No Substitute for Experience?  Let’s Hope Not

Throughout the offseason we'll see a number of predictions made about the upcoming season.  The major inputs to these predictions are usually along the following lines:

    How many games did you win last year?

    What's your schedule look like?

    Who left/who's coming back?

We know Nebraska went 9-4 last season, which ties Wisconsin for the best record in what will be the Big Ten West division.  The schedule is tough with road games at Michigan State, at Wisconsin, at Iowa, at Fresno State, and at Northwestern.  The home slate features Miami, Minnesota and a number of teams Nebraska should be a considerable favorite to beat.  But who's coming back and how does that compare with the competition?


Phil Steele has revealed his early look at what teams have lost to graduation, early entry to the NFL draft, and presumably anything else known at this point (like transfers or major injuries).  The bad news is that Nebraska is tied for 12th out of 14 Big Ten teams in terms of the number of returning starters with 11.  The good news is that Michigan State is in the same boat and Wisconsin is even worse with just 9 players returning.  But the Huskers will be at a deficit in terms of experience versus the rest of the Big Ten, Miami, and Fresno State.    

That said, all experience probably isn't equal.  Take Minnesota for example.  They lose quarterback Philip Nelson and standout nose tackle Ra'Shede Hageman who both played a huge role in Minnesota's upset of Nebraska a year ago.  It's fair to say that losing Hageman means more to Minnesota than NU losing Andrew Green and Jake Long combined.

The Huskers bring back the best pass-rusher in the conference in Randy Gregory, the best running back (maybe in the country) in Ameer Abdullah, and the league's best kick returner in Kenny Bell.  Nebraska brings back a quarterback with starting experience and its entire two-deep at linebacker.  Injuries on the offensive line in 2013 mean that NU has a bit more experience returning there than you'd expect just glancing at the final depth chart.  Even a rebuilding secondary brings back a quality safety in Corey Cooper and productive reserve in Josh Mitchell.

Similar things could be said about Michigan State, which brings back a lot good players despite all of the graduations.  It's fair to say then that the number of returning starters isn't everything.  Indiana brings back 18 starters, but no one will be picking them to win the conference.     

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Comments 42 comments so far

My bold prediction for NU next season….. drum roll…...
4 losses again

Buzz ~ come on!  You have to be a kool aide drinker to participate in this blog post.  Why, predicting another 4 loss season for BOP and crew is a wild guess, for sure.  Oh, excuse me.  BOP has lost 4 games every year since 2008.  So, Buzz, your prediction is, in fact, based upon past experience and what appears to be the current HC’s ability, or lack thereof, to deliver Consistently improving results.
Grab your hat, ‘cause you will be attacked for your logical prediction.

Some call it a ‘trend’.

Dear OU ~ kool aide drinkers have no time or patience to consider “trends”.  Diehard fans (dare I indentify them by name on this blog post) remind me of politicians who try to sell a reality going forward that is opposite from what they have allowed to have happen in the past.  Politicians spend us into bankruptcy, but proclaim, by God, they are going to change their ways going forward.  Die hard NU fans swear things are going to change despite 6 years of 4-loss seasons and a trophy case full of beans for how long now?  Washington politicians and NU Die Hards - there seems to be a similarity.  Anyone who questions such fanatical devotion are unworthy of consideration, despite truth and logic. 

So, for the Die Hards, continue to ignore the “trends” and pretend all will be well this next season.  La, la la, la la.  The moon is made out of cream cheese, Die Hards.  What decade will NU ever win a conference title again?  Let’s blame the players.  That’s convenient.

I would just like to see less emphasis on ‘9 win seasons’ and more emphasis on the 4 losses per season. In a 12 game schedule you can’t have one without the other. If your goal every year is to make the 9 win mark, you are open to underachieving and not likely to ever win much hardware.

If you think that’s a harsh statement, think about this. After all the years of being talked about in every conversation about the national championship (think Osborne), why would you dabble with this experiment? It’s been a real long time since the national media have been mentioning Nebraska in that capacity. Agree?

Florida State proved that someone else actually can beat the SEC for the title. It’s like the most exciting college football has been for all of the other conferences in years.

Too exciting to be stuck in a rut.

RE: “I would just like to see less emphasis on ‘9 win seasons’ and more emphasis on the 4 losses per season. In a 12 game schedule you can’t have one without the other.”

Must be that newfangled math they teach in Okie homer.

Haa Haa,
Yes, good catch Ballfield78, I deserved that.
My bad.

Normally, 9-4 with the bowl game.

yep don’t see much changing next season with a more difficult schedule of games.  I would love to be wrong….

