The Hail Varsity staff — Erin Sorensen, Greg Smith, Jacob Padilla and Derek Peterson — tackles your questions in the latest edition of the mailbag.
Which player on the football team has the potential to become a Graduate Assistant Coach in the next season or two and continue in the profession? (@Corn_Huskers)
GS: I’m stealing the answer of Tre Neal and Noah Vedral. Also, I can see Tanner Farmer on a strength staff.
DP: Tre Neal definitely has a future in coaching if he wants it. I could also see a guy like Dedrick Young turning to a grad assistant role.
JP: I talked to Luke Gifford about it and he said he could potentially see himself getting into coaching at some level down the road. He’s got a variety of experiences that offer him a unique perspective and I do think he’s a pretty smart football player. He’ll look into pursuing a professional playing career first and he’s got a business management degree as well, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gifford get into coaching at either the high school or college level at some point down the road.
ES: I guess I, too, will take Tre Neal. I could also see Luke Gifford (as Jacob mentioned) or Mick Stoltenberg. The more I think about it, there are a lot of guys that have potential to get into coaching down the road.
Was the defensive effort against Michigan State more about the weather, poor MSU offense or have the Blackshirts turned the corner as a unit? (@brooks_layne)
DP: I think it’s a healthy balance of both. That weather was not conducive to offensive football, but Michigan State is no barn-burner offense. They’re 13th in scoring offense for a reason. Nebraska just exacerbated things with a strong day. Throw out the field day against FCS Bethune-Cookman and the MSU game saw the Huskers post season-highs for havoc plays (17; tackles for loss plus passes defensed plus forced fumbles). Considering that’s exactly what the defense wants to do, I feel pretty comfortable saying they’re starting to turn that proverbial corner.
JP: Definitely all of the above. Even with the weather, Michigan State had seven drops, a few that were absolute killers. Rocky Lombardi wasn’t terribly accurate either. So guys were still getting open, it just didn’t cost Nebraska this time. With that being said, we’re seeing the Blackshirts make more and more plays every game and Nebraska has definitely improved.
How many future All-Americans are on this roster right now? (@apierce3_28)
DP: I thought Mo Barry was in for a big season. He delivered. As a senior in this defense next year, I think he’s got a shot at one of the All-American teams if health cooperates. Nebraska’s expected to take that next step next year and with enough team success, I could see Barry force his way into that conversation. Same goes for Deontai Williams at safety. On offense it’s a rather unimaginative answer, but it’s got to be Adrian Martinez and JD Spielman.
Why does Greg Smith have such a flawed turkey take? (@brandonlvogel)
GS: It’s not flawed, there’s no reasonable reason to eat turkey when ham exists. #TeamHam
JP: Because his food takes are flawed in general. Have you ever heard about the way he eats cereal?
Would you rather watch a defensive slugfest like we saw on Saturday or the offensive explosion we saw Monday night? (@tklim2430)
GS: Offensive explosion all day long would be my preference.
ES: It depends on the day. I wouldn’t want to watch only one for the rest of my life, that’s for sure. I think I prefer high-scoring offenses (so much fun!) but a good defensive battle can be a lot of fun too.
JP: Definitely the offensive explosion, although it’s fun seeing splash plays defensively as well (sacks, big tackles for loss, turnovers). Honestly, the way this Nebraska coaching staff wants to play aligns perfectly with the kind of football that I like best.
DP: A question. When Frost shredded opponents in the AAC and gave up 30-something points people were skeptical of that translating to a “real” conference. When the Big 12 does it week in and week out they’re playing no defense. When the Rams and Chiefs do it there are no issues? Hmmm. I like both. All-offense games are incredibly entertaining, especially when you’ve got two great offensive play-callers going punch-counter punch. But that breakthrough moment in a defensive slugfest when one offense finally punches through and takes a lead and the emotions just come pouring out? Those can be some of the best moments in sports.
Got any WAY too early projections for win-loss for next year and or final ranking? (@InDaWilderness)
ES: The 2019 schedule is much more favorable for Nebraska, and I could see it easily being a 9-3 (or even 10-2, I’m not kidding) season. Nebraska even gets Wisconsin and Ohio State at home, which is a big deal. I don’t know if I could put a national ranking on this team for 2019 yet, but I will say I sincerely think they’ll make a run for the Big Ten West title next year.
DP: If they beat Iowa on Friday, I’m saying 10-2. If they lose to Iowa, I’m saying 9-3. They finish ranked No. 14 in the final regular-season poll. Yes, the Kool-Aid tastes great.
