Questions to be answered for Huskers
I’m usually ripe with anticipation in the weeks and now just days until Nebraska’s Spring Game.
This year, it’s different. I’m not any more or less thrilled than usual, but this year -- it’s the unknown that has my wheels turning.
For almost a full decade now and what seems like longer than that, we always knew who the quarterback was going to be. Not this year.
I don’t mean to say it like it’s a bad thing, but I’m excited now because we may actually have a quarterback whose thought process is throw first.
But, who’s it going to be? How about the gunslinger Tulane transfer Tanner Lee? The redshirt junior just fits the mold of a Mike Riley quarterback. He’s tall, the ball comes out of his hand snap-quick and he’s an excellent defense reader.
Then there’s Patrick O’ Brien. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound quarterback is one of Nebraska’s highest-rated quarterback recruits in the modern recruiting era. He’s received the highest of praises from former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer. Does the year less of experience hurt O’Brien compared to Lee?
We have no idea, because Riley has kept this quarterback battle as even as possible. A coin flip back at the beginning of spring ball decided who got to go first for crying out loud, which, by the way, is such a Riley thing to do.
The only thing riding on this quarterback battle is the complete success/failure rating of Riley. Get it right and you get closer to Tom Osborne status. Get it wrong and there’s the door exit stage right.
Is that fair? Probably not.
Is it how we do things here in Nebraska? You betcha.
Of course, my other subject of interest comes from the new-look Blackshirts.
For those that do not understand what a 3-4 scheme is, it includes three down lineman with four upright linebackers, two of which can and will be used to blitz off the edge.
Riley is no stranger to a 3-4, running it back in his Canadian football league days. He’s said on various occasions that he enjoys the versatility a 3-4 scheme creates.
Running a 3-4 defense in essence puts more athletes on the field who have a wider range of abilities. We all know that speed is premium on the football field and trying to slow down the other team. A 3-4 defense gets more faster players on the field at one time. Mission accomplished?
I’m excited to see if a complete scheme change is something that will revamp our defense and if this particular scheme can be successful against the Big Ten elite. If you have doubts, realize that Wisconsin runs a 3-4 defense. Need I keep going?
There are a lot of questions to be answered in the upcoming months. Not all will be resolved after Saturday, but the picture will be a lot clearer for others.
It’s not if we overreact, it is by how much we do so. Remember -- if something on the field seems too successful, it probably is and if things look really bad...well let’s just not go there.
Whatever questions remain, they better be answered quickly because before too long, Ohio State and Wisconsin will come knocking on Memorial Stadium’s door.
There’s something to be excited about.
RICHARD RHODEN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org