What you need to know ... The West Coast offense should
finally blow up with the pieces in place to run it the way head
coach Bill Callahan wants to. It all starts up front with an
improved offensive line that should be more athletic and,
eventually, more consistent. There are more than enough star
prospects at receiver and running back to put up some huge
numbers as long as quarterback Zac Taylor makes the jump in
production he's expected to. The return of tight end Matt Herian
from a broken leg should mean big things for Taylor.
Passing: Zac Taylor
237-430, 2,653 yds, 19 TD, 12 INT
Rushing: Cody Glenn
45 carries, 131 yds, 4 TD
45 catches, 641 yds, 7 TD
Star of the offense: Senior QB Zac Taylor
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
RB Marlon Lucky
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Matt Slauson
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Matt Herian
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Taylor, 2) Herian, 3)
Strength of the offense: Receivers
Weakness of the offense:
Number two quarterback, proven running game
There's no question Zac Taylor is the star of
the offense, but who's the number two going to be? Joe Ganz isn't the answer unless there are some major
problems, but he's the number two man now that Harrison Beck
transferred. Taylor should blow up statistically and be in for an
All-Big 12 season now that he knows what he's doing.
The key to the unit: Taylor has to go to the next
level. His completion percentage has to be better in the bigger
games and he has to keep the interceptions to a minimum.
Quarterback Rating: 7.5
- Zac Taylor, Sr. - 237-430 , 55%, 2,653 yds, 19 TD,
12 INT, 1 rushing TD
Stepping in from the JUCO ranks, Taylor finished the year as the
Nebraska single season record holder for passing yards,
completions and attempts. He had a better season than he got
credit for since he had to adjust to the D-I level while getting
popped over and over again thanks to a porous offensive line.
Now he appears to know what he's doing and should be a superstar
with a better line in front of him, a good group of receivers to
work with, and an even better command of the attack. While he's
not going to run much, he can take of and come up with a few big
plays now and then.
- Joe Ganz, Soph.
The star scout teamer of last year is a smart, athletic
quarterback who adds a little more mobility to the quarterback
mix than the other prospects, but he still needs work on
becoming a steady passer. He'll have to battle all fall to be
the number two man.
- Harrison Beck, Soph. - 1-10, 21 yds, 1 INT
The former star recruit was never a factor in the quarterback
race and now will transfer. Without the practice reps, he wasn't
able to develop as quickly as he would've liked.
Nebraska finished dead last in the
Big 12 in rushing? Nebraska? Averaging 96 yards per game is
unacceptable in Lincoln, and it won't happen again despite the
loss of top back Cory Ross. The offensive line is better, and it
should pave the way for supreme talents Marlon Lucky and Brandon
Jackson to put up big numbers. Bruiser Cody Glenn will see more
than his share of carries if he doesn't win the starting job
The key to the unit: Someone has to become a
consistent threat. Lucky has to take the job by the horns, or
else Jackson and Glenn have to become reliable producers.
Running Back Rating: 7
- Marlon Lucky, Soph. - 43 carries, 129 yds, 3 ypc, 2
catches, 3 yds
The superstar recruit of 2005
s saw a little bit of work, mostly in mop up time, but showed
little of the flash that made all recruiting fans crazy. He ran
for 2,036 yards and 40 touchdowns as a senior at North Hollywood
High in L.A., and now he has to hold off several great prospects
to be the number one back. With his combination of size, speed,
and hands, he might be worth the wait until he gets comfortable
in the offense.
- Fullback Dane Todd, Sr. - 8 catches, 75 yds, 9.4 ypc
The 235-pound senior earned Academic All-America honors and had
few problems understanding the offense. He's not going to get
any carries, but he'll get a few passes his way and should be a
key blocker when the offense uses a true fullback.
- Cody Glenn, Soph. - 45 carries, 131 yds, 2.9 ypc, 4
Glenn received little fanfare when he arrived in Lincoln with
all the attention paid to Marlon Lucky, but he ended up being
just as productive. He's a 230-pound power back who proved this
spring that he could start and shine if needed. At the very
least, he should be a good short-yardage back and great around
the goal line.
- Brandon Jackson, Jr. - 18 carries, 52 yds, 2.9 ypc, 1 catch, 5
Jackson was never right last season suffering from a shoulder
problem, but he still served as a kickoff returner and saw a few
carries. He ran for 390 yards and six touchdowns in 2004 and
should be a factor in the rotation with tremendous speed in a
5-11, 200-pound frame.
- Kenny Wilson, Jr.
The 220-pound JUCO transfer runs a 4.4 40 using that speed to
carry the Butler County CC offense scoring 27 touchdowns in two
seasons. He was a big-time recruit who'll push hard for starting
time. With his wheels, the coaching staff will find ways to get
him the ball in space.
There are plenty of options to work with and a great
combination of reliable veterans and explosive prospects.
Terrence Nunn and Nate Swift are strong targets who know the
offense and have proven they can produce, but they'll have to
earn their starting spots every week with Todd Peterson, Maurice
Purify and Tyrell Spain, bigger, faster, and more talented. The
real excitement is over the return of all-star tight end Matt
Herian. He'll provide the go-to receiver who'll demand double
coverage on every play.
The key to the unit: Herian has to prove he can be the
same player he was before the leg injury. The new wide receivers
have to prove they can handle the intricacies of the offense.
