Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday, March 30

Well I'm back and ready to rock out another healthy set of topics again...so lets dive in.


1. Husker Women's Basketball: What does this season mean?
2. Impact of Losing Mike Nesseth
3. Thoughts on Spring Practice

1. Well what is kinda old news now about the Husker Women being ousted by Kentucky on Sunday night. Nebraska failed to make it to the elite 8. After their loss, what does this season mean for the program, and is this season a success or failure? I think that you have to look at a few things about this season. One, Nebraska simply did the unthinkable this season by becoming the first team in the Big 12/Big 8 era to go undefeated and captured their first regular season Big 12 title. The schools only title. There's no question that this was a magical season for the women but sadly ended quickly with 2 poor losses. When we look back at this season, who's to say that this may have been Nebraska's best team to NOT make the Final Four. I look at this season with mixed emotions. Clearly it was Nebraska's best season winning 30 games and capturing a title but disappointing that Nebraska only made the sweet 16. Lets look at another interesting topic of this season, what if Nebraska takes a major step backwards next season. Nebraska clearly lived and breathed from the play of their best player, Kelsey Griffin. Her play carried Nebraska in games where the rest of the team struggled to get the ball in the net. Who does Nebraska look to for that kind of play next season...the answer is that right now they don't have anyone close to that caliber of a player and really need to develop someone into that role. That kind of player takes 2-3 years to develop in the women's game unless you get some studs to ride like UConn has. Either way Nebraska absolutely needs to make a major step forward next season, or they will be regarded as a one year wonder who didn't make the Final Four.

2. BREAKING news today came out before Nebraska's game against North Dakota as Mike Nesseth was scratched from his start and underwent an MRI today to reveal tendon damage in his pitching elbow. This likely will need major surgery to correct and it was announced that he wouldn't be pitching again in the 2010 season. The impact of this is MAJOR for this team. Look Mike had been struggling to find his groove this season and most would say that he won't be missed because guys have stepped up and filled his role already. But Nebraska has lost too many close games against teams where they failed to get outs in the final innings for wins. Mike was arguably the teams best pitcher, and without him its a different makeup in the clubhouse now. He'll likely be called on to provide insight to the young arms on the team as the season progresses. I think this is major because this likely to be a problem later in the season where Nebraska is facing a must win game and has nobody it can rely on to close out its games. I feel that this loss is major, but you tip your hat to the kid for saying its ok to hang it up for this season, you know it wasn't an easy decision...We can only hope Mike returns to his dominate form for 2011.

3. Husker Football practice is in full swing and Bo Pelini is pushing his troops hard in the past few days with the team being in full pads. Bo has a few positions where he must find ways to keep teammates happy that being Safety and QB. I say QB because think of what Kody Spano, Taylor Martinez, Ron Kellogg III, and Latravis Washington feel if they get buried on the depth chart when Byron Gaines and Jamal Turner join the team. Someone out of this group needs to step out of the shadows and make a name for themselves or contemplate changing positions to see the field. I think Latravis and Taylor are the likely candidates to consider a position change at some point with Washington likely needing to make a serious decision since he's entering his senior year. Look it happens in every program, great talented guys get to college and can't quite mesh with the culture of their programs and leave school having really never getting any decent playing time. Let's face it when it comes down to it, players are remembered for what they did on the field and not what they did sitting on the bench "hoping" for their shot. Washington appears to fall in a line or what I believe was talented players that never got a chance to play at Nebraska.

Coming Back on Thursday to preview the Final Four, Husker Baseball, and Spring Practice...Till Then...Enjoy

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March 26, 2010

SPRING PRACTICE is upon us now...we'll dive into some indepth hot topics from spring practice and what we should all be keeping our eyes on.


1. Spring Practice: What are we looking for?
2. Husker Baseball Closer Woes
3. Big 12 Baseball Review: Who's really the best?

