A certain fan archetype has emerged in Nebraska over the past decade or so. You know him as Run-the-Ball Guy, the fan who is convinced the Huskers won’t be great again until a punishing run game returns to the Plains. But what if you don’t care how Nebraska wins, just that it does?
Mike Babcock, Jacob Padilla, Chris Schmidt and Brandon Vogel answer that question and more in this week’s Hail Varsity Mailbag.
I pay a lot of attention to recruiting and have been very pleased with Mike Riley’s last two classes so far. When does the talent finally start taking over in a weak division? It seems we are still trying to adapt to a new conference which should not be the case by now. (S.G. Facebook)
CS: There are a number of guys who could contribute this season from the past couple of classes. Specifically on the offensive line, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the three redshirts (John Raridon, Boe Wilson, and Matt Farniok) see time in the rotation or push to win a spot. Look for Tyjon Lindsey and Jaevon McQuitty at wide receiver. If Matt Snyder can stay healthy, he could be a weapon at tight end. On the defensive side you have Lamar Jackson with a shot to keep the starting cornerback spot. Also look for Avery Roberts at inside linebacker. Mo Barry and Collin Miller are two guys I like, too.
MB: Agree with Chris, adding JD Spielman to the mix as well. Development of the offensive linemen is critical. At one point, it appeared Wilson might have played last season and maybe the same with Farniok. Tough that McQuitty couldn’t go during the spring because of injury. You’re right, the time of adjustment to the Big Ten should be about over. The remaining question is how quickly the Huskers adapt to a new defensive system, and to some extent a new offense, which starts with the guys up front.
BV: It does feel like this is the year when you really see Riley’s influence take over. The Huskers’ leading passer, rusher and maybe receiver (depending upon how you count Stanley Morgan Jr. and what kind of season De’Mornay Pierson-El has) will be “Riley guys.” The defense still has some “Pelini guys” in high-profile spots, however.
Who are some names to look for at Friday Night Lights camp? (@realbaer, Twitter)
BV: These things are always fluid up until the moment they actually go off. Right now, it looks like this Friday’s camp might have mostly a local flavor. The June 23 camp, however, is expected to include Joshua Moore, five days after his expected announcement date, and Bookie Radley-Hiles, Moore’s former IMG Academy teammate and something of Nebraska’s top peer recruiter in this class. The presence of those two means there could be more high-profile recruits on the way.
JP: I believe offensive line target Chris Bleich is another guy slated to be there on the 23rd along with several more. It’s looking like that will be loaded camp, and I am planning to be there to check it out in person.
Fan day upped from past years to July 30th….same fan day set up per usual as far as autographs go? (@LuvB1GRed, Twitter)
MB: Checking with sports information. As far as I know, yes.
Okay, let’s get random. Favorite sports conspiracy theory? (marcus_shear, Twitter)
CS: The “urban legend” I like is the one about a mysterious power outage at Camden Yards. It took place sometime between 1994 or 1995. It kept Cal Ripken Jr’s Iron-man streak alive to eventually pass Lou Gehrig’s record. The details are hazy but one day Ripken showed up to the ball park and wasn’t happy. He refused to play. Extreme measures were taken. Don’t know if it’s true but I got a kick out of how it was explained to me by two people who were in Major League Baseball at the time.
MB: Because of the timing, former (dismissed for betting on games) NBA official Tim Donaghy saying (in internet reporting) that officials would be instructed to “force” a sixth game last night. No dramatic game-changing calls that I saw. The NBA has to be the toughest pro sport to officiate. The players are so big and athletic, and the game so fast. But Adam Silver and ABC/ESPN would have preferred another game or two.
Here’s another sort-of-conspiracy I’ve heard. Prior to the 1982 Nebraska-Clemson Orange Bowl, for some reason a game official was at the Clemson team hotel, where Clemson Coach Danny Ford told him to watch Husker center Dave Rimington closely for holding.
BV: THE BCS! THAT’S WHY THEY MAKE THAT CALL! Just kidding, my favorite is probably Michael Jordan’s decision to try minor league baseball. Was it his decision? I think it was, but plenty of people like to sniff around MJ’s reported love for high-stakes gambling.
Why do the NBA playoffs last so damn long? (@IBeLionsBeats, Twitter)
CS: Well, as I type away, they are over. That said, 82 games is a long regular season. Two-and-a-half months of playoffs. Spacing out the finals was a little nuts but I get trying to get these two teams some rest for a final showcase.
MB: Interest, I’d say. Fans and television.The NHL just ended, too.
BV: This year’s Finals schedule was tough for me. I grew up with the game-game-travel, game-game-travel rhythm and that’s what I prefer. It’s the difference between putting two teams in a room and waiting to see which one comes out the winner and booking the two teams at the same resort. One feels intense. The other feels like leisure time interrupted by occasional workouts. At least to me.
JP: As someone who just likes watching basketball, I’m fine with the postseason going as long as possible. Because you know what we have when it ends? Nothing. Nothing at all. (What’s this “baseball” you speak of?)
What are the expected punishments for Stanley Morgan and Keyshawn Johnson Jr.? (@BCoffendaffer, Twitter)
CS: My guess is the team will handle discipline internally. I wouldn’t want to be the next guy who screws up though. Per an AP story at the end of 2015, the NCAA and schools have been more about rehabilitation and counseling offenders instead of handing out suspensions.
MB: As does Chris, I expect it to be handled internally. Antonio Reed, too.
Whether Huskers run more or pass more, is it ok that I just want the team to be successful? I mean I love hot dogs, don’t care how it’s made. (@Corn_Huskers, Twitter)
CS: It’s completely OK to just want a great DOG! Nebraska fans are used to winning in a physical way. That typically has been accomplished with a power-run game. You can be a throwing/pro-style team and win big. Michigan State, Florida State, LSU, Alabama are all former conference, BCS of CFP champions and could and did throw, but they could run when they had to. The fear is being too one-dimensional on offense and you saw what Coach McBride’s defenses did to teams that were not balanced.
MB: Al Davis said it, “Just win, baby.”
BV: But what would we call you? “Win-the-Game Guy?” That seems like a pretty good spot to be, honestly. In many ways, Nebraska’s lack of titles post-1999 really creates this entire conversation. I always use this example, but Oklahoma fans weren’t convinced for the past decade-and-a-half that the Sooners still needed to be running the Wishbone. Nebraska, however, hasn’t won big without the option, so the dots are too easy to connect even if it means a somewhat flawed drawing.
JP: I’m firmly on the same team as you, whatever Brandon wants to call us (except for the hot dog part; I only eat hot dogs when there are no other options or unless they’re free). As a Green Bay Packers fan, I’ve enjoyed watching one of the best passing games in recent years, and the Packers won a Super Bowl on the strength of Aaron Rodgers’ arm (along with a salty defense). I was also born in 1992, so I’m not as tied to the past success of the Huskers because I wasn’t around or aware for most of it. I don’t believe that there is any one way to win, except by playing good football. Pick whatever style you want, but it comes down to talent and how that talent comes together at the end of the day.