On this week's mailbag, Brandon Vogel, Greg Smith and Jacob Padilla answer questions ranging from Kirk Ferentz to Bill Moos.
Have to admit when I heard that Bill Moos was hired as the new AD I was disappointed it wasn't a "big" name person. But he has done everything about exactly right so far, from what I can tell. Your guys' take? What's good and bad about what he's done thus far? (@thawildbunch)
JP: Bill Moos was brought in to fix the university’s flagship program and all signs point to him doing just that by bringing Scott Frost back to Lincoln. He more or less punted the men’s basketball decision down the road, so I’d have to grade that situation as “incomplete” more so than good or bad. Similarly, he’s giving Darin Erstad another season because of the injury issues this year, so that would be an incomplete as well. He hasn’t needed to touch the likes of volleyball or women’s basketball. I know there are some fans who weren’t happy about the way he handled the Tim Miles or Erstad situations, but Frost was a home run and that is going to give the first half-year of his tenure an overwhelmingly positive feel.
BV: He landed Frost, and his tenure might be defined by that no matter what happens in other sports. There was extraordinary pressure to make that hire –– seriously, take 5 minutes and think about what if it hadn’t happened –– so there wasn’t much of a “decision” to make there, but still plenty of legwork to get it done. And he did. Basketball was like a fourth-and-2 from the opponent’s 40. Can’t kick a field goal there, but punting doesn’t gain much either. The numbers all say go for it (bring Miles back for the minimum extension) so Moos went for it and we’ll see how that pays off soon enough. After navigating those two scenarios, electing to bring Erstad back and just take the purely patient approach seemed to make a lot of sense to me.
As a Nebraskan living in Iowa, I know it’s a pipe dream, but how awesome would it be if the Husker Coaching staff tour included a stop in Des Moines? Lots of Husker fans over here. (@md_schmidt)
JP: I’m all for it if for no other reason than to draw a reaction from Brian Ferentz. I’m in favor of a rivalry with Iowa so why not venture into their territory?
GS: I would be all in on this too. Iowa hosts events in Omaha so why not have Nebraska pop into Iowa and fan the flames a bit?
Brandon alluded to this issue in Hot Reads, but looking beyond Neb.'s offensive potential, will we be able to field a BIG-worthy D that can stop the likes of Wisconsin, OhSt, and Penn St., who each have different offensive schemes? And if so, why, and how soon? (@thawildbunch)
JP: How soon is tough to judge without seeing a single game. While Nebraska didn’t necessarily have any difference-makers last season on defense, the overall talent level wasn’t the worst we’ve seen even though that’s what the results would suggest. The biggest problem was that the players simply didn’t fit what Bob Diaco wanted to do. We don’t know yet what the fit will be with Erik Chinander, but I do believe it will work. I think they’ll be improved this season, although stopping those high-powered offenses might be a bit much to ask in year one. In year two I think they’ll take another big step forward and by year three they should probably be close to where they want to be as a program on both sides of the field.
BV: Great question. This is every bit as interesting as the presumed offensive contrast between what Nebraska will be and what the Big Ten has been. In a typical year, a slightly below average Big Ten defense –– say one ranked eighth, ninth or 10th in a major category –– might still rank above the national average. That’s the defensive bias in the Big Ten. It is a conference of strong defenses. And it’s not that Nebraska’s defense can’t be that, I’m just not sure it needs to be when paired with a high-octane offense. Giving up 25 points a game, which UCF’s defense did last year, would’ve been about average in the Big Ten in 2017. It’s not the 13.9 Wisconsin allowed last year or the 14.1 Michigan allowed in 2016, but when backed up by an offense capable of averaging 40 it’s plenty good enough. So I don’t know if Nebraska’s defense ever gets to a top-10 national level in terms of numbers, but it’s all about the scoring differential. And I think defense has a great chance to be Nebraska’s best foot forward in Year 1.
GS: This is going to be the question that defines if this team is championship-level-competitive sooner than later. It will take time to get additional playmakers but when this staff took over at UCF, the defense was the strong suit in Year 1. In Year 2 they were worse points per game-wise but better with takeaways. The big question for me is how soon can defensive coordinator Erik Chinander build a defense that takes the ball away and creates its own big-play ability? That will also tell a lot.