Nebraska rush offense vs. Arkansas State rush defense
The Huskers’ run game is making a major transition. Gone are the quarterback read-option runs that marked coach Mike Riley’s two seasons with quarterback Tommy Armstrong at the helm. NU quarterback Tanner Lee will hand off to a trio of backs — Tre Bryant, Mikale Wilbon and Devine Ozigbo —
and perhaps a few receivers, too. The Huskers’ offensive line is seasoned, but its last game out — vs. Tennessee in the Music City Bowl — wasn’t pretty. Just 61 yards, the lowest total in more than two full seasons. Arkansas State’s defense only gave up 3.57 yards per carry last season. ASU will try to use the quickness of its front seven against NU’s size.
Nebraska pass offense vs. Arkansas State pass defense
With risks come rewards — and busts. Arkansas State defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen, probably hasn’t met a pressure, blitz or twist he doesn’t like, so ASU will come after Husker quarterback Tanner Lee. Expect Lee — and NU’s offensive line — to be ready, and the Husker wideouts to be the beneficiaries. ASU may give up some chunk plays by taking too many chances. Watch Red Wolves defensive end Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, though. He had 13.5 sacks last season, and he’s probably hungry for more in Lincoln.
Arkansas State rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense
ASU ran for a measly 3.45 yards per carry last season and has close to a brand-new offensive line. While new players may not be a bad thing, Nebraska’s front seven — full of strong, hard-hitting guys like nose tackle Mick Stoltenberg and defensive end Carlos Davis — should get the job done. The Red Wolves like to run a little read option, but they’re more fond of quick toss plays that try to get backs to the edge of the field. Arkansas State may find itself having a tough night running the ball.
Arkansas State pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense
The Red Wolves run a spread offense that tries to get its athletes in space and stress a defense vertically and horizontally. Here, quarterback Justice Hansen — at 6-foot-4 — should help. He has the Sun Belt’s preseason all-conference tight end in Blake Mack — watch for ASU to send him up the seam of NU’s defense — and some decent outside receivers. Nebraska’s corners are as green as new tree buds. Eric Lee and Dicaprio Bootle — likely to play a lot in the Huskers’ nickel defense — have never played significant snaps in a college game. Lamar Jackson played a lot in two games last season; he took his lumps in both. Safeties Joshua Kalu and Aaron Williams are solid, though. Can NU get a pass rush? Can new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco manufacture one?
Outside of kicker Drew Brown and snapper Jordan Ober, it’s a big question mark for Nebraska. What schemes has new special teams coordinator Scott Booker cooked up? Reporters weren’t privy to them. De’Mornay Pierson-El was the nation’s most prolific punt returner as a freshman, but injuries have slowed him since. DPE looks and says he’s as healthy as he’s ever been. At kick returner, Nebraska will use redshirt freshman JD Spielman. The Red Wolves had the Sun Belt’s best coverage units — No. 1 in kickoff and No. 2 in punt coverage — and ASU blocked five kicks/punts, too.
Big advantage to Nebraska here. The Huskers haven’t lost a night game at home since 2008, and, other than a Hail Mary win for BYU in 2015, NU hasn’t lost a home opener since 1985. Both teams are young, which probably works against Arkansas State, being the road underdog. While ASU quarterback Hansen has experience, the offensive line protecting him doesn’t have a ton. The Huskers usually know how to leverage an opening-night crowd.
Key matchup: NU's offensive line vs. ASU's front seven
If Nebraska wins this matchup convincingly, the Huskers could roll by four touchdowns. Arkansas State relies on the aggression and toughness of its front seven to stuff the run and get after the quarterback. If NU’s line can protect Lee and crack open a few rushing lanes, Nebraska could get big plays off of ASU’s defense. If not? An upset may be brewing.
This season opener sits between the difficulty of BYU and the relative ease of an overmatched Fresno State team. Arkansas State has the athletes, quarterback and aggressive style to keep the score close. But ASU hasn’t beaten a Power Five conference team since Texas A&M in 2008. Other than BYU, Nebraska hasn’t lost to a non-Power Five team since Southern Mississippi in 2004. Lee handles the pressure OK, the defense flexes its muscle, but the jury will remain out on NU’s running game.
Our prediction: Nebraska 27, Arkansas State 13
Big Red Today coverage
Adrian Martinez — a consensus four-star prospect who’s a top-100 recruit according to ESPN — is now a Husker, announcing his decision Wednesday to pick Nebraska over Tennessee. He’ll enroll early at NU and try to win the starting job…
Nebraska’s walk-on event Wednesday landed commitments from Lincoln Southwest’s Collin Shefke and O’Neill’s Wyatt Liewer. Liewer received a preferred walk-on offer Oct. 8. Shefke received his offer Wednesday.
