#48 Nebraska 2018 Football Preview

Nebraska Cornhuskers
Overall Rank: #48
#8 Big Ten
 Nebraska Logo
Nebraska welcomed home a native son in new head coach Scott Frost as the Cornhuskers are looking to get their identity back as a football program. The Nebraska formula for success entails the ability to run the football, dominate the line of scrimmage defensively and create big plays. Coach Frost got that done at Central Florida where he won 19 games in two years, including a 13-0 Peach Bowl season in 2017 with a win over Auburn. Now it will be up to Frost to bring his fast-paced offense to Lincoln and find a way to get the Cornhuskers back to bowl eligibility. That would be a good first step in year one.
2017 Record: 4-8, 3-6
2017 Bowl: None
Coach: Scott Frost (0-0 at Nebraska, 19-7 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Troy Walters
Defensive Coordinator: Erik Chinander
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Devine Ozigbo, RB, 493 yards
Passing: None
Receiving: Stanley Morgan, WR, 983 yards
Tackles: Dedrick Young II, ILB, 80
Sacks: Ben Stille, DE, 3.5
Interceptions: Aaron Williams, S, 2
Other Key Returnees: LT Brenden Jaimes, LG Jerald Foster, RG Tanner Farmer, C Cole Conrad, DE Carlos Davis, NT Nick Stoltenberg, DE Freedom Akinmoladun, OLB Luke Gifford, CB Lamar Jackson
Key Losses: QB Tanner Lee, K Drew Brown, OL Nick Gates, TE Tyler Hoppes, S Joshua Kalu, CB Chris Jones, WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, FB Luke McNitt
Redshirt Freshman Tristan Gebbia should end up with the quarterback job to start the 2018 season. Gebbia will be pushed in fall camp by incoming freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez, who appears to be a great fit to run this fast-paced offense for Nebraska. It will be interesting to see how aggressive offensive coordinator Troy Walters will be with his play calling in the first part of the season considering the lack of experience at quarterback. Stanley Morgan Jr. and J.D. Spielman will provide a couple of quality pass catching threats for Gebbia, which should help right out of the gate. Morgan just missed a 1,000-yard season last year with 986 receiving yards. If Morgan and Spielman can make big explosive plays it should open things up in the running game right away. The offensive line will also be key for the Cornhuskers as they have experience, but the question is how quickly this unit can adapt to new blocking schemes.
This part of the Nebraska team is going to take some time to rebuild as last season was a struggle to slow anyone down consistently for four quarters. Mick Stoltenberg is back at nose tackle to anchor a starting defensive line that returns intact. Stoltenberg will be relied upon heavily to occupy multiple blockers to free up guys to make plays. Dedrick Young II had a solid 2017 season with 80 tackles and should be in position to bump that number up well over 100 if the defensive line can improve and hold its own along the line of scrimmage. It will also be interesting to see if the increased aggressiveness by the secondary will result in more turnovers to flip field position for the offense in 2018. The turnover battle was a killer for the Cornhuskers last season.
The Bottom Line:
The non-conference schedule is sneaky tough with Akron, Colorado, and Troy all coming to Lincoln. It will be important for Nebraska to find a way to win all three of those games as the schedule will get a lot more difficult starting September 22nd at Michigan. The trip to Ann Arbor will be the start of a four-game stretch that will have three road games and a tough home game with Purdue. A good goal after seven games for the Cornhuskers will be 4-3 or 5-2. The back part of the schedule is equally difficult as Nebraska will travel to Ohio State and Iowa while hosting Michigan State. In the end, it will be a difficult first season due to the schedule for Coach Frost but at the same time it will bring hope as the Cornhuskers will be more competitive and grind out six wins in 2018.
Projected Bowl: Pinstripe Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 107.5 (120th in nation, 13th in Conference)
Passing Offense: 277.5 (27, 2)
Total Offense: 385.0 (87, 7)
Scoring Offense: 25.8 (84, 8)
Rushing Defense: 214.8 (115, 13)
Pass Defense: 221.4 (60, 4)
Total Defense: 436.2 (101, 14)
Scoring Defense: 36.4 (116, 13)
Turnover Margin: -0.58 (106, 12)
Sacks: 1.17 (118, 14)
Sacks Allowed: 2.00 (60, 7)
Madness 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#108 Adrian Martinez
#154 Maurice Washington
#213 Cameron Jurgens