So far, Scott Frost's tenure hasn't been what Nebraska Cornhuskers fans originally expected. But the pieces are falling into place for the annoyingly efficient offense he commanded at Oregon to fully migrate to the Midwest. This coming season brings even more uncertainty for the Huskers' fortunes, with a daunting schedule and a bevy of question marks.
Today, we view the future with absolute optimism. Here are five predictions so bold that they'd easily give Frost his best record yet in Lincoln and set the Big Red up for success down the road if accurate.
1. A quarterback controversy brews
The foundation of this idea comes from the fact Adrian Martinez hasn't played an injury-free season since his high school days. Having missed three games during his career at Nebraska and played in many more with notable damage, it's easy to see history repeating. He'll have the best shot of avoiding punishment during his college career in his junior campaign, though.
Three years into the Frost era, the Huskers finally have an offensive line comprising players at their natural position. This familiarity should allow Martinez precious extra seconds to make his reads and operate with more confidence. Additionally, two years of learning what Frost needs from him as a runner should factor well into risk management once he leaves the pocket.
If he's sidelined, Luke McCaffrey likely gets the nod to take his place. No. 7 already shined as a running threat during his opportunities to lead the Big Red in 2019. While his passing clearly needed polish, an offseason provided him plenty of time to hone his craft. Improved performances by McCaffrey naturally raise the question of whether Frost continues to run with his guy from the start or invest time and energy in immediately looking to the future.
This only intensifies if Nebraska isn't bowl-eligible heading into its final five-game stretch. Should McCaffrey's progress and confidence eclipse the upperclassman's, it becomes a matter of which player can get them to the Huskers' first postseason since 2016. That's a streak Frost can't afford to extend any further.
2. Dedrick Mills tops 1,000 yards and 15 scores
Martinez isn't the only player who will enjoy having a comfortable offensive line. Despite the patchwork situation upfront that carried over from 2018, Mills managed 745 yards rushing and 10 scores in '19. And 282 of those came against Big Ten West foes Wisconsin and Iowa alone (Nos. 6 and 11 in rushing defense, respectively).
Former Nebraska running back Devine Ozigbo racked up 1,082 yards and 12 touchdowns in Frost's inaugural season as his offense was first being established. The 2018 slate was also arguably less treacherous than what Mills will be facing.
However, he's shown an affinity for punishing all defenders with a passionate running style. He'll no doubt be relied upon for some crucial goal-line trips, only padding his numbers. The time for Mills to carve out his legacy is now.
3. Wan'Dale Robinson easily tops JD Spielman's 2019 output
This isn't dismissing Spielman's contributions to the Huskers' passing attack. One doesn't write off the first player in program history to notch three 800-yard receiving efforts in a row. However, Robinson is part of a wide receiver room that would've offered Spielman a similar opportunity if he'd stuck around.
Matt Lubick helped transform the corps into what he and Frost were far more used to operating with at Oregon. Nebraska now boasts big-bodied pass-catchers in addition to the smaller, fleet-footed Duck skill players with Robinson leading them. The Huskers also have a running back depth chart that can operate well despite injury and doesn't demand No. 1's rushing attempts top double-digits anymore.
This sets up Robinson to have a season far more like Rondale Moore's during his freshman year at Purdue. While the Frankfort, Kentucky, native may not match Moore's 1,200-plus receiving yard mark, he'll have every chance to well surpass Spielman's 898 yards in '19.
4. Dicaprio Bootle and Cam Taylor-Britt Named second-team All-Big Ten
Defensive backs coach Travis Fisher has a secondary with the potential to outshine any other in the Huskers' division. Cornerbacks Bootle and Taylor-Britt are two major reasons why.
The former proved he can stick to receivers like glue and force opposing quarterbacks to second guess rolling the dice against him. This was underscored by breaking up 15 passes during his freshman season (tied for first in the conference).
Taylor-Britt broke out after taking over the cornerback role opposite Lamar Jackson. He'd go on to tie the current New York Jets rookie with three interceptions and bested him on the tackle chart (49 to 40). He also totaled 1.5 sacks and forced four fumbles more than double any other player's efforts in that category.
Athlon Sports currently projects Penn State's Tariq Castro-Fields and Indiana's Tiawan Mullen as preseason second-team All-Big Ten selections in Athlon Sports' preseason magazine, with Minnesota's Coney Durr and Bootle named for third-team honors.
Look for Bootle to get a promotion and his partner in crime to earn the same award.
5. Nebraska goes 3-2 in its final five games
The Huskers find themselves in unfamiliar territory — you have to flip back a few decades into your history books. Nebraska hasn't been in a similar postseason drought since the Bill Jennings era (1957-61). But the Big Red can brave the murderer's row they face later in the season out of necessity if nothing else.
No one expects Frost to claim his first victory over Ryan Day and Ohio State, especially with that tilt taking place in Columbus. Aside from that, they stand a chance to knock off both current rulers of the Big Ten West roost, Wisconsin and rival Iowa, on the road.
A potential trap game exists for Penn State in Lincoln as well. At worst, the Huskers will angle for a gut check following their experience in Columbus. Minnesota takes the Hawkeyes' place in the annual Black Friday contest with Frost & Co. ready to pay P.J. Fleck's crew back for their hospitality and 34-7 pasting last season.
Regardless of whether Nebraska is struggling for a postseason bid coming into this gauntlet or on a tear through the first half of the season, Frost's team has the fortitude to knock off the best of the Big Ten West since his arrival with proper momentum and/or resolve.