Sunday, August 26, 2007
Is Sam the man?
The story is that Carpenter threatened to transfer if he wasn't the starter. There is certainly more to the story. Koetter obviously wasn't sure about the decision to name Keller the starter, and there were questions from some players about Keller's dedication to football at ASU. Even so, to me unless Carpenter is a whole lot better than Keller, you start the senior, tell the sophomore he's the back up - and thus just one play from being the starter - and would be the top candidate to start as a junior and senior.
But Koetter waffled and named Carpenter the starter. Carpenter struggled, the Sun Devils folded, and Koetter was out of a job. We'll never know if things had been different at ASU if Keller had bene the starter. Sure would be interesting if we could go back and find out.
The Huskers certainly are happy to have him. We have yet to see him in a real game, but Callahan has needed an NFL-type quarterback to run his offense. Now he has him. Zac Taylor was good college player, and you had to love his competitiveness, but he's not an NFL player. Keller is that kind of player. We'll see what he has Saturday against Nevada.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Huskers looking strong
Nebraska struggled in a win over San Diego to open its 2006 run to a national title. This year, the Huskers are rolling against Tennessee. Christina Houghtelling looks healthy, Sarah Pavan does indeed look better (if that's possible) as does Jordan Larson.
The younger middles - Amanda Gates and Kori Cooper - look much more comfortable and affective out there, and Rachel Holloway is in total control from here setter's position. All this guarantees is that the Huskers are going to win a lot of matches this year. They will have to be better, because other teams are better. At the top of that list is Stanford with six starters back and the top ranked recruiting class coming in.
No. 3 Penn State got the season off to a good start with a 3-1 victory over Texas. The Nittany Lions will find out a little bit more about themselves when they play Nebraska Sept. 2 at the Qwest Center.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Cook announces lineup
Cook has confidence in both those setters, but at this point he's still waiting for 6-5 freshman Lindsey Licht to develop at rightside hitter. If Licht gets to where Cook needs her to be, don't be surprised if the Huskers use the 6-2 later in the season. Cook loves that offense when he has the players to run it.
Senior Sarah Pavan also returned to practice on Tuesday after sitting out the Red-White scrimmage on Saturday and much of Monday's practices with a slight groin injury. Pavan is apparently fine and was anxious to get back on the court.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
It seems Cook really wants to use a 6-2 offense with both Maggie Griffin and Rachel Holloway playing at setter, but Sarah Pavan's groin injury throws a big monkey wrench into those plans. The Huskers have just two right side players - Pavan and freshman Lindsey Licht. That means if Pavan can't plan, the Huskers can't use the 6-2. Things may change, but at this point we have to assume the Huskers will open in the 5-1 with Holloway at setter, Licht playing right side up front with freshman Kayla Banwarth subbing in for her in the back row. Christina Houghtelling and Jordan Larson will play at outside hitter and senior Tracy Stalls at one middle position.
There's been no indication as to who the other starter will be at middle blocker with Amanda Gates and Kori Cooper as the top candidates. Freshman Brooke Delano also could see some time.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Good news for Cook
Houghtelling had nine kills against a tough Red team defense, but more impressive was her match-high 16 digs. Cook said her floor defense is much better than when she last played in 2005. That will just make the Huskers that much better when they start the season Friday against Tennessee at the Qwest Center in Omaha.
As of Saturday night, Cook still hadn't decided whether the Huskers will go with a 5-1 or a 6-2 offense. The guess here, and it's only a guess, is he'll pick the 6-2. The Huskers are loaded with players who can contribute, and a 6-2 will give Cook the chance to mix and match and get the most out of those players. We may know by Monday.
Going to the 6-2 would allow both setters Rachel Holloway and Maggie Griffin to get on the floor. It would also give the Huskers three strong hitters in the front row at all times. Cook does love the 6-2 when he has the players to run it. The Huskers used it in 2005, and their offensive stats were much stronger that year than last year when they won the national championship.
We know this much: Houghtelling showed she is back and will be on the floor. Pavan will be there as soon as she is healthy, and so will Jordan Larson. Freshman Tara Mueller is a versatile player who gives Cook a lot of options. Freshman libero Kayla Banwarth has sparkled at times as well. One key will be 6-5 freshman Lindsey Licht. If Licht is ready to contribute right away, she can play opposite of Pavan at rightside hitter and the Huskers would have two 6-5 lefties on the floor much of the time. That would indeed be a unique situation.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Return of the Pipeline?
Now the Huskers are building up the depth on the offensive line. Freshmen are going to come in and redshirt like in the old days. The upper classmen are good enough that the freshmen don't have to play. That's a good thing. It takes time for everyone to learn Callahan's offense, but offensive line is particularly difficult.
Make no mistake about it. Those championship teams back in the '90s were built around the offensive line. There were great players in the backfield (Tommie Frazier, Lawrence Phillips, Ahman Green) and on defense (Mike Minter, Jason and Christian Peter, Jared Tomich to name a few) but the the offensive line were a bunch of big, strong, tough bruisers who made the difference in the fourth quarter of games.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
NU tickets went on sale last week. All 14 home matches at the NU Coliseum were sold out in 45 minutes. That's the fastest ever for the 4,030 seat Coliseum and shows just how much Husker fans like volleyball. Or maybe it shows how much they like a winner. If the Huskers weren't defending national champions and weren't a favorite to repeat this year, the tickets might not have gone quite so fast.
The sellouts guarantee that Nebraska's streak of 90 straight home sellouts at the Coliseum will reach at least 104. NU will also play three times a the Qwest Center early in the season and face Hawaii at the Devaney Center in October.
There's no guarantee that Nebraska's streak of 48 straight wins at the Coliseum will continue, but with the match against Penn State scheduled for the Qwest Center and Hawaii at Devaney, you have to like the chances. The big hurdle will be a Sept. 12 match against Texas to open the Big 12 season.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Cook's team is absolutely loaded going into the 2007 season. 2007 player of the year Sarah Pavan returns as does 2006 player of the year Christina Houghtelling. Jordan Larson is probably the team's best all-around player and setter Rachel Holloway is a star in the making. And don't forget Tracy Stalls, one of the best leaders Cook has ever had.
But all that doesn't guarantee anything. We'll have to wait to see if this team has the same chemistry that last year's team demonstrated in a regional final comeback win over a tough Minnesota team.