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Mailbag: Predictions and Projections for Nebraska's Spring Game
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Mailbag: Predictions and Projections for Nebraska’s Spring Game

April 10, 2019

A full mailbag this week brings a full Hail Varsity staff back to answer questions. Let’s just get right to it.

Coach Erstad and the boys seem to be having more fun this year. Any thoughts to the levity of the team? Just having more fun now or limited injuries helps? This time last year the team had multiple starters injured. (@ChuckandM) 

Kyle Kardell: It turns out winning is more fun. You already touched on it, but the team has limited injuries (knock on wood) compared to last year. Anything that could have gone wrong last year did. Having good production and depth on the mound gives this team the ability to compete in every game. This is a unique team that is only two years removed from a Big Ten title. Combine all of that with a talented freshmen class and the game becomes more fun.  

Mike Babcock: Kyle’s got it covered. Winning makes a difference. Plus, there’s involvement from more players, right-against-left, left-against-right. Roseberry, for example, got an opportunity and made the most of it. Look down the lineup at the number of players with double-digit RBIs. Lots of guys are contributing. The chemistry seems to be pretty good. As for last night against Creighton, no fun. 

Total verbal commits by 5 p.m. on Monday? (@3rdLargestCity) 

Jacob Padilla: This isn’t necessarily what you’re asking but I’ll put it out there that I think Jervay Green re-affirms his commitment to Nebraska and Fred Hoiberg after visiting this weekend. 

Greg Smith: Currently the Huskers sit at 2 total verbals. I’ll say by 5 pm on Monday they have three total.  

Leading receiver and rusher in the spring game? (@3rdLargestCity) 

JP: Gimme Moses Bryant with a breakout performance on the ground. It sounds like Wyatt Mazour has been a little banged up this spring so I’m not sure he’ll get a ton of carries. Maurice Washington isn’t playing. I’m still not sure what’s going on with Jaylin Bradley. That leaves walk-ons Bryant, Brody Belt, Austin Hemphill and Connor Ruth plus any wide receivers or quarterbacks that might carry the ball. As for the receiver, I’ll go with the hot name and take Andre Hunt. 

Brandon Vogel: The leading rusher is . . . [dramatic music sting] . . . Luke McCaffrey. And give me a Katerian LeGrone for the leading receiver. All it takes is a couple of big gains. 

MB: I like Brandon’s prediction, Luke McCaffrey because Martinez might not play a lot. He’s a known quantity, of course. Lots of good things have been said about Andre Hunt and Katerian LeGrone. If Wan’Dale Robinson were playing, I’d say him. 

Derek Peterson: I’ll take Brody Belt as the leading rusher and Andre Hunt as the leading reciever. Both have had impressive springs and I suspect the staff will want to give them each some extended burn in a game-like setting.

If Hail Varsity was set in Scranton, PA and a mid-sized paper company, who plays the characters from The Office? I feel that Erin Sorensen would make a great Michael Gary Scott. (@3rdLargestCity) 

DP: I am Beyonce, always. 

Erin Sorensen: Considering it was determined that Michael Scott is not that intelligent by the Hail Varsity staff today in the office, I’m offended by this question. Also, Derek’s answer is fantastic.

Who will sit on the throne at the end of Game of Thrones? (@marcus_scheer) 

GS: I’m rooting for the Night King but my head says Jon Snow. 

JP: Nobody. Everybody dies. 

Transfers seem to be the in thing after Spring Games. Over/Under on four players entering the portal? (@CoryHonold) 

GS: I’ll take the under. One thing people have to remember is that you have to feel confident you’ll land somewhere you will want to be if you transfer. The guys most looking to leave might not have a better option than just sticking it out here.  

JP: By my count, they’re at 85 scholarships exactly right now, so they don’t technically need anyone to leave. However, they’re still recruiting at least one guy that would take a 2019 scholarship so that leads you to believe they have a decent idea somebody might be leaving. I don’t think we’ll see everyone make it through the summer but I’ll also take the under at this point. It seems like they’re building up something that people want to be a part of. 

MB: Under, no explanation, just under, fairly confident about that. 

DP: I would have set the O/U at 1.5. And taken the under. Greg makes the key point, and I just think the guys who are here currently are here to work. Nothing about this Husker situation has changed since the 2018 season ended, and if guys wanted out, they would have done it then. 

ES: I, too, will take the under.

Considering the injury that Martinez sustained last year vs. Colorado and now the ticket stunt, are they trying to recreate the created rivalry of years past? Do they even stand a chance vs Nebraska? (@Corn_Huskers) 

BV: If it wasn’t a conscious effort, it’s getting the job done anyway. And that’s good. I want Nebraska-Colorado to be a no-love-lost game. It’s the way it should be. As for the Huskers’ chances in that game, I have yet to do a deep dive on what Colorado might be in 2019. I don’t expect Nebraska to just walk in there and lay a beating on the Buffs, though I do think the Huskers will win. It’ll be more of a slow burn type of game. 

MB: I don’t think the created rivalry ever went away. Colorado and Nebraska are just in different conferences is all. Though the created rivalry part can be traced to Bill McCartney, the ill-will was there long before. Not sure why. Bob Devaney didn’t much care for the live Buffalo, as I recall.  

ES: And to add to Mike’s point about McCartney, Tom Osborne once said: “I’m sure the fans don’t view the Colorado game as all that significant.” So manufactured or not, there’s always been some bad blood between the two programs. Makes it fun, right?

Any thoughts on this? (@Goooobigred)


BV: By all means, come back if you want to come back, Keyshawn. I’d have no problem with that and I think most people would welcome him warmly. 

