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May 15, 2017

Offense vs. defense

Welcome, everybody, to another edition of the Carriker Chronicles, the people's show. Today I am going to get into the topic of which unit, offense or defense, will be better for the Huskers this season? Before I do that, I have a couple of announcements to make. Firstly, this will be the final week of the Carriker Chronicles until the season starts this fall. Secondly, I have a very, very special guest who will appear on the show with me toward the end. So stay tuned for that!

The first group I want to get into is of course the defense. Early on in spring ball, the defense looked like they were a step ahead of the offense, which is pretty par for the course. During the Spring Game, the offense looked like they had the advantage. However, the defense was not running their normal 3-4 alignment. They were running more 4-2-5 as well as not blitzing. I think a big reason that the transition to the 3-4 defense has gone so smoothly is because of our personnel. We have a lot of big bodies, guys like the Davis twins. Carlos Davis transitioned well from being a 3-technique in the 4-3 defense to being a defensive end in the 3-4 defense. His twin brother Khalil Davis easily transitioned into being a 3-4 nose guard and he will back up Mick Stoltenberg this season. In fact, one of the biggest things to be excited about on the defensive side of the ball this year is our defensive line.

One of the big questions I had upon the hiring of Bob Diaco was who would fill the role of war daddy? The nose tackle that is so important to the success of a 3-4 defense? Were we going to find one, or develop one? Turns out the answer all along was indeed Mick Stoltenberg. He worked his tail off in the offseason, putting on a solid 20 pounds getting himself up to 315. To this point, he has played really well, although I am still curious to see how he is going to fare against opponents like Wisconsin and Iowa with him being so tall. It reminds me of a show I did earlier in the year discussing my transition from being a defensive end at Nebraska to a d tackle in the NFL and then switching to nose guard when I went to the Redskins where we ran a 3-4 defense. It's all about playing low with leverage and driving power through your hips.

Take a guy like Freedom Akinmoladun, who moved from being a rush end to putting on weight, putting his hand in the dirt as a 3-4 defensive end. That means taking on a lot more double-teams, and he has done well to this point. Again, look at the Davis twins. Carlos showed some aptitude at getting pressure on the quarterback in the 4-3 scheme; I think he can take that into his new role as a 3-4 defense end. Khalil is right there with his size and ability and should Mick Stoltenberg struggle for whatever reason, Kahlil will be able to fill in nicely. The only concern I have is the overall depth. Not a lot of experience as you get further down in the depth chart, but again we have big bodies. Guys that are 6 foot 7, 280 pounds. We just need to develop them.

There were a lot of question marks about this team going into the fall, but I am going to pick the offense as the unit that I think will be the most productive for Nebraska this season. The No. 1 reason is the quarterback position. Tanner Lee has 19 starts under his belt going into the season after transferring from Tulane. While he is unproven at Nebraska, he has shown himself to have the ability, confidence and leadership at the most important position in football, the quarterback position. It is no longer square peg round hole, it is now round peg in a round hole as far as the offense is concerned. It should run a lot more smoothly this year.

Going back to the defense, we talked about the big war daddy Mick Stoltenberg in the middle, but I feel the most important position on defense is those outside linebacker/pass-rusher positions. You need to be able to get pressure on the quarterback without sending extra guys on a blitz all the time. We don't know who those guys are going to be just yet. Luke Gifford looked great in the spring game, and Alex Davis showed that he could be one of those guys as well. He is a very interesting story. Never played a down of football until his senior year of high school but was an athletic basketball player who could turn himself into a dominating force this season.

The third and final reason I give the edge to the offense this season is that this is their third year in Mike Riley's and Danny Langsdorf's system. The defense is in their first year with Bob Diaco. While we will see some new names on the field for the offense, ultimately they have been practicing that offense for 2 years going on 3 now. The Blackshirts will be better this year than they were last year, but I still give the slight edge to the offense going into the season.

Now, to introduce my amazing, wonderful, beautiful, awesome, gorgeous guest for today. Please welcome my lovely wife, Angie Carriker. I think everyone knows at this point that we are pregnant. ... Again. How far along are you, sweetie?

Angie: 35 weeks.

Adam: Wow, this is great! I have you here on the spot with a microphone and I can ask you anything I want! How do you feel about that?

  ... ...  (crickets)  ...  ...

I feel like I'm swimming in the deep end right now and I better get over to the shallow end where it's safer. That's how I feel. So, how are you feeling? How has this pregnancy been compared with other pregnancies?

Angie: It's been rough. Overall, it's a blessing, so we're excited.

Adam: Is it going to be a Blackshirt or a volleyball player?

Angie: It is a monster Carriker baby. That's all I know.

Adam: Par for the course. For those of you who don't know, Angie never wants to find out the gender of the baby whereas I always do. So we compromised and she doesn't know, but I do. Which means I am the only person under God's hot sun who knows what's in there. With that being said, I am going to go paint the baby's room blue and start thinking of girls' names.

  ... ...  (crickets)  ...  ...

Boy, this has been fun. All right, what is your official due date for the fine folks at home?

Angie: Father's Day!

Adam: June 18th?

Angie: Yeah. But if we make Memorial Day will be happy because that will be at 37 weeks.

Adam: For background purposes, this is our sixth child. Three of them have come early and had to spend significant time in the NICU. With the twins, Angie had to stay in semi quarantine under strict observation for two whole months because they were trying to come out too early. Our oldest daughter, Addison, was supposed to have major open-heart surgery right after being born, but luckily the problem healed itself by the time she came out. So thank you for all of you who were praying for 6 years ago. It feels like so long ago now, but we are just praying that everything goes well with this one. 37 weeks is that key marking point. All of our kids have come a month early, but they are all still huge. I have no idea where they get it from.

Again, with the new little one coming and summer, we will be taking a break until the season starts in the fall. Keep us in your prayers. One final question for my wife. How many kids are we having total? Do I need to invest in a school bus?

Angie: If you weren't so good looking, maybe I could keep my hands off of you.

Adam: And on that high note, that is a wrap for the Carriker Chronicles. Once again, Husker Nation, Go Big Red and always remember ...

Angie: ... to THROW THE BONES!