It’s a packed edition of the mailbag this week.
We tackle the hottest question in the Husker football world—who will the transfer quarterback be—as well as other topics that include the loss of Nebraska volleyball assistant Tyler Tyler Hildebrand and bow games … love ’em or hate ’em?
Without further ado, here’s the mailbag:
Is Nebraska going after Casey Thompson? (@Trackdog40J)
Steve Marik: If Nebraska isn’t going after Thompson, that’d be a mistake. He’s an athletic guy back there who’s thrown 30 touchdowns in two seasons and completed 63% of his passes.
Greg Smith: At this point it would make sense to go after any quarterback that has shown some flashes of potential at the college level.
Any word on offensive linemen transfers like Hunter Anthony, who visited two weeks ago? (@Nebrask59122305)
Greg: I included notes on Hunter Anthony and where he’s at in the process during Big Red Recon. The Huskers are not done adding offensive linemen from the portal.
What’s your level of concern of where Nebraska’s recruiting class ranks right now? (@TwinTwisterDad)
Jacob Padilla: It certainly isn’t encouraging, but on its own it’s not ringing any alarm bells for me. This was always going to be a small class because of the youth on the roster and uncertainty surrounding the upperclassmen with decisions to make, and class size weighs heavily into the rankings. The troubling thing is the rate at which they struck out with their top targets and how many in-state players are headed to other Power Five schools in this 2022 class. They did finally land a 4-star prospect in Jaeden Gould during the early signing window, and one is better than none. We’ll have to see if this was simply a dip or if their recruiting struggles are going to continue into 2023, which looks to be another class with a lot of in-state talent. I don’t think Nebraska was ever going to land anybody in this class that would make an instant and significant impact anyway; for that they’ll need transfers. But where this class could really hurt is down the line in three or four years.
Steve: Not worried at all with the recruiting class ranking. As Jacob said, it was always going to be a small class. What I think fans should be worried about, or at least keeping tabs on, is the search for a transfer quarterback. That’s the most important thing to the program right now. Well, that and developing the offensive line so, whoever ends up being the quarterback, isn’t running for his life every other play like Adrian Martinez was.
Greg: I am not concerned so much about the ranking as I am the last-minute uptick in recruiting activity. It feels to me that all the eggs were placed in the transfer basket early and that slowed down Nebraska’s effort on the recruiting trail. The Huskers aren’t a program that can just turn it on at the end of a cycle and expect to land top-flight players. Hopefully this inactivity level in-season is just a one-year blip.
With Kedon Slovis going to Pitt, where do the Huskers turn to now? Or do they wait until after the bowl games? (@HuskerScoop)
Greg: The sense I get right now is that Chubba Purdy, Zach Calzada and Casey Thompson are the next quarterbacks on the list. The Huskers need a new quarterback on the roster by Jan. 18 when classes start so he can hit the ground running. For all the panic out there about quarterback the Huskers have actually “missed” on two guys. Slovis and Myles Brennan are the quarterbacks Nebraska truly went after. We haven’t entered the panic zone just yet.
Drake Keeler: As Greg said, there’s still a few out there. I am getting a little worried about the transfer quarterback situation, but any of those three guys would be solid additions. Hopefully the Huskers can land one.
How big of a loss is Tyler Hildebrand to the volleyball program? (@Steve_Marik)
JP: I think the efforts John Cook went to in order to lure Hildebrand back (the associate head coach title) shows how highly Cook thought of him, so in that respect he’s a big loss. Any time you lose a quality coach it hurts. However, Cook’s done a pretty darn good job of identifying coaches to add to his staff (which is why he’s had to fill so many vacancies over the last four or five years). Every assistant he’s had during the seven years I’ve been covering his program has gone on to be a head coach somewhere except Jaylen Reyes, and Reyes just earned a promotion to the lead assistant role following his fourth season in Lincoln and Hildebrand’s departure, so I have no doubt Cook will be able to identify another talented coach to join his staff.
Bowl games — what’s your level of interest in them? How many do you try to watch? (@Steve_Marik)
Mike Babcock: Too many. I’ll watch some, or parts of some, but there’s just not the interest I once had. Plus, several of the top players are bypassing the bowl games to prepare for the NFL Draft. That’s becoming commonplace. Also, the focus on the two playoff games detracts from the other bowls. Simply put, I guess, I have no plan one way or the other.
JP: I haven’t watched one second of a bowl game yet if that answers your question. It’s basketball season.
Steve: I’ll have every bowl game recorded on the TV and ready to go when they happen, but there’s not a lot of time to watch them, so it will bleed further into the offseason. I’m still trying to finish Tulsa’s game against Old Dominion. Been a fan of Golden Hurricane running back Shamari Brooks for a long time, and Ricky Rahne’s offense at ODU does some unique and fun things in the run-pass option game. Rahne once coached with Scott Frost at Kansas State. And how about San Diego State? Brady Hoke and his bunch came into the game with UTSA averaging 167.9 passing yards and beat the Roadrunners 38-24 while passing for 333 yards.
Brandon Vogel: I’ll probably watch at least some of all of them. That’s the goal anyway. The joy I feel from “hey, it’s Tuesday afternoon and Wyoming is playing football right now,” far outweighs my primary reservation about non-playoff bowls. That reservation being they’re alien events totally divorced from the season and it is more dangerous to try to deduce something from them than it is to just treat them as what they are—some football when you least expect it. The less meaningful bowls get, the more I seem to enjoy them. I floated the idea to our staff that each bowl game should have its own rules. We’re not throwing out the game as we know it entirely. All bowls would still be 90% football, but the 10% remaining would be at the discretion of folks who wear blazers in colors that come from the eight-count box of Crayolas. Nobody seemed as excited by this idea as I was.
Drake: I haven’t watched much of any bowl game this year, but I’ll never say that there’s too many. The content that comes out of bowl season is just too good, even when you aren’t watching the games. For example, just yesterday we had a horrendous uniform matchup between Wyoming and Kent State, along with someone forgetting to put the field goal net up during the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl. I wouldn’t have watched either of those games, but social media provided me with the funniest moments from them.