#29 Nebraska Football 2015 Preview

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Overall Rank: #29
#4 Big Ten

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Nebraska beat who they should have beaten last year. Their only losses came against ranked opponents Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota and USC in the Holiday Bowl. That is not good enough for Nebraska and it resulted in the firing of Coach Bo Pelini. Mike Riley will not have any time to settle into his new position. This is a program that has won nine games seven seasons in a row and that is the benchmark. Anything less than that and the Nebraska faithful will start missing Frank Solich even more.

2014 Record: 9-4, 5-3
2014 Bowl: Holiday Bowl vs. USC (L 42-45)
Coach: Mike Riley (0-0 at Nebraska, 93-80 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Danny Langsdorf
Defensive Coordinator: Mark Banker

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Tommy Armstrong, QB, 705 yards
Passing: Tommy Armstrong, QB, 2,695 yards
Receiving: Jordan Westercamp, WR, 747 yards
Tackles: Nate Gerry, S, 88
Sacks: Maliek Collins, DT, 4.5
Interceptions: Nate Gerry, S, 5

Other Key Returnees: RB Terrell Newby, RB Imani Cross, WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, LB David Santos, DE Greg McMullen, K Drew Brown

Key Losses: RB Ameer Abdullah, WR Kenny Bell, OL Jake Cotton, LB Zaire Anderson, LB Trevor Roach, DE Randy Gregory, S Corey Cooper

The team will switch to more of a pro-style system where Coach Riley wants quarterback Tommy Armstrong to stay in the pocket, make quick reads and quick passes. Coach Riley’s offenses at Oregon State were quite prolific at quarterback. In 2013, Sean Mannion threw for 4,662 yards and 37 touchdowns under Coach Riley’s tutelage. Armstrong, who threw for 2,695 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for 705 with six more scores, should boost his numbers quite a bit. At wide receiver, Jordan Westerkamp and De’Mornay Pierson-El will lead the way. Those two should fit nicely in the new system, although other pass catchers need to be found. Replacing Ameer Abdullah and his 1,611 yards and 19 touchdowns sounds like a daunting task. However, Imani Cross and Terrell Newby have plenty of experience and this scheme does not need a back like Abdullah to carry the work load. But Cross and Newby are good rushers and Newby’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield will be a huge asset.

Ever since the Cornhuskers entered the Big Ten, their defense has been a little disappointing. Last year was no different as Nebraska ranked eighth in the conference in total defense and ninth in scoring defense. The front four is pretty experienced, led by tackles Malike Collins and Vincent Valentine. Greg McMullen is the only proven end on the roster and there is not much depth behind him. Depth is also a concern at linebacker where senior David Santos looks to lead the way along with juniors Josh Banderas and Michael Rose-Ivey. The secondary has a star in safety Nate Gerry, who totaled 88 tackles and five interceptions. Cornerback Daniel Davie and safety Byerson Cockrell have starting experience, but once again it is inexperienced depth that could haunt this unit.

The Bottom Line:
Nebraska should be able to compete for a Big Ten West title along with Wisconsin and Minnesota. They host Wisconsin on October 10th and travel to Minnesota the following week. Those two early Big Ten contests will have a huge impact on Nebraska’s title hopes. The Cornhuskers will have to get their offense running smoothly in a hurry or they could find themselves out of the title hunt by the middle of October.

Projected Bowl: Outback Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 240.2 (17th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 212.1 (80, 9)
Total Offense: 452.3 (31, 4)
Scoring Offense: 37.8 (12, 3)
Rushing Defense: 177.8 (78, 9)
Pass Defense: 205.8 (32, 7)
Total Defense: 383.7 (52, 8)
Scoring Defense: 26.4 (59, 9)
Turnover Margin: -0.15 (73, 6)
Sacks: 2.23 (55, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 1.69 (37, 5)

Madness 2016 NFL Draft Rankings:
#71 Maliek Collins

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#136 Eric Lee


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