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Mailbag: Let’s Talk Nebraska’s Quarterbacks, Receivers and an Answer to Why

November 25, 2020

It’s Wednesday, and Wednesday means mailbag around here. Let’s get to it.

Just… Why? That’s the question. (@Mr_Marolf) 

Derek Peterson: Why did it take EA Sports a month to give us the next-gen version of FIFA 21 when the only difference to the game is the ability to play with Dua freaking Lipa in the VOLTA mode when 2K had essentially a brand new 2K21 game to launch right alongside the next-gen console? That is a great question. Your guess is as good as mine. But, EA continues the time-honored tradition of letting down supporters of FIFA year after year after year. The next-gen copy probably won’t be playable until February 2021, either; most of their new titles need six or seven updates right after launch to fix problems you couldn’t even make up if you tried. The managers went into transfer negotiation scenes wearing generic brand gameday kits. How does that happen? I ask this question all the time of EA’s FIFA title. Why? 

Brandon Vogel: To build off what Derek said, you start the turkey in a blazing hot oven to get a nice, crispy, brown skin. Then you drop the temperature to cook it internally. It’s a two-phase process, but it doesn’t need to take four or five hours to cook your turkey. Two or two-and-a-half, depending on size of course, will produce a juicier bird. That’s why. 

Who will start at QB on Friday? Luke or Adrian? (@radicalhuskerf1) 

DP: Adrian. 

Greg Smith: I’ll take Adrian as well. 

Mike Babcock: As will I. 

Erin Sorensen: Count me in on Adrian starting as well. I think Scott Frost told us so on Monday when he said Luke McCaffrey was the future but that Nebraska would need to play “the guy that gives us a chance to win.” That said about all I needed it to. 

You have seen four games. Who are you starting on the offensive line? (@JacobKrueger5) 

DP: Brenden Jaimes, Ethan Piper, Will Farniok, Matt Farniok, Bryce Benhart. 

MB: Jaimes, Piper, Matt Farniok, Wilson, Benhart . . . or move Matt to guard and start Will at center as Derek says. Jurgens is a great athlete, no question, but I’m wondering if his frame is such that he can carry all that extra weight. Hopefully, I’m wrong and he’ll emerge as an All-Big Ten type center as he continues to develop. 

What do you think is the difference between Scott Frost and Tom Allen? Tom Allen seems to know what he is doing in Indiana. (@eric_2011PJ) 

DP: To be fair to Scott, Tom Allen has been coaching football since 1992. Put another way, Allen has been coaching football since Frost was a junior in high school. That helps. I won’t profess to know how Allen handles his business in Bloomington. From afar, he seems to be a really excellent motivator and a guy who can identify, develop, and get the most out of what he has. Frost, at least so far, seems to have really struggled to blend his vision of what can be and what will be with what he currently has to work with. It might be too harsh to use the phrase “run off” when it comes to the guys who have left the program with eligibility remaining (and even that would be painting with a broad brush), but there has been an awful lot of talent that has left in Frost’s first three years that would help to not make this such a young team right now.  

GS: Derek’s point about Allen being a more seasoned coach is really good. As the resident Tom Allen fan club leader, I would say that he is fantastic motivator who can get the most out of the talent he has. They are never going to recruit like Nebraska does at Indiana but that doesn’t stop Allen from maximizing the talent he has. There is also something to everyone at that program seeming to believe in him and what he is selling. This video shows that.  

Do you think the complexity of the offensive and defensive schemes are making players think too much and delaying decision-making? Do you think they’re playing without fear of failure? 

MB: Seemed as if Martinez did better as a freshman because he was learning the system and played with more freedom. I’m sure players are pressing, if for no other reason than the losses. This seems obvious, probably, but right now, Nebraska doesn’t seem to adjust to its opponents very well, whether that’s coaching, playing tight or a combination. 

BV: Given that Frost mentioned “simplify” in response to the offense’s woes last week, there might be something there. Defensively, I’m less sure. So much of playing defense is reacting that I think good defense largely comes down to excellent technique. If you can stack superior talent on top of that, you’re really cooking. But so far I think struggles defensively are still coming down to technique, which is frustrating in year three. 

NU essentially has three different coaches looking at the quarterback. Having three different people coming at the guys is maybe confusing them? Would only having one coach be better? (@TwinTwisterDad) 

MB: No disrespect to Lubick, I like him and think he’s a good coach, but I’ve thought from the start, Frost should be the offensive coordinator/head coach, with Verduzco coaching the quarterbacks, and using the additional full-time coach with Austin, working with the offensive line. Osborne always had two offensive line coaches—there are five positions there to work with. 

ES: If the coaches are on separate pages? Sure, it could get confusing. Lubick did say the decision ultimately comes down to Frost, so you’d hope there’s no confusion but I guess there always could be. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to have multiple people weighing in on something (as Mike pointed out with the offensive line under Osborne) but you do need people to be in agreement. Or, at least willing to agree if they’re not quite on the same page. Anyway, all of this to say, I’m not in the room where it happens (Hamilton!) so I can’t say what the best solution is here. 

