jackson
(RB), Zackary Bowman (CB).
March 23 start of spring practice is only a few days away. Be encouraged.
The voice of Scarlet Commentary is Jeffrey A. Leever, a Nebraska native also stuck behind enemy lines in Jefferson County, Colo. He is a 1994 graduate of the University of Nebraska (Kearney) and a freelance writer and author. Some of Jeff’s writings of the nonfootball kind can be found online at Barnes & Noble (1, 2), Amazon.com (1, 2), and MenofIntegrity.net (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Contact Jeff at email@example.com.