Nebraska rush offense vs. Fresno State rush defense
When you last watched, the Huskers were putting a 326-yard hurt on UCLA. That capped an inconsistent season — four games under 140 yards, three over 240 — and now NU has three first-time starters on its offensive line and two others changing positions. Fresno State couldn’t stop the run a year ago, giving up 234.7 yards a game and ranking No. 116 in rushing defense. Ball control would be one way for NU to keep the Bulldog offense off the field.
Nebraska pass offense vs. Fresno State pass defense
Few reasons for the Huskers to struggle here, with Tommy Armstrong making his 34th career start, surrounded by a loaded receiving corps and entering his second season in the Mike Riley-Danny Langsdorf offense. The X-factor is interceptions, of course, and Fresno State does have some experience in its secondary. A steady run game could set the table for an easier time of it, too.
Fresno State rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense
The Bulldogs get back junior Dontel James, who spent last season at a California junior college. The 220-pound running back required minor knee surgery three weeks ago but appears ready to go. Fresno State didn’t run the ball very effectively a year ago, and Nebraska ranked No. 9 nationally in rushing defense (109.8 yards per game). The Huskers lost some horses up front, but planning on better linebacker play.
Fresno State pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense
The Bulldogs fondly remember the Derek Carr era, when the current Raiders quarterback threw for 12,843 yards and 113 TDs between 2009 and ’13. They have struggled ever since, and turn to redshirt freshman Chason Virgil to see what he can bring. Nebraska did have problems defending the pass last season and its pass rush is unproven, so it could be interesting what first-year offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau does here.
Nebraska will honor punter Sam Foltz on Saturday night, and the All-Big Ten performer definitely will be missed as the Huskers turn to freshman Caleb Lightbourn. But NU is expecting more big things from kicker Drew Brown, and it hopes to get a boost from a healthy De’Mornay Pierson-El and freshman Tre Bryant in the return game. Fresno State kicker Jimmy Camacho made 21 of 26 field goals during his lone junior-college season in 2014, but only attempted four a year ago for the Bulldogs.
For all of its troubles last season, Fresno State was lightly penalized (59 total) and was only minus-two on turnover margin. The Bulldogs have a reputation for playing anybody and anywhere, but a Memorial Stadium night game with a lot of freshmen and sophomores in uniform makes for a tall task, especially with two new coordinators. NU has been feeding off some 2015 late-season momentum and will want to avoid a repeat of its season-opening loss to BYU a year ago.
Key matchup: Nebraska cornerbacks vs. Fresno State receivers
Nebraska liked how cornerbacks Joshua Kalu and Chris Jones finished last season, and they head into their junior seasons with some confidence and experience — and hope for the Huskers to be better on the back end in 2016. Fresno State will challenge them with five receivers who have combined for 196 career catches, including senior Aaron Peck and sophomore Jamire Jordan.
Nebraska owns a huge edge in experience at quarterback, and Virgil has to deal with the Husker crowd in addition to directing a new Bulldog offense. NU head coach Mike Riley has talked often about a “good vibe” around Husker football this offseason, and now it’s time to take it to the field. Nebraska should get its points and the defense should be further along than a year ago.
Our prediction: Nebraska 48, Fresno State 23
Big Red Today coverage
Hit it and get it. Nebraska running back Greg Bell doesn’t want to dance in the hole, slow down for a second or, truth be told, even talk about himself. Too much competition. Too big of a reward if he…
One popular opinion among Husker offensive coaches Wednesday was that the tight ends solidified their reputation as much as any unit following Sunday's live-action scrimmage.
New School is now in session. Here are the rules: No dog-cussing the players. No bullying or personal shots about their appearance. If you must chew, do so with a positive message. Teach. Look forward.
Nebraska offensive line coach Greg Austin offered a pretty insightful analysis of where the offensive line is two weeks before the Akron opener. There's good news. And could-be-better news.
