We reached out to our friends over at Corn Nation with questions about Nebraska, and they did an incredible job answering.
Below is our QnA:
Obviously it is no longer Scott Frost Time in Lincoln. What should Indiana expect from Mickey Joseph, and what changes has he made since Frost’s firing?
We’ll find out together this week!
The only answer we know for sure is he fired DC Erik Chinander - overdue by the way - and moved Special Teams Coordinator Bill Busch who has experience in that capacity into the slot. Beyond that?
I had no illusions the Oklahoma game would go any other way than it did. After the disasters of the first three weeks followed by Frost’s ouster, the disarray was not going to be fixed in a few days by Bill Belichick, let alone Mickey Joseph. I thought Trev Alberts might wait until the bye week and can Frost and Chins together, but apparently the behind the scenes stuff with Frost had come to a head.
I would love for things to work out for Mickey, but I feel he’s been given an impossible situation as far as a chance to win the job. The one thing I do believe is he will put coaching them up and trying to establish a good culture over short cuts to try and grab wins for the job audition. If he pulls a win out this weekend, though, eyes will open and hope will bloom. I’m not kidding.
Nebraska’s strength last season appeared to be its defense, but that unit has now surrendered a concerning amount of yardage. What, if anything, changed there?
That was actually an illusion born of the 2021 defense’s bend-but-don’t-break thing and the offense’s almost legendary ability to turn their red zone offense into a Three Stooges skit - a combination of inexplicable play-calling and lack of a kicker who could hit 28-yard FG’s or even extra points with consistency.
But the 2021 reality in the Big 10 was that Nebraska was 2nd in yardage and 4th in scoring offensively and 7th in both defensively. And that was far and away Chinander’s best year here as DC. What changed was almost every offensive coach was fired and the D-staff was left mostly intact. I found it an oddity at the time, and a big red flag after the fact.
I did agree with bringing in Mark Whipple as OC and turning over the play-calling to him, but a nice set of skill players had an already shaky offensive line which lost arguably its two best in Teddy Prochazka and Nouridin Nouli to injury and da’ ‘roids respectively, so Casey Thompson has been on the run a bit.
Everyone under the sun saw that Casey Thompson highlight throw against Northwestern, how has his performance looked as a whole?
Crapping on the QB has been one of Nebraska’s top leisure activities since Tommie Frazier called it a college career and ironically Scott Frost was the first target of the fans’ ire while leading the Huskers to an unacceptable 24-2 record and a national title in ‘96-‘97. I’m not lying, they chanted for Frankie London from time to time.
Against Ga Southern, Casey was 10-13 in the first half with a TD pass and 2 TD runs - and people were griping online. For me, throwing for close to 1000 yards with a 65% completion rate while eating 11 sacks and running for his life in the middle of this monkey-sh*t-fight is okay by me. Joseph had indicated the offense will slow its pace moving forward which might calm the execution a little.
What players from Nebraska’s depth chart, on both sides of the ball, should Indiana’s coaching staff have circled this week?
On defense, I would look to Ochaun Mathis at DE. Along with Thompson, this jewel of the transfer class from TCU inexplicably found himself in a backup role after being tabbed by several as the top defensive player available. At 260, he’s also the only DE with actual DE size.
On offense, I will say Anthony Grant. The JC transfer was stymied by Oklahoma but is still averaging 116 yds/game and close to 6 yards per carry. He has moves, breakaway speed and also runs hard in a crowd up the middle. If he’s getting yards, then the passing game opens up quite a bit.
Will the sellout streak in Lincoln continue? What kind of environment should Indiana expect?
I believe it will continue through this season as people come out to watch Mickey and the coach search speculation stays interesting. Beyond that, many believe Trev will reduce capacity by widening the bleacher seats and continuing to renovate older parts of the stadium. Some people believe the streak should be allowed to die although I really haven’t yet heard a reason I buy.
Do you have any predictions for the game?
The updated depth charts came out today and it appears the two down linemen set is not changing, but at least Mathis is now listed as starter, so there’s that. If we still see soft zones and and coverage gaps defensively, Indiana is probably in for a big scoring day unless Mathis and company can get some consistent pressure.
I think the offense will right itself somewhat, however this is a team who has dropped 9 of their last 10 games so when it comes to predictions, I’m pretty much in Prove Me Wrong mode until things get turned around. I say Bazelak throws for about 370 yards and the Hoosiers prevail 41 - 31.