Nebraska rush offense vs. Akron rush defense
The Huskers’ new spread, no-huddle offense should offer an immediate boost to a run game that ran aground in 2017, when NU had six games with fewer than 100 rushing yards. The backfield has some extra juice thanks to quarterback Adrian Martinez and newcomer backs Greg Bell, Maurice Washington and Miles Jones. The offensive line has matured, and the Zips’ run defense — anchored though it may be by a senior-laden defensive line — is likely to melt down. Akron gave up 5.03 yards per carry last year. Not pretty.
Nebraska pass offense vs. Akron pass defense
The Zips’ secondary is legit, returning four starters from a unit that helped intercept 19 passes last year. Nebraska would gladly take senior starting corners Kyron Brown and Darian Dailey on its roster tomorrow. Martinez, in his first career start, has his work cut out for him and will need the ingenuity of coach Scott Frost’s scheme to get chunk passes. A solid run game will help, too. NU’s receivers — led by Stanley Morgan, JD Spielman and Mike Williams — are no slouches and should get some opportunities, especially after catching shorter passes. Martinez is not likely to have a field day here.
Akron rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense
Few teams were worse than Nebraska at running the ball last season. Akron was one of them. The Zips ranked last in the Mid-American Conference in yards per game and although quarterback Kato Nelson helped some, he didn’t get very good blocking. Nebraska’s front seven, awful and unmotivated at the end of last season, should flourish under a new, aggressive scheme. Akron should be better running the ball in 2018, but not necessarily in Game 1.
Akron pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense
In a half-season of play last year, Nelson completed 50 percent of his passes and threw eight touchdowns against two interceptions. Not bad. Receiver Kwadarrius Smith — just 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds — averaged 21.4 yards per catch last year, so he’s dangerous. NU’s secondary is a real wild card with so many new faces at safety and lingering questions at cornerback, but look for Nebraska’s pass rush, as coordinated by Erik Chinander, to get after Nelson from start to finish.
Akron’s kicking game stunk in 2017. The Zips made just 6 of 13 field goals and missed two extra points. The Zips had 12 yards — total — in punt returns last season while giving up 330. Nebraska is breaking in a freshman kicker (Barret Pickering) but should make a little hay in the return game with Spielman, Tyjon Lindsey or whoever else Nebraska puts back there to return kicks.
The Huskers will be sky high for the first game of the Frost era. A new Tunnel Walk, a juiced primetime crowd — that’s going to be a lot for Akron to overcome. NU has to survive the jitters of all that, but it should find energy through all four quarters. Akron has only played in a handful of settings louder and more intimidating than Memorial Stadium. It’s not likely to go well Saturday night.
Key matchup: Nebraska’s tempo offense against Akron’s experienced defense
The Zips will have one of the better defenses in the MAC. NU’s offense, though, is designed to overwhelm lesser foes. The faster the pace, the more the talent advantage should reveal itself. Still, tempo can backfire when the execution is shoddy. The only way Akron stays in the game is if Nebraska commits turnovers or kills drives with miscues.
NU has played Akron just once — the season-opening game of Scott Frost’s senior year. Nebraska coasted to a 59-14 win. This game won’t be that lopsided, but the Huskers have more firepower than the Zips, and a serious dose of energy and excitement to boot. Martinez may take a few lumps, but Nebraska’s run game should be just fine, while Akron’s offense struggles to get to 300 total yards. The Frost era starts with a W.
Our prediction: NEBRASKA 38, AKRON 14
Big Red Today coverage
Nebraska and Purdue faced off as conference opponents for the first time in 2013, which ignited what will be at least 13 consecutive seasons with one another on the schedule. But 2013 wasn't the first overall matchup. Nope, that came…
We wrote this story out of Minnesota in 2013 and 2017, too. The names change. The clichés, too, a little bit. And even if it’s supposed to be different under Scott Frost — even if, one day, it is —…
Time and again, opposing coaches see Nebraska step off the bus and wonder if they can run the ball on them. And then they do.
