Have things gotten to crunch time in Nebraska's search for a portal QB?
Have things gotten to crunch time in Nebraska's search for a portal QB?
We hit on that and more as we start your Monday off with the Weekly Rundown column.
You have to feel pretty good about these things right now:
Things will begin to move on the QB front this week: During the holidays, things were very quiet on the portal quarterback front last week.
With coaches expected to be back up in the offices working, look for things to really pick up on the transfer portal quarterback front. We know Nebraska has a public offer out to Florida State's Chubba Purdy, and there appears to be quite a bit of back-channel interest from Texas quarterback Casey Thompson, according to multiple sources HuskerOnline has talked to.
What we don't know is what Scott Frost and Mark Whipple are thinking? Who is their No. 1 guy? They have done a pretty good job of keeping that under wraps, but you have to think by week's end we are going to have a much better idea of what direction this is heading.
Zac Taylor in the NFL: This off-season one prominent NFL media member and another former high-profile NFL quarterback told me they didn't think Zac Taylor's time as a head coach would be long. They questioned the Bengals and their overall organization.
The former NFL QB told me "it doesn't matter about Joe Burrow if the rest of what around him doesn't work."
I think what we have learned this season, though, is Taylor and the Bengals really have something. Burrow is built to last in this league. If you give him the protection and the receivers he can make every throw. The combination of Taylor and Burrow is going to be fun to watch.
I also find it fitting that Bill Callahan's former quarterback and son Brian Callahan are coaching Burrow. Bo Pelini turned Burrow down, as has been well documented, and Frost chose not to take him as a two-year transfer in 2018-2019 and instead rolled with Adrian Martinez. It's just crazy how life works and how the Burrow story still has a Nebraska connection.
Bill Busch and Mike Dawson: I think we have a pretty good idea by now that Mike Dawson will coach Nebraska's "defensive front," and Bill Busch will move into the special teams coordinator role and assist in the secondary.
Expect an announcement from NU once they get things figured out with their running backs opening.
Former Husker Wan'Dale Robinson: If you are a Nebraska fan, it had to hurt to see Wan'Dale Robinson carving up Iowa in the Citrus Bowl.
You can argue NU's shortcomings at running back, quarterback and the offensive line all played a factor in his departure. He did not want to be used between the tackles, and the way 2020 played out led to his exit. Of all of NU's portal losses, Robinson is far and away the biggest.
These were my surprises of the week:
Michigan laying an egg vs. Georgia: I'm not surprised Georgia beat Michigan, but I am surprised by the nature of how they did it.
The Bulldogs have an elite defense and they showed that on Friday night. It was a huge gut punch to the Big Ten to see Michigan, Iowa and Penn State lose on Friday-Saturday.
Ohio State's win over Utah was impressive, but by no means did you walk away thinking the Buckeyes were a playoff team. Alabama and Georgia are in a class above the rest right now, especially when they have a month to prepare for a College Football Playoff game.
Purdue winning a bowl road game: There were lots of great Big Ten Bowl moments, but Purdue winning over Tennessee in a sold-out Nissan Stadium in Nashville was impressive.
Especially when you factor in the Boilermakers were playing without their two All-Americans in WR David Bell and DE George Karlaftis.
Purdue played their guts out, and they should be considered one of the teams to beat in the Big Ten West for 2022.
Also, how about the turnaround they had from where they finished 2-4 in 2020, losing their final four games and missing their Week 8 and Week 9 games with COVID. Jeff Brohm did one of the better coaching jobs of anyone in the Big Ten in 2021 after blowing up his defensive staff in 2020.
The jury is still out
Questions still surround these things:
Taking two portal QBs: Today, it has the feel Nebraska may try for two portal quarterbacks.
What we know today is NU wants a veteran quarterback to step in for 2022. Chubba Purdy does not fit that description, as he is a four-to-play four guy. Purdy is more of a long-term addition, and you get the sense they still would like a veteran portal quarterback on the roster to go with Purdy if it could all work out.
The future of bowl games: Last year we saw bowl game after bowl game get canceled due to COVID. This year we saw more COVID bowl cancellations along with a record number of players opting out.
It has led to a spirited debate with the more traditional college football fans and the younger generation of fans about the meaning of bowl games.
What we saw this year will no question have an impact on bowl games moving forward. The only way to get more of the top players to stay in bowl games is expanding the playoff field.
If you expand to 12, you could at least ensure the players on the top 12 teams would ideally play still. Under the current model, only four of the top 12 teams' players are taking part in the post-season with opt-outs. It's a mess, and there is no easy answer to this.
Games like the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl really have a big say in things, because of their history with the sport and conference affiliations.
The best solution is to have opening-round home sites and then use the New Year's Six Bowl games as quarterfinal and semifinal bowl slots and have a rotating championship game.
The only issue continues to be the Rose Bowl, though, and their lock on New Year's Day with the world-famous Rose Bowl parade and everything else built around the game. The Rose Bowl still wants to be a big part of the conversation, but they will not move their game off the 2:30 pm CST spot on New Year's Day.
This has my attention
Moving forward, this has my attention:
Nebraska's running backs coach hire: How close is Nebraska to making a running backs coach hire? We know Frost talked to multiple candidates this past week.
Some names that have generated discussion are TCU's Bryan Applewhite and Florida's Greg Knox among others.
Roster management: The addition of Oklahoma State's Hunter Anthony technically puts NU at 90 known players on scholarship, but really my projection has them at about 84 once the 2021 attrition becomes official.
How many more players can they add and how many more players will they move off of the roster to make room? I could see NU still adding around five more players to their roster.
Hunter Anthony: Speaking of Anthony, this appears to be a solid pick-up and adds some much-needed depth and competition at the tackle position. NU's starting tackles in 2021 gave up the most quarterback pressures of any duo in the country, according to PFF.
You get the sense Donovan Raiola is not done adding yet either.
Sean Callahan can be reached at email@example.com and he can be heard each day at 6:45 am and 5:05 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap-Tuesday's at 7 pm.