Receiver Rating: 8
Terrence Nunn, Soph. - 43 catches, 495 yds, 11.5
ypc, 7 TD
Nunn quickly turned into a reliable playmaker and got better and
better as he grew into the offense. He's extremely quick showing
off skills as a tremendous punt returner and has been great at
making the short to medium range plays. With reliable hands and
a nose for the end zone, look for him to turn into more of a
deep threat if quarterback Zac Taylor gets more time to throw.
- Nate Swift, Soph. - 45 catches, 641 yds, 14.2 ypc, 7 TD
Swift blew up after not catching a pass in the first three games
of last year with three 100-yard games with brilliant
back-to-back performances against Missouri and Oklahoma catching
18 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns. Despite leading
the team in receiving, he'll have to fight to keep the starting
spot with several good prospects ready to see time.
- Tight End Matt Herian, Sr.
The All-America caliber tight end finally appears to be back and
ready to contribute after missing almost two years trying to
recover from a broken leg that required two surgeries. He's a
decent blocker, but he's an NFL caliber target, or at least he
was before the injury, and he needs to prove that he can be the
fast, 6-5, 245-pound wide-receiver-playing-tight-end that he was
before getting hurt. From 2002 to 2004 he caught 53 passes for
1,093 yards and ten touchdowns averaging 20.7 yards per catch.
- Todd Peterson, Soph. - 9 catches, 150 yds, 16.7 ypc,
Peterson didn't do anything over the first half of last year
and then blossomed into a good-looking deep threat. At 6-4 and
210 pounds, he's one of the team's biggest target with the speed
to make big plays behind Terrence Nunn.
- Frantz Hardy, Jr. - 25 catches, 349 yds, 14 ypc, 1 TD
Hardy finished fifth on the team in receiving, but he didn't
show off much of his blazing speed after the first half of the
season. He only caught three passes over the final five games of
the regular season. He ripped off a 73-yard touchdown catch in
the opener against Maine.
- Maurice Purify, Jr.
It'll be a shock if he doesn't find a starting spot in a big
hurry after catching 68 passes for 1,318 yards and 19 touchdowns
last year for famed San Francisco CC. The superstar JUCO
transfer is 6-4, 210 pounds and has next level potential.
- Tyrell Spain, Jr.
On all-around skills, Spain could quickly become the team's best
receiver. He's 6-3, 190 pounds, fast, and has polished route
running ability and a scorer's mentality. The only question is
how fast he understands the offense.
- Tight end Josh Meuller, Jr. - 1 catch, 18 yds
The 6-5, 260-pound junior will mostly be a blocker in two tight
end sets with Matt Herian catching most of the passes. He
started in three games last year and should see plenty of action
in the rotation.
- Tight end J.B. Phillips, Jr. - 15 catches, 108 yds, 7.2
The Academic All-Big 12 performer started every game last year
and became a good target over the final four games catching
eight passes. With the return of Matt Herian, Phillips will be
used as an H-Back and should end up being more of a blocker.
The line was a major weak spot last year having a nightmare
of a time in pass protection allowing 38 sacks and getting little push
for the ground game. Despite the return of only two regular starters,
guard Greg Austin and center Kurt Mann, the line should be a lot better
with a good upgrade of young talent. Sophomore tackles Matt Slauson and
Lydon Murtha and junior tackle Chris Patrick are excellent prospects who
handled themselves well this spring against the amazing Husker D line.
The key to the unit: Patience. This isn't going to be
anywhere near the dominant group that'll make fans forget about the
classic Nebraska lines, but it has the potential to be very good in
time. This should be an amazing front five next year.
Offensive Line Rating: 7
- OT Chris Patrick, Jr.
Don't be shocked if this is one of the team's top linemen as the year
goes on. He was this close to quitting football two years ago,
but the 6-4, 290-pound junior ended up improving more and more as the
season went on and was terrific this spring. While he's decent in the
running game, he'll make most of an impact in pass protection.
- OG Greg Austin, Sr.
Austin overcame a few knee issues to start the first ten games at left
guard and showed off the versatility this spring to play center if
needed. He can play either guard spot and could move around to a few
places before the start of the year.
- C Kurt Mann, Sr.
Mann was out this spring healing an injured shoulder, but he'll be back
this fall to anchor the line. While he might not be dominant, he's a
smart, tough blocker who was one of the few steady performers on the
front five last season earning second-team All-Big 12 honors. He's also
an Academic All-American
- OG Mike Huff, Soph.
While he still needs developing, the 6-4, 305-pound senior saw time as a
reserve last year and now will likely take over the starting job on the
right side. He was a good recruit for the program a few years ago and is
strong enough to quickly become a top run blocker.
- OT Matt Slauson, Soph.
Able to play guard if needed, Slausen has the potential to be a standout
pass blocking tackle after having an amazing spring. If the line becomes
better as expected, he'll be the catalyst as he grows into a rock on the
right side to work around.
- T Lydon Murtha, Soph.
A massive 6-7, 315-pound presence, Murtha can play either tackle
position and grow into a top starter. He saw three starts late last year
and was predictably inconsistent, but he has the talent and the
potential to eventually be an all-star. Eventually.
- T Victory Haines, Jr.
The top JUCO transfer will come in and push for time at one of the
tackles spots. He's a strong 6-7 and 285 pounds with the experience to
step in and start right away.
- G Andy Christensen, Soph.
Worked a little bit at center this spring as well as at guard, the 6-3,
300-pound sophomore will be the main backup at both guard spots if he
doesn't take over a starting job. He's a smart, academic all-star.