In case anyone is wondering what we’re going to get from Nebraska, here’s a quick breakdown of their projected starters, and the outlook for the season.
Nebraska had trouble putting points up against decent opposition. After the Missouri game, they only managed to score more than three TDs in a track meet against Kansas, Colorado and the blowout of Arizona. They do return 10 of 11 starters, so they may be more experienced. How well that will translate to offensive production remains to be seen. They should be able to improve on their 99th ranked offense numbers.
Zac Lee returns for his senior year, giving “senior leadership” and all that’s worth. Cody Green saw some play time last season as a sophomore, and seemed a little more comfortable running something spread-like. IIRC, Lee got benched against Baylor, and Green played well to win 20-10. The fans may be rumbling for Green to see more playing time and if Lee struggles, frequent changes may be possible.
Roy Helu returns, giving a solid rushing attack. He was the 51st ranked back in the nation last year. With one more year of experience, he should have another good year. Rex Burkhead was the #2 rusher. Burkhead was a true freshman, and had 81 carries and 360 yards for the season.
Go-to receiver Niles Paul returns for his senior year. He only caught 4 TDs last year, but the team only threw 16 (which is one more than Michigan). The rest of the receivers are juniors or sophomores, so lots of returning talent.
Except for one red-shirt freshman in the 2-deep, the offensive line is all juniors or seniors. The offensive line averages just under 300 lbs (297.5 going by listed weight), so there’s a lot of mass to go with the experience.
General Defense Right, that guy. The Blackshirts were back, with the #1 scoring defense in D-1. A lot of that is probably due to Suh making opposing offenses into “Ready-Snap-AAAAAHHH!-Throw It Away!” Highly unlikely to have that level of play, given some losses. But, still, a very good, top-twenty level defense?
Jared Crick and Pierre Allen return, but that’s it. The defensive line may be questionable, given the number of underclassmen in the 2-deep. The sophomore replacing Suh has some big shoes (and pants, and shirts) to fill. Allen’s presence at the other end should alleviate some of the load.
DB has the same issues as the DL: lots of underclassmen. Most of them played as freshmen, so they should have some experience, but still a question mark.
Prince Anukamara returns, to the dismay of broadcasters everywhere. Similar to the rest of the defense, they are young, but have played before.
Alex Henery, Nebraska’s Space Emperor is back for his senior year. #47 in punting, #35 in FG. Keep in mind this is on a team that scored 40 TDs, and only gave up 16! For comparison, Michigan scored 46 TDs last season. Niles Paul usually handles return duties. He returned a punt and kick for a TD last season.
Pellini is in his third year, so he should be getting his legs under him and his players on the field. Sound familiar?. The fans like him (anyone is still better than Callahan), but it would be great if they could, you know, score. They’ve won the Big 12 North two years in a row, and there doesn’t seem to be any reason that they won’t win a third, with possibly a Big 12 championship as well.
After kicking the crap out of Arizona in their bowl game last year, Nebraska starts off with Western Kentucky, Idaho and Washington. Not the hardest schedule, but not South Dakota State, either. Oh right, then they play South Dakota State and then have a bye-week. They get Texas, Missouri, and Colorado at home, but have to play Texas A&M and Oklahoma State on the road. No Texas Tech or Oklahoma this year, so the path to a Big 12 championship game is definitely there.
(thanks to http://cfn.scout.com/2/976525.html and http://web1.ncaa.org/football/exec/rankingSummary?year=2009&org=463 for the rosters and stats)