This week’s Drake’s Takes goes over Casey Rogers’s transfer from Nebraska football, the success of the softball team and the NBA Playoffs.
An already-thin Nebraska defensive line got even thinner this week.
Casey Rogers, a presumed starter, announced two days ago that he’d be transferring from the program.
The junior with two remaining years of eligibility missed the spring after playing the final seven games of last season, recording 17 tackles, three tackles for loss and half a sack.
I’ve had concerns since the end of last season about how replicable the defense’s strong 2021 season is. The team will come out in 2022 with essentially an entirely new secondary, and now Ty Robinson is the only defensive lineman left on the roster with starting experience.
Generally, I have trust in the team’s defensive coaches to not let any unit fall apart. There’s still talent at each position. But I’m not expecting that side of the ball to be quite as successful as it was last season, which means the offense will have to take a significant jump for the team to succeed.
However, the transfer portal also provides the opportunity for Nebraska to remain consistent. The team is pursuing TCU defensive end transfer Ochaun Mathis, who would be an important addition.
Either way, it’s not fun that things seem to only be becoming more uncertain for this team. Further movement in the transfer portal is going to be a huge thing to watch in the coming months.
A pleasant surprise this spring has been the Nebraska softball team.
The Huskers are on an 18-game winning streak, sit at 33-9 overall, and have recently moved into the top 25 rankings.
This is a team that hadn’t had a winning season since 2018, and now they’ve already surpassed that year’s win total.
Their success actually reminds me quite a bit of the jump women’s basketball took this year. Both teams had just lost a highly successful player who held multiple team records, in softball’s Tristen Edwards and basketball’s Kate Cain. Neither program was really expected to find great success. Both have well-rounded rosters with numerous standout players.
The most fun point of comparison for me is that the basketball team’s leader in points per game was Jaz Shelley, an Oregon transfer in her first year with the Huskers. The softball team’s leader in batting average is Mya Felder, also an Oregon transfer in her first year at Nebraska.
With all due respect to women’s basketball’s run, the softball squad is probably looking to have even more postseason success. I’m interested in how the Huskers will fare down the stretch, as they have some tougher competition coming up.
Nebraska won both games against current No. 23 Michigan earlier this season, but has since won 12 straight against 14-21 Creighton and some of the worst teams in the Big Ten. That’s obviously not something you can fault the Huskers for, but it gets tougher from here.
Wisconsin, Ohio State and Indiana all are well above .500, and should be able to provide a bigger challenge. I’m sure the Huskers can at least hang with those teams, and they probably have a strong chance of winning each series.
How this stretch plays out may be important as far as postseason predictions go, and I’m looking forward to seeing it.
I feel like whenever postseason play in any sport has come around in the last few months, I spend a section of this column fawning over how great sports are.
It’s the NBA’s turn for that praise.
The playoffs have been exciting, and that’s an understatement. I’ve yet to see a series that lacks entertainment. Even in the ones that are most lopsided, there’s been great moments.
The Philadelphia 76ers took a 3-0 series lead over the Toronto Raptors via a game-winning 3-pointer from Joel Embiid. The Denver Nuggets and likely back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic are down against Golden State by the same series margin, but it’s been electric to watch Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson at their best again. Jordan Poole is playing out of his mind as well.
The finals teams from last year, Phoenix and Milwaukee, both will likely be missing a star player for the remainder of the first round. The Suns will have to overcome the New Orleans Pelicans without Devin Booker, and the Bucks will need to put away the Bulls while missing Khris Middleton. Neither of those things will be easy.
Between the game-winners, unexpected standouts like Poole and Dallas’ Jalen Brunson, we’re in for a great bracket. Currently, I don’t know if anyone will be able to stop Golden State. I can’t even begin to predict what’ll happen in the East.
My only hope is that everyone gets healthy as soon as possible and the excitement continues. I’m expecting it to.