Another week, another Hail Varsity mailbag. The full Hail Varsity staff is back to answer your Huskers questions, so let’s get right to it.
What would be your bold prediction for the 2019 Husker Football season? I will say Adrian Martinez is a Heisman finalist. (@_LilBigRed12_)
GS: I’ll say Nebraska will have the No. 1 scoring offense in the Big Ten.
DP: A member of the Nebraska secondary makes the All-Big Ten first or second team.
ES: I’ll take Martinez as a Heisman contender in 2020. For next season, I’ll take Scott Frost as Big Ten Coach of the Year. Too much Koolaid?
Walk-on players last year likely to receive a scholarship? (@CoryHonold)
JP: Isaac Armstrong seems like a deserving candidate considering he won the starting job and did quite well with it last year and will be entering his senior season. If Kade Warner continues to earn snaps ahead of scholarship guys, it doesn’t seem right that he’d stay as a walk-on. There was some talk when Moses Bryant committed out of Elkhorn South that he would start as a walk-on but could be placed on scholarship down the road, though I didn’t hear anything about him this year and don’t know if that’s still the case. Jeramiah Stovall worked his way into a key special teams role and is heading into his senior season.
DP: I think Jacob is spot on with his guys. Kade Warner is almost certainly going on scholarship and Jeramiah Stovall is a guy not many pay attention to but the coaching staff loves for his work on special teams. I’m selfishly rooting for Damian Jackson to grow into something, so that’s more like a want rather than a prediction of what will happen.
Who do you think is the most natural fit to take Stan the Man’s place next year?
JP: I’ve always seen Jaevon McQuitty as a Stanley Morgan type in terms of size and skill set. Unfortunately, injuries have derailed his development to this point and we barely got to see him on the field last season as a redshirt freshman. Will he be ready to step into that role? I have no idea. Jaron Woodyard was kind of Morgan’s back-up this season, but he moved around to a couple different spots in the brief number of snaps he got this year. None of the incoming receivers seem like they’d be good fits for Morgan’s spot to me, at least right away. I’m not really sure what the answer is, and that’s one of the biggest questions the coaches will have to figure out before the 2019 season arrives.
DP: It’s Kade Warner (which is why I think he’s such a safe bet to earn that scholarship). McQuitty isn’t a guy people should be giving up on yet, but I think Warner proved more than capable of filling a significant role. Wrote this in my wide receiver review last week: “At 6-foot-1 with a strong frame, sound blocking instincts and sure hands, he might be the best bet Nebraska currently has.” But let’s be clear about one thing: no one is going to replace what Stanley Morgan Jr. brought to the team. Guys can try to fill his role as that big, physical downfield threat, but there won’t be someone that straight replicates him for a while.
Who is the best sixth man on the Nebrasketball team? (@ScNOTty_Frost)
JP: Nebraska doesn’t really have the prototypical super-sub because of how reliant it is on its starting five, but sophomore Nana Akenten is the answer almost by default. He’s leading the bench in minutes per game (13.7) and points per game (6.3) while shooting 41.7 percent from 3. Akenten still seems to struggle at times with the mental side of the game on both sides, and I think that’s part of why he hasn’t seen the floor more. But Miles seems to be platooning Tanner Borchardt and Brady Heiman at the back-up center spot and freshman guard Amir Harris, who had been struggling a bit to find his place out on the court, is currently dealing with an illness that is keeping him off the court.
With the expansion of the walk-on program again, who do you think out of this incoming class can make an impact on the field in the coming years? (@Sal_Vasta3)
JP: Caden McCormack and Luke Reimer are both really good athletes and both had opportunities to play at the FCS level, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see either of them end up on the field at some point, perhaps even fairly early on special teams.
GS: I like Jacob’s answer here. I’ll stick with special teams and say that punter Grant Detlefsen goes on scholarship down the road.
