with a new coaching staff and new offensive scheme/philosophy coming, and recruiting underway with the new staff, I thought I'd take a look at the players currently in Lincoln.
Lee received a waiver for a 6th year to make up for his lost year sitting during the transfer. He transferred to Lincoln to play in a pro style offense. If I'm Lee, I'm either going to look to transfer down somewhere else and play right away, or graduate and be a grad transfer somewhere, or hopefully go pro. Some laugh at going pro considering his int total and completion percentage, but it was his first year in a new scheme and he was playing behind a porous OL. Also consider that he apparently wows the scouts when he plays in tshirt and shorts at camps. So, I fully expect him to wow scouts in his workouts and whatnot and for some team to draft him since he has the size and the arm to succeed in the NFL and many teams look for that. Bunch is the walkon transfer from JUCO, supposedly from a sort of spread offense, but I simply don't see him being in the mix as more than an emergency option. imo SF's offense requires decision making and passing accuracy more than QB running ability (although that factor greatly expands the playbook and the success of the offense). That leaves POB and Gebbia. POB actually had some rushing yards in high school, not sure about Gebbia. I think either of them can run SF's offense to a certain degree, although they aren't the biggest threat on the ground. I think each of them is mobile enough to move the pocket and occasionally keep the ball on a read. The key will be which one of them can successfully make the correct RPO and read choices, and who can accurately throw the ball.
It seems obvious that SF is trying to bring in a QB or two asap in this recruiting class to put more options on the table. One is JUCO QB Wilson who originally committed to NU in POB's class, then flipped to Oregon, then got beat out for the starting job and transferred to JUCO. He's a 3 for 3 guy and is supposed to visit this weekend and has said he'd commit if offered. Another is prep QB Martinez who's a top ten dual threat QB and plans to enroll early. I think SF would take them both if they want N and it makes sense, then let everyone compete for their jobs in spring and summer and fall ball.
I don't think that NU has the ultra-quick scat-back type that SF would like to use on occasion in his offense, but I think that Wilbon is at least serviceable, he seems to have some moves in space and has good hands. I think Bryant could excel in this offense even without blazing speed because he seems to be just a solid RB who can pass pro, run, and catch; but I'm concerned about his knee(s) and recovery from surgery. Bradley I think can also do well in this offense, he just needs a year in the weight room. Ozigbo, imo, simply isn't a fit except for more of a change of pace RB. I could see SF using him to pound between the tackles on occasion, but I just don't see Ozigbo being used a lot in space.
It looks like the staff is working hard to bring in 1-2 RBs in this recruiting class, possibly even a JUCO. They're definitely looking to add speed to the backfield.
There are some walkons as well, who might contribute, but my guess is that similar to this year, we'll see a lot of the top 3 WRs and then maybe true frosh and JUCO transfers. All 3 returning scholarship WRs should excel in this offense, Spielman and Lindsey in particular. NU needs some depth, though.
It will be interesting to see if KJ Jr returns to Lincoln or not. hopefully Brown and Moore will stick with their commitments, but regardless I would think there would be a ton of top WRs who would love to play in SF's offense.
I'm not sure any of the current TEs on the roster are what SF is looking for in his offense. He did have a very athletic TE at UCF that they did some creative things with, so I think he'll look to bring in kids with similar talent to what he had there. Stoll seemed to be better as the year progressed, and it's possible that Allen and Rafdal could develop into the weapons SF wants to see at TE, but they're all young.
It looks like SF and staff have a number of TE offers out already, including to 1-2 JUCOs. I think he likes athletes there as well, someone who can block in line but also move around and go in motion and flex out.
As horrible as the OL played this past season, I don't think it's because of talent. Apparantly there's been some info that has come out lately that the team basically never had individual group drills, which explains the poor blocking and poor tackling. Almost this entire list were highly recruited prep OL. There's no way that NU simply struck out across the board over multiple years. So, hopefully it was simply the coaching, and that these guys will respond to better coaching and leadership. Anyway, I think there's tons of options here and I like the potential of this group with better coaching.
It sounds like younger Farniok will stay on board after the coaching change, and it looks like the staff is still looking to add another OL to two to the class, including a couple of offers to JUCO OTs, which is probably a wise move.
