#24 Nebraska Football 2019 Preview

Nebraska Cornhuskers
Overall Rank: #24
#6 Big Ten
 Nebraska Logo
It was a tough start to the Scott Frost era in Lincoln as Nebraska started the 2018 season at 0-5. However, after the loss at home to Purdue on September 29th things began to gradually turn back in the favor of the Cornhuskers as the players started to buy in to the culture change and that resulted in a 4-3 finish over the final seven games of the 2018 season. Looking ahead to the 2019 season, Nebraska returns six starters on offense and five starters on defense and both specialists, which means optimism is high in Lincoln as the Cornhsukers head into year two of the Scott Frost regime.
2018 Record: 4-8, 3-6
2018 Bowl: None
Coach: Scott Frost, (4-8 at Nebraska, 23-15 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Troy Walters
Defensive Coordinator: Erik Chinander
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Adrian Martinez, QB, 629 yards
Passing: Adrian Martinez, QB, 2,617 yards
Receiving: JD Spielman, WR, 818 yards
Tackles: Mohamed Berry, ILB, 112
Sacks: Ben Stille, DE, 5.0
Interceptions: Two players tied with 2
Other Key Returnees:  QB Andrew Bunch, RB, Maurice Washington, WR Kade Warner, LT Brenden James, RT Matt Farniok, TE Jack Stoll, CB Lamar Jackson, S Deontai Williams, DE Carlos Davis, K Barret Pickering
Key Losses: RB Devine Ozigbo, WR Stanley Morgan Jr., OLB Luke Gifford, DB Antonio Reed
Adrian Martinez did a nice job as a freshman, throwing for 2,617 yards, 17 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. In addition, Martinez rushed for 629 yards and eight touchdowns enroute to earning Freshman All-American honors. Maurice Washington’s status is up in the air heading into fall camp as he still has a couple of criminal charges, including one felony out in California. This criminal case won’t be resolved by the season opener on August 31st against South Alabama. It will be interesting to see if Washington is allowed to play against the Jaguars since he was productive on the field, averaging 5.9 yards per carry in 2018. JD Spielman will be the primary go to wide receiver for Martinez in the passing game and will look to bust past the 1,000-yard barrier in 2019. The offensive line will be led by Brenden James, Matt Farniok and freshman Cam Juergens and, if they can stay healthy, will only accelerate the progress of the Nebraska offense in 2019.
Mohamed Barry was a tackling machine in 2018. He had 112 tackles and will need to post similar numbers this season and bring plenty of leadership. Oklahoma State transfer Darrion Daniels joins his brother Damion along a defensive line that will need to make strides towards bringing back the “Blackshirts” to dominance. Ben Stille and Carlos Davis are also experienced guys that return to give new defensive line coach Tony Tuioti some pieces to work with. Lamar Jackson picked off two passes at cornerback in 2018 and he is joined by Dicaprio Bootle and Deontai Williams in the secondary that will need to cause more turnovers this season. Barret Pickering and Issac Armstrong provide stability in the kicking game as both guys were strong performers in 2018.
The Bottom Line:
The first four games are going to be critical as the Cornhuskers should be able to go at a minimum of 3-1 against South Alabama, Colorado, Northern Illinois, and Illinois. Ohio State comes to Lincoln on September 28th to start off a two-game home stand that includes a visit from Northwestern. There will be plenty of hype for both games and, if Nebraska is truly going to contend in the Big Ten West Division, they need to split these two games. The rest of the schedule is very manageable as Wisconsin and Iowa both come to Lincoln in the month of November and the most hostile road game in the second half of the season is on November 2nd at Purdue against a high-flying Boilermaker offensive attack.  If Martinez can take that typical big step forward that normally happens after a freshman season as a quarterback, then the Cornhuskers will contend all year long in the Big Ten West race and win about nine games this season.
Projected Bowl: Pinstripe Bowl
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 209.0 (28th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 247.2 (52, 4)
Total Offense: 456.2 (25, 2)
Scoring Offense: 30.0 (58, 6)
Rushing Defense: 195.8 (96, 12)
Pass Defense: 237.8 (78, 9)
Total Defense: 433.5 (94, 12)
Scoring Defense: 31.3 (88, 12)
Turnover Margin: -0.17 (83, 10)
Sacks: 2.08 (67, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 2.33 (77, 11)

Madness 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#96 Wandale Robinson
#149 Ty Robinson
#153 Noa Pola-Gates
#158 Nick Henrich
#191 Luke McCaffrey