Had a chance to do a back and forth with the gents over at “Corn Nation”, the SBNation home for all things Nebraska.
BR_ After a shaky start in week 1 and early in week 2 the offensive line seemed to finally find their footing for Nebraska. Buffalo’s defense has been defined over the years as a high pressure defense and the addition of Joe Cauthen and looking at what UB did in week one they continue to be aggressive. Has the line turned the corner or are they going to struggle with a D1 line?
I was honestly mystified by their showing against Illinois despite Turner Corcoran not being 100% as they have shown steady gains & improvement since Frost took over. They finally started asserting some dominance against Fordham, but it was, you know, Fordham. And not the WW2 Era version that dominated in the 30’s & 40’s.
This is a stronger, more talented group than we’ve had in a few years but they are starting three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior. However, they’re going to be expected to step it up pretty quickly since, due to redshirting & the Covid season, two of the “freshmen” are in their third year and the sophomore is in his fourth. I’m definitely expecting much tougher sledding this weekend from Buffalo’s D-line, but I’m also expecting some improvement on our end. However, it’s still going to be far from perfect – let’s say I’ll be happily surprised if we produce a 100 yard rusher, but I believe the QB sacks will drop.
BR) On defensive side I’ve not had a chance to see the Huskers at all. Who are the players we should be looking out for?
The defense has looked pretty sharp the first 2 games and there’s a lot of guys making their presence known. It’s hard to pick only a couple but since they’re going to be facing a pretty solid running attack, I’d say keep an eye on NG Damion Daniels, LB Garrett Nelson and LB/Rover-type Jojo Domann. Daniels plugs up the middle very well and Nelson and Domann are sneaky fast and slash hard to ball taking great angles for losses when opponents try to move it outside.
BR) Conference realignment question. After last season did you regret leaving the Big 12 because it’s been a few rough years? And after the summer are you very happy you left?
There was a little griping from some last year, especially when the B1G leadership basically vilified us for a stretch for trying to schedule an out-of-conference game when Wisconsin was cancelled due to a Covid breakout. Given some of the horrifying things the rest of the conference had been up to in recent history – player practice death, racist coaches, player abuse, academic scandal, and the perverse goings on at the Michigans & Penn St., many didn’t take to kindly to having the finger wagged at us over something so trivial.
That being said, the initial breakup is fresh enough that most remember why we left in the first place and know we now sink or swim with the B1G. And the way things played out in the Big 12 couldn’t come with a bigger “We told ya’ so!” from Lincoln, NE. Boys – we wish you luck but anyone acting surprised Texas hosed y’all over wasn’t listening very hard when Nebraska left.
BR) Prediction for the game?
This has been quite fun the last couple of years as we transitioned to a team under Mike Riley who got curb-stomped by any team with a pulse to one who can play with all but the elite programs but finds new and exciting ways to step into traffic when DON’T WALK light is flashing. The Illinois game included – but was not limited to – 1) Cam-Taylor Britt trying to catch a punt on the 1 and taking a safety and 2) having an Adrian Martinez fumble returned 50-something yards for a TD at the end of the first half. Cam has probably fielded his last punt as he lost a fumble trying to pick up a rolling grounder punt against Fordham as well.
That being said, given the loss of Leopold, Patterson and other players transferring after Leopold left for Kansas, I feel like the 13.5 point line is a solid one. However, us being us, I’m not ready to say playing a mostly mistake-free game against Fordham is suddenly going to be the norm going forward. And if anyone’s looking ahead to Oklahoma after their scare against Tulane, there’s going to be a price to be paid for that as well. I think our passing attack can have some success with our best corps of receivers in years, but as good as the Blackshirt defense has been, they’ve allowed some big runs which could be an issue against a team like Buffalo.
Back to nail-biter city – Huskers win, but crucial mistakes pop up and blood pressures in Lincoln are again at lethal levels for much of the day as it goes down to the wire. Nebraska 31 Buffalo 28