Nobody can say it hasn’t been an eventful offseason for Husker football. Charlton Warren’s hauling in elite recruits left and right, Alex Lewis‘ ability to shove Randy Gregory around this spring and maybe, just maybe, the addition of an NFL-caliber receiver.
If a player wishes to transfer as Damore’ea Stringfellow does, standard NCAA operating procedure says they ride the pine for a year. However, considering Chris Peterson hasn’t coached down one for the Huskies in an official FBS game yet, a special exception could be made.
Look at what happened when Bill O’Brien took over at Penn State. While the circumstances behind that circus were as multilayered as gameday dip, Stringfellow’s case doesn’t appear to be black and white either. If it was, Damore’ea Watch 2014 would be going on, but things are quiet. Whatever the reason(s), he wants a fresh start.
Continuing with this hypothetical, if Nebraska/Stringfellow made such a request and the NCAA granted it, the Huskers score a massive coup. A major offensive weapon with no strings attached is added to the roster. Thank you, NCAA, you fickle mistress.
Here Tim Beck would sit with an offensive line more than capable of making room for some of the best backs in the conference, including one of the best in the country. Not only that, but the wide receiver corps gets a letter grade boost.
Yes, no matter who’s under center will still be wet behind the ears. However, if Lewis can cover their blind side (he can) and Ameer Abdullah remains solid in pass protection (he will), that signal-caller’s learning curve extends deeper into the schedule. Speaking of the Big Red’s opposition, here’s where Stringfellow’s rounding out Beck’s firepower should allow Bo Pelini to bust the Four Loss Curse.
I refer you to the 2014 Nebraska football schedule.
The FBS teams on this list featured an average pass defense of No. 58 overall including Nos. 101 (Northwestern), 119 (Fresno State) and 122 (Rutgers) in 2013.
Interestingly enough, Florida Atlantic ranked No. 2 overall.
I’ll take Nebraska’s second string receivers over whomever Rice or Florida International trotted out against the Owls. However, the two biggest games on Nebraska’s schedule (Michigan State and Wisconsin) were ranked Nos. 3 and 17, respectively.
What does Stringfellow have to do with how Husker football could fare in 2014? He has the speed of Kenny Bell and/or Brandon Reilly combined with the size of Quincy Enunwa. First, Beck must find a way to plug him into the Big Red Machine with Bell and Reilly while designing proper packages alongside Jamal Turner, Taariq Allen and Alonzo Moore.
If he can do that, his offense should leave defensive coordinators screaming into their headsets for four quarters.
How does the potential Washington transfer get Nebraska football over the hump and back to filling trophy cases? First, the Big Red has to get to Indianapolis. There’s one major obstacle standing between Nebraska and the 329 miles down I-90 East to Lucas Oil Stadium: the Wisconsin Badgers.
On the plus side, Nebraska couldn’t have drawn a trip to Madison at a better time.
Even though the two teams don’t clash until mid-November, filling the spot of do-it-all linebacker Chris Borland will be amazingly difficult unless Gary Andersen pulls a Lavonte David clone out of his back pocket.
Linebackers Brendan Kelly, Conor O’Neill and Ethan Armstrong also hit the bricks. All three did damage racking up tackles for loss. Defensive backs Sojourn Shelton and Michael Caputo are going to be a pain, no lie.
However, Stringfellow offers so much in the way of a decoy, speedster and with his end zone presence, the Badger defense should be too stretched to handle him when it counts.
Finally, there’s easily the most difficult game on Nebraska’s schedule. Another road game, the Huskers visit Sparty and his hard as titanium defense under the lights. The defending Big Ten Champions won the league in large part to keeping points off the board in 2013 and could do so again.
If Nebraska’s going to put this feather in Bo Pelini’s cap (and it would be a big one), Stringfellow’s talents could actually provide the difference. This is a slugfest waiting to happen, but he’s the type of receiver that is a near lock to help gain first downs on third and short or to be used as an end zone leaper.
All-Everything defensive back Darqueze Dennard‘s gone, but the Spartans have plenty left in the cupboard. Kurtis Drummond and Trae Waynes combined for seven interceptions last year. If incoming freshman Montae Nicholson sticks, the Huskers could easily see him at safety come October.
Without Stringfellow, I mark down this game as a definite loss (and potential blowout) thanks to the talent Michigan State has coming back.
— Jay Thomas (@swiowared) May 24, 2014
Simply put, Stringfellow offers something that the Big Red doesn’t have right now.
He’s a quick bridge towards a better future for Nebraska football. The Konami Code for Pelini, if you will. Lewis is the same way. We’re talking premiere talent here, people. The Big Red needs to wrap up guys like Lewis and Stringfellow before they get to other programs, but we’re already seeing that in the current class.
Should proper development take place, all this “four loss” talk should quickly be a thing of the past.
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