Articles by Tad Stryker

Stryker Report: Finally, a relaxing evening at the stadium

9/16/19 | Tad Stryker
One-sided Husker victories with second-string players getting valuable snaps have been rare lately. Fans enjoyed the opportunity during Nebraska's 44-8 win over Northern Illinois Saturday night, Sept. 14. Youngsters and players got to share the joy afterward.    

Stryker: Four-D defense slams door on Northern Illinois

9/15/19 | Tad Stryker
It may be a bit much to call it the “Big D Family Reunion,” but the Davis brothers and the Daniels brothers stood shoulder to shoulder to accomplish a rarity for a Husker defense these days — keeping the opponent out of the end zone all game long. Nebraska found a bit more more offense during the first-ever night game…

Stryker: Belief in Frost, Martinez takes big hit in Colorado loss

9/7/19 | Tad Stryker
Remember a couple of weeks ago, when quite a few people (including me) were optimistic about Nebraska’s chances in the Big Ten West this season based on the logic that the Cornhuskers had the best coach-quarterback combination in the league? Well, we don’t look so smart now. The Scott Frost-Adrian Martinez connection is off to an unexpected stumbling start in…

Stryker: Blackshirts’ 5 takeaways bail out frustrating offense

8/31/19 | Tad Stryker
The good news: there were no thunderstorms in Lincoln Saturday. The bad news: There was very little thunder or lightning in the Nebraska offense Saturday. So you were ready for a big opening-game statement. So you figured Adrian Martrinez and the Husker offense would slice up South Alabama and the second-team offensive line could get some much-needed work in the…

Stryker Pregame Perspective: Ready for first look at Wan’Dale Robinson

8/31/19 | Tad Stryker
It’s Scott Frost’s second season in Lincoln, but Nebraska football seems newer than ever, and excitement was at a high level on campus despite rainy Saturday morning weather. New faces bring new expectations, and my pregame question focused on Cornhuskers making their first game appearance. I asked 100 Husker fans this question before they entered the stadium for the NU-South…

Stryker: Retooled defensive line key to Husker resurgence in 2019

8/11/19 | Tad Stryker
Hurricanes never blow in from the Great Lakes, and tornadoes are not on people’s minds in the Rust Belt as much as they are out on the Great Plains. For decades on the football field, the Big Ten has been comfortable with predictability. Ohio State and Michigan battle for top honors. It’s just expected, although Penn State and Michigan State…

Stryker: The 50 most significant Husker plays, Part Two

7/21/19 | Tad Stryker
“Memories make us rich,” a wise old sportswriter once said. Cornhusker fans of a certain age have plenty of memories to draw upon. If you haven’t been around that long, I hope this column, and a rising tide of Husker excellence, inspire you to start your own list. Talk about a rich heritage. There are far too many significant Husker…

Stryker: The 50 most significant Husker plays, Part One

7/14/19 | Tad Stryker
Of all the biggest, most significant plays in Nebraska football history, it’s amazing how few of them have come in Memorial Stadium. Or so I thought, until I started digging into the research for this column (or rather two columns; the second will come next weekend), which give my list of the 50 most significant Husker football plays in the…

Stryker: Building a team-first mentality doesn’t happen easily

6/16/19 | Tad Stryker
Scott Frost was baptized by fire in Year One. He is getting another baptism — by leisure — as he approaches Year Two. The events of this June are one reason why hardcore college football fans hate the off-season. Maurice Washington and Wan’Dale Robinson — two highly touted athletes who have the ability to make Frost’s offense explode — instead, made…

Stryker: Upcoming season will pivot on home games against West foes

5/23/19 | Tad Stryker
I recently watched BTN’s “Big Ten Elite” football retrospective honoring the 1997 Nebraska team. The director did a good job playing up the strongest story lines — Tom Osborne’s final season, the Blackshirt dominance of Grant Wistrom and Jason Peter, the rise of linebacker-mentality quarterback Scott Frost. It was at least as good as the network’s piece on the 1997…

