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
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4 thoughts on “Cowboys Come to Town

  1. Why are you in such a hurry for them too show more of their offense? If they can control the game via the running game like they did against Fresno that’s what Riley should and will do. As you stated it’s a long season and no good coach want’s too show too much against an inferior opponent. I was fine with Armstrong’s performance. His technique was better than last year as was his overall accuracy his footwork still is a concern but you have to remember the Husker’s turnover ratio was -12 last year cutting down on turnovers is a priority this year, and they lost the majority of those close games because they couldn’t close out the game by getting any first downs late, and the lack of a running game was the main cause of that. As you know when you can run the ball you accomplish three things. First one is you control the clock. Secondly you control field position. Thirdly you keep your defense off the field and keep them fresh for the majority of the game. (it also negates relying on the punting game for field position). Riley knows that the two biggest weakness right now are the defense, and the punting game so as any good coach would do he’s HIDING them too a certain extent until he can shore them up and develop some depth on defense. Why are you so quick to throw Pierson-El in there against inferior opponents? They don’t need his returns against Wyoming to win. They will need him much more against Oregon, Northwestern, and other teams coming up. Why take the chance of him getting hurt when they are going too need him much more in the coming weeks. Yes he is playing, but what you failed too see is that they have him on the way outside not in the slot. He’s not in any traffic, nor has he been asked too do much they just want him back on the field just to get him over thinking about getting hurt. In practice Riley has him working on punt returns but probably won’t put him out there against Wyoming if he doesn’t have too. Be patient with Bryant don’t be in such a hurry. Bryant still has a lot of work too do yet. Yes I liked his stride etc, etc, but when I watched the game again (yes I record all the games and watch them 2 or 3 times. I also recorded Wyoming’s, and Oregon’s game and will be recording Oregon’s and Northwestern, this week). Bryant missed blocks on 2 occasion’s and his route running needs a ton of work. Yes he’s talented but there are some things he needs to work on to get more playing time. Riley is a developer of talent, and is making the point to the kid that you have to work on your deficiencies before you get more playing time. He is definitely the back of the future and when that time comes he will be a complete back not just one dimensional. Take Janovich for instance. One year with Riley and he was drafted in the NFL. Riley is a extremely respected coach in the NFL. When the GM’s or coaches called him he told them that Janovich was a NFL fullback and was very coachable. He not only develops talent he develops teams, and he’s in that process now. The defense is not that strong as it appeared in the Fresno game. There were at least 8 occasions when if they had executed better they would have big plays including 2 touchdowns. (yes the wide outs were open, and they failed to execute) Wyoming should not have the problem of executing their offense. The biggest problem for Wyoming is defense not offense. If Wyoming can run the ball and keep their defense off the field it will be a long day for the Husker D because right now they are just not that good on defense. (minus the linebackers) Won’t argue with your score prediction but as in most games if Wyoming executes their game plan they will score and keep themselves in the game.

    I like-Pitt -6 1/2. Ball State +17 1/2. N. Illinois +14 1/2. And in the NFL Houston -6 1/2. Arizona -6 1/2

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    1. First off, Im not in any real hurry to see more of the offense. If we can grind out games like last week, great. I just dont see that as a sustainable model come conference play. Thus, using these inferior opponents as an opportunity to polish that end of the game would be wise. Armstrong was incredibly innacurate against the Dogs. I need to see improvement in that area. Im confident it will. Likewise putting Pierson-El out there against Fresno and Wyoming will get his feet wet and get him ready for conference play. We cant worry about him getting hurt. You cant keep these guys in bubble wrap forever, particularly when it comes to game time. Also if Riley was so bent on preserving Pierson-El by keeping him on the outside, what was with that botched jet sweep? Funny way of showing it.

      I bet Penn State +5, and Cal +7.5. I also put a few games on the money line. Those really arent worth mentioning.

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      1. The polishing is done in practice. Riley knows that he is going too need the upgrade in the offense in the games coming up. But since the age of everything being taped (including practices) you do not want too show too much against an inferior opponent. He just want’s to show as little of the offense he can. Tom Osborne did the same thing, all good coaches do. The Husker’s under Tom used too have numerous close games against vastly inferior teams because he just didn’t want too show anything against them that he wanted to and did use against comparable competitive teams. The offense is the clear strength of this team and yes again all the polishing is done in practice not in the games. Take the fumblerooskie for instance. Tom had them run that play 20 to 30 times a week in practice and didn’t use it till very late in the season never showing it even once during a game not even a hint of it. You have to remember their still kids this is not the NFL. Do NFL teams really show anything in pre-season games? Both of these first 2 games are just pre-season contest College football style. As far as Person-El yes he worries about him getting hurt. He’s coming off major knee surgery and again just a kid. You put him out there and let him get contact so HE doesn’t think about getting hurt and just play’s. The botched jet sweep as you mentioned. Yes you did notice it didn’t work but did you ask yourself why it didn’t? The main reason was he was much wider off the line of scrimmage than he should of been and he hesitated which cost the lineman to lose their blocks. But all he really wanted to accomplish with that was to give him a play to show him on tape what he did wrong, and POLISH it up in PRACTICE too be used again another day plus give him some contact to get him to stop thinking about the possibility of getting hurt and just play football. We will see that play again numerous times thru the season after he polishes it up during practice.

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