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Your 2021 Nebraska Cornhuskers


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I was updating my scholarship distribution chart with Anderson leaving and got to looking at the distribution.  Obviously the fact that no one used a year of eligibility last year skews the distribution.  But it's still striking that the Huskers will only have eight offensive skill players that aren't Freshman in 2021 - and that's if Mills comes back which I'm not really sure he will.  And of those eight, three are tight ends.  So we might only have four non-freshmen QB-RB-WRs.  That's nuts.  And it wouldn't be shocking if Warner and/or Rafdal left before next year.

 

Non-Freshmen:

QB - Martinez

RB - Mills(?)

WR - Manning, Warner, WRobinson

TE - Allen, Vokolek, Rafdal

 

Freshmen:

QB - McCaffrey, Smothers, Haarberg

RB - Thompkins, Johnson, Morrison, Scott, Ervin

WR - Nance, Houston, Hickman, Betts, Nixon, Brown, Hardy, Neville, Grimes

TE - Fidone, Rollins, Carnie

 

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5 minutes ago, Mavric said:

I was updating my scholarship distribution chart with Anderson leaving and got to looking at the distribution.  Obviously the fact that no one used a year of eligibility last year skews the distribution.  But it's still striking that the Huskers will only have eight offensive skill players that aren't Freshman in 2021 - and that's if Mills comes back which I'm not really sure he will.  And of those eight, three are tight ends.  So we might only have four non-freshmen QB-RB-WRs.  That's nuts.  And it wouldn't be shocking if Warner and/or Rafdal left before next year.

 

Non-Freshmen:

QB - Martinez

RB - Mills(?)

WR - Manning, Warner, WRobinson

TE - Allen, Vokolek, Rafdal

 

Freshmen:

QB - McCaffrey, Smothers, Haarberg

RB - Thompkins, Johnson, Morrison, Scott, Ervin

WR - Nance, Houston, Hickman, Betts, Nixon, Brown, Hardy, Neville, Grimes

TE - Fidone, Rollins, Carnie

 

 

I mean it does help that no one used eligibility this year - it's 3 years of freshmen instead of 2. McCaffrey, Thompkins, Johnson, Nance, Houston, and Hickman would all be sophomores normally. So from a long term potential standpoint I get it, but if it's being used to say "look how inexperienced we are!" that's a little misleading to me. Not that the 3rd year freshmen are that experienced, but to me they're not really freshmen. Still a very striking upper/underclassmen split though.

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6 minutes ago, Husker in WI said:

I mean it does help that no one used eligibility this year - it's 3 years of freshmen instead of 2. McCaffrey, Thompkins, Johnson, Nance, Houston, and Hickman would all be sophomores normally. So from a long term potential standpoint I get it, but if it's being used to say "look how inexperienced we are!" that's a little misleading to me. Not that the 3rd year freshmen are that experienced, but to me they're not really freshmen. Still a very striking upper/underclassmen split though.

 

That is true.  And I said as much in my post.

 

Even if you put the third-year guys in that list, it's still not a lot.  I would guess Nance and Houston are probably on their way out.  And Hickman seems to be caught in no-man's land.

 

So if Mills, Nance, Houson and - for the sake of argument - Warner and Rafdal are gone or buried on the depth chart, the three-year-plus list still only gives you:

 

QB - Martinez, McCaffrey

RB - Johnson, Thompkins

WR - Manning, Robinson, Hickman

TE - Allen, Vokolek

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11 minutes ago, Mavric said:

 

That is true.  And I said as much in my post.

 

Even if you put the third-year guys in that list, it's still not a lot.  I would guess Nance and Houston are probably on their way out.  And Hickman seems to be caught in no-man's land.

 

So if Mills, Nance, Houson and - for the sake of argument - Warner and Rafdal are gone or buried on the depth chart, the three-year-plus list still only gives you:

 

QB - Martinez, McCaffrey

RB - Johnson, Thompkins

WR - Manning, Robinson, Hickman

TE - Allen, Vokolek

 

Ah fair enough, I clearly skimmed instead of reading the post itself. I don't think the roster turnover went as planned, but we're getting there slowly.

