One of the things that has frustrated me over the past 5 seasons, is the fact that besides losing one score games, Nebraska basically has zero identity. It continued in 2022, and when things like that happen, it makes it really difficult to have success on Saturdays. If one of your friends that was a fan of another team said “what is Nebraska going to do Saturday or have to do to win” your answer would probably be “Have Thompson healthy” or “not turn the ball over”. Something generic. We don’t have anything to hang our hat on.
Take for example our run game, the only consistent thing we’ve had was defenders in the backfield almost every play. We don’t have something we can lean on offensively, and even if something worked one week it seems we scrap it the next week based on who we are playing. Now, i’m not trying to go full Bill Callahan and say “we take what we want”, you have to exploit weaknesses. But we absolutely need to have something that our players are used to running over and over and when the going gets tough, it’s something we can lean on to move the sticks and get a first down. Further, do you know how difficult it is for an offensive line, QB, RB, or WR to not have any clue what play call is coming to get the job done? There needs to be something that breathes a sigh of relief in the huddle if it gets called and everyone knows exactly what to do no matter what the look is because it’s been done a thousand times in practice.
Remember when we lost to Illinois first game last year to a first year head coach?
That just can’t happen… a team in year 4 of a coach with a 4th year starting QB going against a team who just fired their coach the year prior needed to have half a dozen plays that they could run at any time to get some yards. Illinois coming out in an even front instead of odd (or vice versa) scrapped half of our gameplan? While I don’t think Frost meant it as literal as i’m taking it, you get what i’m saying. There just has to be things that calm our guys down that they’ve ran over and over.
Let’s take Kansas State for example. Adrian Martinez goes down there who was the entire problem in Lincoln, right? All of a sudden they are playing unbelievable football with him and are on their way to a top 10 ranking if they can win their last two. And then take a look, they lose their starting QB and have to bring in their backup and seemingly don’t miss a beat. Why is that? Because the offense was built to be successful as a unit with things they can hang their hat on in year 4 of Kleiman.
Look at it from Nebraska’s perspective, we are in year 5 of a staff and when Thompson went down we literally had no one ready behind him that could do anything. You had an OL that couldn’t be trusted, the ball couldn’t get to the WRs, and if there was no rushing attack to lean on then what did you really have? Kansas State could rely on their scheme, Nebraska was seemingly still trying to find itself.
While I would absolutely hate the Monken hire, I at least respect the fact that he would lean on what he does if he kept things the same at Nebraska (though there are rumors that he wouldn’t run the same offense if not at a military school which is just another reason I wouldn’t want him).
To further put salt in the wound, look what the Badgers did to us last Saturday from the 2 yard line. Their staff, their OL, their entire team knew that they could push us off the ball and score. They ran a freaking QB sneak from the 2 with the game on the line, they know who they are.
Trying to go glass is half full here… I do think Bill Busch is starting to get us a bit of an identity defensively. With Chinander, we stayed mostly in 2-high safety and when someone didn’t fit a gap it was off to the races for the offense. Busch has decided that we mostly will play one-high against teams like Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa. The result is us getting more TFLs and more hats flying to the ball. I get that some teams will pop a big one, but we are seeing us not get absolutely obliterated anymore on that side of the ball.
We gotta establish something. Even if it will frustrate Husker fans because the first year or two it doesn’t net us what we want, and we have to put up with tweets like “why do we keep running X when it isn’t working” we need to stay the course. This program hasn’t had an identity.
We will just do the odds first then go into why on each of them. Again, this search is pretty tight-lipped so no one really knows much. This is just me trying to piece things together from what i’ve been told.
Matt Rhule +120
Chris Klieman +150
Dave Doeren +150
Bill O’Brien +160
Luke Fickell +160
Jeff Monken +450
Mickey Joseph +500
Kalen Deboer +700
Lane Kiffin +700
Urban Meyer +800
Let’s get into each of them and why:
Matt Rhule – i’ve said all along that this was our guy. Roughly 10 days ago I had 3 different media members and a couple former players tell me this is our guy. While there really aren’t any leaks right now (props to Trev), I have a hard time believing that all of a sudden who we wanted or everyone thought we were getting is off the table.
Lance Leipold – fwiw I had he and Matt Rhule at +120 last night before Leipold signed his extension. He had it sitting on his desk for a month or two, which worried me that he was waiting for the Nebraska job.
Chris Klieman – I think Trev made a hard push here when things went a little sideways last week (more on that below) and it would be hard for him to say no. But if we got our top guy no need to muddy the waters anymore.
Dave Doeren – I considered Leipold and Doeren to be Trev’s safety nets. There are things I could like about him, but i’m constantly betting against his team right now because I can’t trust them. While I would take his 8 or 9 win seasons all day, not sure he’s a “splash”.
Bill O’Brien – This is my wildcard. I really wouldn’t like BOB, but I could see why the entire fan base would. What he did was impressive at Penn State but he was there for two years with other peoples players and a #1 draft pick QB. He didn’t build anything there, he certainly didn’t at Alabama, and NFL experience doesn’t mean much to me. He would be a “splash” all day for Trev so I think they had more than one conversation. BOB is my darkhorse.
Luke Fickell – This would probably be my guy right up there with Rhule on who I would want running our team. I just don’t see it happening.
Jeff Monken – I would be so done with this team if this is who we hired. Military academy football is nothing like big boy football, you don’t recruit the same, you don’t run the same things, it is just mind-boggling people think this is a possibility. Further, i’ve heard that Monken wouldn’t run what he’s running now if at a different place, which would even make me more hesitant to hire him because then you have no clue what he would actually do.
Mickey Joseph – Just ain’t happening. He doesn’t have any experience and there’s been plenty to be worried about on the field besides his roster he inherited to make you be very cautious here. Trev needs to advise to keep him and maybe 1 or 2 others for continuity but everything people like about him he can do as an assistant.
Kalen Deboer – Has a ton of resume power and is from around here, I would love to have him. The reason he’s behind the guys above him is strictly for the fact I haven’t seen much run from him. Trust me, if Trev wanted him it isn’t a money thing. I just think Trev had his sights set elsewhere, and that’s why he signed an extension yesterday.
Lane Kiffin/Urban Meyer – These guys are just the longest of long shots. I’ll gladly be wrong though.
My Coaching Thoughts:
Again, everything has been so tight-lipped that I am just guessing what happened here. Rhule has been our guy, i’ll go out on a limb and say that. I believe that once A&M started smoldering and Franklin started to get linked to the Auburn job that Rhule’s team told him to try and hang tight and let things play out after he and Trev already had something verbally/mutually agreed upon. I believe Trev never stopped contacting people as there was no signed contract, and that’s where Leipold and other rumors started coming from. I think Leipold was Trev’s backup plan and when Rhule started hesitating things heated up in Kansas. Within the last 48 hours we had conversations with the Rhule team about needing to be in or out, i’m hoping for our sake it wasn’t convincing and more just him saying this is where he wants to be. And that’s why I believe that Leipold now signed his extension.
Again, those are just my thoughts on how it went down. I’m sure Rhule won’t get hired and you could insert BOB, Klieman, even Fickell in there for wanting to wait to have things play out and that’s why the Leipold situation happened. But him signing his contract now I absolutely believe had to do with the Nebraska job.
One last warning… if we don’t have a press conference 48 hours after the Iowa game don’t worry, it may not be Rhule and it could be someone playing in a CCG. However, if Rhule isn’t announced this weekend you can all but “RULE” him out.