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April 24, 2017

Assessing Mike Riley

Welcome, Husker Nation, to another edition of the Carriker Chronicles, the people's show, where I'm bringing you the pulse of Husker Nation. Candidly, this is one edition I strongly suggest you watch the video If it all possible because today's special guest, Addison, cannot possibly be done justice via a transcript. Having said that, today I want to pose the question of how much if any progress has been made since Mike Riley took over as head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

I will dive right into it. If you look at the record, 6-7 his first year. Not spectacular. Then, 9-4 last year. I don't compare Mike Riley to Mike Riley. In other words, I don't look at 6-7 two years ago and compare it to 9-7 last year. I compare Mike Riley to the results of recent years. Basically the 10 years leading up to the start of his regime. If you look at that on the surface, it doesn't look great. But, I feel like you have to do it the right way. Sometimes you have to take one step back to be able to take two steps forward. It's like building a skyscraper. You don't start on the surface and build up. You have to dig down to lay the foundation and then build the skyscraper. I believe that's what we have seen these last two years. There was a little bit of filtering out the toxicity two years ago in my opinion. You can blame Pelini, or whomever, but the first two years were about changing attitude, culture and recruiting at Nebraska. If you look at the early ESPN recruiting rankings, we are number nine as of today with more recruits to come, as I understand it. That should excite you Husker fans.

If you look at the staff that he has assembled, we have Bob Diaco, one of the most highly sought after assistance in the country. Donte Williams, one of the best Recruiters in the country. John Parella. I bring his name up because he want that Husker blood, that black shirt blood pumping through the program. You have the X's and O's, the recruiting, and the Husker blood. It is a nice mix to have especially on the defensive side of the football. Now, the Husker coaching staff blew up my Twitter feed on Friday. They had nearly 50 in State high schools as a part of the Nebraska swarm tour. It was cool to see.

The only question I have is about the switch to the 3-4 defense. Why did it take 2 years? Why are we two years into Mike Riley's regime and it is just now happening? I realize Bob Diaco wasn't available but there were other 3-4 coaches out there. Why now? I'm not going to beat a dead horse, it is what it is. However, I like where we are with the momentum we have going forward.

No, I am going to break this down position-by-position. I'll start with the quarterback. No disrespect to any of the quarterbacks that played the last couple of years, but when you look at a guy like Tanner Lee he just fits our system a lot better. It has been square peg round hole the last couple years, now it is round peg round hole. I expect the quarterback position to be an upgrade from what it has been. Even Patrick O'Brien and Tristan Gebbia fit our system better. You could argue that this is the best 3 deep roster we've had at quarterback for a long time. If you look at our quarterbacks over the last several years, we ran a completely different offense that worked great and I loved it. But we have not had a quarterback drafted in the NFL who played the quarterback position since 1983. That's almost 35 years. We've had plenty of good quarterbacks, Eric Crouch, Scott Frost, Tommie Frazier, Turner Gill, Steve Taylor, etc. Now, Eric Crouch was a third round draft pick as was Scott Frost. Turner Gill and Steve Taylor played quarterback in the CFL. So, we've had success but if you look at our roster now, we have three guys who could possibly be high draft picks in the NFL. That has to excite you.

Know if you look at the running back position, Terrell Newby played pretty well for us last year. If you look at the current roster, I think we have one or two guys that can match that production this year. You also have to look at the depth behind it. Why? It's a lot of the same guys we had last year. So in theory, they are a year better. I don't really have any thoughts on the fullback position because we didn't really use one last year so who knows if we'll use one this year.

When you look at the wide receiver position, last year we had a bunch of talent, experience, and depth You could argue with it last year's receiving Corp has the advantage over this year's receiving Corps. There were a lot of injuries last year, however. This year, I think Stanley Morgan Jr is going to have a big year. Demornay Pierson-el is simply a playmaker. We just need to get the ball in that guy's hands. We will need other guys to step up, and this is where we had an advantage last year over this year. But JD Spielman, Bryan Reimers, and Keyan Williams look good so far.

