Husker Extra live chat: Brian Christopherson, 11.15.16 - Husker Extra

Husker Extra live chat: Brian Christopherson, 11.15.16

Chat all things Husker football with Brian Christopherson during his weekly chat, every Tuesday.

    I'm here for the weekly chat. Pop on in. Keep me company.
    How much emotion do you think there will be Saturday when Sam Foltz is recognized and how much do you think his memory has motivated his teammates
    @Joey: There's no question many teammates have felt Sam has been with them all season. I know this because I've asked that same question to some guys. A couple players got choked up talking about him on Monday. The tributes to him throughout the year by opposing teams have been splendid and considerate, but I imagine there's also a part of it that's really hard for teammates when they see those things. Because as much as you are touched, you wish he were out there too. I have no question, however, that the Huskers will have just the right touch on the moment Saturday. They've had it all season in handling the worst situation imaginable with grace.
    Haiku Tuesday

    Ryker or Tommy?
    Maryland must wait to know.
    Offensive mystery.
    @SIliconValleyHusker: I'll give it an E for effort. No, no, I'll give it a B. Because you put yourself out there and Haiku'd man. Definitely a B.
    Possibility of a let down this weekend? Early game...
    @Gbr7: I think everyone around here should know by now that there's not any game on the schedule Nebraska can take for granted. Especially when you don't even know if your starting QB can play. Those 11 a.m. games can get a little sleepy inside Memorial Stadium, no question. Senior Day might help a bit. Also, it usually is easy to overlook a team when it just got beat 62-3. But when you got beat 62-3 by the same team just a week before that, I'd think that would negate one from thinking they're so much better.
    You don't seem as up in arms about Bruce Read's work as a lot of people? AM i reading that right? I heard you on the radio talking about him today.
    by Devine A edited by Brian Christopherson 11/15/2016 7:16:24 PM
    @DevineA: The way I look at is is, Mike Riley is in his 16th year of having Read run his special teams. Having watched Riley operate closely for a couple years now, and also considering the way he switched out a D-line coach after just one season, I don't think he's the kind of HC who is going to just let someone coach for him if he sees that guy failing in his teachings behind the scene. So I believe Riley when he talks about Read being meticulous in his work and game-planning well. That doesn't mean improvement in the punt game shouldn't be expected heading to next year. The other areas of special teams aren't that bad. Some of them are even pretty good. But when you've had three punts blocked (only two other teams have had that), and had multiple games where the HC says after, 'We could have lost the game cause of that,' yes, that position group and coach better be working tirelessly to fix it. There's another part to this discussion too....
    I think a lot of fans expect the punt return game to look a lot better, and want DPE to take off like two years ago. If you listen closely to what Riley says, though, he'll tell you the dynamic of returning punts has shifted some in recent years with all the different kicks and formations people are using. It's not always as easy, in his opinion, to break loose. Instead of me babbling about it, I'm just going to post Riley's full answer yesterday about what he sees regarding the punt blocking for Pierson-El...
    Riley on blocking for punt returns: “One thing that’s happened in general, I mentioned too, the different punt formations, punt styles that have come up have really made the punt-return team almost more of a defensive unit, making sure you cover everybody, they’re spread over the field, they go in motion, and that never used to happen in a punt. Everybody would stand back there with a personal protector, a couple of wingbacks, a couple of gunners. You knew where everybody was. You could rush or you could hold up, so a little more complicated now. And not to say we can’t do better, but that’s the first issues, is making sure they don’t fake it and you have everybody covered.

    And so then sometimes you’re not in as good a position to be a hold-up player. And that’s really, to me, the key factor in a punt return is what you can do with the line of scrimmage. Can you hold that guy up long enough to buy that time down the field, and then you either man it up and run with that guy and you’re in good position.

    So sometimes I think big factors are we don’t get a great hold-up, guy releases and you’re in bad position to block him when the ball is coming to your block. The key thing in a punt return is the timing of the ball and your block, and they have to occur pretty much at the right time. And that is, again our biggest factor is losing guys, not in good position, or losing guys and they are forcing the fair catch.

