2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Nebraska Offense
Limit the turnovers and the penalties. The running backs and receivers have to come together – and they will. The line has to be better in pass protection, Adrian Martinez has to be sharper on third downs, and the scoring has to be consistent – don’t worry about any of that.
What was the problem early on last year? There were too many crushing turnovers, and there wasn’t a penalty in a key spot the O – particularly the line – didn’t get hit with.
Not all of the flags were on the offensive side, but overall, the Huskers ended up committing ten sins or more in each of the first five games, and nine in the crushing loss to Northwestern in the 0-6 start. They didn’t get flagged more than seven times in the last six games and went 4-2.
The offense turned the ball over 13 times in the six losses, and nine times in the final six. The O tightened up.
Biggest Key To The Nebraska Defense
The run defense needs to show up. There’s no real excuse not to be better with good beef among the front three, good beef among the linebacking corps, and good-sized tacklers in the secondary. No, size doesn’t always matter when it comes to stuffing the run, but it’s a start. Having the tackles is part of the puzzle, and the Huskers should have that now.
Last season, the defense allowed almost 200 yards per game, gave up five yards per carry, and got hit for 29 touchdowns including thee or more six times. It was all an improvement over the 2017 version of the run D, but it still needs to be tougher.
Key Player To A Successful Season
WR JD Spielman, Jr.
Of course it’s Adrian Martinez, but backup QB Noah Vedral is good enough to step in and shine if needed. The running back situation is a wee bit light unless Georgia Tech transfer Dedrick Mills rocks right out of the box, but the receiving corps is very, very thin – but it’ll be good with a little bit of time.
The Huskers have size and talent at receiver, but the O is counting on a whole lot of youth and inexperience. That means it’s up to the 5-9, 185-pound Spielman to grow into a true No. 1 target with Stanley Morgan Jr. done. Spielman caught 66 passes for 818 yards and eight scores despite missing the final two games of the year.
Key Game To The Nebraska Season
Northwestern, Oct. 5
The Huskers started out 0-5, but they were really, really close to being at worst 2-3. They just didn’t know how to win.
That all appeared to change in Evanston against Northwestern, holding a 31-21 lead with just over two minutes to play in a seemingly breakthrough performance. The Wildcats spoiled the fun with a touchdown with 12 seconds to go to tie it, and won in overtime. This is when it all has to come full circle.
Nebraska will win a game or three before the defending Big Ten West champ comes to Lincoln, but pulling this off after losing three of the last four in the series would be a little extra sweet.
– Nebraska Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Nebraska Fun Stats
– Penalties: Nebraska 92 for 850 yards – Opponents 78 for 681 yards
– Time of Possession: Opponents 32:16 – Nebraska 27:44
– Nebraska Turnover Margin: 1st 6 Games:-7 – 2nd 6 Game: +5