If you were the B1G Commissioner, what would you propose to give fans the best scheduling, competitive balance for teams, and make it easier for a B1G representative in the Playoffs (until they finally expand it in the coming year, before 2026)? (@Sal_Vasta3)
DP: Interesting question, but I don’t think you can have all those things present in one answer. The best scheduling for the fans means more Big Ten games, more meaningful games. I think most fans would take the current format over replacing that Ohio State game with, say, Charlotte. But to make it easier to get into this current CFP format I think you have to move to eight conference games. The SEC and ACC both play eight and have yet to be left out of the playoff; the other Power 5 conferences play nine and all have been snubbed at least once. That’s not a coincidence. At this point, changing conference scheduling is the only thing the Big Ten commissioner can do to help the conference in the eyes of the committee. As for competitive balance, I’m not touching the divisions. Things are moving as close to even as they’ve been in a while. The West went 10-11 in crossover games and now has two of the best up-and-coming coaches in major college football.
The Robinson commitment gives the Huskers a pretty impressive RB class for 2019. I know this offense wants to have a lot of “dudes” they can rotate in and out, but where do each of the 2019 RBs fit schematically in this offense and who can we expect to play right away? (@brooks_layne)
GS: I wouldn’t even necessarily count Wandale as a running back, think of him as an offensive weapon that will play wide receiver and running back. Rahmir Johnson will do most of the same things Robinson is slated to do. Dedrick Mills will slide into the Ozigbo role and Ronald Thompkins is more of a balanced back but he needs to be 100 percent healthy. Robinson and Mills will absolutely play from the beginning.
Will the staff add a punter? (@Tara20DFB)
JP: Nebraska currently has five punters slated to be on the roster for next season (including Caleb Lightbourn). Alec Cromer transferred from South Dakota State last season and sat out, so he’s eligible to play next season as is Jackson Walker, who will be a senior walk-on. Nebraska is already bringing in a punter in this preferred walk-on class in Lincoln Southeast’s Grant Detlefsen. And of course, Isaac Armstrong still has one more year. So I think they’re set at that position.
What’s the best new coaching hire in college football? (@IBeLionsBeats)
ES: I think you could make the case that Chris Klieman at Kansas State and Scott Satterfield at Louisville are two of the better ones. Klieman’s hire feels like it was undermined in the way that Bill Snyder
was forced out retired, but he’s a good coach and a good get for the Wildcats. So is Satterfield, who hails from Brandon Vogel’s favorite program of all time: Appalachian State.
With that said, I’ll take Mike Houston at East Carolina as my final answer here. He led James Madison to an NCAA FCS national title in 2016 over Youngstown State (hi, Bo Pelini) and I think he’ll be a good fit for East Carolina.
DP: Given the circumstances surrounding the hire, Louisville landing Scott Satterfield was as home run a move as you could make. He shouldn’t have been available. North Carolina should have grabbed him. So after being turned down by Jeff Brohm, the Cardinals did as good as they could have hoped for.
BV: Geoff Collins at Georgia Tech is my pick. He “only” went 15-10 in two years at Temple, but the Owls are pretty good here at the end of 2018. Collins is a Georgia native and had previous stints at Tech (as well as in SEC). There’s no reason Georgia Tech can’t be a perennial top 25 team and I think Collins can get them there.
Does Mack Brown change his narrative with the offensive coordinator he brought in? (@CoryHonold)
BV: He might have, after reportedly striking out with his first three choices. I like the Longo hire specifically because it’s a little risky. Ole Miss put up some good numbers, though struggled against the better defenses. The other guys Brown wanted have proven a little bit more, or at least had more opportunities, at a Power 5 level, but Longo at least gives me a reason to watch North Carolina now. Brown on his own wasn’t doing that.
What's your break down of UCF-LSU? Who wins, point spread, if UCF wins again will they finally get some love? (@InDaWilderness)
GS: I’m going to voice an unpopular opinion. UCF is getting the right amount of love relative to what they are as a program and who they play on a weekly basis. If they beat LSU, they deserve credit because it’d be their third win over a Power 5 team this season. That said, I don’t think we will need to worry about it because they will lose to LSU by double digits.
BV: I think LSU is way overvalued as about a touchdown favorite. I haven’t really bought into the Tigers’ 2018 run, and UCF has that G5 chip on its shoulder still. Motivation goes a long way in bowl games. I think the most likely scenario here is about a three-point LSU win, but if I’m going to go that far might as well pick the Knights to win.