Livin on a Prayer - The 2008 Husker Offense
Oh sure, I had to deal with legions of idiots lecturing me on everything from the proper way to get out of a three point stance to how “true fans” really act like. But if the Husker implosion of 2007 taught us anything, it is that no group of fans are better than anybody else. Even the most well-respected and intelligent football fan can turn into a blathering idiot with nothing more than near loss to Ball State at home and a defense that would have embarrassed Marie Emile Béthouart.
But alas, some of you fight back…not because you have any basis or meaning to your mindless barbs; but simply because you’re so used to acting like a jackass right about now…you simply have switched back into character without realizing who plays on your team and who is set to coach them.
But the beat goes on, and as I say pretty much every other year…the past is the past, and we must now look to the future. Gone are the 30+ point halftime deficits to 4th tier South Division teams. Gone are the days of west coast offenses, Super bowl experienced coaches and JC Keller. No matter how bad you appear to be next season…the NCAA will still require that the teams line up against each other and actually play the games in 2008.
So with that..we’ve reached the point in the off-season where it is no longer appropriate to mock you for your past failures. Now we’re going to mock you for your future failures.
I often say that if you want in-depth analysis and breakdowns you should read ESPN.com or one of the millions of other fine college football blogs out there. But alas, none of them know you like I do…so in that regard…when I do break you down…you should probably listen. With that being said, it’s time to laugh at the 2008 Huskers; starting with the great strength of this once mighty power…the offense.
Let’s start with the position that is going to draw the most ire. For those of you who don’t hang around these parts, I’ll fill you in on something you probably didn’t know. (And yes…I’m quite serious about this) According to Husker fans…Joe Ganz had one of the finest 3-game seasons in the history of sports. Carrying an entire state on his back, (And if you’ve seen some of the slim goodbody’s who live here..that’s quite a feet) Touchdown Joe lined up against 3 down lineman some of the finest 2nd string nickel backs the Big 12 has to offer and whipped an entire state into a pass-happy frenzy.
Oh sure, two of his opponents were two of the worst passing defenses in the country…and the other was against a Kansas defense that let’s face it…didn’t exactly rack up their gaudy statistics against the New England Patriots. (Unless you think Central Michigan could win the AFC East….and if you do…I digress.)
But regardless, we’ve gone through this all before. Yes, I realize Joe Ganz racked up 16 passing TD’s in 3 games in 2007…which is probably more than you had during the entire 1980’s. And yes, Nebraska finished with the 9th rated passing offense in the country. (Golf clap) But with the help of more smoke an mirrors than a Kiss concert, lets calm ourselves here.
Ganz averaged almost fifty passes a game last season....FIFTY.
To put that in perspective, Colt Brennan threw the ball all over the field in Hawaii averaged less than forty attempts per game. Often mocked Chase Daniel even averaged just over forty. (And threw just 4 more interceptions than Ganz while playing an entire season instead of just three games.).
The point is, there is no dobut that Ganz knows how to play the position. He’s inexperienced, but he’s a senior, so he will most likely only be partially floored by hostile crowds in Norman and Manhattan. He’s got decent mechanics and god knows you have to have at least a ½ strong arm to throw 50 goddamn passes a game for three straight weeks.
But in the end it shall be interesting to see just how fun he will have dropping back with an actual pass rush for 12 straight games….in a situation where more than 3 players are rushing the QB at a given time. The fact that the first three defenses he’ll face were numbers 46, 67 and 114th in pass defense last season…means the hype machine will be in full gear prior to the back to back Lincoln beatdowns to follow against Va Tech and Mizzou.
Be sure to re-read this position breakdown carefully…because the QB position is the absolute greatest strength of this 2008 team….and if you’re wearing a red-felt hat right now…(And odds are...some of you probably are) that’s a pretty scary thought to hang your team’s strengths on a QB with all of 3 games of experience. But then again…this time last year you were telling me how Sam Keller could start for ½ of the teams in the NFL…so I don’t think you have much of a leg to stand on either.
