The full Hail Varsity staff is back for another mailbag. Let’s get right to it.
One of Frost's favorite/effective offensive formations at UCF was the "Quad" formation but I recall a lot of schematic variety (probably due to personnel) last year. Do you think we'll see more formations this year with the addition of new skill players this summer? (@Sal_Vasta3)
Brandon Vogel: I think a little more variety in formations is likely, though my bet would be it has more to do with Year 2 than it does with the addition of new players. Though the players are important in this entire plan of attack. Having players like JD Spielman, Wan’Dale Robinson, Miles Jones, versatile tight ends, et al., is what allows Nebraska to show one look, get a defensive read and then motion to something else. That’s a key piece and the Huskers did a lot of it in Year 1, but familiarity should open up the opportunity for more in 2019.
Mike Babcock: I don’t disagree. Comfort in the system will allow for more variety, the difference between Year 1 and Year 2.
Derek Peterson: I wrote on our board last week I think this offensive playbook still has a lot to be shown. You might not see a huge number of new formations, because that’s not entirely where the variance comes from to begin with, but I do think you’ll see a ton more misdirection and option-type stuff to Brandon’s point—there’s just a higher comfort level now.
How much attrition (and when) will the football team have this spring/summer? Don't we have to watch out for roster size? (@Sal_Vasta3)
BV: You have to stay under the scholarship limit (85), but beyond that a bigger roster is what Scott Frost wants. (I looked at some of the reasons for that in the April issue, coming this week.) Nebraska will get to 85 scholarships one way or another. My count has them at 85 scholarships right now with the departure of Caleb Lightbourn and the addition of Jahkeem Green. My guess is we’ll see a few more players depart in the weeks ahead and that will leave Nebraska with some scholarships for walk-ons.
DP: The only other reason roster size is important is Title IX. There has to be equal opportunities for both men’s and women’s sports. From the NCAA, one part of determining whether you're compliant is hitting this threshold: “Provide participation opportunities for women and men that are substantially proportionate to their respective rates of enrollment as full-time undergraduate students.” So as long as Nebraska is hitting that mark, Frost can have however many walk-ons on the team as he wants.
Jacob Padilla: I’ll echo what Brandon said. I think we’ll probably see at least a couple guys seek other opportunities, but that’s it. As for the total roster size, it seems like that 150-160 range is what Frost is looking for and they’re at 159 right now.
Any idea what Nebraska will do with its two remaining 2019 scholarships? (@Sal_Vasta3)
JP: At last count, they’re already at the 85-scholarship limit for next season. Like Brandon mentioned above, at this point if there’s any further attrition I’m assuming the leftover scholarships will go to walk-ons. Unless we’re talking about basketball here, in which case they actually have four spots (and maybe five) still to fill. Expect some immediate frontcourt help and preferably at least two sit-out transfers.
Final Husker/NFL draft predictions? (@thew1242)
Erin Sorensen: I think Stanley Morgan Jr. will ultimately be drafted, even though he’s sort of fallen off when it comes to projections for the weekend. I think he’ll be drafted Saturday, but he’ll get picked up by someone and will be a great value pick as well. That would keep Nebraska’s draft record intact, which has been looking a little shaky this year. Otherwise, I think we’ll see Devine Ozigbo, Tanner Farmer and Luke Gifford all sign as undrafted free agents. In some ways (especially for a guy like Farmer), that can be a better case scenario. They’ll have a little more freedom to pick the best situation and go from there.
MB: Officer Stan will be drafted at some point, though not early. Erin’s got it with the other three. Dave Rimington tweeted great things about Farmer’s pro potential.
DP: I think Morgan and Ozigbo are both getting taken in the fifth round. Luke Gifford is going in the seventh.
JP: I’m rooting for all three of Morgan, Ozigbo and Gifford to get drafted, but it’s seeming more and more unlikely. I’ll stick with both Morgan and Ozigbo going late with Gifford as a priority undrafted free agent. Farmer will get an invitation to camp somewhere as well.
