Big Red Roundtable – Pre-spring Edition

This month’s Big Red Roundtable is being hosted by Husker Mike. It includes the usual cast of characters as well as new faces Midwest Coast Bias and Husker H8ter, AJ (really?). Welcome to the table fellas.

1. The coaching staff says the quarterback race is wide open between Sam Keller, Joe Ganz, Beau Davis, and Patrick Witt. What is your expectation as how this will turn out next season?

I’ve mentioned this already, but I actually like the QBs sharing snaps in the spring. It gives all four a chance to show the coaches what they can do and should do little to negatively impact the progress of the offense come fall. That being said, I believe it is a two-man race between Ganz and Keller. Ganz knows the offense and is as gritty as they come. While he doesn’t have the physical tools of Keller he should be comfortable in the system and might benefit from low expectations. Keller will wind up the starter, but he better not expect guys like Ganz to lay down for him. Keller has the weight of Husker Nation on his shoulders and will have to be prepared to deal with the pressure. Here’s to hoping that the parking incident wasn’t a sign of chinks in his mental armor. If he stays healthy and lives up to even the most modest of expectations, he could leave with a bevy of school records all-conference honors to boot.

2. Besides quarterback, what positions will have the biggest battles and how do you expect them to work out?

I think one of the biggest battles will occur at the safety positions. Right now we have newcomer Larry Asante battling Ricky Thenarse at SS and Tierre Green and Anthony West fighting for the FS spot. With the way things are lined up back there, I’m wondering if the spring is a battle for the SS spot with a chance for the loser of that fight to slide over and compete at FS in the fall. The only reason I’m thinking this is that Thenarse and Asante could very well be our two best safeties. What good does it do us to keep one of them off the field?

I also think we will have a good battle at BDE between Zach Potter and Pierre Allen. Allen is getting all the spring publicity after gaining 40 pounds during his redshirt year, but Potter could benefit from knowing the defense a little better. With a completely re-tooled defensive line, the battle at BDE will be important to our overall defensive success at 2007.

3. Two years ago, the 2005 recruiting class was touted as one of the nation’s best. Only a few players from this group have made an impact thus far; who do you expect to emerge this spring?

The 2005 class has certainly had its share of disappointments and is unlikely to ever match the promise that year’s Signing Day. Most fans penciled the bulk of that group in as immediate starters and impact players. While we see a bunch of contributors and a few certified stars (Zac Taylor, Zack Bowman), there is quite a glaring list of washouts.

When looking at who could breakout in 2007, I think Ndamukong Suh has to top the list. Coaches drooled over his NFL-body as a high school star and a few years under Dave Kennedy could not have hurt. With the DT spots wide-open and Coach Callahan claiming Suh to have “all-conference” potential, I expect big things from Ndamukong in 2007. Phillip Dillard is another player that I believe could emerge in 2007. From what I saw from Dillard prior to his injury in 2006, he looked like the prototypical MIKE backer. He’s a little bigger than McKeon and if he comes back healthy could push for time and might actually force Cosgrove to figure out a way to get four linebackers on the field at the same time.

4. In the 1990’s, Coach Osborne started matching up the #1 offense against the #1 defense in the spring game. Bill Callahan switched this around and put the #1 offense and defense on the same team, playing against the reserves. Do you prefer a format?

As a fan, I obviously prefer to watch a spring game that pits #1s against #1s. I was in Lincoln for last year’s spring game and found it boring to watch for the most part. I know Osborne stole the idea of #1s against #1s from Bobby Bowden who attributed his team’s in-season progress to matching up the speed of his #1 defense against his #1 offense at least three days per week. The problem with this can be that starters may be more likely to be injured. I mean do we really want to lose Marlon Lucky for the year due to a spring collision with Steve Octavian or Corey McKeon? One thing that I think could help our team overall is that we seem to be developing more depth at many positions. This year it is possible that the reserve secondary facing Keller or Ganz could include Andre Jones, Armando Murillo, Ricky Thenarse and Anthony West. That is quite an upgrade over years past and the offense should benefit from competing against improved depth on the defensive side of the ball.

You can check out the other responses from:
Husker Mike
Midwest Coast Bias Podcast (If you can’t listen to the whole show, fast forward about 38 minutes in; their response goes for the last 20 minutes or so)
Corn Nation
Big Red Network
HuskerH8ter

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