Photo by John S. Peterson
Nebraska Football

Love or Hate: Husker Harmony, Colorado Being Dumb & Guys Who Get It

May 31, 2019
4,627

Happy Friday, folks. Let’s get to it. 

Harmony

Was Tim Miles on the Big Red Blitz tour last year? I mean that rhetorically. He wasn’t. It was just Scott Frost and Athletic Director Bill Moos. Frost said all the right things when it came to the head basketball coach but did you ever see them together? 

Fast forward a year, Frost and Moos went out on the 2019 Big Red Blitz tour again — to what seemed like massive success — but this time they were joined by Fred Hoiberg. Three stops — Norfolk, Fremont and the SAC Museum in Ashland — made up the tour, flights connected the stops for the three most powerful Husker men in the state, and by the time they’d reached the final stop, they weren’t worn out and ready to get away from each other. 

In a lot of ways, I think that last stop was going to reveal the most about the relationship between the three men. Not that there should be a great one or even needs to be a great one to have success on the field and court, but by the end of a long day, when you’re tired and ready to go home, I would imagine that’s when the more genuine feelings about a person are on display. 

What fans were treated to at the SAC Museum was a riff-off between two assuming buddies.

Scott Frost was asked what he could bench press; he looked at Hoiberg and responded, “More than him.” To which Hoiberg retorted that he can jump higher. 

Hoiberg was asked about the frame of 6-foot-8 freshman forward Yvan Ouedraogo, who appears built like a tank, and, after listing measurables, gave a lighthearted shove to Frost and told him to stay away from him. 

We could get weird and put the three men in a random analogy. Frost and Hoiberg have hit it off. Moos is the friend in the background nodding and smiling and admiring the work he’s done putting this whole thing together. The three could all have a great relationship. It’s possible they all were just putting on a show. Regardless, what that tour showed was harmony. 

Harmony amongst, as stated above, the three most powerful men in Husker athletics. Everyone is on the same page. Appearances together inspire unity. It’s been a long, long time since the Husker athletic department had unity from top to bottom. I’m a firm believer in the benefits of continuity. I think a group can be greater than the sum of its parts if that group has unity of purpose. 

Scott Frost believes that, too. It’s something he raved about when he first came back to Nebraska. There was unity in the administration. It seems to have only grown.

Nice Thought, Poor Execution

So Colorado wants to keep the red out of Folsom Field for its Sept. 7 grudge match with Nebraska. 

Fine. Perfectly fair. Trying to sell tickets with a social media campaign shouting, “KEEP THE RED OUT,” is probably not the best way to go about making that happen though… It’s actually pretty funny that no one looked at that and thought, “This could look like a challenge to a fanbase that normally travels very well to now fill our stadium.” Because that’s exactly what it is. And that’s exactly what Husker fans have interpreted it as. 

Read the mentions here.

As if Nebraska needed any more motivation for this one. 

Colorado won last season 33-28 in the Huskers’ de-facto opener. Nebraska believes that A) had it played the opener against Akron the week before, it would have beaten Colorado; and B) had Colorado not tried and successfully forced quarterback Adrian Martinez out of the game with a dirty tackle, it would have beaten Colorado. 

When linebacker Luke Gifford went to Dallas for a pre-draft workout with the Cowboys, there were several former Buffalos there. They told him the Huskers were as big and physical a team they saw all year. 

And Colorado just continues to go and egg the Huskers on. 

There’s no way the Buffs can actually keep the red out, so it’s probably time to find a new way to sell all those unused tickets. 

Some Interesting Contribution Numbers

Phil Steele looked at contribution numbers for the top 50 freshmen at each position last season. Brandon Vogel looked at Steele’s look. The numbers that came out of it were pretty interesting at several positions.

  Contribution Rate Redshirt Rate
RB 68% 32%
WR 56% 36%
OL 16% 70%
DL 76% 36%

The hit rate, so to speak, for freshmen running backs doesn’t necessarily surprise me, though the fact that it’s lower for wideouts is interesting. My thought would be both skill positions have an equal opportunity to get on the field early. The redshirt numbers are mostly the same but the difference in contribution rates could be something to keep in mind. 

Does Rahmir Johnson have more of a chance to see meaningful snaps in the backfield than someone like Darien Chase has at wideout? Maybe. Nebraska could prove the exception given the complexion of the wideout room, but maybe expecting much out of the bulk of the true frosh pass-catchers is wishful thinking. 

The difference between the offensive line and defensive line is staggering. I don’t think it’s necessarily easy to learn either position and we’re talking about the elites of the elites here on both sides of the ball. My main takeaway here is that the Huskers’ right tackle position is settled for 2019. 

Regardless of how many people want Matt Farniok to slide from right tackle — where he’s started the better part of the last two years — to right guard, expecting Bryce Benhart to be ready to start for a Big Ten contender after a few months on campus is expecting something very few first-year lineman accomplish. And that 16 percent number is just playing, not starting. I would imagine the number for starters is even less. 

Force for Good

Tony Butler continues to be a source of optimism. 

The junior defensive back will graduate in August. He’s already created a scholarship for someone from his hometown and now he’s trying to help out kids with minimal access to sports equipment. In my limited time with the guy, he has impressed as one of the most genuine guys I’ve ever met. 

Another Stand-Up Guy

Sticking on that same theme, I want to share a story and hopefully Adrian Martinez is fine with me sharing it. I think it deserves to be told. The sophomore quarterback went to the Huskers’ Big Ten Championship bout with Ohio State in Omaha and a fan snagged a picture of him being his usual self. 

And it reminded me of something that happened during the Yearbook photoshoot. 

Martinez was asked to show his back to the camera and point at his name. And at first, he didn’t want to. It took a little coaxing. 

He’s not embarrassed. He just wants to deflect. It’s not about him, it’s about the team. His successes are the team’s successes. It’s very clear after his first year in Lincoln he’s more than willing to shoulder blame even if he doesn’t deserve it, but to have a Freshman All-American who many feel is an inevitable Heisman Trophy contender be so “We over Me” even in a setting where no one would bat an eye if he flexed a little is pretty telling. 

This is still a very young man, and yet, he already gets it.

 
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