Archive for the ‘Depth Chart’ Category

Depth Chart Commentary

August 28, 2007

Huskers.com released the depth chart for the Nevada game this morning.

Some comments:

Cody Glenn is apparently officially out. That means Quentin Castille is the 2nd string RB and Roy Helu is at #3. Both should get their share of carries on Saturday.

Even without Purify, the wide receiver depth is obvious.

The offensive line looks great on paper. It is exciting to see the way recruiting has reshaped the pipeline.

Defensively the biggest surprise is Armando Murillo starting over Andre Jones at LCB. So much for Jones’ experience at that spot. But I’m excited to see what Murillo can do.

Barfield and Dixon both listed as 2nd stringers. Expect them to see a lot of snaps. Again immediate impact from the most recent recruiting class.

Adi Kunalic is listed as the place kicker. He’ll get a chance to show off that supposed cannon leg.

Looks like Andre Jones will be returning some kicks. Could be exciting to see him with the ball in his hands.

In other words, not a whole lot of surprises, but it is nice to see the team laid out for us on paper.

Patrick to Enter Supplemental Draft

March 9, 2007

In a move no one saw coming, LT Chris Patrick has decided to enter the NFL’s Supplemental Draft. Said Patrick:

“I put a lot of thought into it,” Patrick said Thursday night. “A lot of people asked me why I didn’t go into April’s draft but it took time making this decision. Looking back I should have entered the April draft but the supplemental draft is there and I’ll have a good opportunity to demonstrate my skills and will get more individual attention from teams. My timing could have been better but I’m not too worried about that now.”

I really have no idea what to make of this. I just mentioned to my Dad that he was still listed on the official roster, which seemed to indicate the possibility of his return. I guess not.

On the one hand, this certainly hurts the depth on the O-line. On the other hand, it could mean two less false-starts/game next year. I kid, I kid.

Anyway, good luck Chris and may all your supplemental draft day dreams come true.

Huff Out…Patrick Too?

March 1, 2007

News of out of Lincoln is that junior guard Mike Huff will miss at least the spring after tearing his achilles tendon. This is not a pretty injury and my irrational fear of suffering said ailment keeps my ass planted firmly on the couch. Anyway, Huff was expected to push for a starting spot in 2007, but now will spend the near future recovering and rehabbing from surgery. Although his bio on Huskers.com gives no indication of this, it seems as though Huff has battled injuries before. Maybe a shoulder injury last spring or something?

The loss of Huff could have further repercussions following the apparent, but unverified dismissal of Chris Patrick. As the LJS points out both Patrick and Callahan have refused to comment on the speculation surrounding the starter’s future with the team. This sounds like it might involve the dreaded “violation of team rules”. According to the boys at EDSBS this generally means one of three things:

1. Skipped class.
2. Smoked weed and tested positive.
3. Tackled, upended, and then devoured a Geo Metro whole after a raucous off-campus party.

Given the presence of random, but mandatory off-season drug-testing perhaps we can narrow down the list. Number 3, however, would make for a much better story.

Quick Hits

February 12, 2007

I hadn’t commented on it yet but six Huskers will miss the Spring practices due to injury. They are:

Barry Turner (shoulder)
Jacob Hickman (knee)
Corey Young (shoulder)
Seth Jensen (shoulder)
Craig Roark (shoulder)
Mike McNeill (shoulder)

The two I am most concerned about are Turner and McNeill. Turner is going to be relied upon heavily to create pressure from his DE spot. Nursing a shoulder through the Spring will keep him away from the weightroom, preventing him from adding much needed strength. McNeill is a problem given the lack of depth and apparent deficiency of talent at the TE position. I had hoped that he could step up and take on a big role in the offense in 2007. Now we’ll have to see how he progresses once he is healthy.

Another thing to note is the abundance of shoulder injuries. Is the shoulder injury going to become Dave Kennedy’s athletic pubalgia? I seriously hope not.

