Hail Varsity's Brandon Vogel, Greg Smith, Jacob Padilla and Derek Peterson take a stab at answering your questions on the Huskers' future, what happens this weekend against Ohio State and a few non-football topics in this week's mailbag.
Big picture. Do you think the sellout record is at risk? How much mediocrity (or less) can this fan base endure? (@mbmotorspt)
BV: I think it’s safe for this season. If I remember correctly, NIU and Rutgers were maybe the two questions marks on this schedule, but when you turn the page to 2018 and you start looking at a late-season game like Illinois (Nov. 10), things could get interesting if Nebraska’s not improved from what it is right now. The excitement of a new season probably covers the first month of the season, and opponent helps in some regard, but if all of the sudden the Illini are rolling in for a November game and the Huskers are kicking around at .500 or something similar there’s a real danger there.
DP: I think next year is the question, too. Given the games left on the home docket (Ohio State, Iowa, Northwestern), I would bet fans either continue to show out for the big ones or at least sell out the seats in order to keep what's viewed by many as one of the last great Nebraska traditions alive. Think it’s important to remember that the stadium doesn’t have to be full for it to technically be a sellout. As long as the tickets get bought up you’re safe.
Reading @SheaSerrano’s “Basketball (and other things)”. It’s fantastically fun & deep. What’s your favorite book, Huskers or otherwise? (@Simba_Simms)
JP: I’ve heard great things about “Dream Like a Champion” by John Cook and Brandon Vogel. You should definitely pick up a copy if you haven’t already.
BV: Thanks, Jacob. Check’s in the mail. “Saturday’s America” is a great collection of Dan Jenkins’ columns for Sports Illustrated from the 1960s and 1970s, and is one of my favorite college football books. “To Hate Like This is to be Happy Forever” by Will Blythe, a memoir about the Duke-UNC basketball rivalry, is criminally underrated in my book. Haven’t read Serrano’s book yet, though I’m excited to. If you like it, you might want to check out either of the books from the Free Darko fellas. Both were great.
DP: My go-to is "To Kill A Mockingbird." I’m sure you’ve read that and it’s a pretty popular book but I find myself re-reading it every couple of months.
GS: "Between The World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates is my go-to answer for favorite book.
If there is an opening at NU or an SEC school what’s to say Frost stays at UCF and continues what he’s started? (@jmr2142)
BV: Certainly possible. That’s one of the great unknowns in this hypothetical, under-the-breath discussion about Frost. It’s assumed he has an interest in coaching here, but I don’t think anyone knows that to be true. Or, if they do, they’re not saying yet.
DP: To Brandon’s point, we don’t really even know if Frost wants the Nebraska job. He might, but he might not. I think that regardless of what happens with Nebraska, Frost will not be coaching at UCF next season. He’ll be the Tom Herman of this offseason and someone’s going to throw a high-profile job at him. Which puts Nebraska leadership in all sorts of pickles if they really like him but don’t want to pull the trigger yet.
GS: I don’t see how Frost is coaching at UCF next season. If (when) Tennessee comes available, it will be very difficult to turn that job down. Even with bad coaching by Butch Jones, they have recruited very well and would make for a smooth turnaround on the field. They have all the same behind the scenes politics issues Nebraska currently has but with a great recruiting base. That all has to play into his thinking for his big job opportunity because he’s on record as saying Florida recruiting attracted him to the UCF job.
Will we score Saturday night? (@gregdaake)
BV: Have wondered the same thing. Think I’ve settled on “yes.” Twice.
DP: I think Tanner Lee should be able to go at a secondary that has been rather up and down this season. Obviously, the 66 yards against Maryland is frightening, but that kind of defensive performance doesn’t happen often and it rarely happens over a multiple-game stretch. I see this being in the 45-21 ballpark.
GS: Yes. Double digits even!
There has been some recent history between the WR coaches. Do you think the [Nebraska wideouts] will have their best game of the season this Saturday? (@CoryHonold)
JP: I don’t know if they will, but I do know they have to in order for Nebraska to even compete. The Huskers cannot afford to get behind in down and distance and it can’t afford to miss opportunities to move the chains or finish off drives with touchdowns. If Nebraska has three or four drops, I think Ohio State probably covers.
DP: Think Jacob hit the key point: drops. Nebraska can’t be dropping 50-yard touchdowns in the end zone. I suspect the group will have its best collective effort of the season.
GS: I don’t know about the wideouts as a whole but I expect Tyjon Lindsey to be very fired up to go against the team that he flipped to Nebraska from during the recruiting process.
How did Micah Parsons and the rest of the recruits enjoy their visit? (@KoryAksamit)
GS: To generally summarize, everyone enjoyed their visits. Most official visits go well especially under this staff who does a great job with them. The key for me was just how many recruits and their families mentioned “the family” or “the vision” when talking about how excited they are to get started at Nebraska.
Why so much talk of firing Riley? He’s doing a great job recruiting, just needs to bring in O & D linemen. All starts in trenches. (@rcas2104)
JP: The “fire Riley” talk comes from the product on the field. It certainly looks like Riley and his staff is upgrading the talent level, but those that want him gone are not seeing enough progress on the field and therefore don’t believe he’ll be able to turn the program around regardless of how good the 2018 recruiting class is (and it’s not like that is a top 10 class that will come in and be able to turn things around instantly).
GS: Offensive and defensive line recruiting is very tricky. Those positions are the hardest to find true day 1 impact players so if you expect that, all players will look like busts in the short-term. Think of how much better the Davis twins look now versus when they first got to campus and they were highly-touted. Recruiting has been good so far but not great. The misses on the elite prospects, Foster Sarrell, Darnay Holmes, Joseph Lewis, Donovan Peoples-Jones, etc have kept the classes from going to an elite level. They need to secure more top-end athletes like Bookie and Joshua Moore to continue trending up in that department.
Late game on Saturday so I'll need to fill the time. What are your little-known, off the wall, can't go wrong movie recommendations? (@Corn_Huskers)
BV: I’m on board with your first two descriptors, but am a little scared off by the “can’t go wrong” qualification. That said, there are a couple of films on Netflix right now that definitely didn’t go wrong for me. If you’re in a Halloween mood, “The Invitation” is a creepy thriller that I absolutely loved. More of a comedy mood, “Don’t Think Twice” is about the improv comedy scene and careers and was extraordinarily well made. And if you really want to take a trip, try “Tokyo Tribe,” a Japanese “hip-hopera.” It’s the definition of off the wall and I loved every minute of it.
DP: I mean, the "Scooby Doo" movie is on Netflix. "Nightcrawler" with Jake Gyllenhaal is a solid bet. I don’t think "Glory Road" is off the wall but that’s probably one of my all-time favorite movies, so if you haven’t seen that you should fix that.
Is this, and prior husker teams, inability to be physical when needed an example of a lack of consistency in players or coaches execution? (@Seth_Schofield)
JP: I think people throw around the word “physicality” as a catch-all term for when Nebraska gets beat. Nebraska certainly has some players (namely the corners) who have really struggled with playing physically. However, sometimes the other guy is just bigger, stronger and better. That doesn’t mean Nebraska wasn’t physical on that particular play, it just means it got beat. For example, on Wisconsin’s 75-yard touchdown run, Nebraska had 280-pound true freshman Deontre Thomas going up against Wisconsin’s 316-pound redshirt freshman center. Thomas can be physical all he wants, but on that run play it was just a bad match-up. Physicality isn’t Nebraska’s only problem. Talent and execution factor into the team’s struggles in a big way as well.