LINCOLN — Former Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier didn't initially pay too much attention to the Huskers' progress in the EA Sports “NCAA Football” and ESPN “Ultimate Team” online competition that pitted many of college football's top fan bases against each other.
But NU's semifinal matchup against Miami caught his attention. So did the title tilt against Florida State. Frazier knew those teams well, beating Miami in the 1995 Orange Bowl for coach Tom Osborne's first national title, and losing to FSU in the 1993 and 1994 Orange Bowls.
By a narrow margin of 122,200-121,100 fan votes, Husker fans anointed Nebraska's Ultimate Team — 11 Huskers from the last 30 years, including Frazier — the winner. Frazier wasn't surprised that NU fans recognized some of the best players from the Huskers' best teams.
“Fans appreciate what we did in the 1980s and 1990s,” Frazier said. The Ultimate Team included recent Huskers Rex Burkhead and Ndamukong Suh. “They want to keep those years alive because they haven't seen anything like it in awhile.”
As a result of NU's victory in the contest, EA Sports is offering a short-term free download of Frazier's Ultimate Team card for use on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 “NCAA Football 14” games. Players typically buy packs of the 1,400 players who are part of the Ultimate Team competition, but Frazier is free from Aug. 16 to 22 for any gamer who logs in online.
Frazier said he was honored to be a part of the Ultimate Team series. He was asked which running back in the series — aside from featured Huskers Burkhead, Ahman Green and Joel Makovicka — that he'd like as his pitch back on an option play.
“Bo Jackson or Barry Sanders,” Frazier said.
Frazier will join those two as members in the College Football Hall of Fame this December. He's among the 12 players who were selected for induction in May. Frazier said the reality of the induction still hasn't sunk in. He doesn't expect it will until the ceremony. He's invited family, some ex-Husker teammates and Osborne.
“I'm pretty sure the emotions will come out,” he said.
Frazier said he expected to attend nearly all of Nebraska's home games this year, except for one or two when he'll be out of town. He declined to give a win-loss prediction — “I thought they'd only have one or two losses last year, and they had four” — but he said the Huskers can accomplish all of their goals if the offense plays to its potential and the defense rounds into shape. Yes, he said, NU can beat heavily favored Ohio State.
“They're a good team, but they're not the barn burners people think they are,” Frazier said. “They could have lost three or four games last year.”
Nebraska's offense, Frazier said, can improve in small ways at every position, including running back, where Ameer Abdullah, Frazier said, will bring a “different running style” to the position from Burkhead. Frazier is also a big fan of the NU wide receivers, which he called the Huskers' biggest strength.
“Of course I like Kenny Bell, but my sleeper is Jamal Turner,” Frazier said. “He's a guy I'd get the ball to 10 to 15 times per game.”
Quarterback Taylor Martinez can improve his decision-making as a senior, Frazier said.
“It always comes back to what kinds of decisions you make,” Frazier said. “When Taylor turned the ball over last year, it was usually because of poor decisions.”
A senior season, Frazier said, has a way of improving decision-making. By his senior year in 1995, Frazier said, he felt like he had complete comfort in the offense. With Martinez entering his third season in offensive coordinator Tim Beck's system, Frazier expects the same maturation.
“His decision-making should be pretty on point,” Frazier said.
Defensively, Nebraska needs to get better play from its defensive line and linebackers, Frazier said.