Stryker Report: Shutdown pitching, Hagge defensive heroics bite ASU

5/11/19 | Tad Stryker
The dogs of Lincoln showed up for “Bark in the Park” Saturday, May 11, as Nebraska faced Arizona State, a team with a lot of bite in its lineup. The Sun Devils’ highly touted offense smashed four home runs against the Huskers the previous night, but could not get any traction on this day against Husker starter Nate Fisher, who…

Stryker: Put Martinez under center as an occasional changeup

5/5/19 | Tad Stryker
On the road to creating a high-force offense with Oregon speed and Husker power, Scott Frost needs to find a way through a boggy valley. It’s not a long valley. On the contrary, in 2018, the problems often came on third-and-short. In general, with freshman Adrian Martinez running the offense, the Cornhuskers showed signs they’re on the way to becoming…

Stryker report: Family rituals mark end of spring game

4/19/19 | Tad Stryker
It was a day for family April 13 at the annual Red-White spring game in Lincoln. Coach Scott Frost had an unexpected Husker family reunion with a former teammate, defensive back Michael Booker. Meanwhile, young Husker fans lined up under the North Stadium hoping for a handshake or a high five as they honored their heroes on the way to…

Stryker: Spring football is family time in Nebraska

4/13/19 | Tad Stryker
Cornhusker fans are knowledgeable, and when the stakes are high, they are as intense as any in college football. But spring football is not one of those times. Spring football in Nebraska is a family reunion, a glorious picnic. It’s the time to see who the new sons, grandsons, nephews look like and what they can do. It’s the time…

Stryker Pregame Perspective: Recent hirings raise Husker fans’ optimism

4/13/19 | Tad Stryker
With a brutally cold and snowy winter finally in the rearview mirror, Cornhusker fans filled the streets, restaurants, bars and tailgate sites of Lincoln on a sunny but cool and windy morning before the annual Red-White football game. If today’s pregame survey is any indication, most share the sentiment, “It’s a good time to be a Nebraska fan.” Despite no…

Stryker video: Husker baseball pounds Purdue in series opener

4/6/19 | Tad Stryker
Military Appreciation Weekend and a Big Ten series against Purdue got underway Friday night, April 5, at Haymarket Park. Carter Cross got things going with a two-run single, and the Husker offense scored six in the first, never looking back on the way to a 17-0 victory over the Boilermakers. Cam Chick had a first-inning RBi single. Starting pitcher Mike…

Stryker: Better depth means upturn in chronically weak defensive line

3/29/19 | Tad Stryker
For most of a decade, the defensive line has been the Nebraska football program’s major on-field weakness. Those of us who saw Rich Glover, Larry Jacobson and Broderick Thomas terrorize opponents during the Devaney-Osborne era still have trouble coming to terms with that. Like a persistent cancer, perpetual unsoundness in the trenches has plagued the Huskers ever since Ndamukong Suh…

Stryker video: Waldron, Fisher strong 1-2 punch to open conference baseball sked

3/23/19 | Tad Stryker
Behind great starting pitching from Matt Waldron and Nate Fisher, the Nebraska baseball team opened its conference schedule by sweeping  a doubleheader from Michigan State March 22. The Huskers won the opener 4-1, as Waldron threw a two-hit complete game, striking out six batters without a single walk. The senior righthander  improved his record to 3-0 this season. He retired…

Stryker: Looking outside the box to fill NU coaching vacancy

2/23/19 | Tad Stryker
It’s been about two weeks since defensive line coach Mike Dawson announced his resignation Feb. 11, a transaction that both creates a problem and opened new possibilities for the Nebraska football program. When Scott Frost was hired, it was widely expected that offense would be the strength of his team. That turned out to be true in Year One, and…

Stryker: Mills signing big step toward run game diversity

1/21/19 | Tad Stryker
Any team serious about winning the Big Ten must be solid at the line of scrimmage. But it’s doubly true for Nebraska. Any Cornhusker quest to rise to win the West starts with these two non-negotiables: run the ball well, and control the other team’s running game. The good news is that with a year’s worth of evidence on the…

Stryker: Shorten NCAA regular season to 11 games, expand playoff to 8 teams

1/1/19 | Tad Stryker
Is four enough? Would eight be enough? Would even 16 be enough? More than any other, major college football is a sport of endless disputes. For its millions of fans, this is an issue that will never disappear. Not if the College Football Playoff field remains at four until its current contract expires at the end of the 2025 season.…

Stryker: How much better will Duval alone make 2019 Huskers?

