It's a busy week with just 3 days of class following Fall Break...I'll get a special early morning post up on Friday.
THE HOT LIST:
1. Nebraska's QB Controversy: Do We Even Have One?
2. Husker Volleyball
3. Big 12 Basketball Media Days
1. The hot topic this week has been should Nebraska make a quarterback change this week, as Zac Lee has struggled in the 3 games he's played against BCS teams. Here's my thoughts: You have to look long and hard at each kid and determine which player gives you the BEST chance to win the remaining games on your schedule. When given time Zac has shown the ability to make good throws and really hasn't allowed teams to pick him off. Cody is a tremendous talent, his feet and gun slinging arm give him abilities that Zac Lee really hasn't showed this season. The bottom line is Nebraska has to get back to running the ball aggressively. The lack of the running game has really hampered Nebraska's abilities to make big play action plays as teams just don't respect Nebraska's running game when Roy Helu isn't in the game. The offensive line absolutely has to improve in order to allow either one of our two QB's to have success. Their play has hampered drives, killed momentum, and forced Nebraska to play in more shotgun snaps than they probably would like to. If you gauged Bo Pelini's voice from the press conference on Tuesday it appears that Zac Lee will remain the starter for Nebraska. I dont question Zac's ability to read defenses and make the right pre-snap reads. The questions I have about him is h is ability to pull the trigger and react on impulse rather than thinking too much in the pocket. At times last week his body language showed that he was hesitant, and in Shawn Watson's offense you really just can't be hesitant in the pocket when trying to get the ball out. He also must show that he is willing to run for the first down. He really hasn't shown that on a 3rd and 5 that he's willing to tuck the ball and get the first down. In an offense that's young and going through some struggles you have to mentally make getting a first down your utmost priority. That means Zac must run the ball to keep critical drives alive.
I think that when it's all said and done after this weeks practice that we'll see Zac Lee come out and start the game this Saturday. I know its not what the Husker faithful wants to see, but if Zac can take his game to a whole new level, those critics will quickly be singing a different tune at the end of the Iowa State game. I think that he must show improvement in the first quarter. That's his time table to effectively drive Nebraska's offense and score TD's. If he comes out and struggles again, I'm looking for Cody Green to come out and finish the rest of the game. If he has a big game, he'll most likely remain the starter for the remainder of the season. Either way, this is a pivotal week for the offense to get back on track before traveling to Baylor next weekend. If your going to make a permanent change at QB, this is the week to do it...if we don't, we better all get prepared for what Zac will give us for the rest of the season.
2. The days of Husker Volleyball are getting darker these days. Nebraska lost miserably at home in 5 sets to Iowa State. It was the Cyclones first ever win over Nebraska. The former Nebraska setting star of Christy Johnson-Lynch has officially completed her rebuilding of Iowa State from a program that was the cellar of the Big 12 to arguably a contender for the title this season. Its been a masterful job by her and by no means am I taking away from what she did, but I did get a chance to watch the 3rd, 4th, and 5th sets of this game and came away with a few things.
First, Nebraska really isn't a great defensive team. Nebraska took a commanding lead winning set 3 and going up 2-1 on the match, but poor defensive execution allowed Iowa State to hit over .400 and climb back into the match and force a decisive set 5. Iowa State showed how great of a defensive team it can be limiting Nebraska to -.83...yes that's right NEGATIVE hitting in the 4th set. Nebraska just wasn't able to slide over and make great defensive plays in the game. No matter how you look at it, in all of Nebraska's 5 losses this season their defense has fallen apart. You can't make a deep run in the postseason without playing good defense...clearly this is a bigger issue for this volleyball team.
Second, Nebraska can't win long rallies. Nebraska got into a couple pivotal long rallies with Iowa State but mentally broke down and that fueled Iowa State's confidence to win the game. Nebraska at times look tired, out of position, and mentally drained. How you can do that at home is beyond me, you have the home court advantage, fire yourself up and fuel yourself to a win. When you look the way you did at home....its pathetic...no excuses about that.
Third, Who's the go to leader on this team? The answer: NO ONE. Nebraska has no go to player that can single handily take over a game for them when they need her too. Look at the great teams that Nebraska has had, each one had a go to girl that could dominate any team on the other side of the net. You have a great group of talented girls but nobody willing to step up and take over matches. Also, who's the real leader on the team? Who's the girl that when things get down gets in the huddle and yells "were not losing this one today"? Last year Jordan Larson made it a goal of hers to not only be a great all around player but a great leader. Nebraska has no leader in the huddle and thats very concerning at this point of the season. You need someone you can lean on in the postseason and Nebraska must figure that out....in a hurry.
Fourth, Nebraska looks out of place when playing aggressive attacking teams. Many many times last night girls were out of place and simply not ready for high moving balls to come at them. Thats just pathetic when you think about how long these girls have played volleyball. Most probably their whole lives. Iowa State just dictated the entire game to Nebraska. They were on their heels and never were able to over take the aggressiveness that Iowa State came out with to start the game. Good teams will do that to you, and Nebraska simply has not had an answer for those kinda teams this season. It's sad to admit that but Nebraska just looks like a very average team this year.
OUTLOOK: There's no question that this team is giving John Cook headaches when he goes home at night. Their inconsistent play has cost Nebraska 5 games this year and Nebraska has lost 3 home games in one season for the first time since 1999. It's sad to see that at the end of this season, this young and very talented team would have ruined so many records that legends in this program worked so hard to built. If Nebraska doesn't learn how to get aggressive and mentally get tougher in matches, I expect them to not even get out of the first round of the NCAA tournament. This team has to learn to play better defense, learn to attack the holes, and quit making service errors. (Gina made a huge one in set 5, you were the national player of the year and the #1 volleyball recruit...time to start playing like it) Nebraska simply is outmatched against the elite this season.....If that doesn't get them angry...I don't know what else will...For those dye-hard volleyball fans, this appears to be a dark season for Husker Volleyball.
3. Big 12 Basketball Media Days
Doc Sadler stepped to the podium today and answered questions about this season's basketball team. Here's what he said:
Doc had a lot to say about the size of his team. He seemed a bit gasped that finally after a few years he finally has a few big guys that he can feed the ball too since the Alex Maric era ended a few seasons ago. Right now he's not happy with where his defense is right now but feels they can make strides to get to the great defensive teams the he has had at Nebraska (Doc has helped Nebraska finish in the top 5 in the conference in team defense the past 3 seasons).
Doc does feel that Nebraska will be competitive this season, but in a league that arguably is poised for its best year ever, it's hard for the coach to say that Nebraska can finish in the upper half of the Big 12. Doc does feel that Nebraska can beat a few people at the end of the year and hopefully surprise a few teams, but does realize that his young and inexperienced team will have to grow up very quickly for that to happen.
Doc did comment a lot about incoming freshman Brandon Ubel. He says that he really likes his size and that he has the potential to be a great player at Nebraska for four years. He's a big, thick, strong player that can really shoot the ball. Doc feels that he can be very good this season, but adds that he is a freshman and that he will have to go through the learning process that most freshman go through during the 16 game Big 12 grind. Doc feels that his big guys on the floor will prevent teams from driving the ball right at them like many teams did last season. It's still a work in progress but Doc feels that he has some of the right pieces in place to have a moderately successful season this year.
Coming back with a special morning State Cross Country post.....till then.