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Mailbag: Health, Line Play and What Makes this Season a Success

August 15, 2017

What’s on the minds of Husker fans this week? Well, we got a few hypotheticals, some line talk and what success means this season for the Huskers.

Jacob Padilla, Greg Smith, Brandon Vogel and Derek Peterson offer their thoughts below.

Saw this on twitter: if you could give one former athlete a clean bill of health for his whole career who would you choose and why? (@IBeLionsBeats)

DP: If I can go outside football, I’ll go with Brandon Roy from the Portland Trail Blazers just because I loved watching him and bad knees/bad procedures took away a Hall of Fame career. But since you’re probably thinking football, I’ll go with a relatively recent guy (seeing as I’m practically a baby in this business). Marcus Lattimore from South Carolina was a guy I watched every weekend. He was just a phenomenal all-around running back and then he got hurt in back-to-back seasons, with the awful one in 2012, and he just hasn’t been the same.

JP: Derek picked two great answers for this question in Roy and Lattimore. There have been a ton of guys in NBA history that I could rattle off here. Football-wise, I’ll go with Nick Collins. He was one of my favorite Packers and I think he was on his way to the Hall of Fame before a neck injury prematurely ended his career. If we want to look more recent and close to home, I’d like to give Jordan Westerkamp a chance to finish his career with complete health because if he had, I think he’d have a home in the NFL right now. He doesn’t necessarily possess ideal physical tools, but the guy is a great football player and injuries robbed him both of a potential 1,000-yard season (something that has never been done at Nebraska) as a senior and a chance to show NFL scouts exactly what he was capable of. Just today he got waived by the Dolphins with some kind of injury settlement.

BV: This will be a recent, local pick, but give me Charles Jackson. Ton of talent, was clearly committed to the prospect of playing football at Nebraska given all he went through to get there and then it just never worked out for him. Every time he’d do all the work to get back from one injury, he was unlucky enough to end up with another one.

It appeared the DL got the better of the OL last week. Is that due to change in scheme, the DL/OLB athletes or potential issues on the OL? (@3rdLargestCity)

GS: I would go change of scheme here. The 3-4 by nature is disruptive and causes confusion. I believe I’ve heard the phrase “conflict at the point of attack” used by Bob Diaco. With that being said, it can be difficult for offensive lines to stop that early on. I expect the offensive line to get better at blocking the 3-4 which will have a benefit playing the Badgers.

DP: I’m going to go with Greg here and chalk this up to scheme more than any issues up front, even though I do think the offensive line is working through some things right now. Redshirt freshman Boe Wilson has gotten some run recently over Tanner Farmer on the line, so that’s a pretty good indication the Mike Cavanaugh and company are trying to look at some things. Add in the scheme change and you’re going to get some funky results.

JP: I don’t even know how fair it is to say that the front seven definitively got the better of the offensive line. I saw some good blocking during the brief scrimmage/situational period we got to see on Thursday including a few very nice runs. We get to see so little in terms of direct competition between the lines that I don’t think it is fair for us to definitively state who is “winning” between the two on a consistent basis. The O-line has its good days and so does the front seven.

What would cause you guys to call this season a success? 9 wins? 8 wins and 3-4 close losses? Division championship? (@thawildbunch)

GS: For me a Division Championship makes the season a success. I don’t believe the gap between Nebraska and Wisconsin is significant. Especially after Wisconsin lost Jack Cichy for the season. My feeling is that I am a little more positive on the outlook for this season than most though.

DP: I think success is really subjective in these cases. Even though it’s not what the fans might want, Nebraska could go 6-6 this season but set up the foundation for a fantastic 2018 season and I think the coaches would be able to spin that as a success. For me, it’s can the defense jell and give Diaco what he’s looking for and can the offensive line allow the them to be balanced offensively. If those things happen, anything less than a 9-win season probably has to feel like a disappointment because I think the offense has that much potential.

JP: I think 8-4 is the baseline. If they finish better than that, I will call the season a success, although “success” is a broad term and there are certainly varying degrees. I think expecting 9 or 10 wins is simply wishful thinking on the part of a fan because as much as we think these guys have talent, many of them haven’t proven a single thing. While Greg is taking the optimistic approach, I’m much more in wait-and-see mode because I’ve been the optimistic guy too often in the past and the seasons have rarely turned out as I expected.

BV: I’m thinking along the same lines as Derek. There’s a wide swath of potential records for the Huskers in 2017, so the key for me will be if Husker fans are extremely bullish on 2018 at the end of the year. It’s really been since the 2009-10 turning of the page that you’ve really had that in Lincoln. The Huskers started that season in the top 10 and there was legitimate reason to believe Nebraska was working its way back into the national discussion. Whatever record it takes for that to be the takeaway eat the end of the year will qualify as a success for me.

Bookie indicated there are 5 or 6 silent commits at the Opening a few weeks back. What are ur guesses who those 5 or 6 are? (@lxachillesxl)

GS: If I had to GUESS I would go with 4-star DB Houston Griffith, 4-star CB Christian Tutt, 3-star DE Daniel Carson, 5-star DE Micah Parsons and a wildcard. However, I only believe that one of those prospects listed is actually a silent commit to Nebraska at this point.

Why is NW overrated every year? Seems like pundits either pick MN or NW as dark horse to win West. Just a fun silly season game to play? (@thawildbunch)

GS: Is Northwestern overrated yearly? That was my first thought when I saw this question so I looked up their records recently. 5-7, 5-7, 10-3, 7-6 is what the Wildcats have produced the last four seasons which is honestly worse than I thought. This year, I believe pundits like them because they have veteran quarterback Clayton Thorson and a star running back Justin Jackson. I think they fall somewhere in the 7-win range again in 2017.

JP: Northwestern returned eight starters on each side of the ball from last year’s 7-6 team including two of the best players in the Big ten in Jackson and safety Godwin Igwebuike as well as a much-improved Thorson at quarterback. Those are three really nice pieces to build around surrounded by an experienced supporting cast. You can discount Northwestern if you’d like, but to the outsider looking at the division, there are more reasons to trust Northwestern than there are Nebraska simply because the Huskers have so much unknown and the Wildcats have at least two players better than anyone on Nebraska’s roster based on what they’ve proven to this point.

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