All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In the "Carriker Chronicles" video series, he breaks down the latest NU news, upcoming opponents, player updates and recruiting information, and he offers his insight into the X's and O's and more.
On Thursday's episode, Adam Carriker talks to former Nebraska quarterback and Heisman winner Eric Crouch about Adrian Martinez and the Huskers' play in year two under Scott Frost, running the option and more.
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Here's a transcript of today's show:
Adam Carriker: Welcome to the Carriker Chronicles, The People’s Show, where we’re checking the pulse of Husker Nation. Brought to you by Nebraska Spine Hospital. Today, I am joined by Husker Legend and Heisman Trophy winner, Eric Crouch. How you doing today, Eric?
Eric Crouch: I’m doing great, how are you doing Adam?
Adam Carriker: I’m good, thank you for joining me, and I’m just going to dive right into it. 4-3, obviously a tough loss to Minnesota, there have been some positives, ups and downs… what’s your take for year two, so far under Scott Frost?
Eric Crouch: Well I think there’s a lot of people down right now, but I think we’re going to be in a bowl game so that’s much improved from last year. There are winnable games on our schedule, and a couple tough ones with Wisconsin and Iowa, but things happen. I still think we’ll be bowling and that’s an improvement from the first year with the staff.
Adam Carriker: What have you seen so far from this offense? There’s been times, like the first half against Colorado they looked good, they put up 700 yards of offense against Illinois, and at times they’ve struggled. They’ve been dinged up, with Vedral in at quarterback, Wan’Dale, JD, Maurice Washington suspended here and there. What’s been your take on the offense so far this year?
Eric Crouch: Inconsistency is what sticks out to me this year. At times we’ve had this, at times we’ve had that… a great offense always has it, snap after snap. Consistently producing first downs, and touchdowns, and big plays. I just don’t see that right now. I don’t know what the answer is to that, but I’d love to see some continuity with the players. The quarterback position playing better, all receivers playing better. Continuity with our running backs and the scheme with our line. Bits and pieces are playing, but they all haven’t played together to really make this thing go. That’s the disappointing part, you know. Year two, not a ton of change on offense, but you would expect that there would be a little better chemistry, timing, the run game, play action, and going downfield for the big play.
Adam Carriker: I laughed when you said you didn’t have the answer, because that was going to be my next question, “What’s the biggest key to gaining that consistency?” Nobody really has the answer, because if they did, it would be fixed. How bout this? Being a quarterback yourself, what do you see from the quarterback position specifically? Adrian Martinez lit the world on fire last year as a true freshman. Big things were expected this year. It’s been a little different, and you could argue that there’s been a regression. What do you think the reason for the regression has been, and how optimistic are you that he’ll bounce back this season? I have no doubt he’ll bounce back, the question is when.
Eric Crouch: I’m optimistic. I think this break is going to help him, maybe a little competition might help him during the week of practice. Noah played pretty well. I think he’s still the number one guy, there’s no doubt in my mind. Noah is a great quarterback, he’s got a lot of great skills and I like the way he runs. I think with Martinez, it’s knowing that he’s gotta settle down and not do it all. I think somewhere in his mind, he’s gotta trust the offense around him and he’s gotta trust the line. That’s been hard at times. There have been snaps where there shouldn’t be, linebackers and defensive backs have come through the line, and as a quarterback, you start to get a little bit worried about things you shouldn’t be worried about. It throws your mind off of reading defenses, taking your proper drop, and getting the ball out on time. He’s a tremendous athlete and a great leader.
Nebraska needs him back, and they need to be healthy, playing great football and making great decisions. I think that decision making process was something that Turner Gill always told me, is to be a great quarterback, you need to make great decisions and take care of the football. There have been times where we’ve taken too many sacks and not thrown it away. We saw that even with Noah when he got in here recently, with Minnesota. So just better play and more confidence in the people around him, and I think that will help.
Adam Carriker: Do you think- because he has been a little bit hesitant this year, even to take off and run. Do you attribute that to him trying to do too much because of the preseason expectations? Do you think it’s lack of trust because of what’s gone on around him this year with the offense?
Eric Crouch: You know Adam, I think when you start running as a quarterback, you know those guys are coming to hit you. I haven’t seen Adrian be that running back that Scott said he wanted to see earlier this year. You know, Scott played that way. I think he expects his quarterback to play without fear. At times, it seems like maybe he was playing not to get hurt, versus playing to get that first down, go for that touchdown, or just make somebody miss. We know he’s got the athletic ability, he’s got the talent, the speed the strength- everything a quarterback would want, especially playing in that system. I think it’s that small hesitation because he’s reserved himself because he doesn’t want to get hurt, or just making it to the next play versus making this play work. There’s a lot of things that can be going on. I wish I had a chance to really talk to him to just get a sense for what he’s feeling and thinking. Maybe I could help him out with just setting his mind at ease. You just gotta go out and be yourself and things will happen. Things will fall into place. You just have to trust your teammates, with them trusting you, and that’s what makes it go.
