Mohamed Barry and Tyrin Ferguson

Nebraska linebackers Mohamed Barry and Tyrin Ferguson will be among the top vocal leaders on the Husker defense in 2019. 

It was a snow day in some of Nebraska yesterday, school was pretty much canceled over the eastern half of the state, work productivity was probably down, so what the heck, a few football thoughts:

» On our “Pick Six Podcast” Tuesday, we previewed Nebraska’s defense for spring camp. One of the categories was leaders. By the end of the discussion, I think Evan Bland, Chris Heady and myself agreed: NU’s in good shape on defense when it comes to guys who can lead and are role models.

Inside linebacker Mohamed Barry has earned his spurs and becomes the voice of the 2019 defense. Outside linebacker Tyrin Ferguson, who will be a senior, has to stay healthy for his senior year, but he has fire, and coaches liked that about him last season. In graduate transfer Darrion Daniels, NU inherits a captain at Oklahoma State. He can be like Tre Neal was in that way, especially when paired with the Davis twins — redshirt seniors — and Ben Stille, who has a quiet intensity.

In the secondary, Dicaprio Bootle gained respect last season. Not a loud guy, but a serious, focused one. Cam Taylor talks and practices like an alpha, and, at safety, I think JoJo Domann can be a quarterback of the defense — surely one of the savviest guys on the field — while Deontai Williams —surely one of the most athletically gifted — is a lot like Barry with a high motor and a nose for the football.

I like the leadership component on that side of the ball. In terms of talent, it’s probably in that second group of Big Ten teams, behind Ohio State, Penn State and the two Michigan schools. But it’s a quality group of guys. It’ll be worth something this spring. It needs to be worth something in the fall.

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» More on this closer to spring football’s start, but expect lots of mixing and matching on Nebraska’s offensive line in the spring. Brenden Jaimes is a good projection at left tackle. That’s about it for now.

» Not that this should surprise you, but Nebraska again went over $1 million — $1,250,674 to be exact — on football recruiting in the 2017-18 fiscal year. That’s roughly half Mike Riley, half Scott Frost. NU first spent over $1 million in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

» A full Big Ten payout for the 2017-18 season meant NU had a little more than $142 million in revenue, which was way up from the $120,205,090 in 2016-2017. Nebraska’s annual financial report lists the Big Ten Conference distribution as roughly $48 million.

» Haven’t heard a ton on the defensive line coach front, but a recruiting asset in St. Louis might be helpful. The city has become a national hotbed, especially when, according to the 247Sports composite service, 22 of the state’s top 25 prospects in the 2020 class reside in the St. Louis metro. Ten of that 22, and six of the top 10, either attend Trinity Catholic or Lutheran North High Schools. Trinity Catholic 2020 running back Mookie Cooper — think Wandale Robinson — just committed to Texas, following Trinity wideout Marcus Washington.

How competitive has it become in Missouri? The home-state Tigers signed just five of the state’s top 25 in 2019 and three of the top 25 in 2018.

A hire for stability is more important. Nebraska needs a defensive line coach who will be here awhile, teaching the same techniques year after year, recruiting the same body types, too.

Nebraska struggled to stop the run against pro-style Big Ten power football teams.

Michigan: 285 yards and 6.33 yards per carry. Wisconsin: 370/7.71. Iowa: 266/5.91.

Meanwhile, NU struggled to run the ball against all three teams:

Michigan: 39 yards/1.3 yards per carry. Wisconsin: 111/4.63. Iowa: 140/4.24.

When NU changes those most basic, primordial metrics, perhaps this season, it’ll be on the right side of those games.

» In a Feb. 12 Denver Post story, Frost and Husker Athletic Director Bill Moos hinted at more nonconference games with old Big Eight rivals. NU already has Colorado in 20192023 and 2024 and Oklahoma in 202120222029 and 2030. Moos hinted Nebraska might be willing to cancel a few of its series to make more Big Eight games a reality.

NU has home-and-home series with Cincinnati (2020 and 2025), Tennessee (2026 and 2027) and Arizona (2028 and 2031).

According to Nebraska scheduling agreements obtained by The World-Herald, cancellation of the Arizona series would cost NU $2 million. For Cincinnati, it’d be $1.5 million. For Tennessee, just $500,000, probably because the agreement was originally signed in 2006, when Steve Pederson was the A.D. UT is also the best series of the three by some margin.

Folks may already know my take: Outside of Oklahoma and perhaps Missouri, I say no thanks to the Big Eight reunion tour. NU fans live all over the place. I’ve seen them pack the Rose Bowl and Autzen Stadium with 15,000-25,000 in red. They’d do the same in Neyland Stadium.

Reporter - Nebraska athletics

Sam covers Nebraska football, recruiting, women's basketball and more for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @swmckewonOWH. Email: SMcKewon@owh.com

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