Husker Hot Takes – 2/5/15

5 Feb

Come bask in the warmth of the hot takes…

Mike Riley and friends can recruit a little bit.

I’ll preface this with a big disclaimer:  I don’t follow recruiting very closely.  I understand the importance, but watching highlight films and tracking the whims of 17-year-old kids doesn’t do it for me.  That said, it certainly looks to me like Mike Riley and his staff will be a recruiting force.  For a new staff coming in with less than two months to go in the recruiting season, they did an excellent job of keeping almost all of the recruits the previous staff assembled as well as filling the remaining spots with guys heavy on talent and upside.

There is a lot to like about how Riley’s staff is going to handle recruiting.  Notably, I’m a big fan of having the recruiting process led by guys who do not have on-field coaching duties.  That should really help with in-season recruiting, which tended to tail off in most years.  The use of social media with the “Paint the Nation Red” maps and tweets by the entire coaching staff is big not only for recruits, but for Husker fans who passionately follow the program 24/7/365.  It’s reassuring to know the coaches are out there working hard to ensure the #HuskersJustGotBetter.

But mostly, I’m very impressed by the final weekend before Signing Day.  The Huskers received verbal commitments from four prospects who live in Florida, Mississippi, Southern California, and Las Vegas on a weekend with a winter storm that dumped over six inches of snow.  If they can pull that off, I’m excited to see what they can do with a full recruiting cycle.

Long snappers are people too.

One of the last recruits in this class was long snapper Jordan Ober.  During his official visit, I heard a couple of local radio hosts questioning if Nebraska should “waste” a scholarship on a long snapper.  Their argument centered on the idea that the staff – especially Special Teams Coordinator Bruce Read – should be able to take an existing player on the roster and develop them into a long snapper.

I couldn’t disagree with this more.

Sure, I’ll concede that a coach at a Power 5 program should be able to identify and develop a respectable long snapper out of 85 scholarship players, but is that how you want to run your program?  Every week, games are won and lost due to miscues in special teams.  So many bad things can happen with a bad snap:  blocked punts, rushed kicks, shanks, turnovers, or quick points for the opposition.  Why would you risk that with a player who long snaps as a side job?  Would you rather recruit an “athlete” to play quarterback, or would you prefer to recruit a true quarterback?  The same logic applies here.

Much like a good referee, you shouldn’t notice when a long snapper does his job at a high level.  For almost 10 years, Nebraska has enjoyed a strong run at the position.  T.J. O’Leary, P.J. Mangieri, and Gabe Miller were excellent performers, but Miller’s career-ending back injury almost meant using Nate Gerry as the long snapper.  Instead of risking field position and turnovers, Nebraska is wisely finding somebody with the talent and ability to do the job full-time for (hopefully) the next four years.

Considering that scholarship probably would have otherwise gone to some two star prospect who may only contribute for a year or two, I think Ober’s scholarship is a wise move.

Go Big Red goes (Gretna) green.

Two of the preferred walk-ons in the 2015 class are from Gretna High School:  linebacker Jared Brugmann and fullback Austin Hemphill.  This brings the number of Dragons on the NU roster to five (TE Jared Blum, FB Andy Janovich, and DE Mick Stoltenberg are the others).  The five Gretna Dragons ties Lincoln Southeast Knights for the school with the most players on the roster (side note:  the only other school with more than two players at NU is Edna Karr H.S. in New Orleans with three).

As an unabashed lover of fullbacks, the only thing better than a walk-on fullback is a walk-on fullback from your alma mater.  Here’s hoping that offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf has a double fullback formation for the fall.

Give ’em hell, Dragons!

Gymnasts are messing with perfection

The #7 Nebraska Women’s Gymnastics team is off to an impressive start.  Coming off of a Super Six final appearance in 2014, they are 5-1 this year, with the lone loss at #4 Michigan.

But one of the highlights of this season has been sophomore Ashley Lambert, who has recorded a perfect 10.0 on the vault.

Twice.

The Huskers have a strong lineup with All-America caliber performers in every event.  Plus, every gymnast will “throw the bones” at some point during her floor routine, which I enjoy.

Their next meet is this Saturday (February 6) at 6 pm against Iowa at Devaney.  My family has become big fans of this program over the past few years, as it is cheap entertainment (free admission with a popcorn box top), the team is fun to watch, and they are pretty damn good.

Baseball weather is here

If there is eight inches of snow on the ground in February, it can only mean one thing:  Nebraska Baseball is starting their season soon.

Sure enough, the season starts next weekend (February 13) at UNLV.  Hopefully, the snow will be all gone when the Huskers have their home opener on March 10.

 

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