This week’s Drake’s Takes gives a final note on the Husker football season, along with discussing early offseason moves and the women’s basketball team.
A final note on the Nebraska football season
Nebraska football ended its 2021 season last week, and brought the world a finale that was almost too perfect.
For Nebraska fans, I hate to drum up the pain of the events of last week once again, but I am still in shock of what I witnessed.
Going into the fourth quarter, I legitimately believed more than I ever had in any other loss this season that Nebraska was going to win. Michigan State is the other close contender, but the Spartans were only down seven late and I thought they maybe could land a big play to push it into overtime.
This was a bit different. The Huskers led by 15 in the final minute of the third quarter. In Scott Frost’s 29 losses, he’s never blown a lead that big that late.
The speed of the collapse was surreal as well. It’s as if the football gods felt the hopes of fans rising too high and decided to send a message to prove their power. The field goal at the end of the third quarter was bearable. The Hawkeyes still hadn’t scored a touchdown.
Then, Iowa scored three more times without an offensive touchdown to tie the game with half the final quarter to go. That span contained a special teams error, Nebraska’s first turnover and a safety. The Hawkeyes then took the lead with their best offensive drive of the day, and predictably, Nebraska couldn’t finish its final drive.
This was the type of game that leads people to believe that the sport is all scripted. All a conspiracy theorist would have to do is point to Nebraska’s 2021 season to prove their point. Of course, I’m exaggerating there, but the Huskers’ loss to Iowa really was surreal despite being the expectation.
Now that there are no more Nebraska games to be played, this season should either be showcased in a museum or buried and never spoken of again.
Things are moving fast
Thankfully, the offseason gives us the chance to believe that Nebraska is a normal football team or can become one.
Things are already moving quickly for the Huskers. Yesterday, Adrian Martinez announced that he intends to transfer. With all due respect, the move probably makes the most sense for all parties. Nebraska surely would have taken Martinez back if he wanted to do so, but it might be best for the team not to run it back again.
On the other end, I’m not sure the quarterback has a lot to gain by coming back to Nebraska. His top targets are leaving, his starting job is only getting more vulnerable and the load placed on him combined with poor offensive line play has been a detriment to his health.
I like to see Martinez looking for a fresh start. I have no idea where he could be going, but I’m sure there’s interest. His destination will be a fun storyline to watch, and I hope he lands in the best situation for him.
Nebraska also is getting started with hiring new assistants. It has been reported that Mickey Joseph will be the team’s new wide receivers coach, and that’s a great hire. The Husker receivers have been a bit inconsistent in the past three seasons, although Samori Touré was a great deep threat. Joseph taking the unit to the next level would be huge.
There are still some other positions that will need to be filled out, and that’ll obviously be intriguing.
I am nowhere near the first or last to say this, but hopefully, the Huskers do end up hiring a dedicated special teams coordinator.
Nebraska women’s basketball is thriving
For all the inconsistency and disappointment from Nebraska athletics, we have to appreciate what the women’s basketball team has been doing.
The Huskers have started 8-0, with the latest win being a 26-point triumph over previously-undefeated Wake Forest. This team has had its ups-and-downs in previous years, having strong stretches and beating a few ranked teams but never finding consistency. I personally had doubts about this year’s team due to the departure of Kate Cain.
It might still be too early to say that this team will be tournament-level at the end of the year, but they sure are moving fast in that direction. Jaz Shelley has played like a star, and the team has great depth. When the team has been this successful without the amazing production from Sam Haiby we’ve seen in past seasons, that’s a good sign. Haiby is obviously still a big part of the team, but it just happens that there are a lot of players also currently stepping up.
Nebraska’s game against Minnesota on Monday will be another good test. The Gophers are 6-4 with a loss to Jacksonville, but have also played close against North Carolina, an undefeated team just outside the top 25.
There’s no way around saying that the Huskers have been great to start this season. I’d love to see the strong start continue into conference play, and it’s looking more and more like it will.