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Nebraska Football

Mailbag: What to Take Away From Spring Football

April 17, 2019
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Another week, another mailbag. The full Hail Varsity staff is on hand to answer questions about spring football, Nebraska’s new court and more.

How does the Hail Varsity staff feel about the new Hoops court design? (@Sal_Vasta3) 

Erin Sorensen: I think it’s fine. I would’ve voted for the third option (AKA the script Huskers) if I voted, so it works for me. With that said, I know a lot of fans were upset basketball Herbie wasn’t an option. Basketball Herbie would’ve been great, I’ll admit. Without it being an option though? Script Huskers is fine. 

Kyle Kardell: I’m a fan. Give me script Huskers on everything. I would put script Huskers in my coffee if I could. Erin is right, the only thing that would beat script Huskers is basketball Herbie.   

Greg Smith: I like it too. It was the best option to me but I’m most glad they stayed away from that goofy basketball Herbie. 

Jacob Padilla: Yeah, the Basketball Herbie is a fun running joke in this case and it’s good to have it in the arsenal to use for some things, but I don’t think the court should be one of them. They made the right choice. 

Mike Babcock: OK, so I like Basketball Herbie. But whatever . . .  

Derek Peterson: I’m a fan of script wordmarks. I realize this is going to be censored by Brandon but my voice needs to be heard. 

Brandon Vogel: You’re OK, Derek. I’m more angry seeing Basketball Herbie described as “goofy” and a “running joke” than I was when script Huskers returned. As for my thoughts on the court, those are here

The defensive line cupboard is looking fully stocked, with lots of capable bodies. Who do you think among these seniors will be getting drafted? Who goes first and how high? (@TheWeeksy) 

GS: Right now, I’m going to say only Darrion Daniels get drafted. Let’s say fifth round.  

MB: Two for Darrion Daniels, fifth round the highest. 

JP: I’ll leave the door open for the Davis twins to get into that mix behind Darrion Daniels as well depending on what they’re able to show this season. I think their size and athleticism will appeal to teams at the next level if they can put together a consistent, productive season. 

Do you buy or sell a stock on Bradley making at least RB3 behind Washington and Mills? Brody Belt? (@_LilBigRed12_) 

GS: I’d sell on both. I will buy all of your Rahmir Johnson stock though.  

DP: I have this gut urge telling me to buy, but the smart play here would be to sell because of the guy Greg just mentioned. I wrote on Monday I didn’t think Bradley had as bad a spring as maybe it appears, but I also don’t think we talk about Rahmir Johnson and Ronald Thompkins enough. Bradley will be close with those two guys coming in late 

MB: Selling here. I’m basically jumping on-board with what has been said previously, expecting Johnson to be third (or second depending on what happens with Washington, then maybe Bradley, maybe, while Thompkins gets healthy and redshirts. But with four games and the ability to still redshirt that might not do it for Bradley even). Having said all this, Bradley would seem to be a decent fit for what this offense needs, so I’m emphasizing the skills of the others rather than dismissing his skills. 

JP: Until we actually see something on the field, I’m going to move forward hoping that Bradley will crack the rotation but expecting the opposite. I think Belt is more of a spring story than a guy who will be an actual rotation player come the fall. 

Is it crazy to think Frost gets a top 15 class this recruiting cycle with our top two targets already in the bag so early? (@justin_battin) 

GS: It’s not crazy to see Nebraska getting to a top 15 class. After landing their top overall target, Turner Corcoran, the next top guy on the board is Nash Hutmacher. If they land him plus several other 4-star players they are in on, it will be a highly ranked class. The trick will be if they can sign enough guys to get to top 15 level. 

JP: I personally don’t understand why total number of commits factors so heavily into class rankings because that usually has far more to do with how many spots a team has open than it does the actual class itself, but I think that might be the biggest obstacle to keeping them out of the top 15. Nebraska currently has 15 scholarship seniors on is roster, so unless we see a large number of defections, it’s going to be tough to add enough players to get a top-15 class. Perhaps they can get there in terms of average grade if they keep it up at the pace they’re on right now. 

Last season they ran on average 75 plays per game. Will they be above or below 82 plays per game in 2019? (@Corn_Huskers) 

BV: Based on cfbstats.com’s numbers, I have Nebraska a little lower than that (72.33) last year but not drastically. Whether picking up from 72 or 75, I don’t think the Huskers get to 82 in 2019. That’s fastest-team-in-the-country levels. ECU and Wake Forest were the two teams to average more than 82 a year ago. Fastest in the Big Ten was Ohio State at 80. I could see Nebraska getting close to that. I do think the Huskers definitely go faster this season (and have an improved defense). 

