Ladies and gentlemen of Husker Nation, the state of Nebraska football is still an unknown. The last-second loss to BYU and manhandling of South Alabama told us some things both good and bad, but we’ll learn very quickly just how good this team is moving forward.
Three cheers for Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf for helping Tommy Armstrong become the most accurate passer he’s ever been during his time at Nebraska.
From week one to two, he looks to be more comfortable in the pocket and his backup in Ryker Fyfe may even be serviceable should the worst happen. Armstrong’s run blocking shouldn’t be overlooked.
A position of confusion against BYU, it appears that the most overall talented back has emerged in Terrell Newby.
Mikale Wilbon is a capable backup, but he doesn’t have the overall pass-blocking ability that Newby has right now and this likely cost him the starting role. Imani Cross may be finding a second wind as something beyond a third-down back.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
From a receiving standpoint, we’re seeing a wide array of receivers get involved in the passing game. Position coach Keith Williams mentioned prior to the season that he was in love with Lane Hovey and the Adel, Iowa, native has shown why. He picked up five receptions for 65 yards in the Huskers’ win over the Jaguars.
Tight ends are still an overall question mark as while both they (and the wide receivers) have done an excellent job of run blocking, their threat as a receiving target is an unknown. Cethan Carter returns to the lineup this week, so perhaps more answers will come with Nebraska’s best pass-catching tight end back.
A key focus against the Jaguars was getting the running game going. While watching the Nebraska offense accumulate 258 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, it’s clear the new teachings of offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh stuck.
Pass protection was also excellent as Armstrong was never sacked and completed 21 of his 30 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
While Nebraska is struggling to get a true pass rush, if anyone has noticed a running game get to the outside against the Blackshirt run defense, please raise your hand. The Huskers have allowed only 75.5 yards rushing through two games.
BYU took advantage of the lack of Michael Rose-Ivey and despite no Dedrick Young or Josh Banderas, the backups played excellent football versus South Alabama. It looks as if Nebraska may actually have its entire starting linebacker corps back to take on Miami on Saturday. For now, this group remains a question mark.
An area that looked to be one of extreme strength has proven to be a liability largely in part due to Daniel Davie. Both BYU and South Alabama exposed his weaknesses by throwing long fade routes to his side and had success. However, corner/nickel back Josh Kalu and safety Nate Gerry have looked as stellar as predicted in the preseason.
Safety Byerson Cockrell also has fit into coordinator Mark Banker’s defense well. We’ll see if Davie can be taught proper technique, but until everything clicks his presence causes a problem against even average quarterbacks.
Special teams coordinator Bruce Read is earning his paycheck and then some. After having to find a replacement punter once Sam Foltz went down in the BYU game, Tyson Broekemeier has performed admirably. Also, following a disappointing season opener, kicker Drew Brown nailed two field goals against South Alabama, including one from 42 yards.