2008 Spring Preview
Key Big 12 Questions Answered
2008 Big 12 Spring Analysis
Yeah, Bill Callahan
was bashed, but his Nebraska offense was putting up numbers. Bo Pelini will quickly
change the defense, but will the offense be more efficient? (Subquestion:
really, how far is Nebraska away from being back to a national title
Steve Ryan, Big Red Report
Retaining Shawn Watson was big for the Husker offense, because he
was a co-coordinator with Bill Callahan, and he actually cut his
teeth with Callahan back in the Big Ten. Ted Gilmore returns as wide
receivers coach, but he'll be absent perhaps the best player they
had coming out of the slot in Terrence Nunn, and easily their go-to
receiver, Maurice Purify. There are a host of players coming back at
the position, including Nate Swift, who could end up breaking all of
the wide receiver records at Nebraska before he's done, but someone
has to take over where Purify left off.
for defense, this is about as close as you are going to get to
rebuilding a unit. Four starters gone from the secondary and every
starting linebacker, plus one, gone, replaced by only one player who
started double-digit games last season. What's worse, senior safety
Larry Asante will move to the linebacking corps, leaving the
secondary with Armando Murillo along with sophomore cornerback Anthony Blue, who has started a
grand total of one game.
are concerned with the defensive line, though, because while they
return all of the starters from last year, this group was key in
Nebraska's defense ranking as one of the bottom ten defenses in the
country. Now this unit is expected to carry the load, and one of the
biggest early challenges for spring will be to slim the overall
profile a bit. The line had several players weighing close to 300 pounds
on the ends, and they'll now be replaced with guys who are expected to
range anywhere from 250 pounds to 270 pounds, tops.
Incumbent quarterback, senior Joe Ganz, is the odds-on favorite for
the job as signal caller. In the final four games of the season,
Ganz took an already explosive offense and made it darn near
unstoppable, only to watch Nebraska still lose in embarrassing
fashion because the defense couldn't stop anyone.
been said, both by those on the team and those viewing from afar,
all this team needs, especially on defense, is a change of attitude.
With new head coach Bo Pelini, they have already seen that, and most
realize that Pelini's taskmaster-style will cause groans during
practice, but may bring a lot more grins during games. His
no-nonsense-players-first approach has proven to be positive in his
stints as defensive coordinator at Nebraska, Oklahoma and LSU. The
question now is, can he do that for an entire team?
The offense will be
breaking in a new center. The favorite for the position right now is
senior Andy Christensen. Junior Jacob Hickman will also probably get
some reps at the position. With the high demand for communication
from the center to the rest of the line, this isn't a good place to
fill a void with no starting experience, but Nebraska will have to do just
struggled mightily last year, obviously, but despite the addition of
the defensive-minded Pelini, those struggles might
continue as out of the top seven tacklers on the team from last
year, only two (Armando Murillo, Larry Asante) return for the 2008
What’s being done to improve a Texas pass defense
that’s had major problems over the last two years? Also, is the O line going
to be better?
Ross Lucksinger, Editor, Inside Texas
Major changes occurred on the Texas coaching staff because of the
problems on defense. Defensive coordinator Duane Akina was demoted to
just defensive backs coach, a position he's held for the last seven
seasons, and co-defensive coordinator Larry Mac Duff departed on what
was publicly his own accord, but the writing was on the wall.
Texas hired Auburn defensive coordinator Will
Muschamp to take over as sole defensive coordinator, and he should bring a
new fire to the D. Another very high-profile hire for Texas
is Alabama co-offensive coordinator and former Longhorn quarterback
Major Applewhite, who will coach running backs, replacing Ken Rucker,
who will take over a newly created "Director of High School Relations"
position on the staff.
The offensive line should be greatly improved next
season. Texas returns all five players who started in the Holiday Bowl
and should finally have a more experienced, settled offensive line. One
of the greatest problems last season was all the switching that was
occurring on the line due to injuries. Chris Hall literally played all
five positions on the offensive line during the season (RT, RG, C, LG,
LT) as players fell due to injury. TMack Brown almost
always redshirts offensive linemen, but was forced to play three true
freshmen last season due to problems and injuries on the line. Expect a
far more solid and experienced unit.