It's hard to lose three 5th year senior tight ends and say that we are going to be better this year, but I did like the past catching ability I saw in the spring game.

We have five guys will starting experience returning on the offensive line. I believe we have four of our five positions set, we just need to nail down that right tackle.

My expectations have been raised on the defensive line. You look at Freedom Akinmoladun, Carlos Davis, and Mick Stoltenberg, with starting experience. Khalil Davis is a backup nose tackle, but he can play. Gotta get him on the field as well. My expectations have been raised on the defensive line.

We have some question marks at the linebacker position. We had some guys graduate last year. I like Chris Webber inside, I like Avery Roberts. On the edges, Alex Davis and Luke Gifford look good, but these are guys that still have to prove themselves when the action is real come the fall. That will be fun to watch.

We have a great problem in the secondary. We had to move and Josh Kalu to safety in order to get Lamar Jackson on the field at corner because he's that good of an athlete. We are going to have an active secondary with some starting experience returning as well.

On special teams, our kicker and punter are both returning. We do need some more consistency out of Caleb. To be honest, special teams was not pretty last year. I have to assume it can only get better, especially with the focus the staff is going to be putting on it this season.

If you want tangible proof that Nebraska is better right now than when Mike Riley took over, I can't give it to you. But the last two years have been about building the foundation so that we can build the skyscraper. I think the Huskers will be better this year, but the schedule is also a lot tougher. We will see how the wins and losses shake out. 2018 will tell us everything we need to know because it will be Mike Riley's for fear. He will have his coaches, his players, and we have a heck of a schedule that will be fun to watch. we have much improved Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Iowa. That is going to tell us a lot. The next couple of years are going to be fun, ladies and gentlemen.

Here are some things you might find interesting. The Big Ten Conference had three of the four largest crowds in attendance for their spring games. Nebraska had the second largest in the country. I'm not a big fan of Colin Cowherd, but I might dislike him a little bit less after this quote. "Iowa Football has its spring game tonight. Probably it's second toughest game of the year." Yeah, I kind of like that.

I have a special guest joining me today. She is wonderful, amazing, has a great-looking father, Addison come up and join me. Now, I don't know what she is going to say and I didn't tell her what I was going to ask her, so this is a little bit scary. You never know what is going to happen when you give a child a live mic, so let's see what happens. All right Allison, who is your favorite team in the entire world? "Nebraska." All right, and if you ever go to Nebraska, what do you want to do once you get there? "Play Nebraska Volleyball." All right, now she's mentioned that before but with the kids, you never know. They do say the darndest things, after all. Now, I'm going to ask her something I've never asked anybody. Addison, who's the champ? "Daddy." A little back story, the kids and I like to wrestle. They love to lay the smack down on me and pin me down, but every once in a while I will pin them down and I won't let them up until they say... "Who's the champ?" No, what do you have to say to get out of the submission? "Daddy's the Champ." All right ladies and gentlemen, remember to share the Chronicles with your friends. As always, Go Big Red and always remember... to "THROW THE BONES!"

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! As I said at the beginning of this transcript, written word simply does not do Addison Carriker justice. While on a break from recording the show, she was left alone in a room with a microphone and camera that she did not know was live. This... could get interesting.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the Carriker Chronicles. I am Addison, and I am Adam Carriker's daughter. And you know what I am going to play when I go to Nebraska? If you said Nebraska volleyball, you are correct! And the crowd watching this, please please please please please focus on Nebraska. If you are not a Neraska fan, do whatever team you like. But let's start with the Nebraska game. Let's start with Adam Carriker. He played for the Redskins, the Rams, and the special team... Nebraska! We even have a Nebraska helmet with a rose on it from the Rose Bowl! Now everybody, and tell my dad comes back on the show let's see how you like my... THROW THE BONES!

So there you have it. A candid look at what happens when a young Miss Carriker gets her hands on a live mic with a rolling camera that she doesn't know are active. If that doesn't make you want to Throw the Bones, you might want to check your pulse.