Running Backs –
I was once asked by a Husker blogger who was the one Husker I’d take on my team from the ’07 Huskers. Of course the obvious answer was punter Dan Titchener, because I’m not even sure my own team had a punter last year. Anyhow, after thinking about it for a while…I think I’d take Marlon Lucky.
Now my criticism of Lucky has been well documented, and for good reason. Dude can’t run up the middle. Dude has the physical bounce back ability of Estelle Getty and Dude’s only big games last year were against shitty teams (233 yards vs. Nevada, 102 vs. Ball State, 108 vs. Iowa State and 103 against K-State.
How did he do against the toughest defenses he faced? Try …..
33 against USC
67 against Mizzou
66 against OSU
15 against Kansas
69 against Colorado
(And before you start…spare me the receptions out of the backfield crap. Anybody can catch a 5 yard swing pass if they want. If you’re an I-Back at Nebraska, you better have more skills than that.)
Anybody see a pattern here?
Now look, I know he has skills (Rivals told me so) and I know he has experience. From what I can see he’s also a good kid who has fought off some serious daemons. But if you’re going to try and pull out of a tailspin, you’re going to have to find a way to get it done against defenses who don’t suck.
Quentin Castille had a few nice games, including a real nice 2nd half against Oklahoma State’s 4th string linebackers. (Some of whom actually had game experience) But I ask you again….if you’re going to scrap the West Coast offense and start running between the tackles more…aren’t you going to need at a bit more production out of your #1 power threat? It’s amusing to me to hear such hype about a kid who had all of one good game. (unless you count 78 yard and 2 TD’s against a horrible Nevada defense a “good game”)
Wide Receivers –
Remember the hype and hysteria coming out of the pie-holes of Husker fans last year regarding their “killer” set of receivers? Yeah, that was funny.
Anyway, a whopping SIXTY receptions and 986 yards return for NU at wideout in 2008, as future All-Pro speed daemons Todd Pederson and Nate Swift return as top threats. To put that in perspective…realize that KU’s #2 wide receiver had 63 catches for 834 yards last season. Jeremy Maclin had 80 catches for 1055.
Not a big deal really, because it is a new year. But remember all that hype about Joe Ganz I was talking about? Uhhhh..who is he going to throw to? Do you think William Moore or Justin Thornton are shaking in their boots to see Nate fucking Swift line up against them?
For the upcoming miraculous legacy of Joe Ganz to even have a PRAYER in hell of coming true…somebody from that wide receiving corps is going to have to step up. Either that or Nate Swift or Todd Peterson are going to have to step up to become the electric deep threats that we all know they can be. (And yes, that sounded just as idiotic to me writing it as I’m sure it did for you to read it.)
Menelick Holt and Will Henry may also be an outside prayer at some sort of production by younger players…but if the skyrocketing career of Benedict Chris Brooks is any indication so far…look for more talent, speed and mis-ran routes to fall out of the sky and into the lap of Shawn Watson and his staff this season.
Offensive Line –
I will give you this….I do think your offensive line will be at least a little bit better than last year. And yes….I’m just as surprised as most of you are when you look and see that the Huskers tied for 31st in the nation in sacks allowed at 1 and ½ per game. However, I’m pretty sure we saw this whole “Improved” label thrown on the Huskers offensive line last year…and that didn’t exactly stop you from looking like a Pop Warner team at times.
To me…the key here is new coach and “tough nosed” dynamo Barney Cotton in charge. With Barney’s new and exciting ways to hurt himself every week jumping around like an spastic idiot…look for the Huskers offensive line to slip further and further into obscurity. Then again, if they can keep Joe Ganz’s skull from leaving his body…and keep Marlon Lucky from falling down over their legs on 3 yard plunges…they’ll be just fine.
Unless that roid ring crops back up in North Lincoln, look for more of the ho-hum same out of a once legendary unit.
Coming up next…Cold hard reality: The Blackskirts.
(Photo Thanks - Lincoln Journal Star)