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The usual class designations probably don't make much sense to use next year, and perhaps for a couple years afterward. Probably makes more sense just to use 1st/2nd/3rd/etc year. Though you'll still want to use a 'redshirt' prefix on those designations.

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1 hour ago, Savage Husker said:

Why didn’t Manning play this season?

 

That's the $64,000 question.  The coaches basically kept saying he was battling nagging injuries.  That's probably at least part of it if not most.  But there was lots of speculation that there was more to the story.  It seems pretty likely that there were some sort of COVID issues in summer/fall camp.  Not sure if he had it or was kind of scared off by it or what the actual story is.  But it seemed to have gotten him off to a slow start and then maybe the injuries kept him from ever catching up.

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4 minutes ago, Mavric said:

 

That's the $64,000 question.  The coaches basically kept saying he was battling nagging injuries.  That's probably at least part of it if not most.  But there was lots of speculation that there was more to the story.  It seems pretty likely that there were some sort of COVID issues in summer/fall camp.  Not sure if he had it or was kind of scared off by it or what the actual story is.  But it seemed to have gotten him off to a slow start and then maybe the injuries kept him from ever catching up.

I've heard many different rumors.  One was he basically opted out but had a change of heart so he played some snaps at Northwestern but then went back to opting out.  Also heard that grades were an issue but that really doesn't have any merit since he played in a game.  Either way, good to have him back. 

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23 minutes ago, Farms said:

I've heard many different rumors.  One was he basically opted out but had a change of heart so he played some snaps at Northwestern but then went back to opting out.  Also heard that grades were an issue but that really doesn't have any merit since he played in a game.  Either way, good to have him back. 

 

These may be stretches, but the most I could piece together was it was a really difficult transition from juco, especially with Covid. Looks like he hadn't really been out of Texas, and being in Lincoln but totally locked down as part of the team away from home is tougher for out of state guys. And he was probably banged up during fall camp. That's a lot to deal with, on top of the expectations/playbook/etc.

 

So nothing concrete, but the deck was stacked against him this year in a lot of ways I ignored out of blind optimism going into it. I'm glad he's back though because if he can put it together he changes the entire WR corps. 

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So now the question is - who plays Duck-R? We're undoubtedly worse without Wan'Dale, but the issues were other positions - I do think the offense can be better than last year's with a worse slot. That involves big leaps from the outside receivers, OL, and backs, so I'm sure there's plenty of skepticism. But as I see it, we've got:

  • Alante Brown - coaches were high on him and he saw the field, but didn't get many chances. I'd put him as the clear favorite.
  • Will Nixon - a lot of people's sleeper pick in last year's class, he's probably a better fit than Brown for the RB-type stuff instead of the pure slot stuff. But coming off an ACL, he's probably not a huge factor this year. I bet he'll play some, but year 2 back from the ACL (2022) is usually a lot better, as Honas demonstrated last year.
  • Brody Belt - nothing against the kid, but does not inspire confidence

All the other options are just using one of the quicker regular receiver (Betts, Liewer, Toure), big slot (Hickman, Fidone), or the drastic: Move McCaffrey. I'd even be down for a time share deal - last year some of the hesitation with creating packages for him was it was taking snaps away from our biggest offensive threat. This year that won't be the case, so maybe there can be more of that while still letting him play QB.

 

My hope is McCaffrey, with Brown playing slot but not as much of the backfield/triple option stuff, and then Nixon/Belt for depth. Also some 3-4 receiver sets where guys like Toure and Fidone play the slot. My expectation is Brown/Belt, with Nixon and McCaffrey getting a few touches along the way. In either case, really need at least 2 out of Betts, Manning, Toure, Warner, etc to step up. 

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