This week’s Drake’s Takes discusses the upcoming season finale for Nebraska football, plus some Thanksgiving talk.
Finishing with Iowa
Nebraska football will reach the end of its losing season on Friday, taking on one more ranked opponent.
The Huskers are somehow still favored against No. 16 Iowa, even while being without starting quarterback Adrian Martinez. I understand that the Hawkeyes have struggled and Martinez hasn’t been outstanding recently anyway, but I think Iowa still has the clear advantage.
Perhaps I’ll be following up Thanksgiving dinner by eating my words on Friday, but all of the signs are pointed toward a 3-9 finish for Nebraska. Logan Smothers is going to make his first career start against a great defense, which is probably the main reason for my pessimism.
The Nebraska defense will do the things that the Nebraska defense has been doing all season, but I don’t think it will be able to win the game on its own.
Result aside, this game will have at least some fun aspects. It’s going to be a mix of first and last impressions. Smothers is going to get his first extended opportunity to prove he can lead the team whenever Martinez departs. Many of the players who saw their first significant playing time last week could continue that in the season finale.
On the other hand, the team’s seniors, such as Samori Touré and including junior Austin Allen, will look to finish their successful seasons with one more great performance. It’s been great to watch the two aforementioned offensive players plus a largely veteran defense play this season, and I am looking forward to seeing what they can accomplish in the final game.
If this game ends in another one-score Nebraska loss, arguably the most likely outcome given every single piece of recent history, it will almost be too perfect. If there’s one thing related to Nebraska football I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving, it’s that the Huskers have made sure to never be boring.
What will Nebraska do at quarterback?
The previous section only slightly went into this topic, but I’m really intrigued to watch what happens at quarterback on Friday.
I know, I’m not unique for watching the most prominent position on the football field. But this game will answer a lot of questions for what the future looks like. For the sake of making this section interesting, let’s say Martinez and Nebraska part ways after this season.
To me, it’s become fairly evident that the Huskers don’t have full trust in Smothers yet. Maybe I’m wrong. But despite Scott Frost’s quotes on how much he believes in his backups, what shows on field is different.
Smothers has only been thrust onto the field in garbage time and when Martinez is hurt badly enough to where he absolutely has to come out for a few plays. There are a lot of reasons this can make sense. Until a few weeks ago, Martinez was having the best season of his Husker career. The games have been close, and it’s hard to plug an inexperienced quarterback into those situations.
However, I’m fairly surprised that Nebraska hasn’t had at least a few packages set up for Smothers. This season, I heard Frost imply that Martinez’s health kept him from calling a sneak and watched the four-year starter limp up the field to be used on a designed quarterback run on third-and-long. Smothers surely could’ve helped in those situations and a few more.
This isn’t to immediately dismiss the former four-star with 11 career pass attempts. I just have some concerns. A decent-to-good performance against Iowa will shut a lot of people up, including myself.
I’m also interested in Heinrich Haarberg, mostly because he seems to be a much different quarterback than anyone else we’ve seen start for this team. I really do hope he sees the field on Friday.
Barring an otherworldly offensive showing on Friday, it’d be smart for Frost to look at available transfer portal quarterbacks if Martinez leaves. The Huskers need to take advantage of the 2022 schedule, and an experienced transfer could help them do so.
Martinez is pretty much the only quarterback Nebraska fans have known under Frost. It’s hard to envision what happens after him regardless, but the team should definitely do whatever it takes to avoid any more regression at that spot.
A Thanksgiving column means I have to share a short, corny Thanksgiving-related message, right?
In this context, I think I’m most thankful for just the opportunity I have here to share my voice on a variety of things. Almost every week I have some takes that range from “pretty good” to “proved wrong within the next 48 hours,” but a decent amount of people still make the decision to read this column. That’s cool.
Today and the rest of the weekend will hopefully bring some good food, good times and good football. Enjoy it.