Key suspensions continue frustrating month for Nebraska
Last year, Nebraska’s low was on Halloween. The Huskers lost a devastating game to lowly Purdue in which De’Mornay Pierson-El suffered a season-ending injury and Tommy Armstrong was sidelined as well.
This year, Nebraska’s low might be August.
Already, it’s been a brutal month for the Huskers. Between the DUI and suspension of receivers coach Keith Williams, multiple late transfers and a season-ending injury to a possible starter, Nebraska hasn’t exactly built momentum heading into 2016.
On Thursday, August got even worse with the news that All-B1G safety Nate Gerry and veteran receiver Brandon Reilly were suspended for one game for a violation of team rules.
Gerry, of course, is Nebraska’s best defensive player. He’s by far the most experience player on that side of the ball as he enters his fourth year as a starter. Minus a targeting call here or there, Gerry’s name hasn’t been associated with much negativity.
Reilly, on the other hand, was arrested for a DUI back in March. It wasn’t confirmed if this was the punishment for that incident, but it appears it was.
Either way, Nebraska finds itself without two key seniors who are supposed to be leaders of this team. Like Williams, their suspensions aren’t setting the tone the Huskers or Mike Riley needs heading into Year 2.
“It’s not frustration. A little disappointment to an extent,” Nebraska defensive coordinator Mark Banker told the media. “I know he’s disappointed as well, but this too shall pass… I look forward to getting him back in the fold, because No. 1 he’s a good person, No. 2 he’s a good leader, and he plays his position well.”
So now, Nebraska has to replace its most indispensable player because of a lapse in judgment. Banker said that the trio of Aaron Williams, Kieron Williams or Antonio Reed would will Gerry’s safety spot. Nebraska’s porous pass defense struggled enough with Gerry in the lineup.
The good news is that Fresno State will start redshirt freshman Chason Virgil. The bad news is that you know who else was a freshman last year? Tanner Mangum.
I’m not saying that that Fresno State is going to come into Lincoln and stun the Huskers. If that happens, Riley should seek witness protection program options.
But the point is that players like Gerry and Reilly are supposed to be the guys who right the ship when the waters get rough. Now, Nebraska heads into its season opener with major questions surrounding its leadership.
This was supposed to be an offseason full of positivity with Nebraska being one of the popular bounce-back teams following the Foster Farms Bowl win. Instead, it turned into an August to forget.
Riley better hope it doesn’t spiral into another season to forget.