Photo Credit: John Peterson

Drake’s Takes: Reflecting on Nebraska Football Through Six Games and an Eventful Thursday Night

October 08, 2021

This week’s Drake’s Takes reflects on the first half of Nebraska’s schedule, along with talk about Wan’Dale Robinson and an eventful Thursday night. 

Second half of football schedule awaits

Nebraska football’s dominant win over Northwestern also marked its sixth game of the year, meaning it now has the same number left to play in the regular season. 

At the halfway point (ignoring the two upcoming bye weeks here), I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this team.

The Illinois loss was undoubtedly bad. Even if the Huskers have looked like a completely different team since, we can’t ignore that. But, the last five weeks have been a lot better. Three blowout wins — even against bad teams — and a pair of narrow losses to top 12 ranked teams is something you can live with.

The defense has been even better than I expected, and the offense seems to have found a real identity. 

The only problem with being 3-3 at this point is that the schedule doesn’t get much better. Nebraska plays three more top 10 teams in the final six games. Completely ruling out an upset in any of those games probably wouldn’t be wise, but if we assume the teams can’t pull any of those out, there’s still little margin for error. 

The other three games are against Minnesota, Purdue and Wisconsin, all of which have looked worse than Nebraska recently. Minnesota lost to Bowling Green, but beat Purdue and only have one other loss to Ohio State. Purdue is just meh. The Boilermakers are 3-2 but just haven’t done anything that’s worth having thoughts about. Wisconsin, a disappointing 1-3 team, has been fun to laugh at, but its three losses are all to top 15 teams. 

I’d feel most confident locking down the Purdue game as a win. The other two matchups are on the road against bad teams, but teams that Nebraska has struggled against in the last two years. At this rate, the Huskers will be favored in those games, but nothing is close to a sure thing. 

I’m still slightly optimistic that Nebraska will reach a bowl game this year, but getting to six wins may still be a tough task for what looks like the best Nebraska team head coach Scott Frost has led. 

That journey starts with Michigan tomorrow. I have no idea how this game is going to go. If I had to make a pick, I’d go chalk and give the edge to the Wolverines, but getting too deep into trying to predict this game seems like a waste of time. It’ll be a great atmosphere under the lights, and I’m excited to see what happens. 

Missing Wan’Dale Robinson

I enjoy seeing how former Huskers are performing at schools they’ve transferred to, and the highlight of that group this year has been Kentucky wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson. 

Through five games, Robinson leads the SEC in receiving yards, and as expected, seems to make a big play every week. You won’t find any negativity toward him in this column. The move has completely paid off for Robinson on and off the field, and I’m a big fan of seeing players be in the best possible situation for themselves. 

What did pique my interest was a tweet pointing out that his 467 receiving yards this year are more than he ever had in a season at Nebraska. This doesn’t factor in his rushing stats, but I’m sure Robinson will have his most scrimmage yards in a season by year’s end. 

It’s been a while since Robinson left the program, and relitigating what his departure says about Frost or the program isn’t really something I care about. Most people understood that Robinson is very good at football and would be good at football wherever. Nothing in that area has changed. 

That being said, I enjoy the pointless hypothetical conversation about if he had stayed with the Huskers. He’d be very dangerous in this current offense, especially in the option the team currently runs. He and Samori Touré would create a wonderful duo that’d have an impact similar to Stanley Morgan Jr. and JD Spielman in 2018. 

There are caveats to this hypothetical, the biggest being how Nebraska would use Robinson. It doesn’t seem impossible that the team would resort to using him as a running back again after the team’s early backfield struggles, and that would probably limit the effectiveness of the offense. Who knows if the Huskers even adapt the offense to what it is now without the offseason changes. 

Again, this section is nothing more than a fun “what if” scenario, so please don’t attempt to take anything of substance from it. Nebraska’s current wide receivers have been good enough that Robinson’s departure doesn’t have to be a big topic of discussion.  

Catwalks and Geno Smith

Between playoff baseball and Thursday Night Football, yesterday was a fun but weird day of sports. 

My baseball knowledge is still lacking quite a bit, so I learned something new when there was a home run off the catwalk at Tropicana Field. People complained about the rule, but my only real take is that the stadium design is absolutely hilarious. 

The possibility of a homer off of floating things within the stadium is very fun, and I generally think the quirks of each baseball park are one of the most interesting things about the sport. We also got to see Randy Arozarena steal home, which was another electric occurrence in a game where the score didn’t end up being very interesting. 

In the NFL, we got a double punt from Michael Dickson. I believe that’s now overtaken the less rare quarterback punt as my favorite possible punt. 

On top of that, Geno Smith nearly led a comeback. It was very fun to see the Seattle backup, an early second round pick in 2013, get a shot to shine and take it for a drive or two. It unfortunately ended with an interception on the possible game-winning drive, but that wasn’t really Smith’s fault and he still provided us with enough entertainment.

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