What would you say to the negative people talking about firing some of the coaching staff or even Frost three years into the program? (@Go_Big_Red) 

Jacob Padilla: The first thing I would say is that it’s not happening, at least in Frost’s case. The second thing, however, is that I understand the frustration and can’t really argue with the results (or lack thereof thus far). The program needs to start showing some kind of steady progress or Frost is going to have to try something different. Whether that’s a staff shake-up, a scheme adjustment, a change in the way they go about practice or something else, I’m not sure. But we all know the definition of insanity, and I know plenty of Husker fans that are going crazy watching this team. 

GS: It’s a results-based business. Frost is going nowhere so any talk of a change up top isn’t realistic. Something has to change though in a hurry because what is happening currently isn’t good enough for anyone.  

MB: They made a couple of changes on the staff before this season, which I thought was too quickly. Staff stability is important in a team’s success. You have to believe you have the right coaches to start with. I don’t think it’s right that everything is put on assistants. The person who hired them is responsible for getting the right guys. 

What building blocks do you see us having right now? Player(s) or a position group we can feel good about this year and beyond? (@tschmidt723) 

DP: Certainly not for this year, as there are only three games, but I think there are a bunch of guys who could be building blocks. Coaches have recruited the defensive side of the ball really well. A defensive line of Ty Robinson and Nash Hutmacher should be great. Luke Reimer and Nick Henrich and Blaise Gunnerson should be staple linebackers in a few years. Myles Farmer and Quinton Newsome and Braxton Clark should be excellent defensive backs. I still believe Sevion Morrison and Marvin Scott III will be an excellent one-two running back punch in a few years, and I think an offensive line with Turner Corcoran, Ethan Piper, and Bryce Benhart. 

JP: I definitely think there’s a reason to be excited about the prospects of the young offensive linemen, especially with the experience guys like Bryce Benhart and Ethan Piper. Defensively, Ty Robinson looks like a dude, even if he’s not totally consistent yet as a redshirt freshman. So the Huskers have some good cornerstones in the trenches to build off of. I’m still a believer in Zavier Betts at wide receiver, but until they get the quarterback situation figured out I’m not sure how much it will matter.  

Why so many wide receiver groupings? Who’s the current WR on the roster who is going to give us a vertical threat? Who is QB1 on Saturday? Is Omar Manning a bust? Or is there a legitimate reason he’s been in on a few plays this year? Is he around in 2021? (@afibathlete) 

DP: Just getting as many guys on the field as possible, certain guys are blocking well, other youngsters need to be on the field but don’t seem to have full trust yet. Omar Manning is that guy. I think Adrian Martinez will draw the start. You should absolutely not label Manning a bust four games into his college career. I don’t know, it might depend on how this last month goes.  

JP: It’s worth noting that Manning is still engaged with his teammates when he’s on the sideline, pumping his guys up and celebrating with them. He certainly hasn’t checked out. But He just hasn’t been able to practice enough to insert himself into the rotation at wideout. Matt Lubick called him “day-to-day,” so we’ll just have to see how the last few games go before I have any idea what to thank about the future. 

GS: Nebraska is trying to find the right mix of guys to give consistent play at wideout. We all see the talent of the young players but they need to be up to speed so they can run this offense effectively. Zavier Betts and Marcus Fleming are perfectly capable of being vertical threats but that only matters if the quarterback sees them and throws the ball. We saw that last week when Betts was wide open for a TD. I think Adrian is QB1 on Friday. Manning isn’t a bust yet but it’s trending that way. He needs to be healthy as the coaches continue to say but he also needs to be engaged Monday-Friday. Not just on the sidelines during a game.  

I know this isn’t really football related, but how are the other sports (volleyball, soccer, XC, etc.) adjusting and dealing with the pandemic? (@danwitte) 

JP: I can’t speak to the other programs, but the volleyball program appears to be in decent spirits based on what we saw during the Red-White Scrimmage Nebraska streamed a couple weeks ago. The team is on a break now for Thanksgiving but will return to campus after the holiday and start workouts on Dec. 1. Like the other programs, the team has been isolated to its section of the Devaney Center building to limit exposure to other athletes while going through workouts, lifting sessions and practices. John Cook has continued to encourage his student-athletes to make good decisions away from the facility, but with volleyball not in season the team isn’t being tested daily, and the motivation to isolate oneself might not have been as strong over the last couple of months. We’re two months out from the start of the season now, however. 

 Will Nebraska offer Cole Payton as a quarterback? The guy looked smooth back there and took care of the ball. These are two things Nebraska needs from a quarterback right now. (@JacobKrueger5)  

GS: No, that ship has sailed.  

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