Hail Varsity Mailbag
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Mailbag: What Would Your Preferred Offense Be If You Were Handed the Play-Calling Duties?

December 08, 2021

This week’s mailbag has some great thoughts and questions from Husker readers.

The Hail Varsity crew tackles questions that deal with the football team’s attrition—will we see more of it—and what our preferred offensive system would be if we had the offensive-coordinator reins.

Without further ado, here’s the mailbag.

How much more attrition can Nebraska football expect before early signing day? (@Sal_Vasta3) 

Greg Smith: I’m sure there will be a handful of more players that leave before the early signing period. That is pretty typical in college football. There are numerous positions on offense where players are actively trying to be recruited over so we’ll see.  

Steve Marik: Oh, I’m sure there’s going to be a handful of players that move on, as Greg said. Nebraska’s football program is going through a transition period right now, so there’s likely going to be move player movement. That’s just how college football operates nowadays.

If you were given the reins as offensive coordinator next year, what would be your offensive identity/philosophy? (@BroderickStohs) 

Mike Babcock: I’d go to an option offense. That might sound too much like a tribute to the past, but with an athletic quarterback, a good running back or two, a fullback, a couple of tight ends and some athletic linemen, an option offense would be unique in the Big Ten. Opposing defenses wouldn’t see it but once a year, tough to prepare for. Nationally, Nebraska could probably get the top option quarterback(s) because not many programs run the option to the degree I’m suggesting. The Huskers could out-recruit the service academies. Of course, the receivers would have to block as well but that’s not a bad thing. There’s more to it than that. I’m just touching the surface. Mickey Joseph knows something about the option. With the hiring of Mark Whipple as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, however, I’d say the option won’t be the base offense. 

Drake Keeler: This is a really fun question. To be honest, I think a system somewhat close to Scott Frost’s would be fun. We’ve seen that when Frost’s offense is working at its best, it’s fun to watch. That being said, I think I’d prioritize a strong pass game, with a diverse run game that includes the option. The challenge, as we’ve seen, is running it successfully through play calling and personnel decisions. 

Jacob Padilla: Like Drake, I’d run something similar to Frost’s offense the way he did when it actually worked in 2017. Sorry for the run-the-ball folks, but I like watching a good passing game, so you’ll never see me advocating for a full option offense or whatever it was the Patriots did against the Bills on Monday. What I’d want our identity to be ultimately doesn’t matter, though, unless the Huskers get better players and/or better execution next season.  

Steve: I’ll always be a power-spread guy, and that goes back to when I did a story on head coach Evan Klanecky installing it at Centennial Public School (that’s in Utica, Nebraska) about four- or five years ago. You’d primarily be in 10, 11 or 12 personnel and feature a north-south run game while reading defenders—commonly known as RPOs, or run-pass options. Nebraska and Scott Frost already does a ton of that, so it wouldn’t be too far off. Of course, you need the players to execute it. Most importantly, a strong offensive line and a quarterback who’s good at reading and reacting quickly. A quick blinker, if you will.

Do you agree with the College Football Playoff committee’s rankings? What would you change (@Sal_Vasta3) 

Mike: No. With only four teams in the playoff, I think only conference champions, or top independents I guess, should qualify. So if Georgia doesn’t win the SEC, too bad. That’s harsh, certainly, but you choose to be in a conference. It takes part of the voting bias (and there is some) out of the equation. Win your conference first of all. As for how it’s done now, I would’ve dropped Georgia to No. 4, though I know the committee would lament: “We can’t have a rematch in the first round.” That’s what I’d have, with Michigan playing Cincinnati. There’s an SEC bias involved, in part because ESPN promotes the SEC, which has an effect on recruiting. 

Drake: For the most part, yes. I’d selfishly like to take out Georgia, but it seems fairly evident that the Bulldogs are a top four team in the country. Otherwise, I would have either put Michigan at No. 1 or Georgia at No. 4 (but not both). Outside of the legitimate arguments for both moves, I just really wanted a matchup between Michigan and Cincinnati. I feel that might have been the Bearcats best shot to be competitive in the playoff, although I hope they still show up against Alabama.

Now that you’ve seen a few games from Husker Hoops, what are some NBA player comparisons that you see with the players’ skill sets? (@Starkastic8) 

Mike: After watching the Michigan game, I’ll leave this question to others, which I should anyway. 

Jacob: That’s a tough comparison to make after watching that team lost by 35 points. If I had to, I’d say Dennis Schröder is the best comparison I could come up with for Alonzo Verge Jr. Finding one for Bryce McGowens with what he’s shown to this point is difficult, but I’ll throw out a range of something like Jeremy Lamb-Terrence Ross-Justin Holiday? Struggling to think of a long but slight 6-foot-7 scoring wing playing a big role for a team right now. 

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