Sometime in the last 48 hours, Rodger did a Q-and-A with the folks over at Corn Nation to talk about the big Northwestern-Nebraska matchup.
Insights begin [cue Dave Revsine voice] NOW.
1. Taylor Martinez wasn't able to play, then he came back, and got hurt in a loss, and now everything's confusing. Who gives Nebraska the best chance to win against Northwestern, and is there a dropoff if Martinez can't go?
David: Hoo, boy. Question of the week. Here’s what we know: The past three seasons, Martinez has racked up an almost incredible amount of yardage. It was presumed he’d separate himself so far from the pack in terms of total yardage that he’d hold that spot for perpetuity. Well, that may not be the case at this point. It appears as though he’s fairly easy to neutralize when he can’t use his feet effectively. That’s his biggest weapon. When those go, his other issues don’t go with it. They’re still there. He’s still fumble prone and makes questionable decisions. He didn’t play well on Saturday, though he was far from the only issue. I don’t know which QB gives the Huskers the best chance, but if Martinez can’t run effectively, it’s not him.
Jon Johnston: EVERYTHING IS CONFUSING. The guy who gives Nebraska the best chance to win is Ron Kellogg III, or as we call him, RK3. He can run the option. He can throw a ball accurately. As a fifth-year senior he has been around long enough to know the offense. His biggest problem is that he doesn’t represent the future like Tommy Armstrong Junior (TA2) does, so Nebraska fans will go nuts if he starts, which doesn’t matter because we’re gonna go nuts anyway, aren’t we?
Husker Mike: I think I’m in the minority who doesn’t think that Martinez played horribly at Minnesota, but it sounds like he came out of that game even more banged up. So I’m going to go with Martinez being unavailable. Armstrong is the more talented player, but he generally doesn’t run the offense as well as Kellogg. We’ll see both rotate on Saturday in the first half, and whomever plays the best will play the most.
2. Did Nebraska look particularly bad in the games against Minnesota and UCLA, or were there nagging things you guys saw in your wins that carried over?
Ty: Yes to both. However, it’s hard to tell how good Minnesota is. They’ve been very bipolar this year, and I’m also attributing their recent success to the behind the scenes inspiration provided by Coach Kill. However, even decent teams seem able to take advantage of our young defense. We’ve given up over 600 yards too many times this year. We can’t expect to win regularly with those kinds of stats.
Jon: Yes. The nagging things - constant mistakes by the defense. The linebacking corps is still a mess. Inconsistency on offense, whether it’s Tim Beck’s playcalling (THROW THAT BALL TIMMY!), offensive line blocking, receivers catching the ball or just a few too many fumbles.
3. Say one nice thing about Nebraska's defense.
David: They’re young and talented. You’ll hate to play them in about two years.
Jon: He said THREE! Wow! I have two! We have two really good corners, Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean-Baptiste. No one knows how we got a French guy on the team, but he’s really good and you can throw the ball at him whenever you want. He’ll catch it, too, because he used to be a receiver! Then you’ll be sorry!
4. Northwestern and Nebraska were supposed to compete for the Big Ten Legends Division title. How are you guys feeling about your season?
Husker Mike: I went into the season thinking that being undefeated was actually realistic… well, that didn’t happen. I still think Nebraska could win the west division, because I still don’t believe in the Michigan State offense. (And yes, I said “west”. We’ve used “East” and “West” all along for the division names because nobody could remember which stupid name our division was officially called. And now that the B1G endorsed it, we’re feeling vindicated.)
Brian: I still think a division title is available to this team until they are mathematically out of it. There are reasons to think these guys cant go 5-0 to close the year. However, there are also reasons to think they go 1-4 and book a trip to Dallas or Houston.
5. Fire Bo?
Ty: I keep saying no to this, and it’s not necessarily because I love Bo, but because I can’t figure who’d take the job. Last I checked, he had one of the best records in FBS since his hiring, trailing only Saban. Have we seen the growth we’d like to see? No. Should he hire new coordinators? Yes. At least, that’s the feel I get. The players love to play for him, and that includes former players. Frankly, Tommie Frazier’s opinion has been WAY overvalued in all of this of late. I’d also hate to see him go somewhere else (say Arkansas after Bielema) and win a title there.
Husker Mike: No way at this point. Hate the blowout losses, but three division championships in five years counts for something.
Brian: if his team falls flat of the division title, it is a possibility. I think the issues become where people feel like he has not addressed the programs shortcomings. Whenever Nebraska loses, the same problems in the same areas tend to pop up.
Nebraska fans wanted this guy in the first place, and a vast majority still want him to do well (including myself). However, to me, I wonder if Bo is willing to go out of his comfort level to take the next step for his and the program's benefit. If he is truly not willing to do things like shake up the staff, hire people to perk up a mid-40's recruiting ranking... then I dont know how long he will stay in Lincoln.
6. Northwestern is undefeated in Lincoln since 1975. Try to put into words why you think we own Nebraska, and how do you feel about cherrypicking small samples?
David: I love cherry picking. Here’s an example: Nebraska has won two of the last three games vs. Northwestern, outscoring them 120-73.
Jon: Own Nebraska? OWN NEBRASKA? Our Speech and Debate team won their third straight Big Ten Title just recently, so take that guy from a school that’s supposed to be so much more smarter than us! Who’s been second two of the three years? YOU. TAKE THAT AAU MEMBER!
Brian: Sorry, I cant hear you in your office, too many Nebraska fans are here. Can you go silent count? Maybe that will help.
Ty: We’ll all be in the cardiac unit. How can we possibly predict this?! This team goes from getting penciled in to the B1G Championship game to puking out whatever happened last week….
Jon: Everything comes together because Nebraska realizes their back is against the wall, they’re fighting for their coaches lives. The defense holds Northwestern’s ground game to -14 yards rushing, and the offense doesn’t commit any turnovers, drop any balls and Nebraska wins 45-3. Sunday, the world ends.
Brian: Two pissed off teams in front of a pissed off crowd. The only happy people is the BTN crew. Disfunctional folks play football and someone leaves kicked in the taint, wondering where it all went wrong. I feel like it wont be the Huskers. Neb 31, NW 23