12/5/18 | Tad Stryker
In Scott Frost’s first season, Nebraska barely missed breaking even with a team significantly lacking in size and strength. It’s just a benchmark — playing .500 football is not something for a Cornhusker team to get excited about — and it shows just how far behind the Nebraska strength and conditioning program fell during three years under Mike Riley. This…

Stryker: Huskers fought from behind all season to build a brighter future

11/23/18 | Tad Stryker
Scott Frost served notice at Big Ten Media Days. "People better get us now," he said, "because we're going to keep getting better." Eight teams stepped up and took their shot, five of them beating Nebraska by less than a touchdown during Frost’s maiden voyage at his alma mater. A lost-turned-found-season finished on a bittersweet note on Black Friday, with…

Stryker: Huskers want late-season surge to honor seniors

11/10/18 | Tad Stryker
Scott Frost is making the transition from frustrated father to a proud papa. No, I have no clue how his 1-year-old son is doing. I’m talking about who he deals with inside Memorial Stadium during Year One — the players he inherited and the players he recruited. In the relaxed atmosphere of his postgame press conference, just for a moment,…

Stryker Pregame Perspective: Bad-weather games bring warm memories

11/10/18 | Tad Stryker
In the Northern Great Plains, inclement weather inevitably collides with football Saturday, although not as often as we might think. Before Nebraska hosted Illinois on a windy, wintry day, I departed from my usual pregame surveyor 100 Husker fans, and went out in search of their bad-weather game stories. Most years, Lincoln experiences temperatures in the 20s or 30s in…

Stryker: Huskers enjoy family fun day, starters rest in Bethune-Cookman rout

10/27/18 | Tad Stryker
Nebraska players and coaches have kept their heads up after finding some brutally unexpected ways to lose games over the season’s first half. So after a baptism by fire, a little R&R and comfort food may not be a bad idea. That’s just what Nebraska’s football team and fan base got on a beautiful October afternoon. A picnic-atmosphere 45-9 win…

Stryker Pregame Perspective: Vedral has a large following

10/27/18 | Tad Stryker
Nebraska fans recognize that in freshman Adrian Martinez, they have a budding all-conference-caliber quarterback growing up before their eyes. But they also hope to see a local athlete make good as his backup. Noah Vedral, who played his high school football at Bishop Neumann in Wahoo, has a lot of fans anxious to see him get some playing time. He…

Stryker: Huskers strike early and often, end long winter by thrashing Minnesota

10/20/18 | Tad Stryker
As dusk settled over Memorial Stadium at the end of a gorgeous October day, the remains of a long nightmarish winter melted away, leaving the sensation of spring as it settled over the Sea of Red while the clock counted down the final minutes to Nebraska’s 53-28 victory over Minnesota Saturday. Long losing streaks aren’t supposed to happen at the…

Stryker Pregame Perspective: Ziggy in top form at midseason – again

10/20/18 | Tad Stryker
Devine Ozigbo has impressed Nebraska fans with excellent starts to back-to-back seasons, according to my surveys at the midpoints of the 2017 and 2018 seasons. On Saturday morning before the Minnesota game, I reprised my midseason survey of the previous year, with a slight twist. My question last season was, “Who was Nebraska’s most valuable player during the first half…

Stryker: Huskers add to bad reputation by puking up big fourth-quarter lead

10/13/18 | Tad Stryker
As Nebraska’s football family battles its way through unprecedented self-inflicted pain and suffering, there are no shortage of opinions on the best way to end it. And not all Nebraska fans are handling it well. You already know that if you listened to the postgame radio call-in shows. Nebraska’s dirty laundry is being broadcast throughout the nation. Some people look…