Scott Frost had one hand in his pocket, and the other one was carrying a playsheet. And nothing was fine for the Nebraska football coach.
P.J. Fleck just shoved his oar right down Nebraska’s throat. People like to laugh at Fleck, the Minnesota football coach, saying he’s a huckster and a fake. Well, there was nothing fake about what Fleck’s Gophers did to Nebraska on…
The blank faces said it all. By the time Nebraska defenders trudged off the cold and misty field at TCF Bank Stadium, they had already processed much of the carnage. A 20-point third quarter that blew the doors off a…
A closer look at the defining stats and figures from the Huskers' loss to Minnesota on Saturday.
Minnesota carved up Nebraska’s defense with its run game Saturday night because it spotted soft spots disguised as strengths.
World-Herald staff writer Chris Heady takes a look at Nebraska's effort on both sides of the ball during the Huskers' loss to Minnesota.
Three things we learned and three things we still don’t know about the Huskers coming out of Saturday's loss to Minnesota.
Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez is not suited up for the game an hour ahead of kickoff and will not play against Minnesota.
Some regents say it’s a win for Nebraska to bring Hank Bounds back because he is a good fundraiser who knows and cares about the projects involved. Some observers say they are perplexed by the amount he will receive, and…
The Huskers think a strong second half is coming. Their counterparts in Minneapolis have already experienced it.
Noah Vedral knows the offense back and forward. We haven’t seen a lot of his game. He got in one game last year. And then last week. That’s the beauty of it, too. There isn’t a lot of film of…
Fremont senior Keegan Menning added his name to the list of walk-ons in Nebraska’s 2020 class on Thursday night.
“It’s an awesome rule,” said Luke McCaffrey, who’s drawn raves from coaches and teammates while he redshirts and works to push Adrian Martinez for the starting role next season. “I think it’s fantastic.”
Mohamed Barry was named a quarterfinalist for the 2019 Lott Trophy, which recognizes a player who made the biggest impact on his team both on and off the field.
If it’s Christmas weather — 32 degrees — for Nebraska’s Saturday night game at Minnesota, well, Scott Frost can’t think anything much better.
While Nebraska's travel roster is rounding into form, the status of players at multiple key positions remains unclear.
"I just thought that I was on a different planet almost," she told The World-Herald. "It was a special place to be."
“Defensively, they’re a lot more sound than what we saw last year and more athletic," Scott Frost said. "They’ve definitely improved. You can tell it’s year three of his tenure up there. They’re starting to look like the team he…
Weather, smeather. That was more or less the reaction from Nebraska offensive coaches Tuesday when probed about how they might adjust preparations for Saturday night's game at Minnesota that calls for temperatures in the mid-30s and a good chance of…
They've given you lifelong memories, permanent heartache, everlasting glee and eternal suffering.
Encouraging news this morning from Husker football practice. Adrian Martinez (knee) and JD Spielman (undisclosed) were both in pads for practice Wednesday.
Earlier this week, I called Matt Turman to talk about his nephew, Noah Vedral, waiting and getting that big moment. But as we talked, it hit me that there's a bigger story. The story about the small, small world of…
Nebraska has dominated Minnesota since 1963, claiming 19 of 22 games. But the Gophers have the all-time edge.
For Nebraska’s program to be full blast again, the A.D. says it will take two more recruiting classes and two more years of developing a walk-on program.
Nebraska received a commitment Tuesday from Miami Northwestern defensive back Ronald Delancy. Three takes on the decision of the 6-foot, 165-pounder.
Inside linebacker Mohamed Barry doesn’t usually concern himself much with wide receivers. This week, he’s at full attention.
Credit Scott Frost and his staff for squeezing just enough of true freshman Wan’Dale Robinson, Martinez and backup quarterback Noah Vedral to win against a defense that had given up three plays of 30 yards or more heading into the…