There is a lot swirling around the Nebraska football team right now for it to only be the fourth week of the season. Nebraska sits at 1-2, which is a completely foreign feeling for this generation of Husker fans. The news of the day was that Chancellor Ronnie Green and President Hank Bounds decided last night to terminate Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst.
Eichorst was informed this morning in a meeting with Green and Bounds effective. Big picture, that’s obviously the big news with lots of ramifications. In the meantime, Nebraska has a football game to play on Saturday at 2:30 against Rutgers and it is currently a very banged up football team. Mike Riley opened his post-practice availability with the injury news.
“David Knevel has practiced just a little bit this week, will probably be at best an emergency-type guy. We’ll see how he is tomorrow," Riley said. "Matt Farniok is kind of the same way, he’s just gotten his cast. He could could possibly be an emergency lineman or in the punt shield like he did before. Tre Bryant won’t play. Marcus Newby’s not going to be able to play. Josh Kalu won’t be ready to play. Ty Ferguson won’t be ready to play.
"Stanley Morgan has a neck, really really hard time moving his head and neck all week so he hasn’t practiced. We think it’s soft tissue issue so it could start feeling better in the next 48 hours, so we’re hopeful for that. At the tackle spot, Brenden Jaimes will start at right tackle. He’s a good player, good kid. We expect good things from him."
When pressed further on if there could be any other changes on offensive line besides true freshman Jaimes starting, Riley added another injury to the pile.
“Cole Conrad has had a rough week with a knee and ankle," he said. "He has practiced part of the last two practices but not the whole thing. So Mike Decker has taken most of the reps there and Mike’s ready to go.”
The injury bug could not have picked a worse time to hit Nebraska as it is currently reeling on the field and off. Starting conference play missing a number of key contributors while coming off back to back losses is not an ideal situation.
That big picture news I mentioned that everyone was talking about today was the sudden change by university leadership to remove Eichorst. Riley was asked his initial thoughts on the man that hired him.
“I was told personally by President Bounds and Chancellor Green. I was taken back, surprised," Riley said. "I was probably flat-out saddened by the whole deal. I really enjoyed working with Shawn. Besides being a good man, I think he had everyone’s best interest at heart, coaches and student athletes. I think department-wide, the way it was run was beautiful. The things put in place to support young people was great and the support we got was at the highest level. His interaction with us was the most I’ve ever had, which I appreciated. So all those things are absolutely real.
"The other thing probably with that is, I’m just thankful he brought me here. He’s the one that stepped out and gave us a job here. We brought a staff and we’re at a great place. We’re thankful to be here. Trying to both develop and grow and be the best we can be. We haven’t developed the way we’ve needed to.”
If there can be a silver lining or something Husker fans can grab onto right now, Riley did offer good insight to why it is that he is “energized” about where the football program is heading.
“I’m really excited about what we can do. I’m really, really excited as I watch the 2017 class that we recruited practice and get some of them to play a little bit," he said. "It’s a really good group. The next group that we have right now committed will be a great group, and so the two things that you have to do is coach, then you have to recruit if you want to really build where you want to go. What we have to do as a better job right now with this group is coaching them, I think there’s lots of parts there that are growing and there’s parts that we have to get better at right away.
"We haven’t played good offense yet, so we’ve got to keep working that. Defense is absolutely individuals getting better, unit getting better, lots of stuff in parts of the kicking game are different and better. The punters are way different this year. That’s individual and as a group. The return game has shown lots of good life. I am excited about that. We have to do that. If you really want to then have a vision down the road you have to recruit like crazy, and our guys have been doing that. I think this 17 class looks like that and the 18 class can look like that, so that’s what we’re doing. I’m not losing any vision of where we’re trying to go. We’re just going to do it.”
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.