Stryker: In Madison, small steps better than none for Huskers

10/7/18 | Tad Stryker
Two steps forward, one step back. That’s progress, right? Except when you’re playing in Madison, where there’s precious little room for missteps. Wisconsin played its usual brand of wear-’em-down football, and Jonathan Taylor scorched Nebraska for another 200-yard, multiple-touchdown game. So the beat goes on for the 4-1 Badgers, who rushed for 370 yards and have positioned themselves well for…

Stryker: Amid team’s erratic behavior, Frost hasn’t made his peace with losing

9/30/18 | Tad Stryker
Warriors and wild men look similar much of the time, but when a pressure situation hits, they respond differently. Scott Frost got an unpredictable mix of both when he came to Lincoln, and so far the results have been interesting — flashes of brilliance mixed with totally irrational behavior — but ultimately frustrating. Nebraska ended its 2017 season with a…

Stryker Pregame Perspective: Fans give tips on keeping the faith

9/29/18 | Tad Stryker
The sun came up Saturday morning, although you couldn’t tell it for sure in Lincoln, where overcast skies and rain predominated. Yet despite the Cornhuskers’ current dismal seven-game losing streak, Nebraska fans continued their pilgrimage to Memorial Stadium to cheer for the Big Red as they have for decades. That’s the point in this week’s Pregame Perspective. I decided to…

Stryker: Husker line play disappointing, disturbing at Michigan

9/22/18 | Tad Stryker
If the football gods smiled on Nebraska when Scott Frost returned, the start of the 2018 season shows they’ve also ordained he will be tested by fire to begin his career in Lincoln. The first two losses of the season could be considered a fluke. Not so Nebraska’s 56-10 loss at Michigan Saturday, which was a thorough beatdown in every…

Stryker: Husker fans keep rooting for self-destructive team to break addictions

9/15/18 | Tad Stryker
When Scott Frost played football at Nebraska, losing home games was unthinkable. When Frost graduated, NU had a 42-game home winning streak. A generation later, when Frost returned to the Cornhusker family, he and his coaching staff confronted a discouraging array of negative thought patterns, which today are playing havoc with Nebraska’s on-field performance. Frost inherited a four-game overall losing…

Stryker Pregame Perspective: Fans Found a Lot to Like in Opening Loss

9/15/18 | Tad Stryker
A last-minute season-opening loss to Colorado was not the result of choice in Husker Nation, to be sure, but it showed a lot of promise. This week’s Pregame Perspective question attempts to discover what Cornhusker fans took away from the first game of the season, after the scheduled season opener against Akron was wiped out by a lightning storm. Early…

Stryker: Will fluky start be prelude to better days ahead?

9/8/18 | Tad Stryker
And so the Scott Frost era begins with an unlikely double false start. Nebraska showed tremendous potential and made some absolutely killer first-game mistakes, while Frost became the second man in more than a half century to lose his first game as Cornhusker coach. CU came from behind in the final two minutes Saturday to edge the Big Red, 33-28,…

Stryker Pregame Perspective: Old rivals reappear

9/8/18 | Tad Stryker
This week’s Pregame Perspective looks back at some Big Eight and Big 12 nostalgia and forward to future Cornhusker football schedules, which include Colorado (2018, 2019, 2023, 2024) and Oklahoma (2021, 2022, 2029, 2030). I surveyed 100 Husker fans Saturday morning before the Colorado game, mainly north and west of Memorial Stadium and in the Haymarket. I asked them this…

Stryker: The season opener that provided no closure

9/2/18 | Tad Stryker
The long wait for the start of the Scott Frost era seemed to have ended — and then it didn’t. The Akron game will be remembered as the night the football team put in a lot less work than the event management staff. Frost led his team onto the field with the crowd at a fever pitch, the Cornhuskers won…

Stryker Pregame perspective: Bowl game would satisfy most Husker fans this year

9/1/18 | Tad Stryker
I walked through Lincoln Saturday afternoon, talking to Cornhusker football fans several hours before Scott Frost coached his first Nebraska football game, and one thing immediately became clear: they’re virtually unanimous in their belief that Frost has started to do exactly what he said he would do — rebuild the culture of Nebraska football. Something else immediately became clear: Nebraska…

