Mailbag: The Emergence of Nebrasketball
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Mailbag: The Emergence of Nebrasketball

January 03, 2017

If you stopped watching Nebrasketball at some point in December, you certainly missed the emergence of the Huskers in Big Ten play. Needless to say, it’s been a wild week for Nebraska. As the Huskers prepare to face Iowa and Northwestern at home, a lot of people want to know what to expect. After all, didn’t Nebrasketball just lose to Gardner-Webb? What does it all mean?

Brandon Vogel, Jacob Padilla, Jake Jensen and Erin Sorensen answer your questions in this week’s Hail Varsity mailbag.

Q: Wait a minute… Wasn’t Nebraska basketball just terrible? What happened? – K., Omaha, Neb.

JJ: I think the biggest factor has been that Tim Miles has shortened his rotation. Instead of five guys in the backcourt, it’s now three guys and I think that’s improved the offensive flow. Evan Taylor and Michael Jacobson have both played well the past two games, which has helped out tremendously.

JP: The emergence of the freshmen (particularly Isaiah Roby and Jeriah Horne) and Tim Miles’ willingness to let them play has been huge. Horne’s floor-spacing as well as Glynn Watson’s recent improvement as a shooter have opened up the floor a bit more and Tai Webster and Watson have capitalized with back-to-back strong performances. As Jake said, Jacobson’s performances have been big as well, especially with Ed Morrow not playing quite as well as he had been. If Nebraska can get solid production out of the Jacobson-Morrow combination, a little bit of shooting from Horne and others and the usual strong backcourt play from Webster and Watson, they’re scrappy enough to pull out some wins. Now they have to show this is more than just a two-game blip.

Q: If you had to predict who will start at QB next fall, who are you taking? – P.L., Neb.

JJ: I’ll stick with Tanner Lee. He’s been groomed all season to be the next one up. The really interesting spring battle will be between Patrick O’Brien and Tristan Gebbia.

BV: Lee, though we’ve started to hear some rumblings that O’Brien has perhaps closed the gap a little bit. If that’s true, it is good news. The longer that competition remains close, the better it is for both quarterbacks and Nebraska as a whole.

ES: I’ve been told Lee is “the future,” so I suppose I’ll hedge my bets and take him.

Q: It felt like Nebraska started off so well with the 2017 recruiting class but it has fallen off. Will the staff finish strong? – K.

JJ: This weekend will be a nice indicator for Nebraska. If the Huskers can land one or two of the four prospects deciding, then they should enjoy a nice boost in the final month. If the Huskers strike out, then they’ll have to regroup and begin offering some B-level prospects.

Q: Which Nebraska targets should I be paying the most attention to in the Army Bowl? -S.S.

JJ: Jamire Calvin, Foster Sarell, Chuck Filiaga and Deommodore Lenoir. The first three will be deciding during the game, and Lenoir will be announcing his decision following visits to NU and UNC.

JP: Greg Johnson and Joseph “Jody” Lewis are the other Nebraska targets playing in the game, although they are not making a commitment yet like Jake mentioned for the others.

ES: If you need a primer for the whole thing, I put one together for Hail Varsity Premium.

Q: Why did the Big Ten finish so poorly in bowl matchups? What does that say about Nebraska? – B.S., Neb.

BV: The Big Ten did have a pretty tough bowl slate compared to the other Power 5 conferences. Also, bowl games are alien planets where anything can and will happen. So what does the Big Ten’s record say about Nebraska? Nothing. I started refusing to put that much stock in bowl games long ago. Give me the 12-game sample size of a regular season rather than the one-game randomness of a game that happens three weeks after the regular season is over.

Q: What’s your way too early win-loss prediction for Nebraska football in 2017? – K.M., Neb.

JJ: Lot of uncertainty with all the seniors leaving the offense, but I’ll stick with 9-3 as my prediction, only this 9-3 Nebraska team will beat Iowa.

BV: I’m trending closer to 7-5 at this very early stage. It is far from a given that the Huskers get out of non-conference play undefeated. Not even a given that they’ll go 2-1. The toughest conference games — Wisconsin, Ohio State — are at home in 2017, but the Huskers do have to go to Penn State. Add in all of that change on the offensive side of the ball, and there are a lot of questions to answer. The offensive line needs to be really, really good next season.

ES: I’m going with 8-4. I think Nebraska loses to Oregon, Ohio State/Wisconsin/Iowa (but not all three) and then maybe Minnesota. Unless something significant happens this offseason, I just don’t see the Huskers being much better than 8-4.

Q: Is the SEC actually better than the Big Ten? Be honest. – B., Iowa

JJ: Alabama is.

BV: It’s certainly more talented top-to-bottom, so probably. It was nice that the Big Ten dominated the rankings during the regular season. There’s value in that from a perceptions standpoint, but if you put the fifth-best SEC team against the fifth-best Big Ten team, the SEC team is probably favored. Actually, that was basically the Music City Bowl matchup.

Q: Any New Year resolutions? – E.

JJ: Get a job as a science teacher at a high school somewhere in Nebraska.

ES: I’d like to read more books. I do a lot of reading in a given day, whether that be articles online or in magazines. I’d like to dedicate more time to books though. I’m currently taking recommendations.

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