Saban first 6 years coaching 43-26-1 .614%
Stoops first 6 years coaching 57-13   .814%
Pelini first 6 years coaching 57-24   .703%
Thank goodness somebody did an experiment on Saban we all know how that is turning out.  So Bo is starting out somewhere between Stoops and Saban you never know, might be worth the experiment.  But I guess mudslingers would rather jump ship than to stick with someone that so far is in the same company as these two coaches.


I just scan’t compare Saban and Pelini. I see your point but Saban makes adjustments (on the field and with his staff). Pelini seems to just stick with one plan and forces the issue.

Example: For one, he is 6 years in and Pelini’s players still struggle with fundamental issues. Is that normal? It seems that only when one of his assistants gets hired away is the only time the staff gets updated.

At some point, you realize there is a fine line between loyalty and being a job placement service for friends.

Saban ~
In his only year at Toledo, he was 9-2.
At Michigan State, a program of lesser stature than NU especially at that time (1995-1999) he was less successful record wise, however,

So, are we to assume larr than NU should be considered Bo’s “Saban learning curve experience”, after which time Bo will move on to bigger and better programs, like Saban did?  Highly unlikely.  Only lesser programs would hire Bo, not better ones.  And let’s not kid ourselves, NU is not currently in the higher grouping of superior programs.  Hell, we are not even rated in the 2014 pre-season top 25 poll right now.  And, of couirse, Stoops is a much better coach than Bo.  So larr, your attempt to suggest Bo is in the same league with Saban and Stoops doesn’t pass the “smell” test, but nice try.

There is some merit to that.

I have not heard Bo Pelini’s name come up as a possible head coaching candidate with all of the many head coaching jobs looking to be filled. There may be a few reasons why.
I’m thinking his tape recording has done irrepairable damage to his reputation as part of it.

Well pollsters, how much will nick gates raise our recruiting ranking? Welcome to the family man!!! Ignore crotchy old uncle Ned and that once-removed old cousin that won’t go away, even though we split with him several years ago. Good luck with baseball!

Haaa haa. Yea baby!

Your right you can’t compare Saban whos been a head coach 12+ years with a guy that’s a head coach for 6 on adjustments.. He’s not there yet but he is still a young coach.. And Gates addition is huge ! Welcome to the family.. Gates , Foster, and Farmer is a heck of an O line class.if the cat we have in for a visit Big Freeze joins them it will be a top O line class in the country.. Add potentially Stoltenburg at that position or TE we’ve got some road graders up front. The battles won in the trenches

As of this latest roster viewing, I’m only concerned about depth at corner and de. That’s about it. I think they’ll move a safety to corner in the spring. A big time JC corner prospect would be nice, in the next couple of weeks.

Bottom line up front:  The entire team needs improvements on all 3 facets of the game…offense, defense, special teams.  There is no substitute for game time experience, but if the team can’t score or tackle, experience means nothing.  For a Nebraska team to get back into the spotlight, we have to outscore opponents by at least 21 points.  Whether that’s 56-35, or 21-0, we have to continually keep a 3 score plus lead on teams.  This enables our back-ups to get GAME EXPERIENCE.  For example, check out the QB position since Taylor Martinez has been running the offense:  No experience in the back-ups.  Games were always up in the air, and you don’t pull your best players out if the game is still close.  If the offense scores 28 points, but defense continually gives up 35 points, that’s not the experience that I’m looking to build from.  Who wants a experienced front 7 that has 4-year starters who give up 200+ rushing yards a game?  We have to get the right experience with quality wins.  That’s why beating Georgia was critically important to this current team’s future success.  It helps to lay a foundation of bowl game experience.  But lets not get too happy about it.  Winning a bowl game against a depleted SEC team is a positive, but had GA come into that game at full strength, there would’ve been a blow-out.


Yes, a depleted B1G beating a depleted SEC means nothing.
If NU had been full strength vs GA, the blow out would have gone the other way.
If NU had been full strength all season, we’d be in at least the Rose if not NC.

You haters and pessimist s always forget that we came limping into that game.. 4 year qb, all american guard, 3 other o lineman playing hurt, banged up wrs..  We were just as hurt but since Paul finnbaum said Georgia’s injury’s were worse you believed him? The mans sec through and through.. We played this season with only one position not having to use back ups because of injuries and that was Ameer on the offensr 4 year qb gone, at one point we didn’t have a single lineman playing were they started the year and the only one that was playing was Reeves at a different position.. As far as TE we lost our top two upperclassman.. And at wr Bell, Turner, Enunwa, and Westercsmp not to mention the next tier of wr all were out games or played hurt.  Again that’s a starting qb, all american tackle and four buddies and almost all of our Frisbee catching dogs with experience and we still won 9 games.. I know you guys hate that nine wins and four losses Is too much and all but it should have been much worse.. Georgia had less injuries and finished with one more loss..