Stryker: Gebbia votes with his feet, hits the road

8/27/18 | Tad Stryker
Mario Verduzco provided vital input. Troy Walters gave his opinion. In the end, though, the only vote that counted belonged to Scott Frost, and he cast his ballot over the weekend. In the campaign that grabbed the attention of Nebraska fans all summer long — the battle for No. 1 quarterback — the margin apparently was narrow, but decisive. Adrian…

Stryker: Under Austin, NU o-line will improve enough to catch ’em by surprise

8/15/18 | Tad Stryker
Nothing looked less like Nebraska than the Cornhusker offensive line last fall. So it stands to reason that o-line coach Greg Austin had the most of any Husker assistant coach to accomplish when he moved to Lincoln last winter. Since media scrutiny has been limited, it’s hard to say with certainty just how far any position group has advanced, but…

Stryker: Big Red owes the Big Ten, big-time

7/28/18 | Tad Stryker
Many Midwestern football fans regard Big Ten Media Days in Chicago as the start of the football season. It’s a sign that the summer doldrums are nearly over, and every team from the top to bottom of the conference is infused with a renewal of hope. But when Scott Frost was first coach to the podium July 23, there was…

Stryker: Frost embraces risk by ramping up full-speed contact in practices

6/3/18 | Tad Stryker
Some would say Scott Frost took a risk leaving Orlando for Lincoln. After all, he walked away from a place where he enjoyed quick and profound success to pursue deeper challenges doing battle in the Big Ten for his alma mater, where expectations will always be higher than at UCF. So it’s no surprise seeing Frost embrace risk in another…

Stryker: Dixon represents movement toward speed on defense

5/17/18 | Tad Stryker
On Sept. 22, when Shea Patterson starts at quarterback for Michigan, he’ll see a former Ole Miss teammate on the other side of the ball. Breon Dixon will line up at outside linebacker for Nebraska in front of a full house in the Big House, likely as a starter. Patterson and Dixon are the most recent Southern players to head…

Stryker: Four quarterbacks show promise as sun rises on Frost era

4/21/18 | Tad Stryker
Scott Frost’s homecoming checked most, if not all, the boxes that Nebraska fans hoped it would. New offense on display. Energy and enthusiasm galore. No serious injuries. A bunch of 2019 recruits in the house. And Frost, the man himself, on the sidelines. Well, not exactly on the sidelines. Frost spent most of his day in the middle of the…

Stryker Pregame Perspective: Signs of Spring

4/21/18 | Tad Stryker
A four-game losing streak to finish a dismal 4-8 season predicted  a long, cold winter for Nebraska football fans, and that’s exactly what we got, although the hiring of Scott Frost infused enough energy into Husker Nation to prompt the first-ever sellout for the spring game. So to get a jump on what Cornhusker fans are thinking these days, I…

Stryker: Rumors of Frost power infusion have nation talking Huskers

4/19/18 | Tad Stryker
It’s still too early to say Nebraska football is nationally relevant again. That has to be earned on the football field, something that cannot possibly happen for at least five months. And it’s premature to say the Cornhuskers are ready to contend for the Big Ten West title this fall. But it’s time to say that Nebraska will be taken…

Stryker: Unity, toughness, NFL-style versatility will transform Nebraska under Frost

3/27/18 | Tad Stryker
Nebraska football fans look back with fondness at the careers of Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah, as well they should. Burkhead’s combination of toughness and versatility have been hard to recapture since he left at the end of the 2012 season. Abdullah’s ability to compensate for a subpar offensive line and make defenders dizzy with devastating jump cuts have been…

Stryker: Will Frost’s NU offense follow his ‘no-superstar’ UCF script?