1. Spring Football practice officially kicked off today. I wanted to dive into a few positions that I feel are critical for the success of 2010. This is the best time of the year, as we all are still glowing from the 31-0 whooping of Arizona. Nebraska clearly has a chance now to develop itself into what we hope can be a top 10 finish in 2010. Here's 3 Big questions that must be answered by the time we start the 2010 season:

1) Who will emerge at Free Safety and Strong Safety?

-No question last year Nebraska strength in the secondary came from the rising play of Matt O'Hanlon and Larry Asante. These two guys elevated their game to a whole new level at the end of last season, creating turnovers and sticking guys in the backfield. They made leaps and bounds from the disastrous meltdown at Virginia Tech to prove to be a key reason why Nebraska beat Oklahoma later in the year. The question comes can PJ Smith step up his game and fill holes that was vacated by these two guys. Also can Ricky Thenarse finally remain healthy enough to make a well needed senior impact in that group.

2) Who will step up as the big time WR?

Literally at times last season I saw numerous things that made me question whether anybody should have been suiting up on the team and playing WR. Guy ran poor routes, gave up on plays, and poorly blocked guys downfield. Niles Paul was vastly hyped as being the "big play" guy in the receiving core to make all the catches Nebraska needed but in reality he wasn't really ever the player that the fans put on him. I'm not going to question how he feels as being the big leader of the group as clearly he has stated he's ready to be a leader which is good.. The real question becomes who is ready to step along side of him and become a legit #2 guy that can take double teams as well. Mike McNeil makes a major transition to WR this spring to show that his great size and mobility can draw extra attention and open other guys up on the field. Nebraska absolutely must find a #2 guy this spring or the likes of seeing a more conservative offense like last season could be in store again in 2010.

3) How will the LB's grow from year one?

Nebraska used a few different sets of LB groups last season. Last season Nebraska went through some lumps and bruises with its young LB group of Fisher and Compton. Now with Phil Dillard gone, who emerges as the guy that can make the plays that Phil did consistently in the last 6 games of the season. NO question that the strength of any defense starts with the DL but its the play of your LB that have to make the plays in the open space for your defense to really look good. Phil did that and showed finally the type of caliber player that he could be. This spring somebody will have to shine in the spring game or the idea of playing those 2 together with no other experienced players around them helping them might keep a few fans on edge next season.

2. Nebraska Baseball is finally in full swing this spring but a major pressing issue that has bit the Husker team too much this season. Its Nebraska inability to have a closer that can be trusted to close out games. In last week's series against #2 Texas. Nebraska lost its 5th game where the opposition walked off with the winning run in the 9th inning. Nebraska saw Texas uncork a 3-run homerun to win in walk off fashion. Nebraska saw the same thing happen 2 times against Fresno State, once against Rice and UCLA. The pressing issue with this has been Mike Nesseth's wild control this season that saw him blow 2 early saves and balloon his ERA to over 18.00. Nebraska looked to Chase Adams on Saturday to get his first save but Curt Giller struggled to close out the Friday night game. The lack of stability in the back end of the pitching staff clearly cost Nebraska a chance to start off the Big 12 season on a high note. It also begs the question how many more games will Nebraska lose in this manner the rest of the season. A troubling stat when it comes to selecting teams for the NCAA Regionals is how many games you win by 2 runs or less. Those teams with 10 or more 1-run games certainly don't make the NCAA Regionals and getting back to a Regional has to be a top priority for this team in 2010.

3. The first week of the Big 12 baseball season came and went but who really is the best team in this league. Surprisingly I don't think its Texas, I think it's Oklahoma who Nebraska will get to see this weekend. Oklahoma brings back a veteran team who found out last year what it was like to be a team in the upper half of the division. Of course with Texas' deep pitching staff OU will almost certainly have to be Texas in its series to have the inside shot at the regular season crown. Senior Jeremy Erben is off to an impressive 5-0 record with a 0.39 ERA. He's no doubt a key reason why the Sooners are 18-2 right now and off to one of their best starts in program history. They are definitely a team to keep an eye on this season. We shall see what the Big 12 season plays out.

Coming back again Tomorrow...Promise