Connect with us
// (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Huskers Football

Nebraska Cornhuskers Football Preview: A look at the 2016 offense



Year two of the Mike Riley era begins and questions abound about where this team is heading. That will happen after a rare losing season in Lincoln, Neb. It will also happen when the offense sputtered so often and plenty of holes are left on the roster.

Riley went in to the offseason having seen an offense that actually worked in the Foster Farms Bowl victory and finding a way to mesh his ideas with his personnel on a better level.

Did that happen? The 2016 season will tell, but so will the ability to fill in the holes that are missing from graduation and a lack of production in 2015.

Let’s take a look at what Riley’s second Huskers offense will look like.



There is no question about Tommy Armstrong’s status as the starter at quarterback anymore. After two offseason’s of wondering if he would hold on as the starter, Armstrong’s leadership and style have finally meshed well with head coach Mike Riley.

While the system isn’t going to be what Riley ultimately wants, Armstrong unquestionably gives the Huskers the best chance to win. He proved that in the Foster Farms Bowl, showcasing a tough running style to go along with efficiency as a passer.

This offseason also showed Armstrong was finally becoming a competent and consistent passer. He also appears to be on much more of the same page with Riley and his offensive philosophy. The merging of the two as one mind on the field is important if the Huskers want to become real contenders for the B1G West division title.

Outside of Armstrong, progress was also made with a younger group of passers, but most importantly was the progress of senior Ryker Fyfe. He looks to be a clone of what Armstrong can bring to the table, and that means no need to modify the offense should anything happen to the starter.

Running Back

One of the perceived reasons Nebraska was such a good fit in the Big Ten was its tradition at running back. It was a tradition that carried through the first few years of B1G membership, but the Huskers fell on hard times last season.

Veteran Imani Cross got the first crack and just didn’t have enough to be a factor for this team, while Terrell Newby added some spark and eventually topped the rushing list with 765 yards. However, this team was led in rushing touchdowns by quarterback Tommy Armstrong, and that’s not where this team wants to be.

Newby did an admirable job in 2015, but has to show more sizzle to really get this offense going. Look for him to pair up with 225-pound Devine Ozigbo, who averaged 5.5 yards per carry in limited action last season.

Don’t sleep on redshirt sophomore Mikael Wilbon either, as he could be the future at the position. At least this trio has some intrigue, pop and muscle behind it. Look for a much improved season out of the running back position for the Huskers.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

If there’s one position group that shouldn’t be a worry for Rile and the Nebraska offense, it will be wide receiver. Not only will star senior Jordan Westerkamp be back, but so will intriguing junior De’Mornay Pierson-El who suffered two horrific injuries that saw him make just a handful of appearances for Riley’s team last season.

Having both back and healthy only adds to a group that also features the likes of seniors Brandon Riley (40 receptions, 754 yards, 4 touchdowns) and Alonzo Moore (24 receptions, 395 yards, 6 TDs). There’s also rising sophomore Stanley Morgan Jr., who played a very helpful depth role with Pierson-El out most of last season.

The depth doesn’t stop there though, as Cethan Carter became a big time weapon for the Huskers at tight end last season. He finished fourth on the team with 24 receptions for 329 yards and two touchdowns.

As long as this group isn’t ravaged by injury, look for the passing game to take a huge leap.

Offensive Line

The final part of the Huskers offseason plans for B1G West division domination are finding a healthy, deep and talented offensive line to help Armstrong feel more comfortable in the passing game and to open more holes in the run game.

It will be easier said that done, but spring ball was a good start towards making some noise on the ground at least. Mammoth right tackle David Knevel may be inexperienced, but is also talented enough to possibly be the best overall linemen in the group. That’s a helpful start, but so is finding the answer at center, which seems to have come from Dylan Utter. His switch from guard to center looked smooth in the spring and should be refined by the time the season opener against Fresno State rolls around.

Also helping to build confidence is the steady hand that is a healthy Nick Gates at left tackle. His return to 100 percent could be a game-changer and a much-needed help to a young and inexperienced group behind all the starters. Filling out the starting rotation is likely redshirt freshmen Tanner Farmer at right guard and Jerald Foster at left guard (sliding in for Utter).

Behind this group are a whole lot of fresh faces with not much in the way of game experience, meaning health will be a key to keeping things together offensively in 2016. Still, don’t be surprised to see names like Jalin Barnett and Michael Decker get reps along the way regardless of injuries or not.


Our Projected Starters:

WR: Jordan Westerkamp, Sr.
WR: Alonzo Moore, Sr.
WR: Stanley Morgan Jr., So
LT: Nick Gates, So.
LG: Jerald Foster, RS Fr.
C: Dylan Utter, Sr.
RG: Tanner Farmer, RS Fr.
RT: David Knevel, RS Fr.
TE: Cethan Carter, Sr.
QB: Tommy Armstrong, Sr.
RB: Terrell Newby, Sr.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

Continue Reading

Huskers Football

Huskers defense drives win over MSU



All the talk about Nebraska has been how Scott Frost would transform the Huskers offense. On Saturday, the defense made everyone stand up and take notice in a 9-6 win over Michigan State. 

