Skull Session: What Nebraska Learned from Last Year's Beating, Linebackers Improving, and the Offensive MVP

By D.J. Byrnes on October 11, 2017 at 4:59 am
Ohio State band parties for the October 11, 2017 Skull Session

My question every Wednesday: Why isn't it Friday?


Word of the Day: Palliate.

 A SOUL CLEANSING. Ohio State treated Nebraska like it was Rutgers last year in the Horseshoe. As Woody Hayes once famously said, "getting your ass whooped can be good, actually."

The Huskers learned some things from the encounter, like needing to recruit more talented #teens.


Last year’s beating taught Nebraska a few things. For Riley, he’s said in the past, it showed him how far Nebraska needs to come on the recruiting trail. Junior nose tackle Mick Stoltenberg said last year’s game made the team realize how much more seriously it needs to take preparing.

Quarterback Tanner Lee watched the game from home while he was redshirting and said he didn’t think there was anything to take away from the loss. Riley said on Monday the Huskers will watch film of last year’s game, but only because they feel like they have to.

“There wasn’t a lot there that’s going to be real exciting where we say this is a good thing,” Riley said. “But we look at it, we look at it because they’ll look at it. And we review it. And basically see now we’re different a little bit offensively and defensively. So that part of it will not be as helpful as it once would have been.”

That Riley quote is perfect. "We're going to watch the snuff film because we must, even though it won't be as helpful as it once would have been."

I like Riley. He's a kindly grandfather, basically. I'd let him change the oil in my car. I'd let him babysit my mediocre son.

I wouldn't want him coaching my football team, and from my perusing of Nebraska boards, it seems Husker fans agree with my take. Would not want to be the guy to inevitably fire grandpa, though.

 LINEBACKERS ASCENDING. I've been hard on the linebackers this year as teams routinely abused their aggression to reel off explosive plays. 

But the new mix of talent is starting to gel. We saw it come to fruition early against Maryland, when Baker capitalized on the Littler Bear doing Littler Bear things.

From Colin Hass-Hill of The Lantern:

In the last couple games, the unit has begun to make more game-changing, drive-ending plays. None was more apparent than when Baker scored the linebackers’ first touchdown of the year in the Buckeyes’ 62-14 victory against Maryland Saturday. It came off a fumble forced by defensive end Nick Bosa on the third play of Maryland’s opening drive.

“Out of nowhere, I just see Nick Bosa do what Nick Bosa do and seen the ball, scooped it up and ran as fast as I can [for a touchdown],” Baker said.


“We’ve just really been tightening down on the little stuff,” Booker said. “I know that’s easy to say, but I really feel like that’s what we’ve really been doing. Just tightening down the little things, trusting each other and just going out there and having fun with each other.”

Tuf Borland is still listed as a co-starter at middle linebacker. It's going to be interesting to see what happens to Borland's rotation with Baron Browning when Chris Worley returns from injury.

I like Worley, but he's playing a new spot and the linebacker play turned around seemingly as soon as Borland stepped onto the field.

 OFFENSIVE MVP. Americans crave rankings in sports. It's not simply enough to watch a great player. We must consider how he ranks AMONG THE ALL-TIME GREATS.

Ohio State's offense is no different. Last week, I picked J.K. Dobbins as the offensive MVP as was the team's shining light during tepid offensive times.

But I like this argument about it actually being Billy Price.


Doug Lesmerises' MVP: C Billy Price
Whenever we have this discussion, who does his job best always is a major factor to me. Price may be the best center in the nation. He's at least in the conversation. You wouldn't say that about any other member of the offense at their position. A four-year starter, he was an All-American at guard last year, and at center he just doesn't make mistakes. He'll be a very good NFL interior lineman for years. On this offense, no one does it better.

Losing Price at this point would be more crippling to the offense than Barrett or Dobbins. Crazy but true. Let's hope the big fella's body holds up, because Lesmerises is right—Price will make a lot of money down the road.

 THAT'S A BIG BET. Kids these days can't remember when Nebraska was the swagger kings of the sport. But it's true. 

Unfortunately for Nebraska fans, 1996 happened 21 years ago. In this decade, they're historic underdogs to Ohio State on Saturday. 

Sportsbooks will rue that line by the end of the night. Don't think Nebraska closed a 59-point gap in one year. 

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