Nebraska football mailbag: An explanation for the Blackshirts’ dyed hair

Have Nebraska football questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Wednesday for the  Land of 10 Nebraska mailbag to talk all things Huskers. This week, we’ll discuss why the Blackshirts dyed their hair blonde, what’s happening with the air quality in Oregon, and more.

Yes, I can. Freshman defensive tackle Deontre Thomas said after practice on Tuesday that it’s the Blackshirts way of showing group unity. The group made the decision to dye their hair last week, and the rest is history.

Each player put his own unique spin on it too. Khalil Davis has only the lower back portion of his hair dyed, while DaiShon Neal has a small circle on the front right of his hairline.

As for Joshua Kalu’s choice to dye his beard in addition to his hair? Believe it or not, that was a decision Kalu made before the team decided to dye their hair.

“Kalu is his own trendsetter,” Neal said.

In case anyone missed it, Oregon is currently dealing with very serious and dangerous wildfires. One side effect is poor and hazardous air quality, which could affect college football games in the Pacific Northwest. That includes Nebraska’s matchup with Oregon.

First and foremost, my thoughts are with those in that area. Wildfires are very scary and I’m crossing my fingers for rain and for everyone to remain safe.

With that said, they are expecting rain and wind in the area over the next couple of days. If it happens, that will help move everything out and the air quality should improve by Saturday.

If not, worst case scenario would be moving the 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff or delaying the game entirely. I don’t see that happening unless absolutely necessary, but I could see a time change. I’ll hold off on making any further predictions though, because I’m just hopeful the rain and winds help. The biggest thing is the safety of those that live there.

I’m glad you asked. The gold footballs were discovered last spring, when defensive coordinator Bob Diaco had one sitting on a table at practice alongside a bat (or maybe it was a hatchet or cricket stick?). They were only visible at one practice. Once discovered, they seamlessly disappeared from view.

They’ve surfaced here and there. One golden football was visible after the spring game. Coach Mike Riley briefly spoke about it last spring, and the general understanding is they are an award for the defense. I’m assuming you can earn one with your performance on the field.

I did hear once that the equipment staff painted all of the gold footballs by hand. After the first round, Diaco didn’t think they were gold enough. They got a second coat of paint.

I’m guessing he’s not. The coaches have made it clear that the quarterback’s role is very similar to that of Patrick O’Brien’s last year. If that’s the case, Tristan Gebbia is redshirting but is otherwise a regular member of Nebraska’s travel roster. I’d assume Andrew Bunch is your guy helping out the scout team. Gebbia might step in if they need a different look, but I don’t imagine that’s often. If that changes or I hear otherwise, I’ll let you know.

As for former Huskers, I haven’t seen any new faces but that doesn’t mean they’re not around. This is something I’ll keep an eye on because while we can’t watch practice, I can still see who walks out the doors afterward. Stay tuned.

Maybe. It’s no secret that Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf are pro-style offensive guys. They have a quarterback that can throw (and do so nicely), so I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes more 60-40 pass vs. run.

If you want to geek out over the whole pass vs. run discussion though, I really liked CornNation’s breakdown from the Arkansas State game. It’s a lot of information to take in, but very interesting.

I can’t get past the idea of Twitter being the primary source of clock management for a game. That would be the ultimate hot mess.

I could go way in depth on this answer, so I’m going to keep it simple. I’ll give you one on offense and one on defense.

My key to beating Oregon on offense is to not abandon the running game. But the run game should also not be overcomplicated. Give the ball to Tre Bryant. He proved he deserves the starting spot after his performance against Arkansas State. Nebraska needs to control the game against Oregon, and a healthy balance between running the ball and passing it will benefit all.

As for the defense, it just needs to be a tighter game plan. Nebraska wanted to prevent the explosive plays against Arkansas State, which was great. However, there also needs to be some pressure on the Ducks’ quarterback. Finding that balance will be key. Week 1 could have been a trial-run for the Blackshirts, but that has to be put to rest. Things just need to be much more balanced and tighter on defense in Week 2.

Funny you mention this, because I remember talking with former Huskers player Maliek Collins about this very topic. He never threw the bones with the Huskers. He kept waiting for that right moment and it never came. He felt like it was a time-honored tradition and that he needed something solid to warrant it.

Without having talked with the current players about it, I’m assuming it’s a similar answer. They respect it so much that they use it sparingly. If the defense has a stellar performance against Oregon, I’d assume you’d see it more.

I had to laugh when my brain immediately thought you were talking about a football defensive scheme. That’s where I am in the week right now, but I welcome the break for volleyball.

Anyway, I have a quick story before I answer your question. I played volleyball for a short time in my life. I never got any taller than 5-foot-4 but I love the sport. I even attended John Cook’s Nebraska volleyball camps in middle school. It was there that he informed me that maybe volleyball wasn’t the right sport for me. Have to respect the honesty.

But back to your question, I kept trying to think of a nice way to condense the answer but USA Today’s high school site had a good one. Without overcomplicating it, here’s how they broke it down:

“The two most common offensive systems in volleyball are the 5-1 system, which uses five hitters and one setter for all six rotations, and the 6-2 system, which uses a total of six hitters and two different setters, depending on where they are in the rotation.”

I typically played in a 5-1 system when I played, which has one setter. I’m not as familiar with the 6-2 system personally, and I know Nebraska runs the 5-1.

It’s a better system if you’re comfortable with your setter, but it does mean you have a setter in one of the spots a blocker could be in for three of your rotations. You just have to weigh the pros and cons for your team and select the system that makes the most sense.

I don’t get fired up by a lot of things. It’s actually pretty difficult to upset me. I think the one very minuscule thing for me would be when animals get hurt in movies. I know they’re not really hurt, but it bothers me regardless.

I was watching Wonder Woman the other day and I got upset by the horses getting hurt in the battle scene on the beach. Again, I know the horses are fine. But here I am, still fired up by it two days later.

Have a question about Nebraska football? Tweet us  @Landof10Huskers and we’ll try to answer your question in a future mailbag. Check to see if your question already was answered by reading previous Nebraska football mailbags  here.

The post Nebraska football mailbag: An explanation for the Blackshirts’ dyed hair appeared first on Land of 10.

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