Spring football is done and dusted, and with a little distance between the spring games and spring practices it’s time for us to take a look at what those closest to the programs are thinking about their teams.
Welcome to our first post-spring football Q&A, featuring the Nebraska Cornhuskers and our good friends (and football and basketball power poll voters) at Corn Nation, a member of SB Nation.
Having a new era of Huskers football begin, there was lots to discover and lots still left to the imagination. Let’s take a look at what our friends at Cornnation.com had to say about the Huskers’ spring, shall we?
Talking10: Mike Riley is about as opposite of Bo Pelini as possible personality wise, but on the field just how different do you expect Riley to make the Huskers? Sub question…how has the transition in personality played within the fan base?
CornNation: It’s known that Riley favors a “pro style” offense, but he has also made comments about expanding his view on his offense to include some zone read/option spread plays. I think he has to do that this coming season until he finds the right quarterback to run the style offense he wants. I’m not really picky about what they do as long as it works.
Mark Banker, his defensive coordinator, will run a defense similar to what Pat Narduzzi ran at Michigan State. One change I’m looking forward to is the defense not repeatedly giving up huge gains to Wisconsin running backs. I’ve been told that this is a trait that Pelini took with him when he was fired.
T10: Tommy Armstrong seemed to have a leg-up in big play ability during the spring game. Is there any chance anyone else is the starter come the fall?
Cornnation: Doubtful. I’m a believer in experience, especially at quarterback. Armstrong’s completion percentage needs to come up (Captain Obvious statement) but everyone else by comparison is pretty raw.
A nice change in this coaching staff would be substituting quarterbacks into a game that’s out of reach. Pelini didn’t do that and in the long run it cost him.
T10: Ameer Abdullah is the name most think of when talking Huskers football over the past few years. With a new coaching staff it appears the running game has changed, but the bigger question is can this group be the focal point of the offense in 2015?
Cornnation: Abdullah made a sizable leap with his vision and patience between his junior and senior years, so there’s no reason a player like Terrell Newby (who will likely be the starter at running back) can’t do the same.
Nebraska has a pretty decent stable of running backs. Adam Taylor has yet to play a down after breaking his ankle and missing last season, and great things are expected from him. Imani Cross has plenty of experience and will be used as a basher.
The running backs need to be the focus of the offense until a starting quarterback comes along that can have a decent completion percentage. I believe the running game will carry Nebraska in 2015.
T10: Are you satisfied that the Huskers defense will have enough of a pass rush without Randy Gregory around?
Cornnation: We need someone to show up at defensive end, definitely. Maliek Collins showed signs of greatness last season, and Vincent Valentine showed promise as the season went on. There’s potential there, but isn’t there always?
T10: What was your overall impression of spring football and are you excited, nervous or worried heading in to the fall?
Cornnation: Husker football is always exciting. If you’re not excited about it… I have to wonder why you’re watching. The group of coaches that Riley hired have a tremendous amount of experience; way beyond the staff that Pelini assembled. If Pelini could get nine wins with his staff, I have to believe that Riley can do the same if not better. It might take him a year or two to get there, but if you want something to be excited about, that’s it – experience.