Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Nebraska Cornhuskers season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Nebraska Cornhuskers
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Nebraska Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
Let’s turn this thing around already.
Nebraska got the guy, it has the offensive philosophy, and it has hope again. Now it might need a wee bit more patience.
Scott Frost was the hot coaching prospect with the fun story of the 2017 season, while Nebraska was the underperforming power program that needed a shot in the arm to try restoring the glory.
Of course these two kids had to get together.
There might have been some other thoughts out there about who might take over the Husker job – Mike Leach would’ve been really, really interesting – but this was a no-brainer.
But even though it was the hire Nebraska had to make, and the job Frost had to take, be careful of where you set your expectations for how successful this marriage is going to be right out of the gate.
Just because a coach is going back to his school, that doesn’t guarantee success. The hope is to get Steve Spurrier going back to Florida, but ask Texas Tech how it’s going with favorite son Kliff Kingsbury at the helm, and check in with Michigan on that Big Ten championship and national title count under Jim Harbaugh.
No one’s questioning Frost’s chops, and again, he was the right guy to hire, but don’t expect the UCF success to be instantly translatable to Nebraska. This was going to be a rebuilding job no matter who took over.
Yes, UCF went from 0-12 to 6-7 in Frost’s first season, but that winless 2015 team – George O’Leary was leaving and the team was going through a total talent and program overhaul – was almost as much of an anomaly as unbeaten 2017 squad.
The 2016 turnaround was great, but UCF beat NO ONE – all six wins were against teams that finished with four wins or fewer and an FCSer – before getting rim-rocked by Arkansas State 31-13 in the Cure Bowl.
And of course, if it was so easy to go 13-0, everyone would do it, but last year’s Knight “national champion” missed Georgia Tech because of the hurricane nightmare, caught Maryland in the midst of a quarterback disaster, and the late-season shootout wins over USF and Memphis were – let’s call them what they were – wins over USF and Memphis.
Yes, UCF beat Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, but that Tiger team played with the focus and energy of an uncaffeinated dad sitting through hour two of a kid’s dance recital.
That’s not dogging the amazing job Frost did in Orlando in any way – he should’ve been hired by Nebraska in 2015 instead of Mike Riley – but Nebraska is a bigger program that’s going to be a bigger thing to move in the right direction.
Frost is the cool coach with the hot rep now, and it’s showing with the buzz around the recruits who want to be a part of what’s about to happen in Lincoln. Now he has to get the players.
Frost needs speed – that 2017 UCF team could FLY – and he needs athletes who fit everything he wants to do. It also needs to happen in a Big Ten West that’s absolutely gettable compared to the East, but still has Wisconsin, Iowa, and improving programs at Minnesota and and Purdue to deal with, along with a few nasty games – especially this year – against the other division.
Right away, though, there’s enough in place to at least go bowling, and then go from there.
The offense won’t be the high-flying fun show of last year’s UCF team, but Stanley Morgan Jr. leads a decent group of receivers, the running backs are at least experienced, and there are plenty of options at quarterback to play around with until super-recruit Adrian Martinez is ready. However, the blocking has to be a whole lot better.
The line on the defensive side is an issue, too, especially when it comes to getting into the backfield, but there’s depth and there’s size. The back seven needs to come up with more big plays, and there will be a few times when the front wall has to rise up and be a brick wall against the run.
No matter what, at least there’s hope. Mike Riley was a great guy, but he was also an older option nearing the end of the coaching run. Either that was going to work right away, or it was going to be a lost era with a few wasted years – and, of course, it was the latter.
But Frost is now ready for this, Nebraska fans are ready for this, and the Big Ten West had better be ready for this. The league won’t have the Huskers to kick around anymore …
After a little while longer.