1/21/18 | Tad Stryker
There’s an old saying in sports that goes something like this: “It’s players, not plays, who win championships.” Scott Frost’s success at UCF — at least on the offensive side of the ball — challenges that wisdom. It’s certainly not the way it played out in Orlando last fall. UCF put together a 13-0 season while leading the nation in…

Stryker: Frost era sweeps in with promise of unity, toughness, focus

12/3/17 | Tad Stryker
One dark December day, 60-year-old Tom Osborne called a press conference that nobody saw coming. It set into motion a chain of events that reduced Nebraska football to mediocrity.    Almost 20 years later, another press conference that almost the entire state of Nebraska eagerly anticipated sent chills up the spines of most who attended, and signaled a reversal of…

Stryker: With Riley out, Bill Moos Party seeks unifying candidate

11/26/17 | Tad Stryker
There’s too much political discord in the nation. I’m speaking of Husker Nation, of course, where pro- and anti-Pelini and pro- and anti-Riley factions have been at each other’s throats for a decade. The discord is largely the result of poor decisions made at a high level, resulting in a proud football program underperforming since 2001. This binary, two-party bickering…

Stryker: Husker commentator can’t recognize once-proud football program

11/11/17 | Tad Stryker
On the whole, Matt Davison would have rather been sitting courtside with Kent Pavelka at Pinnacle Bank Arena to watch the Husker basketball team open its season. Instead, the Husker Sports Network’s color commentator, who knows what a cohesive, well-led team looks and feels like, had to witness a Nebraska football team which has become convinced it belongs in the…

Stryker: Questionable competence predicts weak finish for Riley

11/4/17 | Tad Stryker
Mike Riley’s last stand in Lincoln ended just the way you might have predicted it would. When one last push would have clinched a victory, when the Cornhuskers could have given themselves and their embattled head coach some late-season momentum, they could not deliver the blow. At crunch time, with shadows lengthening and the game — and Riley’s last realistic…

Pregame Perspective: Current of dissatisfaction runs deep

11/4/17 | Tad Stryker
This week’s Pregame Perspective reveals a Nebraska fan base that clearly was looking for something better than a .500 football season. Three-quarters of those surveyed said they are not satisfied with NU’s 4-4 start. Late Saturday morning, before the Cornhuskers played Northwestern, I talked to Husker fans along 12th Street, near the Nebraska Union on campus and around Memorial Stadium,…

Stryker: Early Husker retreat fails to ward off home-field massacre

10/15/17 | Tad Stryker
Going into Saturday night, Ohio State had never won a game at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, but it really didn’t take long to change that once the game kicked off. Within the first ten minutes of playing time, it was clear to anyone watching the game that Nebraska was a thoroughly beaten team, simply waiting for the inevitable outcome. It…

Stryker Pregame Perspective: Ozigbo, Morgan cited as most valuable Huskers for first half

10/14/17 | Tad Stryker
With half the college football regular season behind us, this week’s Pregame Perspective focuses on which Cornhuskers have performed best thus far. On a cool, drizzly afternoon before the Nebraska-Ohio State game, I asked 100 people this question: “Who ws Nebraska’s most valuable player during the first half of the season?” Two clear leaders emerged, both on offense. In a…

Stryker: Soft September in Lincoln

9/16/17 | Tad Stryker
Endless Summer. That sounds like carefree days indeed. Were the Beach Boys thinking of Mike Riley’s Nebraska football program when they recorded that album? Unfortunately for Riley and his coaching staff, it’s September now and they have to play real football games. After a brutally disappointing 21-17 loss to Northern Illinois, the Huskers are 1-2 and reeling. A coach who…

Stryker: Scary B-movie finish ends well for Big Red

9/3/17 | Tad Stryker
Did you ever have one of those dreams where you’re almost safely home, but out of nowhere, a pursuing monster comes closer and closer, and the harder you run, the slower you move? Yeah, a real B-film climax. That’s what Nebraska-Arkansas State degenerated into. Luckily for Nebraska fans – at least the ones who stayed to the final play –…

Stryker: Great moments reborn while examining the Huskers by number

7/23/16 | Tad Stryker
Memorable moments are like cherished snapshots, and Husker football history is filled with them. As I look back at my favorite Nebraska football moments of all time, it quickly becomes obvious that not many of them took place last fall, but there’s one I’ll always remember. Although wins over Michigan State and UCLA were the highlights, and the Tommy Armstrong-to-Brandon…