Additionally, Chad Roark is no longer a member of the team after being forced to give up football due to a persistent back injury. This is an unfortunate situation for Chad, who looked to have a promising future.

Nebraska also dodged a bullet when WR Coach Ted Gilmore accepted and then unacceptedthe same position with the Oakland Raiders. Said Gilmore:

“It’s a combination of everything,” Gilmore said. “I prayed about it. Although it’s a wonderful opportunity (in Oakland), it’s just not the right opportunity at this point in my life. All I can do is go on my gut feeling.

“I came to Nebraska to win a championship, and haven’t done that at this point.”

Word.

Developing First-Year Players

January 22, 2007

Tom Lemming and Bobby Burton – Spend more time discussing teenage boys than Tiger Beat magazine.

With the recruiting season winding down, many fans are busy penciling several of Nebraska’s verbal commitments into starting spots or key reserve roles come 2007. While I could write endlessly on why this is such a terrible idea, I will instead focus on a few key reasons why these recruiting junkies might want to temper their expectations. First they can look at Nebraska’s recent track record of utilizing first-year players. If they do, they will see that much has been made of the coaching staff’s apparent reluctance to play some of its younger talent. I actually touched on this issue briefly during the season, but concluded even then that the coaching staff probably had a better feel for the development of its underclassmen. Perhaps you will too after reading this.

It is important to note that while coaches often want (or need) their first-year players (particularly high-profile recruits) to contribute to their team’s success, in most instances first year players encounter too many obstacles, which must be overcome for them to make a significant contribution. In his book, Finding the Winning Edge, Bill Walsh highlights several of these obstacles, including – a lack of physical maturity, whether a player is prone to injuries, the fact that he is in “survival mode” during Fall camp, his possible lack of focus, the lack of attention he receives in Fall camp, and the major changes in his lifestyle.

Both fans and coaches need to consider the fact that most first-year players are still maturing physically. Many fans lose sight of this when an 18-year-old athlete with a muscular physique is described as a “boy in a man’s body”, or a “physical specimen”. The truth is, however, that even if a player is described s the prototypical physical specimen, that athlete may have difficulty adapting to the physical demands of Fall camp and the upcoming extended season (i.e., 12-14 games when you factor in conference championship and bowl games).

A first-year player lacking the physical maturity of an upperclassman can lead to several possible problems. Bill Walsh states that, “all factors considered, a first-year player is more likely to suffer a muscle pull than a veteran player”. Many new players participating in their first Fall camp may expend more energy than is necessary, while they learn what being a college football player involves. In addition, these players often do not have a complete appreciation for the value of using the team’s athletic training staff over the course of a long, arduous season the way veteran players do.

Another issue that may affect a first-year player is that during Fall camp, such a player often feels like he is in somewhat of a survival mode. This attitude may limit his focus to a point where he is just concentrating on getting through each “new” task (e.g., moving to a new city, reporting to Fall camp, starting school, surviving two-a-days, dealing with the substantial increase in media attention he receives, etc.). The player’s resulting mental fatigue may also limit his ability to concentrate well in team meetings. As a result, he may occasionally seem confused or appear unable to grasp and retain essential material.

The development of incoming freshmen is also affected by the fact that they normally receive less attention than returning players once two-a-days have concluded. Two-a-days provide an environment where the coaching staff can address the inexperience and the lack of preparation of the team’s first-year players. The coaching staff will often have low expectations for the performance of incoming freshmen during two-a-days, and the opinions the staff develops of them in this environment are often based solely on the athleticism of each player. The remainder of Fall camp and practices during the regular season are typically focused on preparing the entire team for the season. During this time the patience and tolerance of the coaching staff for the typical mistakes and learning difficulties of first-year players may be diminished.