Nebraska managed to kick three field goals in the final quarter to win a game that didn’t see either side score a single touchdown. 

“Good teams figure out how to win any kind of game, and that’s a different kind of game that I have been apart of as a coach, winning a game with no touchdowns,” said Nebraska head coach Scott Frost after the game.

“I am so happy for the seniors, so happy for the Blackshirts. Some of these games we’ve won, we’ve been winning on offense, and it was great to see the defense step up today.”

With the Huskers usually high-powered offense bottled up by Michigan State’s quality defense and really bad weather the defensive performance was badly needed.

It was also badly needed after last week’s performance in a shootout win over Illinois

Nebraska’s defense was hit for 35 points and needed to put up 54 points on offense to win. The Huskers defense came in to the game this week having never given up fewer than 34 points to any team in the Big Ten so far this season. 

The Huskers defense also stood 12th in the conference, giving up an average of 33.8 points per game through 10 games. 

Certainly this group was challenged following that performance against Illinois. 

“Every week I’ve been coaching them there’s a little more fight. Today’s the most I’ve seen,” said Frost. “That’s a hard game to win. Even harder to lose. Our guys had to keep grinding, and the defense had to keep coming up with stops.”

Nebraska’s defense didn’t disappoint, holding MSU running back Craig Haward under 90 yards and quarterback Rocky Lombardi to just 145 yards on 15 of 41 passing. 

No doubt the fact that MSU came in struggling on offense helped, but this was a huge step forward for the Huskers defense after its struggles earlier this season. 

After starting the season 0-6, the Huskers have ripped off wins in 4 of the last 5 games. 

In a season of transition, the fact that Nebraska’s defense was able to hold anyone without a touchdown is a massive step in the right direction. That fact wasn’t lost on the coaches or players following the crazy win. 

For Chinander and Frost, it’s also a sign that this team is still listening and learning as what seems like a lost season to the outside world is far from it internally. 

“I told the guys in the locker room if from a coaching standpoint, or pretty much on everything, I guess, the team could’ve started the season where it is right now, that would’ve been a funny act,” Frost said. “Some of the growing things we had to go through were necessary, and I’m crushed for the seniors we couldn’t get that done quicker.

“This team has been through so much and to be where it is right now and have the second half of the season it’s been having, it makes it really special. And I think the seniors will probably look back on this and think it was a pretty special season after all.”

Nebraska will have an interesting challenge ahead of it next week, as they will face the rival Iowa Hawkeyes after they just went off for a 63-0 victory over the Illinois team that just put up 54 points on Nebraska. 

A win in the Heroes Game would be a great way to cap off what many believed was a lost season early on. Doing so with the Huskers defense getting some of its luster back would just be icing on the cake. 

Continue Reading

Huskers Football

Keyshawn Johnson Jr. unsurprisingly transferring from Huskers

Following a summer pot citation and his dad pulling him from school, Keyshawn Johnson Jr. announces his transfer.



Did you know that Keyshawn Johnson Jr. was a member of the Nebraska Cornhuskers program? Chances are, if you blinked you missed his time on campus.

That’s what happens when you get busted for pot possession and your dad brings you home to teach you a lesson or two.

The elder Johnson made sure to make a statement when pulling his kid out of school just days in to his time there. He made it clear that there were higher (no pun intended) expectations of his son.

“One thing you will not do as my son is you will not embarrass Nebraska, you will not embarrass Mike Riley and you will not embarrass this family,” Johnson Sr. told the Omaha World-Herald. “If you mature and you’re ready to resume your football career and academic goals, then Nebraska will be ready to embrace you.”

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the former 4-star recruit with the famous name isn’t going to continue his career at Nebraska.

On Friday, the younger Johnson announced his decision to not return to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The combination of his citation for marijuana possession and the coaching change likely sealed the deal for this move.

Johnson Jr. enrolled early, coming to Lincoln in January, but suffered an illness that he couldn’t shake for parts of spring practice. He appeared in the spring game, but caught just one pass for 7 yards.

Nebraska could use the depth at wide receiver, but with a new regime in place and his father having no relationship with the new staff this move is not surprising.

Continue Reading

Huskers Football

Frost turning to Florida to bring speed to Huskers program

Frost is leaning on his Florida ties in hoping to shape his roster in his image quicker than expected.



Scott Frost has technically only been on the job for the Nebraska Cornhuskers for less than a week, but he clearly has had a gameplan in place for a while now.

That much is evident not only by how quickly he’s gotten a staff together, but by the details on the recruiting trail.

Normally it takes time to evaluate what is on a roster in front of you and figure out what is needed. That process didn’t take long (or likely took place last week as he waited to take the job formally), because Frost has attacked the recruiting trail hard in his first week on the job.

So, what is his evaluation of the Huskers program? It is in need of speed, speed and more speed.

Frost has decided that in order to get his team up to speed he needs to do so buy finding that speed right in his old back yard.