I’m trying to think of the 11 starters we lost to grad, samadhi hep me har’...anybadhi…

I’m thinkin’ we’ll get to 10 wins, but maybe thats cuz I got sunshine on a cloudy day.

Taylor Martinez, Spencer Long, Andrew Rod, Jake Long, Reeves, Andrew Green, Ciante Evans, Jean Baptists, Jason Ankrah, Thad Randle, Pat Smith.. ?  For some reason I think I’m leaving out another O lineman

Sorry not Reeves .. Sirles and Enunwa

And if you count Guys that started more than one game we have a lot more returning with experience of starting at least some games.. Tommy, Reeves, Moudy, Pelini, Sterup, Ameer, Bell, Westercamp, Turner, Carter, McMullen, ( moss if he comes back) Valentine, Curry, Rose, Banderas, Gerry , Alexander, Jackson etc.. And Two seniors I forgot above Pensick and Qvale .


At least 3-5 of those guys weren’t bona fide full time starters, TN and SL didnt even play most of the year.  So, in reality, we lost around 6-7 or so actual starters.  We’re gonna be ok.  It mostly boils down to what TArmstrong can bring to the table next year.  I have confidence in him.

this is a serious question cause I can’t remember.
what were each year’s excuses for 4 losses
2008 wait for my recruits
2009 NU is back jinx
2012 taylor hurt?
2013 injuries, injuries, injuries…..

I understand 4 losses isnt what you guys want but its also not the end of the world.  Forget Callahan only 3 programs have only had those four loses or less during his time here… 3.. And Pelini is one of 4 coaches to have nine wins his first 6 seasons ..only Peterson, Osborne and stoops have done that EVER.. He’s still a young head coach, he’s figuring it out..Saban didn’t do that, nor Spurrier or miles or anyone else.. We brought in s new coach for a rebuilding stint.. The fact we are arguing about if nine wines is alright or not should show that.. I’m also tired of hearing he’s not bringin good kids and he’s a bad coach.. If he’s doing both of those how do we win 9 games and only 3 other programs have.. We have built in disadvantage s with recruits being in Neb , weather, population, etc.. But please explain how he can be both a horrible recruiter and bad coach and win the amount of games he has?  And I hope people realize that most people can at least see improvement.. I hope No retires here 30 years from now, if not just because he’s a good coach , to screw with dumb yahoos

Triumph know they didn’t play much I was showing that for sake of the injury comment above.. I think were in good shape.. That’s why I was trying to show guys with at least some experience and starts also..we have a lot… Db and o line are the scariest position s but there is a lot of young talent there


Yea, I was thinking we have more experience returning than we have leaving.

I really believed that Husker football was back after the 2009 season. I was way off on that. Every year after 2009 the Huskers lost games because they couldn’t finish and because they couldn’t do the simple things. The play calling also didn’t help. I think 2014 can be a good one if they can get the fundamentals figured out. I also think something needs to be changed in there strength and conditioning program. In know way should a team suffer so many injury’s as they did this year.

yur right 4 losses isn’t the end of the world.  huge blowout losses to me are especially on a national stage.  I am not a huge Bo fan but am realistic that a change now may be a disaster going forward and have accepted the fact he may be doing all he can.  would love to see him get better and NU tho.  I really wish that someone would have an answer for the issues (better word) for each year. I really enjoy reading all these discussions about NU football.

4 losses are acceptable if we’re competitive.  Blowouts, especially in championship games, and home losses, are not.  Losing to Minnesota is not.  Barely beating Wyoming is not.  Giving up 60 pts in the Big 10 championship is not.  Again, a 9 win season will not draw recruits, a Big 10 title, or a BCS bowl.  I think that’s unreasonable for this program.  That’s something for Iowa, Purdue, Illinois and Northwestern to shoot for.  We have way too much talent to settle for 4 losses.  It’s not hopeless, however.  Despite what some people think, 2 of our losses this year were fixable…if you can take away the turnovers.

Rob your blogs are spot on, and the best that have been on this site. What you have said is exactly were Husker football is, and you are right, there is still hope. BTW I think it was 70 pts in the BIG CHAMP. Looking forward to see how this team looks in 2014.

Big weekend for us on the recruiting front with Gates, Irons, and Wilbon commiting .. Welcome to the family boys!