Adam Carriker: Now, as a guy who successfully ran the old school Nebraska, Triple I, Power Option offense, what was your reaction when you saw them do it against Ohio State, and a couple other times this year? We know that’s not going to be Scott Frost’s offense, but what do you think about him incorporating that into the offense and what was your reaction when you saw that?
Eric Crouch: You almost get chills. Coach Osborne successfully ran that offense for many, many years. There’s just a feeling of being under center, running downhill. You can be in shotgun too, actually my senior year, we were in shotgun quite a bit. Stuff was just coming alive. But I think there’s something to it, and I was happy to see that we were getting in that old school formation with a tight end, running the option. I like the way Martinez ran that a couple times. The time he kept it, he got a burst of yards and a first down, I think ten yards. We were in the I-back formation, and it brings back some good feelings. But it’s gotta work, and you have to take time to run that, and practice it to be successful. Maybe we’ll see more, with switching in and out of the Power I offense. It would be sweet.
Adam Carriker: Just to reiterate, Scott Frost isn’t going to make that the mainstay of his offense. But I enjoy debating this with people. Would that old school, power option offense work in today’s game? I always point to that 95 Orange Bowl, where Miami had Warren Sapp, Ray Lewis, The Rock was on that defense. It was an NFL caliber defense, and we won the National Championship in Miami, on their home field against that defense, running that offense. So I say, yeah, it worked for 40 plus years, I think it would still work. Again, we know what Frost is going to run, but I’m just curious, do you think it would work in modern day football?
Eric Crouch: I do, I do. I think you just have to rep it. Option football still works. You have to rep it. You gotta have the right guys, know how to do the audibles, know how to read the defensive line at the line of scrimmage. I think it’s a very fun offense. It has a lot of excitement. Essentially, if you run the triple option, you’re going to take two guys off the defense. If you make the right read, it’s nine against eleven. It’s a numbers game. You have to have some depth, though. You’re pounding guys. Your number two quarterback has to be able to come in and run just as well as your number one guy. You have to have a stable of running backs. Big guys who are athletic, can catch pitches on the outside, and run through the middle of the defense as well. Right now, we have speed guys. Washington has a ton of speed, but I don’t see him run through the tackles as dominating as I’d like to see. Wan’Dale Robinson has shown that he can really go. He has a different gear, and I love the way he runs with the football. He has tremendous athletic ability and does some special things. He might be a guy that could do that.
Adam Carriker: So I believe your true freshman year was in 97, Scott Frost’s senior year. What was he like as a senior on that team, a team that won the National Championship? What was he like as a player and the quarterback leading that team?
Eric Crouch: I just remember that he had to earn his respect on the team when he came in. He transferred from Stanford, and left the state, and it left a sour taste in the coach’s, team’s, and fan’s mouth. He really did a tremendous job of being that great leader, and teammate. It was against the odds that he was able to do what he did. It’s a special type of person that he is, the type of coach that he is, and really the type of teammate that he is. That’s why I have 110% faith in Scott and this staff, because they’re doing things right. When you do things right, it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to boil down and let the best rise to the top.
Adam Carriker: Talk to me about Black 41 Flash Reverse Pass. You guys put that in in practice, do you think you’re actually going to run that in the game? Then you do run it against Oklahoma, the ball’s in the air, you’re open, what are you thinking throughout that process?
Eric Crouch: First, I though Coach Solich has lost his mind. It didn’t work at all during practice. As a matter of fact, it was always an interception, or a sack, or a fumble, incomplete, whatever. Okay, this play’s out. The funny thing was, earlier that week we had watched a bunch of trick plays from the history of Nebraska in that matchup, and it so happened that Oklahoma had the same play they ran earlier in the game and they weren’t able to execute. It was cool to see that we had the exact same play, threw it up back to the QB on the outside, and it worked. What a moment for Memorial Stadium and the whole fan base. Huge win, you know, you upset the number one team, and Oklahoma had been on a 20 or 21 game winning streak. It was a huge win for us.
Adam: Very cool, that’s how it seems to work. Plays don’t work in practice, then they work in the game, or plays work in practice and then they don’t work in the game. I don’t envy coaches, they have a tough job.
Eric Crouch: You have to be able to make those changes.
Adam Carriker: Yep. Well, I want to thank you for joining me, it’s always a pleasure, Eric.
Eric Crouch: You bet!
Adam Carriker: Alright, until next time, Husker Nation, Go Big Red, and always remember...
Eric Crouch: to throw the bones!
Thanks again to the Nebraska Spine Hospital. Ladies and gentlemen, when it’s your spine, you do not want to mess around. Experience matters. That’s why you can trust the experts at Nebraska Spine Hospital, the region's only spine specific hospital. They are the best at what they do.
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