Best Nebraska Offensive Player
QB Adrian Martinez, Fr.
Yes, Nebraska will be good at football again, and when it is, Martinez will be the starting quarterback. The hand-picked do-it-all guy to run Scott Frost’s attack generated a huge buzz with a good offseason and a great spring game, showing off the 6-2, 205-pound size, the big arm, and the quickness to be just the sort of magical leader who can be the offensive superstar Nebraska has been sorely missing.
There’s a shot he doesn’t start right away – Tristan Gebbia is solid, and there are other decent options, too – but he’s it. He’s the one. It’s just a question of how fast he gets there.
2. WR Stanley Morgan, Sr.
3. OG Jerald Foster, Sr.
4. QB Tristan Gebbia, RFr.
5. WR JD Spielman, Soph.
Best Nebraska Defensive Player
S Aaron Williams, Sr.
A smart, tough leader who managed to get in on seemingly everything, he followed up a strong 62-tackle, three-pick, seven broken up last season with 48 stops and two interceptions, but he missed time banged up and was hardly 100% throughout the year.
At 5-11 and 190 pounds, he’s got good size, excellent quickness, and if he can stay healthy, the upside to be an All-Big Ten star on the field as well as in the classroom. For a rebuilding defense that has to do far more, he’s one to work around.
2. LB Dedrick Young, Sr.
3. S Antonio Reed, Sr.
4. DE Carlos Davis, Jr.
5. DT Mick Stoltenberg, Sr.
Key Player To A Successful Season
LB Luke Gifford, Sr.
Or someone on the outside who can find a way to get behind the line. The Huskers might not have a Shaquem Griffin like UCF enjoyed last season, but they need the outside linebackers to be disruptive forces. Gifford is an all-star in the classroom and one of the team’s true leaders, but he was also hurt, making 39 tackles and 1.5 sacks in a shortened season.
He’ll get one of the starting spots, and while he’s not going to be a stat-sheet filler … it would be nice if was a stat-sheet filler. If he’s not, again, someone else has to be help crank up the D.
Key Game To The Nebraska Season
Purdue, Sept. 29
Call this more of a psychological tone-setter than anything else. Nebraska might have stunk last season, but it found a way to get by Purdue in West Lafayette in a 25-24 battle. That was the last win of the Mike Riley era, losing four straight after that.
This time around, it’s the Big Ten home opener for Scott Frost, and his offense is going up against the Jeff Brohm Boilermaker attack in what should be a shootout if everything goes according to plan.
With a date at Michigan before this, and road games at Wisconsin and Northwestern to follow – and road trips to Ohio State and Iowa and home date with Michigan State to go – lose this, and uh-oh.
2017 Nebraska Fun Stats
– Sacks: Opponents 24 for 173 yards – Nebraska 14 for 85 yards
– 1st Half Scoring: Opponents 264 – Nebraska 144
– Rushing Yards: Opponents 2,577 – Nebraska 1,290