Hot Reads: Nothing Gets Easier in the Summer
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Hot Reads: Nothing Gets Easier in the Summer

July 17, 2017

Nebraska’s Big Unanswered Questions of the Offseason didn’t get any bigger over the weekend, but they sure didn’t shrink, either. If the punch list looked something like this, in some order, before the weekend — offensive line, run game, receiver depth, what difference does QB fit make, defensive transition, depth on the defensive line — after the weekend you might have to add the secondary into the mix.

That’s the impact of Chris Jones’ knee injury, which required surgery that comes with a typical recovery time of four-to-six months. We ran through the various combinations Nebraska could use to replace Jones here, and they offer varying degrees of certainty, but the major point is that the Huskers lost what was almost certainly their top cover guy, and that’s going to have an impact. If the secondary had an experience and slight ability edge on the other units on defense, now it’s probably closer to the pack.

And we should note here, that Jones is hopeful he can do better than the prescribed timeline.

The other big news of the weekend has less of an immediate impact on the Huskers, but it’s always important, at least in my mind, not to dismiss attrition just because it doesn’t dent the depth chart right away. Texas defensive tackle Deiontae Watts isn’t enrolling at Nebraska after failing to qualify. He has the opportunity to go to Fort Scott Community College in Kansas, though that may not be a foregone conclusion either. (Premium).

On paper Nebraska is fine with three other defensive linemen in the 2017 class already on campus, but departures always can have a long-term effect. In the 2018 class, for example, two Nebraska defensive line targets either eliminated the Huskers from the running or committed elsewhere last week. It’s still early, but it’s fair to ask if Nebraska was already trying to make up a little ground at that position in this class, and now maybe they have to think about taking another lineman to fill the hole left by Watts.

It’s also worth noting that Watts was the top ranked defensive lineman in the 2017 class per our rankings. Not by a lot, just a little, but Nebraska is now without two of the top-seven signees in that class, including Keyshawn Johnson Jr., and cornerback Elijah Blades, the second-best player in the class based on rankings, hasn’t enrolled yet either. If he doesn’t end up at Nebraska in 2017, all of the sudden you have to really reevaluate that 2017 class and how it met the Huskers’ needs. (And, once you’ve done that, try to address it in 2018, a battle Nebraska was already fighting by trying to land DBs and that was assuming Blades would be here.)

Of course, this is sort of the nature of the beast. This type of news is happening at most programs right now. It’s what happens in the summer, but for a program with a lot to prove in 2017 things certainly didn’t get any easier.

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