    And the other part of punt returning is, I can almost see it coming, you know, a certain kind of punt, I just know ‘this one’s coming back, we’re going to get a chance at this one,’ and then some of them are just not returnable, they’re high, relatively short, it’s going to be a fair catch. So, you know, you get the right punt, you get good position in the blocks and good hold-up, now you’ve got something going on. Those are the big issues."
    BC, Riley said this Bruce Read is the leader of soecial teams, but not the only guy, other coaches have responsibility there. Which isn't surprising, it's how most teams do it. However, why are we paying him coordinator salary then? As I mentioned on a Sip chat a while back, the only time(s) Read lasted more than 2 seasons with a team is when employed by Riley.
    @JimNE: I don't know Bruce Read's entire work history on why he left places. Maybe he left because he likes working with Mike Riley and that's all there is to it. His salary doesn't interest me as much as it does a lot of people. Whether he's making 150k or 450K, fans here are going to expect a good product. And whether it's good or bad, it's not like those $$$ are coming out of their wallets. Football coaching salaries aren't different than the rest of the work force: If you do something a long time, as Read has, and rise to a certain title, as Read has as a coordinator, you are going to make more than someone who hasn't done it as long. I'm not making excuses for the special team fails here. I've written about them every week they've happened. I'm just saying I don't think Riley would have a guy on staff for so many years if he didn't truly believe in the way he does his job. Again, there are expectations. I thought Riley also made it clear yesterday he expects certain things to start looking better.
    I've read all the theories and what-not but I really really applaud Michigan and Penn St on their stance on Friday football. I don't see the benefit to dear ole NU of playing these games. Eichorst and Delaney are wrong for doing it. Keep Fridays for the high schools.
    @Zadi: I respect the opinions I've heard from both sides on this. Personally it doesn't bother me that much. Everyone stood up and applauded when it was announced how much the Big Ten is making on its new TV deal, Well, a very small part of that deal was agreeing to play a few games on Friday. Just a few. Nebraska will play two games on Friday nights out of 36 games over the next three years -- and only one will be in Lincoln. Local high school football will not be permanently dented because of that. And I'll be honest, I happen to like when there's a good college game on Friday night. I'm not going to lie about that. That's just me. I know people heavily involved in high school sports, including those at our paper, who think this is terrible. I can respect that opinion. But we all know college football is big business, and part of the most recent business deal by the B1G, a very, very good deal, was to play a handful of games each year on this night. I'm not going to be two-faced like some national writers and praise the deal then slap them on the wrist cause of this small part of it.
    I'm warming up......time was more important than quality. :) I'm assuming a lot of our O-line play has been challenged by the ankle injuries but haven't seen anything lately about whether we are getting healthier (or than Foster's return). What's the latest?
    @SIliconValleyHusker: I thought the loss of Foster was gigantic when it happened, and I think his return at the end of the season will show how much he meant to that group. I really do. The injuries no doubt hurt that unit, but it also points to how the Huskers really need to recruit well and build up depth there for the future. Because every season is going to have two or three of your linemen limping around by mid-October. That's football. So it really can't be an excuse. The latest is that O-line health seems to be on the upswing, at least with Farmer and Foster. Something to watch is Dylan Utter, though, who was in a walking boot at the presser yesterday. A teammate stepped on him early in that game.
    Do you guys ever have a day off during the season? I feel like you guys always have to stay 'clocked in'. As for the skers, have you guys ever been allowed in a film session in position groups? If not, have you ever tried or asked to join? I feel like that'd be interesting....especially in the 0-line room.
    @Troy: Day off coming just a few weeks. Husker fans hope it's a few and not a couple, although that would require a Wisconsin loss. Love your idea. Have tried it in the past, but got turned away. I think this staff might be open to such a suggestion. I don't know if they'd do it in-season, but even in mid-December it'd be fun and interesting to the reader to go through a game and hear them say what they see. Educational, no question. An idea worth pursuing.