ES: Not that it’s the same, but Bookie Radley-Hiles came to Nebraska’s spring game last year. He had a great time, and he was treated well. I imagine fans would do the same in this situation if he was spotted in the stands.

Which RB takes the first handoff of the spring game and how many yards does he get? What about QB and pass? You know what? Just give me a complete set of predictions for the game. (@InDaWilderness) 

BV: Even though he’s been banged up a bit, I think Mazour gets the first running back carry on the first play of the game and goes for 3 yards. Nebraska will go quick tempo after that and Martinez will find Stoll over the middle for 12. The third play will be . . . just kidding, I don’t even know the rosters yet. But I’ll go ahead and predict McCaffrey dominates much of the conversation just by virtue of being the new QB (plus he’ll be given a lot of room to work, I suspect). There will be a couple of new-ish receiver names (including tight ends) that make people feel a little better about that lingering question. And reviews will be mixed for a defense people have heard a lot of good things about for weeks. But don’t read too much into that. It’s a spring game and nobody wants to see a 14-9 struggle.  

MB: I’m not going to contradict Brandon on anything he says here, though Mazour will get more than 3  yards. 

With our RB room shrouded in mystery this offseason, who do y'all expect to be the Day 1 starter? Will there be a different starter by the end of the season? (@InDaWilderness) 

GS: I’ll still take Maurice Washington to be the day one starter and the starter at the end of the season.  

JP: I’ll take Washington for both as well. If he isn’t part of the picture, I’ll go with Dedrick Mills for both.  

MB: I feel as if I should say something different to make this more interesting, but I can’t. If for some reason Washington can’t play, I’d go with Mills or Rahmir Johnson. 

DP: Clean sweep. Washington will be the guy as long as he’s around.

Who or what are you looking forward to seeing the most in the spring game? If you are Coach Frost, do you go to the grad transfer market and try landing a running back like Taj Griffin or Trey Smith, or do you stick with what we have and the incoming guys? (@_LilBigRed12_) 

GS: Darrion Daniels is the guy I’m most looking forward to seeing on Saturday. I do not think Nebraska will need to go the grad transfer route for a running back. The guys coming in this summer should be able to provide a huge boost. 

JP: I’d stand pat. I think they’ll have enough bodies with talent once the fall rolls around. They just need to make it through the spring as best they can and hope Mills makes it to campus. If he doesn’t, then maybe you think about adding someone else. I’ll go with Andre Hunt as the guy I’m looking forward to seeing the most. We’ve heard a ton about him and we didn’t really get to see much last year before he got hurt. 

MB: I’m looking forward to seeing McCaffrey, though with Vedral as the top back-up, I’d expect a redshirt come fall, of course. 

DP: I’m looking forward to the quarterback battle outside of Martinez. I’m very curious to know who wins the No. 2 spot and I think the spring game could give us some sort of indication as who is or should be the leader in the clubhouse for that. I also really want to see what center looks like.

Haven't heard a lot about Will Honas and his recovery. How is he coming along and is he expected to be able to play in the fall? (@korupteddonkey) 

JP: Barrett Ruud said Honas hasn’t taken any contact this spring, but he has been participating pretty much the whole way through. He’s progressing well from what we’ve heard and I think they expect him to be ready for the fall. 

MB: Important that he is ready for the fall. He could play a big role if healthy. 

DP: Please credit me with that info, Jacob, as you are just passing along information I told you. (Honas is coming along fine. They’re hopeful he’s ready to go for the fall.)

Expert advice on what to watch for in the spring game? Like, what nitty-gritty details? Or is it all just for fun? (@thawildbunch) 

JP: It’s mostly just for fun. The guys that will likely play the biggest roles come the fall likely won’t play at all or will play very little. I think the best part of the spring game is getting a first look at the newcomers and the guys who redshirted last year. Some of those guys (namely, Wan’Dale Robinson and Nick Henrich) will unfortunately be held out, but there are still plenty of guys we haven’t seen before that will get a chance to show what they can do. It’s also a great opportunity for the deeper bench guys and the walk-ons to get out there and play in front of fans, friends and family. I think that’s what the spring game is truly about. 

DP: There are some things you can look for. Coaches have talked a ton this offseason about trying to get the tight ends more involved. So what will that look like in a game? Remember this is a practice for them, too, you know, so they want to see this stuff in action. Maybe don’t focus on a singular player, but how is that position used in the passing game? Is he a primary option on plays? What kinds of routes is he running? 

On defense, where is JoJo Domann lining up? Is Nebraska going more base defense or using a ton of sub-packages. Is Cam Taylor playing nickel? Playing safety? Erik Chinander probably isn’t going to blitz a ton but what kind of push is the defensive line getting up front? 

One piece of Val’s pizza remaining in the press box at Memorial Stadium. Both you & Erin Sorensen are reaching for it. Who wins that battle? (@Rjones3438) 

JP: I’m not messing with Erin. 

GS: If it’s dessert pizza, I have to win. If regular its Erin all the way. 

KK: Who is Erin Sorensen? 

BV: Oh, man. Who wants to cover baseball for us? Used to have a promising young guy doing it, but then he just vanished a few days before the spring game. Wonder what happened to him. 

MB: If I were reaching for it, I would be mistaking it for something else. The last thing I need is another piece of pizza. Where’s the salad? 

DP: I don’t like Val’s so probably Erin.

ES: Surprise. I also don’t like Val’s enough to fight anyone over it. So, I guess it’s all yours, @Rjones3438. Also, I’ll be talking to Kyle here shortly about all this.

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