It’s a move that makes sense, as Frost has built good relationships in Florida and that is where some of the best high school talent in the country exists today.

Nebraska’s 247Sports site, Huskers Illustrated, had a really good talk on the inner workings of what Frost has done already on the recruiting trail on this week’s Notorious B1G Podcast (because who doesn’t love an all-Big Ten recruiting podcast?)

Mike Riley and Co. spent less time on Florida and more time on the West Coast, which should’ve been expected given Riley’s ties in that direction. But, the crop of pure athletes out West is nothing compared to the depth of speed and athleticism that exists in Florida.

Ironically, Frost’s first offer came from out West as the No. 8-ranked dual-threat quarterback, Adrian Martinez, was offered within hours of Frost getting the job.

That move and all the ones made since his hire show Frost has come in with a clear knowledge of his system, who fits it on the recruiting trail and who fits it currently on the roster. Having that kind of confidence and work-rate are a welcome sight in Lincoln.

But, Frost isn’t just hitting the ground running on the recruiting trail either.

He’s also been taking time to speak to the national media and spread the gospel of what he wants to build at Nebraska. Frost spoke on the Jim Rome Show on Thursday and didn’t buy the notion that recruiting to Lincoln, Neb. is a difficult task.

“There’s absolutely no reason we can’t get kids to Lincoln, Nebraska,” Frost said, via Land of 10. “Kids leave places right now and go everywhere around the country. There’s no reason kids won’t go to Lincoln if they’re going to Columbus, Ann Arbor, and Eugene, Oregon.

“And I think we’re going to create an environment, a football environment in Lincoln that people are going to want to be a part of.”

Success in turning a program around often hinges on the first recruiting class to come in. That’s not to say this class should be put at the feet of Frost and his staff entirely, but if they can put a stamp on an already nice class it could be the one that breaks a mediocre mold for the Huskers program.

No matter what, Frost and his staff aren’t afraid to be aggressive and go after the type of player they need. That alone has to be a refreshing sign of change for the Husker faithful.

Continue Reading

Huskers Football

Huskers hope Scott Frost hire brings back glory days

Native son returns home to lead program he once was the star quarterback of. Can the glory days return with the Huskers dipping in to their past?



What had become the worst-kept secret in college football’s coaching carousel became official on Saturday afternoon. Just hours after leading his UCF Knights to a crazy 62-55 double overtime win over Memphis in the American Athletic Conference championship game, Frost bolted for a gig back home.

UCF’s 247sports site announced the news, noting that Forst will not coach the team in the upcoming bowl game. However, after the AAC championship game, UCF’s AD noted that Frost and the entire coaching staff would coach through the Peach Bowl.

Nebraska athletics director Bill Moos named Frost the new Huskers head coach, ending a search many thought would start and end with Frost first.

“It is a great honor and privilege to have the opportunity to return to Nebraska and to lead the Husker football program,” Frost said in a statement released by the school. “I have been fortunate to be at a wonderful school the last two years, but Nebraska is a special place with a storied tradition and a fan base which is second to none. I am truly humbled to be hereee. The state of Nebraska and the Husker program mean a great deal to me. This is home.

“I am appreciative of the confidence Bill Moos and our University leadership have in me to lead this program. I would not have the opportunity to be in this position without a lot of great people who have helped me throughout my career. Specifically, I would like to thank Coach Osborne who has played such an integral role in my life over the past two decades, both on and off the field. Go Big Red!”

In bringing a native son and former Huskers quarterback in to the fold to lead the program, Nebraska is clearly hoping the magic of the mid 1990’s can rub off on the program once again.

Frost was integral in the Huskers success in the 90’s, where he was a star quarterback for two years after transferring home from Stanford. He led the program to a 24-2 record as the starter and became just the 10th player in major college football history to pass for 1,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards.

He had a cup of coffee in the NFL, but was moved from quarterback to safety and just couldn’t find his way in the league.

While thoughts of Frost leading the Huskers offense are likely to bring smiles back to the Husker faithful, the reality of today’s program won’t.

It’s been a rough go since the calendar turned over to the year 2000, as the Huskers haven’t won a single conference championship since 1999.

Frost faces a big challenge, as the Huskers vaunted defense has fallen on hard times and the program just got done with a 4-8 season under Mike Riley. Luckily for the Husker faithful, Frost isn’t going to be caught off-guard by the challenges of a turnaround.

He took over a UCF program that went winless the year before he came to campus and had them 6-7 and going bowling in his first season. This year his team went undefeated in the regular season, joining the Wisconsin Badgers as the only two undefeated teams in the country after the regular season finished up.

Frost also led the Knights to the AAC championship despite a ton of off-field distraction surrounding his job status and rumors about Florida, Nebraska and Oregon interest in his services.

Now the pressure will be on to get the Huskers back to championship football, and soon.

Continue Reading

talking10 Podcast

Most Popular

Copyright © 2018 This site is not affiliated with, endorsed or sponsored by the Big Ten Conference. It is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only and is no way associated with the NCAA, the Big Ten or any member institutions.