More team-themed Mailbags:
And feel free to check out an earlier Mailbag heavy on the Huskers.
Dave in Kansas City, MO writes: Is it just me, or is Nebraska going to end up being WAYYYY overrated? I don't care what anyone says, it defies logic to say the defense will be better after losing the most dominant player in the NCAA last season. How much better do you think Ndamukong Suh made everyone else look, taking up double teams, still getting to the QB, and leading the team in tackles despite being a DT? That never happens. Also, this is pretty much the same offense that scored 17 points or less 6 times last year, including that 9-7 barn burner against ISU... I say there's a strong possibility they will have already lost 1-2 games by the time they play Texas, and they finish the season unranked. Your thoughts?
David Ubben: Well, the potential is there if Nebraska’s offense isn’t a lot better and the defense isn’t as good as Bo Pelini says it is. Nebraska had a great team last year that lost a lot of close games, but they’re still relying a bit on potential this year, replacing starters in the secondary and of course, Ndamukong Suh. They also obviously need the quarterback play to be a lot better.
But the offensive line brings back four starters from last year’s unit that was already pretty good. You’d be surprised how much better that can make guys like Zac Lee and Roy Helu look when they have time and holes to work with. I think the offense will be better, and it doesn’t make much sense for Bo Pelini to be talking up his defense like he has been if he didn’t feel strongly that those players could validate him. And the man knows defense. We know this.
So overall, I don’t think I agree with you. The potential for letdown is there, but if Nebraska gets past Washington—and I think it will—the Huskers should be undefeated when Texas comes to town.
Diggs1911 in Atlanta, Ga. writes: I live here in Atl, but was born in Nebraska and am a fan for life. I was wondering if Nebraska will turn one of its quarterbacks from the 2011 class into a receiver or a running back. One more question: Is this 2010-2011 class good enough to compete in the Big 10 in the comming years?
DU: I could see that instead of a transfer, like I predicted earlier. The most likely scenario would be Jamal Turner, who’s classified as an athlete in recruiting, moving to receiver. But right now, they’re both coming in as quarterbacks and both sound like they want the job. Starling’s status is somewhat up in the air, but if I had to guess, I think he comes to Nebraska to usher in the Big Ten Era in Lincoln. That said, as a Kansas guy, he might not see as much romanticism in "playing for Nebraska" as a kid from Lincoln, Omaha or a small town in Nebraska.
Jon Weinhold in Omaha, Neb. writes: Okay Dave, time to lay it on the line. How successful do you think a wildcat offense would really be for the Huskers this season, and how much of the success of the Holiday Bowl was related to the fact that Arizona most likely was caught totally off guard?
DU: That might be part of it, but the Wildcat’s going to be a really small part of the Nebraska offense unless the quarterbacks really struggle. I’ve mentioned this on here before, but unique schemes like that become less effective the more you use them. But running Taylor Martinez, Cody Green or Rex Burkhead back there a few times a game against the best defenses the Huskers will face seems like a good estimate.
Don Bowers in Oklahoma City, Okla writes: Follow up question: After I start work in August, how do you recommend I read your ridiculously awesome blog at work without getting caught? I really look forward to keeping up with the [insert team: Nebraska] content. (Admittedly, another lame attempt at fitting your Nebraska prompt). Thanks.
DU: Once again, flattery will get you everywhere on the Big 12 blog. As for your situation, I don't have any practical suggestions, only a statement: Few things are nobler than martyrdom. But don't let me tell you what to do.
Nate Gleaves in Lincoln, Neb. writes: Isn't this the easiest schedule the Huskers have had in a while?
DU: It’s lining up that way. I don’t know that I’d describe it as “easy,” but it’s set the Huskers up for a nice run during what should be a peak year. Going to Washington isn’t going to be simple, but its toughest games (Texas and Missouri) are in Lincoln. The only other big hurdle will be an itchy Texas A&M team in the middle of a brutal run at the end of the season that should have racked up a great record by then without playing any of the top teams in the Big 12 yet. The Aggies play Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas in November. Nebraska got a nice draw in not having to play Oklahoma, but they might see the Sooners in Dallas at the title game.
Andy in Edmond, Okla. writes: Other than QB (which has been talked to death), which unit's improvement is most critical to Nebraska becoming a national contender?
DU: Nebraska is pretty solid just about everywhere but receiver. Niles Paul should be reasonably reliable, but guys like Brandon Kinnie and Curenski Gilleylen need to make life easier for Zac Lee. Moving sure-handed tight end Mike McNeill to a flex-type position was a good call. He should be a nice security blanket underneath for whoever wins the QB battle.
Bobby in Fort Campbell, Ky. writes: David, do you believe that Nebraska's offense will be as vanilla as it was last year? I think they can win every game on their schedule if the offense looks like it did in the Holiday Bowl...
DU: Nah, they’re going to open it up a lot more. I wrote about that in detail this spring, if you’d like to give it a read. They'll try to look like they did in the bowl game, and you're right, if it does, that's going to get them pretty close to my best-case scenario for the Huskers.
Adam in Omaha, Neb. asks: Why is Nebraska running away from the Big 12? are they afraid they can't compete anymore?