One in a series of post-spring looks at Big Ten football teams.
2015 RECORD: 6-7, 3-5 Big Ten, fourth, West Division
COACH: Mike Riley (6-7 entering second season at Nebraska, 99-87 entering 16th season overall)
RETURNING STARTERS: Offense (9), Defense (7), Specialists (2)
TOP RETURNERS: QB Tommy Armstrong 222-402 passing, 3,030 yards, 16 int., 22 TDs, 98-400 rushing, 7 TDs; RB Terrell Newby 147-765 rushing, 6 TDs; WR Jordan Westerkamp 65-918 receiving, 7 TDs; WR Brandon Reilly 40-754 receiving, 4 TDs; S Nate Gerry 79 tackles, 4 interceptions for 90 yards; CB Joshua Kalu 75 tackles, 3 interceptions for 41 yards; PK Drew Brown 21-27 FG, 50 long; P Sam Foltz 56 punts, 44.2 avg.
THE SPRING THING: The Cornhuskers’ offensive and defensive lines have underwent an offseason makeover.
Nebraska will be young up front on offense, although Nick Gates and Dylan Utter return with starting experience. Starting center prospect Paul Thurston left the program, and Utter with some experience there, will likely shift into that position.
Two sophomores who were highly recruited, Tanner Farmer and Jerald Foster, and redshirt freshman Michael Decker have positioned themselves to join junior David Knevel in climbing the depth chart.
On defense, the early exits of Malik Collins and Vincent Valentine for the NFL draft, the decision of seniors Greg McMullen and Kevin Williams to leave the program this spring and the firing of defensive line coach Hank Hughes one year in to Mike Riley’s tenure has necessitated change.
Kevin Maurice is the most experienced defensive lineman in the program. Brothers Carlos and Khalil Davis and Peyton Newell stepped in this spring as another prospect, Mick Stoltenberg, sat out with an injury. Depth, particularly interior depth is a concern.
Tommy Armstrong returns at quarterback and the Cornhuskers put his feet to work in the spring game when he carried six times for 120 yards. Terrell Newby, Devine Ozigbo and Mikale Wilson give Nebraska plenty of depth in the offensive backfield.
Sept. 3 – Fresno State
Sept. 10 – Wyoming
Sept. 17 – Oregon
Sept. 24 – at Northwestern
Oct. 1 – Illinois
Oct. 15 – at Indiana
Oct. 22 – Purdue
Oct. 29 – at Wisconsin
Nov. 5 – at Ohio State