Game Day: Nebraska vs. Fresno State

Huskers have the playbook

Nebraska entered the day about a four-touchdown favorite vs. Fresno State, so, if preseason practice and game week preparation went as planned, Nebraska should be able to follow their plan and handle the Bulldogs by checking off all the boxes.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Rich Kaipust

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.

Special teams

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.

Intangibles

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.

Our take

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

Live updates

Photos

World-Herald fan photos »

#Huskers on Instagram

Videos

Extras

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Fresno State matchup provided by the NU Athletic Department. Click here »

Husker History

Find information on every win, loss and tie in Husker history. With historical World-Herald front pages, photos, stories, key stats and more, our ever-growing Husker History Database is your new home for archiving one of the nation's most tradition-rich programs.Click here »

On social media

Check out the Big Red Today page on Facebook to discuss the latest news with the top Husker fans, and follow us on Twitter to get instant updates and analysis whenever news breaks. Plus, look back at historical moments in Nebraska football by following @HuskerHistory on Twitter.

BRT app

IPhone and Android users, get your Husker updates on the go by downloading our free Big Red Today app from the App Store and the Google Play store. Omaha.com/BRTapp and Omaha.com/android

Recruiting updates

Visit the Big Red Today recruiting page to find the latest updates on potential future Huskers, including player cards for those athletes already committed. Click here »

Email alerts

Sign up for the Big Red Today email newsletter to get the Husker news, analysis, daily headlines and more delivered to your inbox. Click here »

Big Red Today coverage

Husker running back Greg Bell hitting practice hard in hopes of winning starting spot

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…

Husker notes: Tight ends shine in NU's scrimmage; Tyjon Lindsey catching on and more

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.

Shatel: With Scott Frost's new-school approach, curse words aren't in Husker coaches' vocabulary

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.

Tom's Takes: Nebraska's offensive line is adding physicality to its DNA

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.

As decision looms, Nebraska's quarterbacks still have moments of inconsistency

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…

Husker practice report: Nebraska quarterback battle will continue into next week

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…

Want to make an all-Husker fantasy football team? Well, you can't. But here's something close

If you're looking for a nostalgic Husker pick in your upcoming fantasy football draft, here's your guide.

Sights and sounds from Nebraska football practice, Aug. 15

Nebraska kicked off practice early Wednesday morning. Media were allowed to watch about 40 minutes. Here's what we saw and heard.

Husker coach Mario Verduzco says QB battle still 'highly competitive'

Nebraska quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco gave some insight into the quarterback battle on Sports Nightly Tuesday evening.

Allure of scholarships leads in-state players to lower-level programs instead of Huskers

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…

In his first fall camp at Nebraska, aspiring dentist Tre Neal already knows the drill

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…

Mississippi transfer Breon Dixon wants to 'bring physicality' to the Husker defense

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…

Husker notes: Closing in on defensive starters; Tight races in secondary and more

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.

TBL: Blackshirt legend Grant Wistrom happy to deliver message to Huskers

Former Blackshirt Grant Wistrom believes Scott Frost is the right coach for the Huskers.

Nebraska coach Scott Frost says 'we’re never going to swear at kids' on Jim Rome Show

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.

Everything you need to know before attending Nebraska football Fan Day

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.

'High intensity' talk from Jason Peter, Grant Wistrom inspires Husker defense

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 available now for Husker Nation Kickoff Luncheons in Omaha, Lincoln

Tickets are on sale now for next week's Husker Nation Kickoff Luncheons in Lincoln and Omaha.

Husker practice report: Carlos Davis, JoJo Domann among players impressing in camp

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 has structure in place to avoid problems plaguing Ohio State, Maryland, says A.D. Bill Moos

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 arrest two more, including teen boy, in burglary at Husker coach Scott Frost's home

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.

Past Husker coaches weren't sold on in-state talent, so Nebraskans thrived at Iowa instead

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.

Shatel: The image-conscious Big Ten isn't looking so good these days

If anyone asks you about being in the Big Ten these days, say, “We just got here, and we really don’t know anybody.”

Scott Frost considers intense new warmup to be a 'rite of passage' for Huskers

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…

Barfknecht: With all the scandals, nothing is 'hunky-dory' for Jim Delany's Big Ten

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…

Concussions turned a 200-pound fullback into a reluctant cross country runner

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.

Nebraska high schoolers are turning away from football and embracing ... cross country?

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.

Husker Rewind: Ready to run the ball? Nebraska has its deepest stable of backs since 2011

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 puts coach DJ Durkin on administrative leave amid football investigation

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.

As populations plummet in northeast Nebraska, kids still dream of becoming the next Russ Hochstein

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…