Nebraska fans travel well. There was the invasion of Notre Dame in 2000. Taking over Northwestern in 2014. Tack on another badge: the constant presence at Central Florida games in 2017.
Nebraska sent out invitations and used the hashtag #HomeGrown to bring prospects to its walk-on event on Wednesday night.
Size. Nebraska’s new coaching staff clearly wants it from the receivers and tight ends who may join the Huskers’ 2018 recruiting class.
Nebraska has landed Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West quarterback Adrian Martinez, who committed to the Huskers on Wednesday. Quick takes on Martinez’s decision and what it means for the Huskers.
New Nebraska coach Scott Frost will have some story to tell after signing day. Frost has committed to lead Central Florida in its quest to finish an undefeated season and win the Peach Bowl over Auburn. That's one thing. He's…
Barret Pickering has been busy. And that won't be changing anytime soon for Nebraska's reaffirmed incoming kicker.
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Wednesday's episode, Carriker is joined by NU volleyball coach John Cook to preview the Huskers' match against Penn State in the NCAA tournament final four.
Imagine a time when you couldn't follow a Husker football game or know its outcome until the next day's newspaper landed on your doorstep. For diehard fans in the 21st century, that would be torture. In the first quarter of…
World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Evan Bland tackle the hottest Husker headlines in the Dec. 12 episode of the "Pick Six Podcast."
Nebraska football recruiting and strength and conditioning were topics Tuesday on "The Bottom Line," when World-Herald staff writer Sam McKewon and former Husker Adam Carriker were among the guests.
Sometimes, football players need a year to grow into their frames after high school. That’s the story of one Nebraska official visitor this weekend, City College of San Francisco pass rusher Jordan Allen.
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Tuesday's episode, Carriker talks about a busy Sunday in Nebraska recruiting news and what's next on the agenda.
Iowa Western offensive lineman Noah Banks did not visit Nebraska on Tuesday as originally planned and is making other options higher priorities as the junior-college national signing day approaches.
Nebraska coach Scott Frost and his entire staff were in Orlando on Tuesday beginning preparation for No. 10 Central Florida’s Peach Bowl appearance on New Year’s Day.
Nebraska landed Tampa (Fla.) Jefferson tight end/wide receiver Justin McGriff, who committed to the Huskers. Here are three quick takes on what the decision means.
Scott Frost got the job because underneath the self-confidence lies a seeker who built, over 15 years, a base of knowledge and relationships far larger than the confines of this job.
Shortly after Joshua Moore decommitted, Scott Frost picked up his first two Husker pledges as Nebraska's coach.
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Sunday's episode, Carriker talks about the newest additions to Nebraska's coaching staff, the continuity they seem to have and what it means for the Huskers
Several D-I school have recruited players from Iowa Western for help, but the Huskers have not.
The mild-mannered, 34-year-old Ruud will return to Nebraska after 13 years away. After an eight-year NFL career and two seasons in the quality control department with UCF under Scott Frost, Ruud will be the inside linebackers coach at Nebraska.
Coaches laid out their vision of Justin McGriff as a wide receiver who could develop into a tight end if his body fills out. If not, his 6-5 frame and toughness as a pass-catcher will play just fine on the…
If it comes down to walking on at Nebraska or taking the scholarship, do you travel to Lincoln or take the money?
Nebraska lands Arizona Western College’s Jaron Woodyard, who committed to the Huskers. Quick takes on what the decision means:
New Nebraska coach Scott Frost received his first commit Sunday evening when Oxbridge Academy safety C.J. Smith, fresh off his official visit to NU, announced on Twitter he was picking the Huskers.
Mike Bellotti was looking for a new receivers coach. The man who landed the open position was a young, unrecommended FCS assistant who wanted to discuss defense for the majority of the meeting.
Not only do former Nebraska quarterbacks now in coaching carry the knowledge and expertise gained as Huskers, but they often see things in their own coaching style that replicate their mentor.
Nebraska officially announced three additions to Scott Frost's coaching staff on Friday — offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Troy Walters, tight ends coach Sean Beckton and strength and conditioning coach Zach Duval.
There are more Nebraska players the Huskers should consider targeting. Let's take a look at some that could be next in line to receive offers from Nebraska and why it wold make sense.