In reality, it is unrealistic for a coach or a fan to expect a first-year player to experience much improvement as a result of practice during his freshman season. Too much is happening during the regular season for coaches or teammates to provide much in the way of detailed coaching to a second-line back-up player. In addition, a first-year player who is not ready to be thrust into a starting role, may only have a minimal sense of urgency to learn. As a result, Bill Walsh points out that a first-year player ‘s skills and level of preparedness may actually erode during the course of a season. Consequently, most of the development of first-year players occurs during the off-season and the subsequent Fall camp.

The best coaches and fans should hope for a player in his first year of Division I football involves the team establishing a specific role for him. By earning an active role on the field as a pass-rush specialist, a special teams player, or an extra receiver in a 3-or-4-receiver formation, a first-year player gains a measure of self-respect because his contribution to the team has been identified and isolated. Through establishing his role on the team and taking pride in the fact that he is contributing in a tangible way, a first-year player can achieve a sense of control in his football life. Not only is he able to earn his keep, he is also able to acquire the acceptance of his teammates.

So perhaps you can keep this information in mind come next Fall. Try to think rationally and logically when wondering why some 4-star prep phenom spends most of his first year on the bench. Consider long and hard the obstacles this 18-year-old is facing before labeling his freshman year as “a disappointment”. Stop thinking of these players as instant superstars and come instead to view them as “building blocks,” who could become the core of a successful organization. And finally, trust that the coaches will do everything possible to ensure that the skills and talents of each player on the roster are developed, refined, and utilized in an appropriate way.

More on Brandon Jackson

January 16, 2007


Now that his intentions are known, we can take a closer look at Brandon Jackson’s NFL prospects. NFL Draft Scout (subscription required) currently ranks Jackson as the 14th best RB available in the 2007 draft. They view BJax as the 189th ranked player in the draft and project him as a 5-6 round selection.

1. Adrian Peterson*
2. Marshawn Lynch*
3. Michael Bush
4. Antonio Pittman*
5. Kenny Irons
6. Tony Hunt
7. Darius Walker*
8. DeShawn Wynn
9. Kenneth Darby
10. Lorenzo Booker
11. Jason Snelling
12. Selvin Young
13. Ahmad Bradshaw*
14. Brandon Jackson*

* Denotes junior entering the draft

After the Cotton Bowl NFL Draft Scout had this to say about Jackson:

“01/06/07 – PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2007: RB Brandon Jackson – The rushing leader in a four-pronged backfield, Jackson’s emergence as a featured back didn’t matter much in preparations for the Cotton Bowl, where Marlon Lucky drew the start. The competition is good to have, though Jackson may be the most durable of the NU backs.”

Prior to his decision to enter the draft, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper had BJax ranked as the #1 senior RB in the 2008 draft (ESPN Insider Required).

I would like to have seen Jackson stay in Lincoln for his senior year, but for purely selfish reasons. However, with a strong combine I expect to see BJax move up the draft lists. My sense is that he is the most complete RB (running, receiving, and pass protection ability) that Nebraska has produced in quite some time.

For some historical context here are how Nebraska RBs who declared early have done come draft day.

1993 – Derek Brown Round 4 (pick #109)
1994 – Calvin Jones Round 3 (pick #80)
1996 – Lawrence Phillips Round 1 (pick #6)
1998 – Ahman Green Round 3 (pick #76)

BJax to NFL

January 15, 2007

In what should come as a surprise to few, Brandon Jackson has announced his intentions to enter the NFL draft. Jackson will finish his career with 1,431 career rushing yards to rank 35th on the Huskers’ all-time career charts.

Of the decision, Coach Callahand said, “We have been made aware of Brandon Jackson’s decision enter the NFL Draft. I want to thank him for his contributions to the Nebraska football program and we wish him nothing but the best in the future. We were hopeful that he would choose to stay at Nebraska to complete his eligibility and, most importantly, continue to pursue his college degree.”

Brandon Jackson to the NFL?