There are days Mario Verduzco grades film of Nebraska quarterbacks and likes what he sees. Good ball placement. Strong body language. Quick tempo. Then there are workouts like last Thursday and Friday, which the Husker QB coach labeled "kind of…
Nebraska wrapped up its 11th workout of training camp Wednesday morning inside the Hawks Center. Afterward, offensive coordinator Troy Walters said Scott Frost — with input from his staff — will pick a starter soon between Tristan Gebbia, Adrian Martinez…
If you're looking for a nostalgic Husker pick in your upcoming fantasy football draft, here's your guide.
Nebraska kicked off practice early Wednesday morning. Media were allowed to watch about 40 minutes. Here's what we saw and heard.
Nebraska quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco gave some insight into the quarterback battle on Sports Nightly Tuesday evening.
Interstate 29 represents one of Scott Frost’s biggest in-state recruiting headaches. FCS schools in the Dakotas can’t compete with a Nebraska scholarship offer, but they can damage the Huskers' depth by taking players that may have otherwise walked on at…
Tre Neal, the Husker with more knowledge of the defense than anyone after transferring from UCF, has risen to the top of Nebraska's production chart that keeps score of plays made and not made in practices by members of the…
Breon Dixon can’t breathe. He’s cornered by reporters on the second floor of the Hawks Championship Center, gasping for air. “We’re looking way better I’d say as a team, as an offense …” out of breath, he trails off and…
Nebraska’s defensive coaches have a good grasp on who will be in the top two units after a major scrimmage Sunday, defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said Tuesday.
Former Blackshirt Grant Wistrom believes Scott Frost is the right coach for the Huskers.
In the wake of reports about Maryland football’s toxic, bullying culture toward the players, Nebraska coach Scott Frost said Tuesday on the Jim Rome Show he’ll never try to motivate his team through intimidation.
The lines are sure to be long for Scott Frost's first Fan Day as head coach of the Huskers. Here's everything fans should know before attending the event.
The pep talk worked. After Nebraska legends Jason Peter and Grant Wistrom talked to Husker players Friday night, the team had its most-spirited practice of training camp the following day.
Tickets are on sale now for next week's Husker Nation Kickoff Luncheons in Lincoln and Omaha.
Nebraska's defensive coaches have a good grasp on who will be in the top two units after a major scrimmage Sunday, defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said Tuesday. The next week is about trying to identify starters.
Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos said Monday on his monthly radio show there's a structure in place to make sure the athletic department avoids problems like what's currently plaguing Ohio State and Maryland.
Police arrested a 20-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy on suspicion of burglary, according to a news release from the Lincoln Police Department.
What happened in Giltner is a prime example of Nebraska’s in-state recruiting failures over the past 15 years. Another instance of a program that lost track of its identity and abandoned its roots.
If anyone asks you about being in the Big Ten these days, say, “We just got here, and we really don’t know anybody.”
The dynamic warmup — or “stretch” as Scott Frost calls it — is a far cry from the static, stationary stretches employed under former coach Mike Riley. Setting the tone for the fast-paced action of practice, the new warmup is…
Three weeks ago, we sportswriters scurried to our seats at Big Ten media days, sat upright in our chairs and kept our eyes forward to soak in Commissioner Jim Delany’s “hunky-dory’’ speech. But things haven’t been so hunky-dory since that…
Beau Wood should’ve been Perkins County High School’s starting fullback and defensive end. Instead, he had become a reserve — on the cross-country team.
Auburn had 81 players on its 2006 state championship football team. Last fall it had 29. Dozens of kids have turned away from football and found an alternative — cross country.
Sam McKewon zeroed in on as many Husker running backs ran by. Collectively, it’s best bunch NU has had since 2011, when Burkhead started and Abdullah, Green and Heard backed him up.
Maryland placed head coach DJ Durkin on administrative leave on Saturday while the school scrutinizes allegations of poor behavior by the football staff, apparent misdeeds that came to light following the death of a player on the practice field.
Hartington, a town resisting the forces of rural decline, hasn’t boasted a Husker football letterman since its All-America guard 17 years ago. But Scott Frost is back in Lincoln and there’s hope that the drought may end soon, perhaps with…