Well now I've gone and done it - I decided to look into the Husker season statistics. The defense, as has been noted by everyone, was (ahem) historically atrocious - yards and points allowed, most first downs allowed, fewest sacks and turnovers, you name it, it stunk. One has to wonder how the season would have gone had the defense been even average.
However, the offensive numbers were pretty darn good, so the new coaching staff will have some things to work with assuming they can keep the kids in school and out of troubles off the field. So let's review a bit.
Sam Keller is obviously gone with his 2400 yards and 14 TDs (with 10 INTs) on a 63% completion percentage, but we return new cult hero QB Joe Ganz, he of the school records for passing and total yardage and passing TDs in a game. Joe went over 1400 yards and 16 TDs on 58 percent passing and 7 picks. I'm thinking as long as the new coach has any passing game credentials, he can use the very mobile Ganz in a variety of ways, including the spread.
The running game was often ignored over the course of the season due to the defensive struggles, but junior Marlon Lucky went for over 1,000 yards on the ground with 9 TDs and averaged almost 5 yards a tote. Freshman Quentin Castille and Roy Helu both averaged over 4.5 yards a pop as well, and Castille had 4 TDs. The intriguing part is Joe Ganz went for 4.7 yards a carry and had 3 TDs running as well. I'd also note that the "missing" in action Cody Glenn also returns, as well as the redshirted Marcus Mendoza, so the stable is pretty full. I'd also note none of the players listed as FB got a single rushing attempt all season long, although they were involved in the passing game to a small degree. FB Thomas Lawson had 3 receptions, all for TDs.
In the receiving game, we lose the very talented Mo Purify, who led the team in receiving yardage with 814 on 57 receptions and had 9 scores, as well as Terrence Nunn (35 catches for 452 yards and one score) and Franz Hardy (15 for 305 and 3, along with a nifty 20 yard per catch average). However, the third and fifth leading recievers, Nate Swift (36-520-3, 14 yd average) and Todd Peterson (18-359-5, almost 20 per catch), both return, along with the leading receiving TE, Sean Hill (18-288-3 16 yd average). Lucky was also the team leader in receptions with 75 for 705 and 3 scores. Of the underclassmen, Menelick Holt had a 24 yd per catch average, and frosh Niles Paul, as well as TE Mike McNeill are likely to get into the receiving rotation next season.
Assuming the new staff can get the D straightened out to any extent, what I'd like to see is a little more balance in the offensive attack, possibly utilizing Ganz's running skills and getting the bigger backs (Glenn and Castille) to chip in a few more carries when appropriate as Lucky had just under half the total carries last year. It would also be nice to get Helu some additional experience as we did this year and to see what Mendoza can do, perhaps in the return game. Hopefully Holt can step into Purify's shoes as the big passing target (he's 6'4) and the young wideouts will get some experience and we can firm up the number 2 QB spot (Witt? Lee? Davis?)so the cupboard isn't bare for 2009. With 8 home games next year, including the first 5, I'd like to think a winning record and a bowl game aren't out of the question - 7-5 or 8-4? Anything more after this season would almost be too much to think about.