picked 10th, good read) read on..... (unless the title alone was enough for you :lol. I think the cu review was fair (ranking might not have been but that was not the real point of the article or post) and I think this is also a fair assessment of NU. The rankings will take care of themselves when the games are actually played. IMO It is a watershed year for NU and although I do like BC there are a lot of unanswered questions that the NU hype machine needs to answer. Funny thing is BC did not even get one quote printed by ol' Lee, I thought the Hawk quotes were very good in the 10th place article, cally just does not have that same "he's a good quote" persona I guess. Published Thursday | August 23, 2007 Big 12 Football Preview: Callahan still must mold talent into titles BY LEE BARFKNECHT WORLD-HERALD STAF WRITER Hey, Nebraska football watchers, have you gulped a little too much red Kool-Aid this month? Worried about sugar-shock from all the frosting-covered quotes coming out of the closed practices at Memorial Stadium? Then welcome to the "Big Red Reality Check" hotline. This is a chance to cleanse your palate before the first game with a straight shot or two of Nebraska football facts and figures. So let's get right to your questions: Q. Isn't Husker recruiting the greatest? We've got some 10-stars and 28-stars and 54-stars and maybe even a couple of 100-star players coming in. Isn't it great? Did I mention the current coaches are the greatest ever at recruiting? A. In four years, according to the NU media guide, coach Bill Callahan has signed 93 scholarship players. This season, 32 percent of Callahan's projected starters are Frank Solich recruits. Yes, the general talent level has improved under Callahan. Up to now, though, those "stars" haven't contributed as quickly or as regularly as in other big-time programs. Scrutiny of NU's over-hyped recruiting and over-complicated systems will dog this staff until there is a breakthrough season. Q. Husker Athletic Director Steve Pederson just got a five-year contract extension. Don't we need to lock up Callahan with a long-term deal to keep him from leaving? A. Let's check the balance sheet before cutting a big deal. Callahan is 19-15 against Division I-A opponents. He is 0-6 against teams ranked higher than 20th. He has no Bowl Championship Series bids and no conference championships. And he is coaching at a time when the Big 12 North Division is at its nadir, with the North going 15-42 against the South the past three seasons. NU also suffered its most-lopsided loss in history under Callahan and saw its NCAA-record streak of consecutive bowl seasons snapped at 35. We've never talked to anyone leading a coaching search who would be excited by those results, especially at a program of this caliber. Q. Nebraska went undefeated against teams in the Big 12 North Division last season. That's a sure sign of progress, isn't it? A. Sure. Maybe the Huskers can hold a joint celebration with Baylor, which also was undefeated against the North last season. Q. This Sam Keller fella, is he the real deal at quarterback? A. He's an intriguing mix of physical skill and cocksureness. In his first four games of 2005 at Arizona State, he threw for 16 touchdowns with two interceptions, and had a couple of 400-yard games. Also note that Keller's all-time record as a starting quarterback is 4-4 in a program that last year fired its coach and has been to one major bowl game in 20 seasons. Clearly, much has occurred since spring practice. But at the end of spring drills, three "men of football" we trust and who attended all spring scrimmages were asked independently which quarterback impressed them the most. All three said freshman Patrick Witt. Q. At what positions will Nebraska be equal to or better than last season? A. We posed this question to a handful of former players who are more interested in football than grinding axes. The consensus: Quarterback: Maybe. Keller could be Callahan's first real difference-maker at the position. But remember that Zac Taylor was the Big 12 offensive player of the year. Running back: No. Fullback is a mystery and Brandon Jackson is a major loss at I-back, especially with Marlon Lucky still unproven and Cody Glenn hobbled. Offensive line: Not necessarily. Just because this group is older doesn't mean it's better. The sack total the past two years (68) is mind-boggling. Receivers: Probably, provided Maurice Purify shows his off-the-field woes won't drag him down on the field. Defensive front: No, though there is mouth-watering young talent. Linebackers: Yes, though Stewart Bradley will be a bigger loss than many think. Secondary: Maybe, but it's no guarantee unless Zack Bowman can play a lot and at close to 100 percent. Special teams: Yes, but the only way to go is up (punt return 69th nationally; kickoff return 112th; kickoff coverage second-to-last in Big 12; no field goals longer than 40 yards). So that's two votes yes, two no, two maybe, a probably and a not necessarily. Add it up and it points to another 8-4 or 9-3 type of regular season. Nebraska at a glance • Coach: Bill Callahan, fourth year, 22-15. • Best player: Curious, isn't it, that four years into this you have to stop and think about this category. We'll go with guard Matt Slauson, a preseason All-Big 12 pick. • Best newcomer: Place-kicker Adi Kunalic. This Texas thunderfoot is a welcome addition after a season of field-goal struggles and with kickoffs now from the 30-yard line. • Good news: The development of quarterback Sam Keller. With the schedule NU has, there was a desperate need this season for veteran leadership on the offense. If Keller lives up to half the hype, he'll be a hero to Husker fans. Live up to most of it and he can move into the governor's mansion. • Bad news: There isn't a lot. Just nagging questions about how Keller will adjust, about cornerback Zack Bowman's knee, about the defensive front, about the need to show off with trick plays and about being too stubborn to simplify and execute. • Key game: Oct. 6 at Missouri. Win this one and the Huskers could be home free in the North by simply avoiding any upsets. Contact the Omaha World-Herald newsroom Copyright ©2007 Omaha World-Herald®. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, displayed or redistributed for any purpose without permission from the Omaha World-Herald.