Rob 10 ~ while 2 of the wins were “fixable” one win was on a hope and prayer (Northwestern victory) which involved beating the odds.  NU could easily have been 8-5, rather than 9-4.  When assessing the quality of wins and losses, we need to look at both sides of the equation.  Quality wins matter, especially against quality opponents.  NW this year could not be considered a “quality” opponent.  What really sticks in the craw of some NU fans is the nature of NU’s loss to Iowa as a regular season ending game.  The poor performance of Pelini during and after the game was completely unnecessary and it left those who support Pelini rationalizing and excusing his behavior because not to defend his actions is sacrilegious to the NU football program.

If any game this past season illustrated Pelini’s inherent weaknesses, it was the iowa game.  The lack of self-control, coupled with his “chip on my shoulder” attitude and poor play calling (yes, let’s blame Beck and not Pelini per Obama’s standards of accountability!) reveal the true nature of NU’s head coach and the limits of his abilities.  It is during times of adversity that we discover an individual’s true nature.

I’m trying to remember when the last time a Pelini team ‘put away’ another quality team. It may have been #6 Missouri 3 years ago. 4 years ago they throttled an unranked Arizona team by 33 points in a bowl game. Not too much though in 6 years.

NU some see the glass half full other see it half empty.  Some take the good with the bad others just can’t see any good. “It is during times of adversity that we discover an individual’s true nature”  Which are you?  I think most of us already know.  Auburn isn’t in the National title game without a little 109 yd field goal return (luck?), Nebraska doesn’t win the 97 national title without a kicked ball in the endzone (luck?) I would guess over a 13 game schedule most teams that have found success have had to have some luck go along with it.  If I went to work everyday and heard how bad I was, how my kids were not very talented, and if I didn’t get my job done perfect this day I would be fired, I am sure that would be a very stressful day for me, and I might lose my cool.  Had SE come to him and let him know his job was secure I doubt the team plays that bad and I doubt he loses his cool that day.  I think the players felt the pressuer as well as the coaching staff.  Maybe I see things thru rose glasses and drink kool aid (which I really do drink) but I at least do bring to attention that Bo has some good points as well as some faults which I think he is getting better at those (not perfect just better).

2010 missouri (9) 31-17
2011 mich state (9) 24-3
2012 mich (20)  23-9

I just can’t look at it as a half full glass because i see a half empty glass.
I’ll give you props for being a very patient individual, Larr.

Larr ~ your heart is in the right place.  Unfortunately, the chatter we read by NU Fans posted on blog sites is dramatically different from the upper echelon schools whose fans comment about their respective programs.  They talk about being in contention for a national championship and winning conference titles.  All the NU chatter is about whether our recruiting class will be ranked in the top 20 or 25 at the end of the day. 

Larr ~  Bo has some good points.  Yet his inadequacies seem to impact on the W-L column and whether he can achieve quality wins on a consistent basis.  After 6 years, and 6 years of 4 loss seasons, and without a conference championship, one must logically assume Bo’s negatives are impacting on program development.  Again, the Iowa game brought that reality to life—- big time!!!

If accepting reality means facing negativity, so be it.  A program or a person will never improve without facing the truth however it may be perceived.  Those who refuse to be critical do no favors for the program long term.

1/4 full, 1/2 full, 3/4 full, doesn’t matter, they complain it’s not overflowing, across the table, between the leaves, onto the floor and out the door.

Bitch, whine, sob, moan… never ends.

If I were a Husker commit and happened to find this blog, what a negative world we live in. Are we those fans that want to win at any cost? Perhaps, were’re fans that have faith in TO picking the right guy. He did ok with the Baseball and Basketball I think. Erstad has taken and few lumps, yet we see the future in the new head coach.
Miles has great experience in bringing programs out of the also rans. Pelini takes over a progam in free fall. Rights the ship first yr. Plays for CC two of three yrs in league (all players recruited for B12). New conference with different style of play. It’s one thing to play a B1G team in a Bowl game or Non conference, but to have to play against that style each week…the huskers were not designed for that, the offense did ok, but having three hundred pounders across the line every week pounding on you, It takes it’s toll. Pelini had to change the type of players he recruited to match up with the B1G massive offensive lines. This is yr four in the B1G, he has a young and talented team designed recruited for this conference. Let’s give him a year or two for honest result of improvement. With what I consider the best overall talent by position than any team in recent memory. D has some experience, expect improved play, O may have some growing pains, but the pieces are there. Give um space let them grow into what could be pretty good. Support your team and release the anger that the team you support isn’t up to your standards, therefore you slam the coaches inability across the board, making recruit fell real good about comments directed at their ability. Find a team that does it for you, makes you feel good about yourself. Maybe Bama, they seem to be the hot team. You really shouldn’t let the accomplishments of a football team influence your negative outlook on life. Best Wishes GBR since 62’

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