    Hard for me to buy into the reasons as explained by Coach Riley regarding special teams. Out of 128 teams someone has to be 127, however, Nebraska should be better than that I think But the question is why is Nebraska so poor in the area of special teams? After all there is a coach specifically hired to coach them. Do not other teams face the same types of issues week in and week out that NU does regarding special teams or is it just NU? I guess I just expect more out of somebody that is as highly regarded by his head coach than what is actually happening on the field. I read what you and Sip have said regarding the video tape tells a lot. (Of course I am paraphrasing) and the tape tells a lot about punting, punt returns and maybe even Kick off returns. I don't know. Just my comment, and now I feel better. Not that it matters or will change anything.
    @71husker: Well, again, the punt unit has to get better. The rest of it is OK. Maybe not extraordinary (except for Drew Brown on kickoffs, who I think is really good). But the rest is not a dumpster fire. Sill, I get all the angst about the punt unit, because it's darn near lost a couple games like Indiana and Minnesota. If people are going to have a conversation about it, though, they should have the full conversation and not just tweet out "450K" or something. Because there are layers to it, including the fact that a real tragedy five weeks before the season took away one of the best punters in the country who very well might have Nebraska in the Top 5 or 10 in net punting right now. That's no knock on Caleb Lightbourn. That's being a true freshman. That's growing on the job. Sam had some inconsistent kicks early in his career, too. Lightbourn's got to keep getting better, and I really think he will. And Read's got to figure out something that keeps opponents from either blocking punts or getting close, because you can tell other teams see something they can exploit there. That does fall on Read to fix, and find out what the weak link is, no question.
    Forgot to add that I noticed Gates pushing Armstrong and another O-Lineman away from each other during plays. Maybe exchanging some words? Did anyone else catch it? I was at a bar and couldn't hit the rewind button and didn't DVR at home.
    @Troy: Didn't see that, but don't mind some of that within reason. I'll have to look for it if I watch the game again. I always fast forward between plays through the rewatch and occasionally miss items like that.
    BC, have you seen anything in practices to give you an idea of what this offense is going to look like next year after losing not only Tommie and the QB run element, but also all the other skill position seniors?
    @JimNE: They're going to expect to get more run game out of both the tailback and, I might assume, the jet sweep, which has been a staple of Riley's offenses for several years now but hasn't really taken off in a major way at Nebraska yet. At receiver, they're going to expect to recruit and grow guys who can do what departing players did before them. That doesn't mean next year won't be an interesting transition at receiver, cause a guy like Westy shouldn't be taken for granted. I anticipate Stanley Morgan is going to have a big statistical season, and DPE is around, and I think you'll see them use a guy like JD Spielman in that jet sweep game. The O-line has to get better at pass pro, too. That's maybe where I'd start. If you have a guy not as fleet of foot back there, you have to realize the Huskers might have anywhere from 12-15 more sacks on their resume this season. I keep coming back to it. O-line, O-line, O-line. If that group can help you run the ball with the tailback and give that QB a little time, I get the sense they think Tanner Lee (or a Patrick O'Brien if he continues to grow) has the tools to make a pretty seamless transition to what they've normally did in the past.
    Who is your surprise player this year. The guy I'm most impressed with is Stoltenberg
    @Steve: That's a good one. I think both Mick and Carlos Davis should give Husker fans a lot of hope the D-tackle spots are in good hands the next couple years. I might mention Ross Dzuris. He gets overlooked, but he's just solid. Leads the team in tackles for loss. Not a flashy D-end, of course, but the kind of reliable guy they needed in this particular year. Also, I don't know if surprise is the word, but I think Terrell Newby has proved something to a lot of skeptics this season. I wondered if he might in August, knowing that he was injured most of last season. The fact he still has a shot to run for 1,000 yards this season even though the O-line went through a four or five game struggle, says a lot about how tough he's been.
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