Athlon couldn’t get Ricky Gervais or Stephen Colbert, so I’m going to be hosting the Nebraska Cornhuskers 2015 Team Awards this year. It’s easily been one of the oddest seasons in well over a century’s worth of Nebraska football. We’re here today to recognize everything that made it what it was (good and bad) starting with the best of the best.
Offensive MVP: Jordan Westerkamp, WR
One WesterKatch after another, No. 1 continues to prove he’s one of the most reliable members of the Huskers’ offensive 11 every year.
Defensive MVP: Joshua Kalu, DB
A consistent pain in the backsides of offensive coordinators, Kalu finished the season second in tackles with 67 tackles (44 solo) along with five tackles for loss, a sack, two interceptions and a blocked kick. Not a bad year’s work for the sophomore cornerback/nickel back.
Best Freshman: Dedrick Young II, LB
An early enrollee, Young had the look of a starter from the get-go and sure enough, he took to the field as one when Nebraska opened its season against BYU. He finished fourth in tacking with 58 (24 solo) and five tackles for loss.
Best Play: Tommy Armstrong's TD pass to Brandon Reilly vs. Michigan State
Prepare to hear a lot about this game as it was easily the most rewarding of the season for many reasons. Millions argue about whether or not this 30-yard hook up was actually legal, but the conference itself confirmed Reilly’s catch as legit.
Best Performance by a Player: Tommy Armstrong's 91-yard TD drive to beat Michigan State
To say Armstrong had anything less than a roller-coaster year would be a lie. However, when the Spartans were ahead 38-33 on Nov. 7 with less than a minute to go, No. 4 led a four-play (three completions) drive that made him look like one of the best quarterbacks in the country.
Best Game: Come-from-behind victory over Michigan State
A Nebraska team that started out as individuals came together to knock off the Big Ten champion and current No. 3 seed in the College Football Playoff and a nearly still full Memorial Stadium danced together as a result.
Defining Moment: 23-21 loss to Wisconsin
There comes a point where a person (let alone 120+) can only take so much disappointment. Nebraska looked to have wrapped up a huge victory over the pesky Wisconsin Badgers following the second-longest scoring run by a fullback thanks to Andy Janovich.
Badger kicker Rafael Gaglianone would go on to tear the Huskers’ hearts out with a 46-yard field goal. This set up the remainder of a season that should’ve been sponsored by Aleve.
Biggest Surprise: Seven losses by a combined 31 points
See if you can wrap your noggin around this: If Nebraska would’ve scored a mere 32 points more this season, the Huskers would’ve met Michigan State for a rematch in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Biggest Disappointment: Lack of a consistent running game
Everyone knew the loss of Ameer Abdullah would sting, but few likely felt it would take the toll it did. Nebraska checks in at No. 71 in the country, gaining an average of 168 yards on the ground.
Senior That Will be Missed the Most: Andy Janovich, FB
He was quiet, he put in work and kept his head down. He let loose on special teams, blocked like a machine and gave a taste of the fullback trap. Beyond that, he was simply a humble, nice guy.
Player to Watch in 2016: Stanley Morgan, WR
One of the few receivers able to catch Tommy Armstrong’s bullets aside from Westerkamp was Morgan. His athleticism and one-handed catches should be fun to watch for years to come.
Biggest Offseason Question Mark: Who emerges as the starting QB?
With early enrollee Patrick O’Brien scheduled to be on campus in January, don’t be fooled. There will be a competition for the top spot between him and Tommy Armstrong. It likely goes until kickoff 2016.