Game Day: Nebraska vs. Arkansas State

Time for a reaction

All that chemistry is about to have some heat applied to it. Arkansas State’s defense pressures a quarterback like few other FBS teams. Its spread offense wants to move quickly and stress a defense. A Husker team with youth and inexperience everywhere has to transform all those good camp feelings into production.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Sam McKewon

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?

Special teams

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.

Intangibles

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.

Our take

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

Live updates

#Huskers on Instagram

Videos

Extras

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Arkansas State matchup provided by the Husker 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

McKewon: Try tackling Marvin Scott when he reaches full speed. It doesn't look fun

Florida running back Marvin Scott, a 'freakish bodybuilder,' commits to Nebraska

Nebraska’s newest commit for the 2020 recruiting class won’t have to be pointed to the weight room.

Carriker Chronicles: Will the return of Husker Power bolster a second-year leap under Scott Frost?

On Saturday's episode, Adam Carriker discusses the second year under Scott Frost, whether or not the Huskers can make a leap in success and how the return of Husker power will help.

'Game-changer' Cam Jurgens is back and healthy, may start at center against South Alabama

Redshirt freshman center Cam Jurgens, previously limited in training camp due to an undisclosed injury, was back at full speed this week, coach Scott Frost said, and now appears headed for the No. 1 spot on the NU depth chart.

Chatelain: This 'bizarre' Husker stat is so 'insane,' Scott Frost couldn't believe it's true

Any examination — any obituary for the glory years — must include the factor that unites the Callahan, Pelini and Riley eras.

Adrian Martinez says he is 'very thankful' to play for Husker fans on Jim Rome Show

Husker quarterback Adrian Martinez phoned into the Jim Rome Show Friday.

Husker practice report, Aug. 23: Scott Frost wants to build off the look of new alternative jerseys

Nebraska has a new leader at center.

Huskers place walk-on lineman Trent Hixson from Omaha Skutt on scholarship

Trent Hixson was already trending toward starting at left guard this season. Now he'll do so as a scholarship player.

Former Husker receiver De'Mornay Pierson-El catches touchdown pass for Raiders in NFL preseason game

Pierson-El hauled in a key touchdown pass from Nathan Peterman with 5:48 left in the fourth quarter, one of his six receptions in the game.

With Huskers set to 'invade' Buffs' stadium, ticket prices hit Colorado's all-time high

Most of Colorado's home game tickets start at $40 for seats in the end zone and top out around $135 near midfield. But prices are driven by fan interest. And interest is high for the renewed rivalry ticket.

Husker receiver Jaevon McQuitty found his confidence and vows not to be forgotten

With the season opener barely more than a week away, signs point to McQuitty as a contributor.

McKewon: Predicting how the Big Ten West will be won in 2019 shapes up as a fool's errand

2019 is the kind of season in the Big Ten West where you predict in pencil, not ink, and you keep a fat, pink eraser on your desk.

Huskers land commitment from Oklahoma running back recruit Sevion Morrison

Morrison becomes the ninth commit in the Huskers' latest recruiting cycle and the first in more than six weeks.

McKewon: New Husker commit Sevion Morrison can run in just about any offensive system

Three quick takes on the decision from the 6-foot, 201-pound three-star prospect.

Huskers make big jump in football, men's basketball recruiting spending — just like rest of Big Ten

The money Nebraska spends on recruiting its football and men’s basketball student-athletes has increased dramatically in the last five years, according a study released Thursday morning by the USA Today Network. Some teams in the Big Ten have juiced their…

Husker notes: Jack Stoll's goal? A lot of points; Receivers developing depth

Who will be the starting running back? The Huskers like their options

A depth chart for the Nebraska running backs coach can look one way before the season. But by October it may be completely different based on what players show in games.

Husker practice report, Aug. 21: Offensive depth chart takes shape with opener around the corner

Nebraska began preparations for South Alabama on Wednesday, which means the offensive depth chart is close to final.

The time will come for the Huskers' Black Sweatshirt Posse; for now, members are hungry and waiting

Players like Casey Rogers know they are part of the next group up.

Three teams — including Nebraska — sit one game apart for No. 5 on all-time wins chart

Nebraska and Notre Dame are tied for fifth with 897 wins apiece, and Oklahoma sits one game back at 896.

Shatel: Are the Huskers ready for expectations? Is there an air of urgency at Memorial Stadium?

The expectation at Nebraska should be a team that is well-coached, plays physical and plays hard. A team always held to a high standard. Do that and the other stuff will fall into place. Are expectations in place? Not yet,…

Pick Six Podcast: Reasonable expectations for the Huskers, featuring The World-Herald's Tom Shatel

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon, Chris Heady and Evan Bland tackle the hottest Husker headlines in the latest episode of the Pick Six Podcast.

Some opinions 'totally changed' toward the positive as Big Ten Network visits Huskers' practice

The Big Ten Network made its annual bus tour stop in Lincoln on Monday, and the reactions were almost unanimously positive.

Video: Nebraska fall football practice, Aug. 19

Check out all the video from Monday's Huskers fall football practice as compiled by The World-Herald.

Carriker Chronicles: Alternate uniforms honor Nebraska's Blackshirt tradition

On Monday's episode, Adam Carriker shares his thoughts on the alternate uniforms Nebraska will wear during the 2019 season.

Husker Practice Report, Aug. 19: No 'mush faces' on Nebraska's defense, Erik Chinander says

Chinander finds no fault with the effort and passion of his defense this training camp.

Huskers make preseason AP Top 25 for first time since 2014

Nebraska is officially a top-25 team again.

Sam McKewon's preseason AP Top 25 ballot

Here's how Sam McKewon voted in his preseason AP Top 25 ballot for the college football season.

Three Huskers haven't been charged in drug cases because of prosecutors’ concerns over hemp law

Three Nebraska football players who have been cited on suspicion of possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia have yet to be charged in Lancaster County Court because of prosecutors’ concerns about an industrial hemp bill recently passed in the Nebraska…

Even in the hot sun, Huskers are showing more energy and not squandering practice time

Highly motivated Huskers are loving practice, even as dog days of summer set in.