Nebraska football mailbag: Predicting a big win for Huskers in 2018
Have Nebraska football questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Wednesday for the Land of 10 Nebraska mailbag to talk all things Huskers. This week, we discuss what game would be the biggest win for Nebraska in 2018, improving the atmosphere at Memorial Stadium, and more.
If you could guarantee 1 win next season (close game, not a blow out) which team would you want it to be against?
— Sal Vasta (@Sal_Vasta3) June 18, 2018
Since first reading your question, I went a number of ways. I thought about selecting Ohio State because a win at Ohio Stadium in Year 1 for coach Scott Frost would send a big message for Nebraska in the Big Ten. I also thought about taking Michigan, because a Huskers win would quickly put Frost ahead of Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh on the expectations chart (which we’ve talked about a bit already). I even thought about Iowa, because I think Nebraska fans could really use a win against the Hawkeyes for a number of reasons.
With all of that said, I’m taking Wisconsin. A Huskers win in Madison would put Nebraska in great position for the West Division race in 2018 (and beyond). It would also quickly tell fans and those outside of the program that Frost isn’t a coach to mess with. That Wisconsin game has sort of become a marquee game for me personally, and I think it will say a lot about where Nebraska can — and will — be in this conference. Win or lose, if the Huskers keep it close and competitive, I’ll be happy.
If it’s a win, though? I think a lot of the expectations for the season would shift.
Moos talked about making memorial stadium a true home field advantage for Nebraska again. He urged students to put the phones down and be loud. What do you think the univ. needs to do to make it more daunting for opposing teams? Do you see any changes coming?
— Jarrett Hayes (@jdhbasketball07) June 18, 2018
This is a good question, and a bit of a controversial one when I’ve talked with people about it. I think the general consensus for helping the stadium become more lively and intimidating would be to move the student section out of the corner. Moving the students into an end zone (like the setup at Wisconsin, for example) would be a huge benefit. The Iron N does a great job of doing what it can with what it has, and I could see the students really owning a more prominent spot in the stadium.
With that said, I don’t see Nebraska moving the students any time soon. That would require moving major donors and season-ticket holders, and I don’t think we could understand the mess that would create. If athletic director Bill Moos wanted to do it, I could see him just going for it. However, I think that’s easier said than done.
Something Nebraska could more immediately do is support the student section in key endeavors. When the blackout game comes up this year, I hope Moos, Frost and everyone in the athletic director throws their support behind it. I hope fans do, too. If fans want to see a more intimidating stadium, it sincerely starts with the student section. Support the students and everything will follow.
I know Nebraska is the sea of red, but it won’t hurt anyone to wear black for one game. If it helps the stadium atmosphere, I don’t see the harm. That’s just one example, but it can work wonders.
How will our defense be? Do you foresee any blowout losses this year like years past?
— Grimey Gus (@GrimeyGus05) June 19, 2018
I believe the defense will be better this year. My biggest reason for saying that is I believe defensive coordinator Erik Chinander’s defense is just a little more player-friendly than was Bob Diaco’s. The latter limited players such as nose tackle Mick Stoltenberg from being able to pursue the ball carrier or the quarterback. Chinander’s defense gives the players more freedom, especially to go after the ball carrier, and I imagine that will significantly improve the play of Stoltenberg and others.
I think the key here is the aggressiveness of Chinander’s defense. A lot of eyes will be on defensive backs coach Travis Fishers’ group, too, because the secondary struggled mightily in 2017. For Fisher, he expects improvement from that group at least in how they approach the game.
“What I can tell you is, no fear of failure and attitude. You will definitely see guys going at it at full speed. I’ll tell you that,” Fisher recently said. “In my opinion, defense isn’t about one guy who is supposed to make that play. Defense is about 11 guys going to make that play. So when it’s going, what you will see is 11 guys going to make that play. That’s what you will see … It’s not going to be just one guy going to make that play anymore, or they won’t be on the field.”
Will Nebraska’s defense be perfect in 2018? Of course not. There will be plenty of room for improvement (and likely plenty of bumps along the way), but I think it will be better than it was in 2017.
As for potential blowout losses, there’s one to keep an eye on: Ohio State. Urban Meyer knows how to run up a score. In fact, that game alone will tell us just how improved Nebraska’s defense is from last season.
Hey Erin! My fav husker reporter! How does the dynamic work between Frost, Walters and Verduzoo?
— Rob & Lori Files (@rflf092303) June 20, 2018
I really like the dynamic between Frost, offensive coordinator Troy Walters and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco. It would be easy to assume they could get in one another’s way, especially when it comes to the quarterbacks. They don’t, though.
Here’s how I think they make it work: They respect each other’s strengths. Verduzco is supposed to know the quarterbacks, so he is trusted to know that group. Frost may come and step in to help here and there, but that’s because it’s a position group he likes. He’s not overstepping what Verduzco thinks and does.
The same goes for Walters. Frost is very involved in the offense, but he also allows Walters to do his job. It’s all about respect, and they all respect what the others can do for the team.
In general where do we stand against the Big 10 rebuilding teams?
— Seth V. Campbell (@SethCampCRE) June 19, 2018
Good question. It’s also not one I’m sure I know how to answer just yet. Ask me again in December.
Weirdest Husker game you ever attended?
— Martin Cerny (@MartinVCerny) June 18, 2018
This probably doesn’t count because it was a spring game, but the year Bo Pelini brought the cat out of the tunnel has to take the cake for me. That day was weird, start to finish. It may not count as a real game day, but I’m not sure anything can ever top it.
— Kelly McFarlin (@KellyMcFarlin) June 18, 2018
This is not the last Land of 10 Nebraska football mailbag! We’ll have one more next week, and we’ll send the whole thing out with a bang.
Have a question about Nebraska football? Tweet us @Landof10Huskers, and we’ll try to answer your question in a future mailbag. Check to see if your question already was answered by reading previous Nebraska football mailbags here.