Nebraska Preview 2006
It's amazing how one big win can change the entire attitude of a program.
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Everyone knew it would take a few years for Nebraska to go from
being one of the purest running teams in all of football to a West
Coast attack that, despite cries to the contrary, would become too
heavily reliant on the passing game. But the Big Red Nation was
still getting a bit gruff and grumbly as the Huskers became the
worst running team in the Big 12 while going through some big
growing pains in blowout losses to Missouri and Kansas. And them
came the Alamo Bowl.
With the 32-28 win over Michigan, the defense confirmed
that it could get into the backfield any time it wanted to against
anyone, while the offense found a little bit of confidence with
several big plays and three touchdown passes. Quarterback Zac Taylor
didn't have his best game passing, but he threw for three touchdowns
while the ground game had its third best game of the season rushing
for 151 yards. That game was the spark for what Husker fans hope is
a return to the glory days, albeit in a vastly different way.
However, the question still has to be asked; was the 180-degree
change in offensive philosophy really necessary?
Head coach: Bill Callahan
3rd year: 13-10
Off. 28., Def. 23, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 24
Best Husker Players
1. DE Adam Carriker, Sr.
2. DE Jay Moore, Sr.
3. QB Zac Taylor, Sr.
4. TE Matt Herian, Sr.
5. LB Corey McKeon, Jr.
6. LB Steve Octavien, Jr.
7. LB Bo Ruud, Jr.
8. DT Ola Dagunduro, Sr.
9. CB Courtney Grixby, Jr.
10. RB Marlon Lucky, Soph.
at Iowa State
at Kansas State
at Oklahoma State
at Texas A&M
Preview 2005 predicted wins
W 27-20 2OT
Oklahoma L 31-24
Kansas L 40-15
at Colorado W 30-3
Michigan W 32-28
While everyone likes to talk about the Husker offense, the real noise
has been made by a defense that led the nation with a whopping 50 sacks
to go along with a ridiculous 140 tackles for loss. With a defense like
this one, and a power, grinding running game like the Nebraska of old,
this could've been a national title caliber season. Of course, this
isn't the Nebraska of old.
That's not to say this year's offense doesn't have the potential to be
explosive in a way far different than from what Nebraska has ever done.
Taylor knows what he's doing now and should set all sorts of school
passing records with an improved line in front of him, speedy backs, and
a receiving corps full of veterans and superstar newcomers. Getting
tight end Matt Herian back from a brutal broken leg adds yet another
dimension to the attack.
The defensive front seven will be as good as any in America with
talented backups at each spot, too many good linebackers to get on the
field at any one time, and, perhaps, the nation's best defensive ends in
Adam Carriker and Jay Moore. If the secondary is merely competent,
there's no reason the Huskers can't have a top ten D.
High expectations never left Lincoln over the last few seasons, but they
were held in check a little bit. No more. It's Big 12 title or bust as
the program makes it return to national prominence. At least, it had
better return to the spotlight.
The Huskers get two warmups before what could be the game that truly
turns the corner in the Bill Callahan era at USC. Even with a loss
against the Trojans, things look promising with a likely 4-1 start
before not-that-bad road trips to Iowa State and Kansas State to try to
title hopes rolling. Not only do the Huskers get one player in the 2006
Rose Bowl, it gets the other when Texas comes to town. However, that
might be a good thing. No matter where the Huskers are ranked in the
preseason, if they beat the Trojans and Longhorns on the way to an
unbeaten season, they're in the national title game no matter how many
other teams are unbeaten. They get a huge break playing Oklahoma State
and Texas A&M from the South while missing Oklahoma and Texas Tech, but
those two games are on the road.
Senior QB Zac Taylor.
Actually, if he's back to the player he was two years ago, tight end
Matt Herian is the team's best offensive player and will be a threat to
win the Mackey Award. Taylor is an average talent who'll blossom into a
statistical star this year with all the rising talent around him. He's a
heady leader who appears to have the offense and the speed of the D-I
game under control.
Defensive Player: Senior DEs Adam Carriker and Jay Moore. Outside of
injuries, the only thing that can stop these two from combining for at
least 15 sacks and about 30 tackles for loss would be the play of some
excellent backups that'll demand time in the rotation. The NFL tends to
like huge ends who can rush the passer. Carriker goes 295 pounds while
Moore checks in at 280.
to a successful season: The entire offensive line. Tackles Chris
Patrick, Matt Slauson and Lydon Murtha, guards Greg Austin, Mike Huff
and Andy Christensen, and center Kurt Mann can't hold a candle to any of
the great Husker offensive lines of the past, but they'll form a much
better unit than the one that got Taylor battered and couldn't open up a
hole for the running game. The skill players are there to blow up if
they get time to operate.
will be a success if ... the Huskers win the Big 12 North. While many will set the
sights on winning the league championship, this isn't as good a team as
Oklahoma or Texas. Just getting to the title game for the first time
since 1999 would be a fantastic step forward.
Sept. 16 at USC. Talk about your tone-setters. If Nebraska can pull
off the win over a Trojan team that might be the best in America, it'll
set the table for a potentially monster season complete with national
title dreams. Outside of the home date with Texas, the Huskers will be
the favorites the rest of the way.
The Last Time Nebraska…
- Sacks: Nebraska 50 for 381 yards - Opponents 38 for 253 yards
- Average yards per carry: Opponents 3.2 - Nebraska 2.7
- Fumbles: Opponents 31, lost 9 - Nebraska 27, lost 11
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Alamo Bowl vs. Michigan)
…missed a bowl game…2004
…pitched a shutout…2003 (Iowa State)
…was shutout…1996 (Arizona State)
…scored 50 points…2004 (Baylor)
…won a conference title…1999 (Big 12)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2004 (Cory Ross)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…never
…had a first-round draft choice…2005 (DB Fabian Washington)