As for the defense, the good news is that the new DC also runs a 3-4, so maybe the transition wont be as bad. From everything I've seen and read, he also much prefers an attacking 3-4, under the premise that the best thing for the defense to do is to be disruptive, create negative plays like TFL and sacks, and to force turnovers. That means they'll give up the big play on occasion, but it's a style I prefer to watch. and hopefully from a personnel standpoint, the new staff can find some pieces that work for their system. My guess is that we'll see a few more position changes, primarily at DE and ILB/OLB as I think the new staff likes to put an emphasis on speed.
Stoltenberg played pretty decent last year, imo, often holding his own against double teams and occasionally being disruptive by himself. let's face it, none of the DL was put into position to succeed because of the scheme, with their jobs being to occupy OL blockers to keep the LBs clean. The new defense is predicated more on the DL try to be disruptive and alter plays in the backfield. I'm not sure that Thomas stays at NT in the long run, his quickness seems more suited for DE in the 3-4, but maybe they keep him there for a change of pace, or because they like his ability to shoot gaps and penetrate. Daniels has the prototypical NT size.
I'm not seeing much movement on NT/DT recruitment, although the staff is making a strong push for Bryson Williamson out of Lincoln who the previous staff told didn't have a scholarship because they were full at DL. York product Mapieu is a project but could be good. I've seen a few offers out to DEs, but not DT.
Both Davis looked good during the season, imo. I wasn't impressed with Freedom, not sure if the staff had him put on too much weight or what but he doesn't seem to be the same player he was a couple of years ago. Newell has basically been a non-factor. Neal I think has battled injuries but started to see time late in the season. I wouldn't be surprised to see some players like Stille and Miller moved back to DE this spring to bring more athleticism and speed to the position.
It looks like a few offers have gone out to DEs from the new staff, hopefully they get one of the top kids from Mizzou. It also sounds like they like Wildeman out of CO and that he'll stick with the class. Sometimes it's tough to tell if some of their offers are for DEs or OLB since often in the 3-4 one of the OLB is on the LOS and rushing the passer.
Lots of bodies here and I'm not even going to try to guess where they all fit in at ILB/OLB in the new scheme. I wouldn't be surprised to see some of them moved around compared to where they've been, and even some moved to DE. I also wouldn't be surprised to see some attrition in the offseason simply because of all the bodies.
I saw an offer out to a JUCO LB, and again, it seems like the new staff is trying to recruit a lot of speed. They're probably also concerned about OLB.
I like Williams and Reed. Williams isn't the fastest or most athletic, but he has football smarts and is a good QB in the secondary. Reed is probably the best S and easily the most physical. Hopefully Domann comes back from surgery ok as he was in line for a lot of playing time last season. Dismuke got some baptism by fire this season which hopefully will help him. and once again, hopefully some better schemes and better coaching will help all of the secondary (that also applies to the LBs from the previous section). Not sure if Anderson and Butler will be moved back to safety or not, probably depends on what recruits come in and when, since CB depth is thin
Jackson was basically a disaster this past season. I'd like to give all of the CBs a pass since it seemed like they played a shit scheme and were handcuffed all season and didn't believe in what they were doing. But, you still have to show some effort and tackling. Hopefully with solid scheme and coaching he can improve. Lee seemed ok at times but also seemed to get burned way too often. Bootle seemed the best in coverage, and he has the speed the new staff likes. Despite all of the injuries we pretty much didn't see any other DBs, the staff even moved Bootle to S the game that Kalu/Williams/Reed were all hurt. That says a lot.
We're definitely seeing some DB offers going out. The new staff knows they need to bring in some players at both S and CB. Hopefully they can find a few who can come in at semester and participate in spring ball. I know the staff offered a top JUCO CB.
Anyway, the roster is far from devoid of talent, but I don't think any of them have been coached appropriately, not even for the fundamentals or for their position groups. There's still definitely too many holes on the roster and a lack of depth in a lot of areas. The new staff has some decent players to work with early on so hopefully they can bring in a decent class to plug in the holes and everyone can get to work.