#38 Nebraska Football 2020 Preview

Nebraska Cornhuskers
Overall Rank: #38
#7 Big Ten
 Nebraska Logo
Nebraska heads into a critical third season under the leadership of head coach Scott Frost as he won only nine games over the course of his first two years in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers got off to a 3-1 start and, after a 48-7 loss at home to Ohio State, the rest of the season got away from Nebraska. Coach Frost probably has a longer leash since he is a native son and a former quarterback from the 90’s when the Cornhuskers were a dominant national power in college football. However, the reality is Nebraska needs to show signs of progress in the form of a winning record and a trip back to a bowl game in 2020.
2019 Record: 5-7, 3-6
2019 Bowl: None
Coach: Scott Frost (9-15 at Nebraska, 28-22 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Matt Lubick
Defensive Coordinator: Erik Chinander
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dedrick Mills, RB, 745 yards
Passing:  Adrian Martinez, QB, 1,956 yards
Receiving: JD Spielman, WR, 898 yards
Tackles: Will Honas, ILB, 73
Sacks: Ben Stille, DL, 3.0
Interceptions: Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, 3
Other Key Returnees: WR Wan’dale Robinson, TE Jack Stoll, ILB Collin Miller, OLB JoJo Domann, OL Brenden James, OL Trent Hixson, OL Cameron Juergens, OL Boe Wilson, OL Matt Farnok
Key Losses: ILB Mohamed Barry, DL Khalil Davis, DL Carlos Davis, CB Lamar Jackson, S Marquel Dismuke, RB Maurice Washington, CB DiCaprio Bootle, RB Maurice Washington
Adrian Martinez completed 59.36 percent of his passes while throwing just ten touchdown passes and nine interceptions in 2019. In addition, Martinez gained 626 yards rushing and scored seven times on the ground as well. Martinez will need to take a step forward with his accuracy throwing the football in order for the Cornhuskers offense to truly flourish in 2020. Dedrick Mills is the leading returning rusher for Nebraska as Mills rushed for 745 yards and ten touchdowns. JD Spielman, Wan’dale Robinson and Jack Stoll combined for 114 receptions and eight touchdowns last season and will need to surpass those numbers in 2020 in a big way if the Cornhuskers are going to surprise this season and win eight or nine games. Finishing drives in the red zone will be another storyline to watch with this season as Nebraska was 38 of 51 in the red zone, scoring 27 touchdowns along with 11 field goals. A good goal for the Cornhuskers in 2020 would be to increase the amount of red zone opportunities and convert around 50 of them this season.
It’s all going to boil down to stopping the run for the Nebraska defense as the Big Ten, like the SEC, is a line of scrimmage league and it is critical to dominate along the defensive front. Ben Stille had three sacks in 2019 and will have a fair amount of pressure on him to replace some of the lost production from Khalil and Carlos Davis as those two guys combined for 12 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss a year ago. Will Domas, JoJo Domann and Cam Taylor-Britt are returning playmakers that should see their numbers take a nice step forward this fall. Domas is the leading returning tackler with 73 and he was very disruptive with 9.5 tackles for loss. Taylor-Britt will be back to anchor a solid secondary as he picked off three passes and will set a strong tone for this group.
The Bottom Line:
Purdue makes the trip to Lincoln on September 5th to kick-off the 2020 season in what will be a critical swing game for the Cornhuskers. These two teams met last season in West Lafayette and had an entertaining back and forth battle with the Boilermakers picking up a 31-27 win. The rest of September will keep Nebraska at home as they will host Central Michigan, South Dakota State, and Cincinnati. It will be critical for the Cornhuskers to get out of the month of September at 3-1 or 4-0. Northwestern, Illinois, and Rutgers will be must win games in October as the schedule down the stretch starting on October 31st is going to be brutal. Nebraska will play at Ohio State, host Penn State, and then hit the road to Iowa and Wisconsin before wrapping up the schedule on Black Friday at home against Minnesota. It will be a grind all year long for the Cornhuskers, but they will grind out seven wins and get back to a bowl game.
Projected Bowl: Pinstripe Bowl
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 203.3 (30th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 212.6 (82, 9)
Total Offense: 415.8 (55, 5)
Scoring Offense: 28.0 (72, 7)
Rushing Defense: 188.1 (94, 11)
Pass Defense: 200.8 (30, 7)
Total Defense: 388.8 (64, 10)
Scoring Defense: 27.8 (66, 11)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (61, 7)
Sacks: 2.25 (57, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 2.33 (86, 9)