MB: Brandon’s got the stats. I won’t disagree. 

JP: What Brandon said. 

Should the spring game and the fact that coaches have been saying the defense has been winning all spring be a concern? I have a hard time believing that our defense just got super good all of the sudden. (@InDaWilderness) 

MB: No. I wouldn’t say the defense got super-good. Hardly. But the offensive line has some developing to do. The situation at running back looked nothing like how it will in the fall when Mills, Johnson and Thompkins arrive (and there’s some conclusion, hopefully, to the Washington thing). And which receivers ultimately step up to fill the void of Stanley’s loss. As for the spring game, no Spielman, no Washington, and the quarterbacks were wearing green jerseys. Touching them doesn’t mean they would’ve been tackled. So the defense has an edge, despite some questions there. 

JP: Yeah, I don’t think there’s any cause for concern. Nebraska hasn’t been close to healthy on offense this spring and Scott Frost mentioned he expected the defense to be ahead of the offense at this stage anyway. Ultimately, as long as they get all their playmakers back on the field and a couple of guys emerge in supplementary roles, I think they’ll be fine on offense. As for the defense, I think there was a little more talent on that side of the ball than last year showed, and as they continue to grow comfortable in the system I think the defense will continue to improve. Having a few guys with a knack for making plays (like Deontai Williams and JoJo Domann) step into larger roles certainly doesn’t hurt. 

Can the Huskers sweep Iowa in baseball this weekend and realistically can they win the Big Ten just by winning the remaining series match-ups? (@CoryHonold) 

KK: Weekend Nebraska has been solid. Yes, they can sweep Iowa, but it would take their best effort. The Hawkeyes are one of the better teams in the conference and they have the same league record as Minnesota. Nebraska was a couple hits away from getting the sweep in Minneapolis, but instead they left 1-2. If the Huskers win the remaining series match-ups they will have a very realistic shot at winning the Big Ten. Look for a big season finale series with Michigan at the end of May.   

MB: I don’t expect a sweep. Winning two of three will be no small task. That would be a solid weekend. Iowa has played better in the conference after being swept by Indiana. The Hawkeyes then swept Illinois at Iowa City when the Illini were ranked. We saw how the Husker bats can go still against Kansas State, a disappointing performance. On the road against a decent team? Two of three, hopefully. 

If Kevin Durant wanted to return to OKC to “restore his image,” would you welcome him back? (@JJStark8) 

DP: No. Not to restore his image (that would be the worst reason), not because he feels like he owes us a title or anything, not because he’s homesick. I personally would not welcome him back right away for any reason. Not because of the simple fact he left, but because of the way he did it, the team he went to and the constant needling of OKC that happened after he was gone. 

ES: I love that this question is specifically targeted at Derek but he put it here. I now want KD to return to Oklahoma City just to spite Derek. 

GS: I would love to see that. It’d be a great storyline. 

JP: What Erin said. Except I want KD to return and then I’d want Russ to demand a trade. 

MB: I agree with what everyone, except Derek, says. Even though Durant went to my Golden State Warriors, I didn’t think he should have left. He belonged in OKC. Not a Westbrook fan, so as Jacob says, let him then demand a trade – to a team in Turkey, maybe. 

DP: I’m very concerned with my peers’ opinions on this matter.

Could Darrion Daniels be as important as Adrian Martinez to stay healthy? I could actually make an argument for more. (@CoryHonold) 

GS: No defensive tackle is more important than a quarterback. Especially a Heisman candidate. 

DP: No. Martinez is a Heisman-caliber quarterback. He is the most important player on this team when talking about success and it’s not particularly close.  

JP: Yeah, I don’t think you could make a convincing argument for all of the reasons Greg and Derek listed. I’m as big of a Noah Vedral fan as you will find, but Adrian Martinez is a special quarterback. Darrion Daniels has been very impressive in his first few months here, but while he was a quality player at Oklahoma State he wasn’t an all-conference guy and he was only able to play in 14 games his past two seasons there. Daniels was a terrific addition, but we might need to slow the roll there on calling him the most important player on the team. Nebraska has plenty of depth on the defensive line. 

MB: I’m with everyone. Jacob’s got it covered. Let’s not get carried away with Darrion Daniels being the next Ndamukong Suh. The health of Martinez is the No. 1 concern regardless.  

ES: Everyone else said it. Obviously, you don’t wish an injury on anyone, but Martinez’s health reigns supreme. Wrap him in bubble wrap until Aug. 31. 

 
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