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Nebraska Football

Mailbag: Patrick O'Brien, Press Box Food and Offensive Line Issues

September 22, 2017
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Nebraska certainly has a lot of things up in the air this week as it prepares to open conference play against Rutgers and looks to rebound from a loss to Northern Illinois last week. You asked questions about the Huskers. Brandon Vogel, Greg Smith, Jacob Padilla and Derek Peterson took a shot at answering them. (Note: As you may have guessed from the title and will garner from what's below, the call for questions went out prior to Shawn Eichorst's firing. Don't worry. We'll probably hit plenty of that this time next week.)


Do you sense players are anxious, angry, stoic, or other after practices this week? Is the mood tense? (@CoryHonold)

DP: Leading up to the NIU game - at least when I look back on it now - guys seemed very confident, almost with too much bravado. Maybe I’m misreading it but I know the mood has been completely different this week. Guys seem upset.

GS: Agree with Derek about the mood last week. This week I feel like they are anxious to get back out there and put it all behind them. Not necessarily a bad thing but the angst will be real if they get down early.

Does Rutgers come at a perfect time for the #Huskers? (@kinggib)

DP: I think so. I don’t know if we can safely assume Nebraska is going to blow out any of the opponents we thought they would before the season started, but I think this still has the makings of a confidence booster for the team. It’s a different style of offense and a defense that Nebraska should be able to run effectively against, which will soften up a pretty good secondary. I think that, even more than it needs a win, Nebraska needs something to feel good about right now, whether that’s a consistent showing from the offensive line or a good game from Tanner Lee or another strong performance from the defense. Any of those are possible this weekend.

BV: Looks like it, though I don’t think anyone would’ve projected that before the season. I thought last week was a chance to “get right,” but now it has to come against the Scarlet Knights. But more than just a game that Nebraska should win (I think), Rutgers is playing some pretty good defense to this point. It will challenge an offense still licking its wounds. We’ll learn something from this game.

JP: Nebraska is at a crossroads heading into this week. With the program reeling after last week’s loss, Nebraska is set to face probably the worst team on its schedule (Arkansas State and Northern Illinois included). So, this should be a get-right game (or at least give off the impression of that) and in that sense, yes, this is the perfect time. But if Nebraska has to pull of a game-winning drive or miracle play to win or even manages to lose, then I don’t see how they can come back from it.

Why is it that Q'doba doesn't have to charge extra for guacamole, but Chipotle does? Oh, and rank the top food offerings in the press box? (@AsianJoeEvans)

DP: Because Chipotle is trash. As for the press box food, Oregon had the best, by far. I think all I’ve had so far (granted, that’s two games) is Valentino’s pizza.

BV: You know how you just pencil Alabama in as No. 1 every year to start the season? That’s what you do with chili-and-cinnamon-roll day in the press box. Picking anything else is just being contrarian to prove a point. Beyond that, I did enjoy “stadium food day” (burgers and hot dogs) for the opener. Last week was breakfast pizza/casserole, so that’s currently third for me. And Derek’s right, Oregon’s spread was impressive: pot roast, mashed potatoes, wild greens salad. Detail oriented, those Ducks.

JP: Brandon, I have no point to prove, but chili is trash. Cinnamon rolls are great though.

GS: I actually don’t like chili either so that day is never as big of a hit with me. I loved stadium food day cause those cheeseburgers were legit! That gets my vote. I have a taste for pot roast right now though, thanks Oregon.

BV: I apologize to our readers for Jacob and Greg just failing their Nebraska citizenship test in public.  Here are some words to describe how I feel about it: "frustrated, angry, unacceptable, disappointed."

So is there any sign that if Patrick O'Brien will see and game time if Tanner Lee doesn't perform!? (@JeromeSpeckJr)

DP: No.

JP: No. Nebraska said there was a quarterback competition during the spring, but Tanner Lee clearly won it. He is a better player at this point. If Nebraska has any chance of turning this season around, it is with Lee taking snaps. Putting O’Brien in is basically waving the white flag.

GS: Nope.

Is Tanner Lee really that immobile? Or was TA that much better at avoiding sacks? (@IBeLionsBeats)

DP: I mean, he did scramble for a touchdown, in the red zone where the defense is condensed nonetheless. He’s not a dual-threat quarterback, never has, never will be, but he has shown glimpses of his ability to both move in the pocket and escape outside. It’s funny because everyone thought Lee’s presence in the pocket would help the O-line because they’d know where he was and we’ve seen something completely different. Armstrong’s ability to escape masked the problems of that unit more than anything else.

BV: A little of both? I think Lee is more mobile than he’s shown through three games, but he’s been a little indecisive to this point. If you can’t decide what to do with the ball quickly, it makes you look even more like a statue.

JP: Yeah, I think Lee’s immobility has been over-stated as has O’Brien’s mobility (referring here to the calls to start POB because he can avoid rushers better). Running definitely isn’t his strength, but he can move around in the pocket (if he has one).

If the O-Line doesn't improve, what's the next step to a consistent offense? Are Cav and Langsdorf on the hot seat the rest of the season? (@BCoffendaffer)

DP: If I’m forced to make a prediction on that front, I think Cavanaugh will be the only guy that will struggle to last the season, if things continue the way they’re headed. Danny Langsdorf isn’t happy with the protection and Mike Riley shooting down questions about him taking over the offense shows you how he’s viewing Langsdorf. If the line doesn’t improve, there’s no real next step to a consistent offense. It’ll just be what it’s been because they’ve had problems blocking for the run and protecting for the pass. The logical next step would be cycling in younger guys on the line, similar to how Diaco is running the defense, but that will only lead to more inconsistency.

GS: They will have to cycle in younger guys or Cav will be let go at the end of the season, if they keep struggling. There isn’t a good explanation for why a guy like Boe Wilson was on alert to have his redshirt pulled last season but suddenly can’t get off the milk carton. I don’t think Langsdorf is in any real trouble at all and the only reason we talk about it is because it’s easiest to blame him because he is the OC.

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