Will Nebraska offer any more in-state kids? And if so, who do you think they will? (@huskermef)
Greg Smith: If someone else in-state is going to get an offer, I’d say it will be athlete Ty Hahn from Johnson-Brock. It could happen if he continues to perform well at camps, but I don’t think it’s likely at this point.
JP: I’ll echo what Greg said with Ty Hahn, who could play wide receiver or safety. Lincoln Southeast safety/linebacker Isaac Gifford, Bellevue West running back Jay Ducker and Millard South lineman Kohl Herbolsheimer are the other names to watch for 2020.
Why does Nebraska like Nash Hutmacher at DL instead of OL? (@bethanydoes)
GS: My understanding is that his wrestling background and leverage he naturally plays with makes him ideal to play defensive line at Nebraska. They aren’t the only ones who feel that way. Wisconsin (his other finalist) is also recruiting him to play defensive line.
Any new info on Mo? (@WeDemBoyz89)
DP: There isn’t any new information right now. His next date in court is May 13 for identification of counsel. Washington’s current attorney, John C. Ball, was not present with Washington when he first appeared in court earlier this month and does not have a license to practice in the State of California. An attorney with the Santa Clara County Public Defender's Office appeared with Washington as stand-in representation during that first date where Washington entered a formal waiver of arraignment. Since there’s not likely to be a plea deal reached between now and then, there’s not really anything Nebraska is going to do between now and then.
What's it going to take to expand the CFB Playoff? (@uni_klaus)
ES: Money? And I don’t mean someone paying anyone off. I mean if there is an opportunity to make more money by adding more teams, they’ll do it. Money drives everything in the world of collegiate athletics, which is more ironic than I care to get into right now.
BV: And time. Public pressure seems to be growing a little bit each year, and that matters somewhat. When former committee member Barry Alvarez comes out and says the CFP needs to expand, those things add up. But there’s also the existing rights deal (ESPN) in place for a four-team playoff that runs through 2025. An eight-team playoff would be more lucrative, of course, and would require either a renegotiation of the current deal—not out of the question—or the CFP could wait until bidding on the next deal opened to announce that, surprise, it’s eight teams now and everyone is bidding on a bigger and better product. Whether or not it actually is bigger and better is somewhat irrelevant here. There would be more teams, more inventory and thus a higher price tag. I’d say we have at least three more years before such a change becomes likely.
MB: Money figures in on the other end, too. With eight teams, are there still conference championship games? Money. With eight teams, do regular-season schedules have to be reduced? Money. Nebraska needs seven home games each season. Do the student-athletes finally figure out a way to get a cut? Money.
DP: The SEC getting left out.
What are the chances Nebraska baseball wins the B1G and gets into the College World Series? (@Sal_Vasta3)
MB: I’ll answer in reverse order. Don’t think the Huskers will get to Omaha. They’re inconsistent offensively and they don’t have the pitching depth (but they have some developing young players in both areas, a basis for future optimism). They will make it to an NCAA regional, though, I think. As for winning the B1G, they’re still positioned for that despite losing twice at Iowa City. Still, two of three remaining conference series are at home, finishing against Michigan. If they could go 6-3 (or 7-2), they’d be in decent shape – 7-2, very good shape. Toss in Arizona State in Lincoln and two of three there would add to the NCAA resume. But first, Illinois this weekend. Rather than hedging, I’ll finish with a prediction. Though I could see them winning the B1G title, as I’ve outlined, I don’t think they will because of the offensive inconsistency.
Kyle Kardell: Mike has seen more baseball than me, so he is a trustworthy source. He is right about inconsistency. To make it to Omaha you cannot afford inconsistent play and there has just been too much of that. The Huskers have put themselves in good shape down the stretch to compete for a Big Ten title. It should be an exciting race to follow and a completely different finish from a season ago for a team that didn’t even make the conference tournament.