Ah, spring football looms in just a few
short weeks. And questions abound…
If someone used the Da Vinci code to crack
Bill Callahan’s “we’re on schedule” assessment
of the program, what would it translate to for 2007? Will Sam Keller beat
out Joe Ganz at quarterback? And how many more player parents will Dan
Hawkins rip into at a press conference?
Okay, the final one doesn’t have
much to do with Husker Nation, but it’s still good column fodder.
If you haven’t heard the audio clip, ESPN.com still has it. (“One
of the great rants in sports history,” according to the commentators.)
Worth a laugh, in that glad-it-wasn’t-our-coach way.
Yes, in case you were wondering, I haven’t
written a Scarlet Commentary in some time. Actually, my last post got
lost in cyberspace. And between book deadlines and writing projects, another
column hasn’t been in the cards until now. If you were missing me,
I’m sorry. If you weren’t, I’m even more sorry.
Speaking of 2007…looking ahead to
this year’s schedule: wow.
Here’s how it stacks up. Our non-conference
schedule includes games against three bowl teams from 2006 (Nevada, Wake
Forest, and USC). These are our first three games, in fact. And our fourth
non-conference game is against Div. 1-A Ball State—a team that narrowly
missed out on bowl eligibility last season and only lost at Michigan by
8 points. Wake will be defending ACC champs.(!) And USC will still be
It’s worth emphasizing how huge
these first three games will be: a 2006 Bowl team coming to Lincoln for
the season opener; then a road game against the reigning ACC champs and
last year’s #17-ranked team; followed by a home game against last
season’s #4-ranked team—one of the early favorites for preseason
Gee, I think I might plan to get tickets
for that last one…
Whoever ends up as our starting QB better
be ready. Talk about getting thrown into the fire. The conference schedule
is going to be rough, too, particularly in October: at Missouri, then
Oklahoma St. and A&M at home, then at Texas. All three games against
the Big 12 South are on consecutive weeks. Coming off of last year’s
disappointing finish, it will be interesting to see if our coaches and
players demonstrate a hunger (and belief in themselves) to reach the next
Last year’s season-ending losses
to Oklahoma and Auburn were all-too-similar; two top-tier teams beating
an opponent that just didn’t seem quite at the same level, coaching
included. In the Cotton Bowl, Callahan going to the razzle dazzle with
Todd and Shanle on the fake punt ranks up there as one of the strangest
gaffes in modern Husker bowl history.
The Scarlet Commentary’s wish list
for ‘07: a tight end receiving threat, healthy running backs, receivers
who don’t pout or fumble at critical times, a punt returning threat,
Octavien and Ruud on the field at the same time, a good kicker, and a
return to form for Zack Bowman.
We might have a better team than ‘06
but end up with a worse record in ‘07 simply because of the schedule.
I don’t recall that ever happening at Nebraska before. For that
not to be the case, the Huskers will need better pass defense (a place
where we finished 79th nationally last year), improved special teams,
a running game that doesn’t disappear in big games, and more consistent
play at QB against top opponents.
Can some new players and assistant coaches
get us over the hump? Spring will be an intriguing “Prologue”
to the Husker story of 2007.
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, 3, 4, 5).
Contact Jeff at this