Allright folks, the season opener is behind us. Time to get the butterflies out and settle into the season. Lets hope the Huskers do the same. Make no mistake, Saturday night was emotionally charged. From the Sam Foltz tribute to the Luke Gifford targeting penalty, along with everything else that comes with a Saturday night in Lincoln Nebraska. The team was pretty amped up. Game 2 brings the upstart Wyoming Cowboys to town fresh off a 3 OT thriller over the Northern Illinois. Saturday presents a real opportunity for the Pokes to show that they are legitimate in Craig Bohl’s 3rd year. Here are a few things to look for.
- Offensive Balance- The Huskers ran the ball 51 times against Fresno State. That’s 80% of their offensive plays. While I am 100% A-OK with that I don’t think its a sustainable offensive model for the season. Nebraska will have to throw the ball. Considering the various weapons around the offense, this shouldn’t be a problem. There is no sugar coating it, it was a problem Saturday night. Tommy Armstrong looked anywhere from out of sorts, to absolutely terrible for most of the night. Its not what I would expect from a QB starting in his 4th year. Danny Lansgdorf needs to get his QB going. If that happens Wyoming has no chance.
- Punt Return Game-I’m extremely interested in this aspect of the game. Jordan Westercamp was atrocious returning punts against the Dogs. It looked like he was huffing paint before the game. NU didn’t get a single positive return, coughed up a lot of field position and avoided a near disaster when it appeared a Fresno punt careened off of Westy’s foot. This must improve and in a big way. Field position and special teams is too important to just allow it to be as bad as it was Saturday night. I need to see some positivity out of this unit. More than that, I would like to see DeMornay Pierson-El out there. In 2014 he was a game breaker in this role. If he is healthy enough to play WR, he can field punts. Get him out there for Christs sake.
- Run Defense- The Husker defense was terrific against Fresno State’s flacid running attack, allowing just 31 yards on 26 carries. Fresno pretty much bailed on the run game when it wasn’t working. Wyoming will not do that. The Cowboys ran the ball 56 times in their season opener for an average of 4.33 yards per carry. The Pokes have a 2 headed rushing attack with RB Brian Hill and QB Josh Allen. NU will have to maintain gap integrity and fight off blocks to be successful. This is a decent test for the front 7 and should season them for conference play. Ultimately I feel the Huskers will be successful, but its a test none the less.
- RB Rotation- When you collectively run for 5.7 yards per carry, everyone looks good. Personally I really like Devine Ozigbo, but he wont shoulder the load himself. Terrell Newby looked fine against Fresno, but I think most fans want to see Tre Bryant as well. Bryant was electric with the ball against a battered and beaten Fresno team at that point. I want to see him run against a defense with a pulse.
- Mentality-The score of the Fresno game remained somewhat close for the better part of 3 quarters even though NU was dominating play. The Huskers screwed around for quite a while before blowing the doors off of the Dogs. I see Nebraska having an opportunity to put the game away early Saturday. Will they seize it? Or will they let penalties, poor execution and generally tomfoolery let Wyoming hang around?
- Prediction- Nebraska 41 Wyoming 21