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Offseason Chats: A Q&A with Corn Nation

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Jon Johnston and the Corn Nation staff stops by to talk Nebraska football.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Last season Purdue had a heartbreaking last minute home loss to Nebraska. In retrospect, it was possibly the worst loss of the season. The Cornhuskers fired their coach and Scott Frost is now in Lincoln. With a ton of changes, there is a lot ot discuss with the staff of Corn Nation:

T-Mill: The Big Ten is getting a Frosty reception this year. Obviously there is excitement with his credentials and what he did at UCF, but what are the reasonable expectations for this year?

Andy: I’m going with 7-5. 6-6 is possible, maybe even 5-7 if that Riley stuff is embedded deeper than we feared. On the opposite side, 8-4 isn’t completely unreasonable, but 9-3 or better is getting into pipe dream territory. People forget that Riley was gifted upon arrival with two of the easiest Husker schedules in memory. Frost gets one of the toughest.

Uglydog56: 6-6 to 7-5 is what I’m seeing for year 1. These players are willing and fired up, but Mike Tyson’s quote “Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face” comes into play here. What are these young men going to do then? They have a lot of negative training to overcome.

Mike: Reasonable is 6-6 after a season like last. I mean, when Minnesota hangs 54 on you, then can’t score another point in the next two games, you are so deep in a hole, you have no idea how deep it is. But as you learned last year, competent coaching can make a world of difference.

Jon: Hahaha - all of us have talked ourselves into lower expectations. Mike has it right. That Minnesota game was so depressing… it will take a while to unscrew the mentality of what the team was then. A season. Or two. It’s exciting, though. Scott Frost looks like a guy you’d join in a bar fight just because he’s going to win.

T-Mill: Nebraska won in the final moments last season at Purdue, then struggled the rest of the way. What can Purdue fans take from that in regards to this year’s team?

Andy: Hopefully, not much. You’re going to be facing a different staff, a lot of new personnel and completely different schemes. And the new staff is coming with a short track record of success as opposed to the old one and their long track record of mediocrity.

Mike: It was a Mike Riley team; it means nothing. I mean, what did Darrell Hazel’s 55-45 victory mean in 2015?

Uglydog56: Jeff Brohm is a great coach, and Purdue is on the rise. Purdue’s roster losses on defense along with all the systemic changes at Nebraska limit the usefulness of that data.

T-Mill: The Cornhuskers need a quarterback. Who wins this derby and how prepared are they?

Andy: After the spring game, Adrian Martinez would look to have the inside track with Gebbia not far behind. If Noah Vedral gets eligible, he might get a look having been in this system as Mackenzie Milton’s backup at UCF last year, but that’s a long shot. Martinez showed speed, accuracy and poise - that’s where my money is right now.

Mike: I think Tristan Gebbia starts out this season, though Adrian Martinez will play thanks to the new redshirt rule. While Martinez wowed fans in the spring game, it was a controlled scrimmage. Gebbia also looked really good, to be honest. Gebbia is going to be the better passer, but Martinez has a special talent with his feet.

Uglydog56: Last year our best running back received a season-ending injury halfway through the second game of the season, and there was a big dropoff after him in ability. However, he appears to be somewhat healthy again. Additionally, true freshman Maurice Washington managed to become academically eligible. Then there’s the new JUCO running back Greg Bell. I believe this adds enough explosiveness to the backfield that I see redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia starting to begin with. If Gebbia’s decision-making while throwing is suspect or the offensive line doesn’t round into form, then true freshman Adrian Martinez will get the nod due to his overall athleticism.

T-Mill: Last year’s defense struggled a lot. How goes the rebuild for the Blackshirts?

Andy: We’ll let you know around October 1. Who’s nervous?

Mike: The defense pretty much waived the white flag at midseason last year.

I think the mental outlook is better this season, but until we see it on the field, we’ve got to hedge our bets.

Uglydog56: Well, last year was bad. Bad. Bad. In a construction analogy, a lot of bad subgrade has to be excavated and good fill with proper compaction has to be brought in before a foundation can even be started on. Numbers and talent are thin in the defensive backfield. I’m not sure there is a true nose tackle on the roster yet. Put me down as dubious, at best.

Jon: I am counting on Frost’s offense to score 50 points a game. I really don’t want to think about the defense very much. Do I have faith? Hmm…… no. “SHOW ME” that you can tackle. “SHOW ME” you can defend a big play. I’m not even from Missouri.

T-Mill: Purdue is 1-11-1 when I see them for the first time in a Big Ten venue. This includes last year’s disaster in Piscataway. I have Nebraska and Iowa left, but my plans fell through to come to Lincoln this year. Are you guys scared?

Andy: Jon, please check the CN petty cash. I think it would be a wonderful gesture on our part to get this steaming pile of black cat crap luck this fine gentlemen to Lincoln & make sure he has quality seats with an unobstructed view.

Uglydog56: What are the stats on games you wanted to see but plans fell through? This might inform my decision on donating bus ticket money.

Jon: Hey my rotten son (rotten because he didn’t chose Nebraska) accepted at Purdue in engineering. I have a soft spot for Purdue. Maybe it’s the NASA connection as I am old enough to have seen the moon landing live. I wish Purdue all the best, but not at our expense. Scared? No.

T-Mill: How do you see this one playing out?

Andy: I spent the last years having much of my unreasonable Husker optimism stomped on like a narc at a biker rally. I’m going to try some on again for s**ts & giggles.

The Huskers follow their shocking upset of highly ranked Michigan the previous week with a comfortable 47-23 home victory over Purdue as the Huskers rush for 417 yards led by Greg Bell’s four TD’s. (Is that sunny enough? Time for a shot.)

Uglydog56: Guardedly optimistic? It’s the home game on homecoming weekend, this should work in the team’s favor. They’ll be coming off a loss at Michigan; the Nebraska-Purdue game will show the resiliency of the team after a setback, one way or the other.

Jon: Your defense lost too many guys. Our defense… do we have one? I see Nebraska winning 48-42. It will be fun. FUN.