How many recruits can we sign? (@Peyton51533)
GS: Nebraska can sign 30 this class. I believe they will sign 28. If they get to 30, they’ve probably gotten a couple of unexpected high-profile players to commit.
Is J.D. playing? (@navymousel)
GS: I’m going to say no. Frost’s comments on Wednesday did not make me feel like he was close to playing against Iowa. Missing him again would be a tough break for him and the team.
JP: Frost’s comments and the short week certainly don’t inspire confidence for me about Spielman playing.
Based on what you saw this season, what player do you think will have the biggest jump from Frost Season 1 to Frost Season 2? (@ApolloSolace)
GS: How about Maurice Washington? He’s look good for getting to the team in August. A year of nutrition plus Zach Duval and he could be a sneaky All-Big Ten type of player next year.
JP: I’ll say Tyrin Ferguson here. Nebraska is going to need someone to emerge as a leader and go-to player at that outside linebacker spot with Luke Gifford moving on and I think with a healthy season and a bigger role next season he could develop into a difference-maker.
DP: Adrian Martinez is going to be so good. Also, Cam Jurgens. Also, Cam Taylor.
Pick one person on offense and defense who has surprised you (good or bad) this football season (@IBeLionsBeats)
ES: On offense, Devine Ozigbo. On defense, Lamar Jackson.
JP: Definitely Devine Ozigbo in a positive fashion on the offense. If I had to pick a negative answer, it’d be Mike Williams based on the hype he received coming into the year and how he opened the season as a starter who played heavy snaps. On defense, I’ll go with Lamar Jackson positively for the way he bounced back from a rough start to the season to turn himself into a very good player.
DP: Lamar Jackson’s journey has been something to watch. The destination doesn’t surprise me — he always had the ability to get to where he is right now, he’s playing really well, has earned that Blackshirt and that starting spot — the surprising part is the path. He got benched and everyone (and I’m talking everyone) expected him to quit. The first half of his season wasn’t good. Getting benched turned everything around and he has been great since. Major props to him.
On the other side, I’m really shocked Jaevon McQuitty can’t get on the field.
Overall we've been really healthy this season (read: Brandon Vogel’s work). How much credit for that is on Duval and Ellis? What kinds of growth do you think this team can have with a whole offseason? (@SalVasta_3)
DP: Those two men get a ton of credit. Frost mentioned it Monday in his press conference: since bringing Duval into his circle, he’s had some of the healthiest teams in college football. The conditioning aspect of it all is no joke. There haven’t been any soft tissue injuries this year or minor things that have kept guys on the shelf for extended periods. Then there’s the Training Table. This coaching staff raves about that, too. Ellis has done a phenomenal job in tandem with Duval getting this team into better football shape.
Biggest remaining need in recruiting? Will we fill that need? (@thawildbunch)
What are the biggest holes we need recruiting to fix? (@sweetermanders)
GS: The biggest need is difference-makers on defense. The Huskers need more players on defense that opposing offensive coordinators have to fear. I do think Nebraska will fill the need. The biggest hole is pass-rushers. We only talk about that being outside linebackers but it can be defensive linemen too. The Huskers need both in this class.
Who will Colorado hire? Did Kansas make a good decision? How nice is it to end the season, and go into the offseason, without any drama, coaching or otherwise? (@thawildbunch)
DP: I haven’t had to deal with as much drama as everyone else around here has in the past, though I did come in when the big change happened. So it’ll be nice to get back to what I was used to and I’m sure a bunch of other people around here would like to get used to that as well. Where I came from the only offseason worry was who was going to get arrested. I suspect that’s not going to be a worry around here. Troy Walters will probably be a fun name for people to link to the Colorado job but I don’t think anyone on this staff is going anywhere any time soon. They want to see this thing through.
As for Kansas, I don’t like the hire. Les Miles is a good coach and in a lot of situations, a program just needs a good coach. But Miles doesn’t fix the recruiting issue. At LSU, he could walk into any home and know he had a shot at the kid because of the logo on his hat. At Kansas, he might struggle getting calls returned let alone getting into high-profile kids’ homes. You hear Frost talk about the power the Nebraska “N” has? Yeah, the “KU” doesn’t have that. Kansas needed a playing field-leveler and I don’t think Miles is innovative enough to do that. I’ve seen flak towards the media for universally hating on the hire but in this case it’s warranted. Kansas isn’t about to out-recruit Oklahoma because Les Miles is in town and Miles isn’t about to out-coach Lincoln Riley.