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Official Husker Locker Blog

2011 Dec 10

NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Bowl Season Thoughts

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By HuskerLocker

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The Husker Locker staff will be presented a number of questions addressing various aspects of each week in the world of college football all season long.

This week:

Three names seem to be at the top of the list to replace Carl Pelini as defensive coordinator: Mike Stoops, Ron Zook and John Papuchis. Who’s your pick and why?

James: I'm torn between Ron Zook and Mike Stoops. I think Mike is probably the better defensive coach, but Zook might be the stronger recruiter. Then again, was Zook's recruiting success due to his former recruiting coordinator Mike Locksley?

I think the doubt about Zook's true recruiting prowess leads me to Stoops. Ultimately though, this is Bo Pelini's defense, the real key to me is bringing in a guy who is killer at coaching a position, can take some of the film breakdown and basic gameplanning off of Bo's plate, and will recruit like crazy.

Erin: Luke Fickell.


Just kidding. I can dream though, right? I'd take Mike Stoops, even though I'm fairly positive one ref would go deaf every game from being yelled at by the Pelini/Stoops combo. The two of them are so similar, so maybe Ron Zook is the better option?


Moral of the story: Not John Papuchis.

Brandon: I’m high on Zook and have been since I heard his name was a possibility. He can walk into Lincoln and make an immediate impact as a recruiter which is something the program desperately needs. His connections throughout the Big Ten won’t totally nullify Urban Meyer’s advances, but Zook’s been around the block and knows how to play ball.

He’s got experience with the secondary, so I could see him helping Corey Raymond continue to grow and he’d be able to handle a number of the duties that Bo simply doesn’t care for. It seems like a win-win to me.

What are your thoughts on the Capital One Bowl matchup with South Carolina?

James: It's not as bad of a match-up as it initially appears. South Carolina has a nasty and stout pass defense, but is soft against the power running game. Big opportunity there, especially with a healthy offensive line and rested Rex Burkhead.

Bo Pelini, with a month to gameplan and install said gameplan, should wring out a great game from the Blackshirts. I think Nebraska's in for a physical brawl down in Orlando. The team should be jacked for this game against a good SEC team, unlike last year's Holiday Bowl.

Erin: Another Big Ten-SEC matchup and this one should be interesting. South Carolina has a great defense and will definitely give our offense a tough time. Hopefully Taylor Martinez can replicate how he played in the second half of Ohio State here. If he can, it should make for a win. It'll be close, but a good game.

Brandon: Couldn't love it more. I spoke to some Capital One Bowl representatives earlier in the season and mentioned the possibility of this matchup when asked who I’d like to see Nebraska face if they went to Orlando.

The storylines are plentiful: Spurrier-Nebraska, Alshon Jeffery-Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska’s offense versus South Carolina’s defense (the gamecocks are No. 2 in pass defense and No 13 in scoring defense). No matter how you slice it, this game’s awesome. I wish Marcus Lattimore would be suiting up for the Gamecocks, though.

How do you feel about the BCS’ selection of LSU-Alabama for the national championship?

James: From a pure perspective of the BCS existing to ensure the top two teams play for the national championship, this is the correct decision. From a "fairness" and "watchable" perspective, it's a bit of a bummer. I would've loved to have seen Oklahoma State get a chance to play in this game.

The fact that LSU already beat Alabama (at home), means the Crimson Tide doesn't really deserve another shot at this game. On the other hand, it's going to be fun to watch these teams go at each other with a whole 5-plus weeks to prepare for this game. How sick must you be if you're Boise State's kicker though? If they beat TCU, I think the Broncos might've played for the title.

Erin: Well, I know it's not ideal. Most people wanted Oklahoma State to face LSU. Unfortunately, Okie State held up their ticket to the National Championship and let Iowa State snatch it from their grasp, then burn it. It was one loss, but it was a defining loss. Alabama lost to the No. 1 team in the country. OSU lost to Iowa State. So like it or not, the BCS says this is what is.

But if you want to talk playoffs...

Brandon: The BCS is what it is. It technically did its job. The problem with computers is that there will still be human input (See: garbage in, garbage out). Alabama and Oklahoma State can (and probably will) argue over their rightful place in the BCS National Championship Game, but honestly I can’t say Team X should be in without noting the case for Team Y.

I was happy to hear that the Plus-One model is being looked at seriously and while I don’t think it’ll be implemented immediately, I’d like to see it as a part college football’s post-season ASAP.

Which players do you feel have the most to gain/lose in terms of draft stock against USC?

James: I don't think anyone can change their position too much at this point. Brandon Kinnie could potentially elevate his worth a bit. Lavonte is probably late first/early second and if he plays really well in this game, he might help secure a first round spot. I think Dennard is pretty locked in where he's going to be. I don't see this as make or break for most of the players, though maybe some of the fringe seniors could make a statement for a late round draft choice with a big game.

Erin: Alfonzo Dennard. I think Lavonte David has more than sealed up his fate in the NFL, but Dennard needs another strong game. He'll be drafted, but this game will determine how high he goes.

Also, Brandon Kinnie will need a big game. It's been a rough season for the senior wide receiver, but he's proven that he has the strength and speed to play his position. If he can make one more big outing, it could create some buzz that he desperately needs.

Brandon: Right now, I think things are pretty well set. A loss to Nebraska, no matter the size, isn’t going to hurt an SEC player. Guys like Alfonzo Dennard and Lavonte David have nowhere to go but up as they’ve been scouted all season long, made highlight reels, heck David is a first-team All-American during his second year of FBS football.

It’s a shame that Crick isn’t able to step in, but he’ll have his opportunities down the line and will still likely make a good chunk of change on Sundays.

Follow the panel on Twitter:

Brandon: @eightlaces
Erin: @helloerinmarie
James: @jamesstevenson

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Tags: capital one bowl, ron zook, john papuchis, mike stoops, alfonzo dennard, lavonte david, brandon kinnie, taylor martinez, jared crick

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