Huskers O-Line Takes a Hit
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Mailbag: The Most Impactful Injury

November 15, 2016

Injuries have plagued the Nebraska football team since fall camp. From the offensive line to the wide receivers to Tommy Armstrong Jr., it seems like someone is battling back from an injury at any given time. Because of that, it’s no surprise we’d get asked about which injury was the most damaging to the team. We also got an awesome amount of random questions (shout out to our friend, Kevin Sjuts), which is never a bad thing.

Brandon Vogel, Jacob Padilla, Jake Jensen and Erin Sorensen answer your questions in this week’s mailbag.

Q: Whose injury this year has been the most damaging? – K.A., Omaha, Neb.

BV: It’s
probably too early to say Jerald Foster — I’d like to see him play
more than one game before judging how much he could’ve helped this year
— but I think the answer is Jerald Foster. He was the presumed starter
for a reason and Nebraska’s offensive line has probably been the source
of the most issues this season.

JJ: I’ll go with Nick
Gates’ ankle injury against Indiana. He never missed time, but he was
clearly hobbled during the Purdue, Wisconsin and Ohio State games. His
lack of mobility turned a decent offensive line into mediocre offensive
line in the blink of an eye.

JP: After working on this
week’s Tale of the Tape, I’m going to have to agree with Brandon. Jake
has a good point about Gates, but I’m not sure the impact is the same.
He was a turnstile against Purdue, but has been getting better since.
And I’m not sure Gates even at full strength would have mattered that
much with the rest of the line as it was. With Gates and Foster
together, the Huskers could have had a dominant left side of the line,
and I wonder what Foster would look like right now had he been able to
develop at a normal pace rather than spend the last couple of months
rehabbing. Cethan Carter is probably the other guy worth mentioning

ES: Since no one else has said it, I’ll go ahead and
say it: Armstrong. He keeps on bounding back, but man – Losing
him against Ohio State wasn’t great. The important thing is that he’s
OK but still.

Q: The Huskers have had great blocking WRs over the years. Do you think any past team match this year’s? – M.J., Omaha, Neb.

JJ: Nothing compares to the 1999 Husker receivers when it comes to blocking. Wilson Thomas, Matt Davison and Sean Applegate were beasts.

Q: Where will Nebraska go for a bowl game if they win out? New Year’s 6? Would like to see Cotton or Orange Bowl. – E.W., Ark.

BV: That looks unlikely. If chalk were to just win out over the next two weeks, the Big Ten would end up with one 11-1 team (Ohio State) and four 10-2 teams (Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan and Nebraska). The Huskers would be at the bottom of that pecking order. All signs still point to the Outback Bowl.

Q: What is Tommy Armstrong made of? Like Iron Man stuff? – B.W.

JP: At this point in his career I’d say he’s made up of about 30 percent flesh and bone and 70 percent athletic tape.

Q: On a scale of 1 to Zac Taylor, how tough is Tommy Armstrong? – K.S., Lincoln, Neb.

ES: I’m not even sure you can rank Armstrong’s toughness on a scale. I’ve always like Armstrong, but he’s made me an even bigger fan over the last couple of months. I want Armstrong to be healthy and happy, so I never want him to jeopardize either for the game of football. However, it seems like he genuinely loves what he does and will continue battling come hell or high water. You have to have an immense amount of respect for that.

Q: Why haven’t we seen heavy doses of Newby all season? He moves the chains when he’s featured. – H., David City, Neb.

JP: One, I think the state of the offensive line has had a lot to do with that. Hard to have success running the ball when you can’t win in the trenches. Two, Danny Langsdorf seems to have more trust in his passing offense as he can occasionally be quick to abandon the run if they don’t find early success. Finally, Tommy Armstrong Jr. takes carries away from Newby because he is such a weapon on the ground himself.

Q: Will the Huskers plan in the Big Ten Championship game? – C.S.

ES: Ask me at the conclusion of this weekend.

Q: When it comes to our receiving corp, is it the coaches not using them right or is it the offensive line problems that took the focus off of them? – M.J., Colo.

BV: Meaning because they don’t have more catches and better stats? I would say it is more because Nebraska has only completed 48.3 percent of its passes since September.

JJ: Being a tough quarterback doesn’t mean that you’re an accurate quarterback. Just saying.

JP: Injuries have also hurt the position as Brandon Reilly, Alonzo Moore and Jordan Westerkamp have all been in and out of the lineup this season. Hard to find a rhythm and build up chemistry with both the play-caller and the quarterback when you can’t play.

Q: Which former or current Husker would make the best comedy partner with Larry the Cable Guy? – K.S., Lincoln, Neb.

JJ: Michael Decker. Just trust me on this one, the guy is hilarious.

ES: I think Jerald Foster deserves a shot. He seemed pretty funny at Monday’s press conference to me.

Q: How much do fans dislike 11 a.m. games? – K.S., Lincoln, Neb.

BV: I’ve always assumed it is inversely proportional to how much sports writers like them.

Q: Without saying Dylan Utter, which player wears the most eye black? – K.S., Lincoln, Neb.

BV: Zack Darlington

JJ: Cole Conrad looks poised to take the eye black mantle from Utter heading into next year.

Q: Which movie character (animated or not) did Dylan Utter look like at today’s press conference? – K.S., Lincoln, Neb.

JJ: The bear from Sesame Street.

ES: It’s funny you should ask because when he was at the podium yesterday, I kept thinking he looked like someone. I wasn’t able to figure it out though and I’m still stumped. Stay tuned.

Q: Where is Tommy Armstrong’s segway? – K.S., Lincoln, Neb.

ES: I don’t know, but can he use it to play football on Saturday?

Q: What is the best football pregame media meal at Memorial Stadium? – K.S., Lincoln, Neb.

BV: Chili and cinnamon rolls, the official state food of Nebraska. (At least it would be if I ran the state.)

JP: We got pasta last week. Big fan of pasta.

ES: I’m with Brandon on the chili and cinnamon rolls. Or the breakfast pizza.

Q: Who wears the Jordan Westerkamp jersey better? Jordan Westerkamp or Brandon Reilly? – K.S., Lincoln, Neb.

ES: That’s up for debate.

Q: How far below 0 will the temperature be when Nebraska plays at Iowa next week? – K.S., Lincoln, Neb.

ES: The long range forecast currently has that Saturday at partly cloudy and a high of 52 in Iowa City. Maybe they meant -52, though.

Q: Has it been confirmed that we received the broken chair after the game on Saturday? – Z.

JJ: They didn’t necessarily receive it. They just didn’t have to give it back to those darn Gophers.

ES: It still hasn’t been seen since last year, though.

Q: Which is more fun – watching a Husker football game, or reading the snark about a Husker football game on Twitter? – K.S., Lincoln, Neb.

JP: I manage to do both every Saturday. The nice thing about football is the break between every play. Much easier to follow Twitter during football than basketball.

ES: It depends on the mood I’m in. Sometimes snarky Twitter can be a lot of fun. Other times? Not so much.

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