January 11, 2007

Brandon Jackson is apparently considering entering the NFL Draft. My gut tells me he probably won’t be coming back. Next year’s class of running backs looks to be pretty stacked, making him a more appealing selection this year. Given Jackson’s injury history and his supposed family situation, this might be the best move for him. You can checkout his 2006 highlights below.

Obviously losing a back of his caliber will be a blow to the Nebraska rushing attack. Will Lucky, Glenn or Wilson be ready for primetime in 2007?

The Safeties: A Rudimentary Semi-Historical Analysis

December 12, 2006


This year’s safeties have taken a lot of heat from Nebraska fans (and especially from me). As a result, I thought it might be helpful to try and put their performance into some type of historical perspective. The results are below.

A few things to keep in mind: First, when we examine the statistics we must remember that these reflect four different defensive coordinators, each with his own system. Secondly, these statistics do not summarize all that is expected or required of a safety. Third, the performances include those of a “once in a generation” type player in Mike Brown along with 3 other players who made NFL rosters at one time or another. Fourth, I am not privy to film sessions or to how the performers graded out in the eyes of the coaches. And finally, the 2006 season is the only one of those included, in which both safety spots were filled by first-time starters.

2006
Player Games Tackles TFL INTs FF FmbRec
Tierre Green 13 48.5 .5 1 0 1
Andrew Shanle 13 47.5 0 4 0 1
2005
Player Games Tackles TFL INTs FF FmbRec
Daniel Bullocks 12 83 4 1 2 1
Blake Tiedtke 12 68 6 1 2 0
2004
Player Games Tackles TFL INTs FF FmbRec
Josh Bullocks 11 68 2 2 0 0
Daniel Bullocks 11 58 4 5 1 1

2003
Player Games Tackles TFL INTs FF FmbRec
Phillip Bland 4 7 1 0 0 0
Josh Bullocks 13 49 0 10 0 0
Daniel Bullocks 13 59 4 2 1 1

2002
Player Games Tackles TFL INTs FF FmbRec
Philllip Bland 13 84 6 1 1 1
Josh Bullocks 13 48 0 1 1 1
Shane Siegel 14 14 1 0 0 0
Aaron Terpening 14 17 2 0 0 0

2001
Player Games Tackles TFL INTs FF FmbRec
Dion Booker 12 62 1 1 0 0
Willie Amos 9 28 0 4 0 0
Phillip Bland 10 24 1 0 0 0

2000
Player Games Tackles TFL INTs FF FmbRec
Joe Walker 11 44 2 2 1 1
Dion Booker 11 34 2 0 0 0
Troy Watchorn 11 27 2 5 0 0
Clint Finley 11 22 1 0 0 0

1999
Player Games Tackles TFL INTs FF FmbRec
Mike Brown 12 96 8 5 6 1
Dion Booker 12 28 0 1 1 0
Clint Finley 12 27 0 1 0 1
Joe Walker 10 11 4 0 2 1

1998
Player Games Tackles TFL INTs FF FmbRec
Mike Brown 12 102 5 1 1 1
Clint Finley 9 28 3 3 3 1
Joe Walker 12 50 5 3 1 0

After looking things over, my take is that our safeties performed average to a little below average by way of statistical analysis. Shall we say, I don’t know…mediocre? What do you guys think?

Position Changes

December 11, 2006

Several players have made position changes as Nebraska begins its Cotton Bowl preparations. Callahan and crew are clearly using the extra practice time to prepare for 2007. This is good to see and every practice counts when you are moving to a new spot. Here is a summary of some of the changes.

Matt Slauson RT to G
Ricky Thenarse CB to S
Victory Haines T to C
J.B. Phillips TE to FB
Jordan Picou C to NT

I’m very excited to see Thenarse back at safety. With Bowman returning and a few new recruits we may finally have a little depth at CB, so safety offers Thenarse a chance to get on the field a lot next year. Any other changes you guys would like to see?