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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

An Early Look At The Starters

I know it’s early, with fall camp just starting yesterday, but I thought I would throw out my early take on the '08 Husker starters. Before I start getting shredded like Andy Dick at the Comedy Central Roast of (take your pick), note this is an opinion, and an opinion only. As the season progresses, I would hope to see some surprises out of some younger players that are off the radar this early. As Jeffie noted in an earlier post, which takes a good look at the linebacking corps, it remains concern #1 for Bo Pelini. I don’t think I have to remind anyone of the size of the holes opposing running backs were staring down last year, most of which would have accommodated Gilbert Grape’s mom carrying the ball. The defense obviously has a lot more question marks then the offense at this point. With that, here’s my early take, and prediction on starters going into that first game against W. Michigan.

QB – Ganz – No debate here. Hopefully more practice time equates to more 508-yard passing games ala Grimace and Kansas State. Ganz has some mobility, but only 3 games as a starter. Hoping for consistency (ie, keep the picks to a minimum).

RB – Lucky – As a pre-season All-Big 12, 1st team selection, I’m looking for multiple 20-carry, 100+ yard games on the ground from Lucky. Rivals says 5-stars, I say, let's see it on the field. Helu is supposedly tearing it up in practice and could see a lot of snaps.

FB – Lawson – Will this be a position for blocking exclusively? Probably. Not looking for any carries and even fewer catches, but Lawson should be solid with experience.

WR – Swift, Holt – Swift could become Ganz’s primary target. Holt has the physical size to allow Ganz to throw more vertical passes on 3rd and long situations in a 3-receiver set, but not much for experience. Holt could be a surprise this year.

WR – Peterson, Paul – Watch for Paul to see the field more, with good hands and strength, could become a go-to possession type receiver. Think Nunn, but more physical, and after the game, think Nunn’s ex-girlfriend and Playboy Playmate Jordan Monroe.

TE – McNeill – As a junior, it’s time we hear more about McNeill on the field as opposed to hype the past two years. Aren’t we due for a pass-catching TE this season?

O-Line – Murtha, Huff, Hickman, Slauson, Burkes – On paper this group looks like the best line we’ve had in a long, long time. Murtha and Slauson and are dominating blockers, and Burkes looked sharp as a freshman last year. Expecting a lot out of this group.

DL – Turner, Suh, Steinkuhler, Potter – And let the fun begin. This group showed about as much emotion as Ben Stein taking attendance in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Dixon would have added some depth. I want to see what Pierre Allen can do at some point, but Suh and Turner have to step it up, and by step it up, can we follow tennis player Lleyton Hewitt’s example? He went from this, Kim Clijsters:

To this: (biggest turnaround in sports history since the ’69 Mets)

LB – B. Lawrence, Dillard, L. Washington – And let the hating begin. No, I don’t have Cody Glenn or Wortman here, and yes, I realize they are #1 on the depth chart. Yes, we are as thin as Kate Moss after a 4-day coke bender at LB, but I don’t see Glenn or Wortman starting. I’m hopeful Wortman and Austin Stafford can add some depth. This group has the most to prove, although by comparison Dillard looks like a major upgrade from Kori McKeon last year. Can Will Compton step in as a true freshman? We'll see.
DBs – Murillo, Asante, Thenarse, West – Before Asante signed, I remember hearing stories of Mike Brown-like domination, albeit in the Juco ranks. I’m expecting Asante to step it up, and Murillo to be our best cover option. West and Thenarse have promise, but lack experience. Culbert will add depth at safety with Blue (knee pending) and Amukamara doing the same at CB.