Breaking Down The 2016 Huskers
Following a mediocre 2015 season capped by a nice, mid-range bowl win over UCLA, the Huskers look not to rebuild but reload. Now that the Bo Pelini era is officially concluded, Mike Riley finally has his sights set on success instead of wishing it was 1994 again (like Jerry Jones). That said, let’s start with QB Tommy Armstrong Jr, the jewel of the Corn Belt.
Tommy ArmLONG is shockingly enough NOT an in-state recruit, a major problem for the Huskers. The Texas transplant tossed for just over 3000 yards and 22 TDs and ran for 400 yards exactly and 7 scores. He is a legitimate dual threat, not just a scrambler, which Big Ten defenses struggle against. This guy is a competitor, through and through, and was just named to the Manning Award watch list, the award for the nation’s best quarterback. Looking ahead to the 2016 schedule, the only real concerns are Ohio State (duh), Wisconsin, a hungry Northwestern, and Oregon in a non-conference match up. Look for Tommy to have a big day against the Duck’s West Coast-style “no defense is the best defense”. Iowa marks the last game of the regular season, as is tradition, and a pissed off Iowa, playing at Kinnick… The words “hostile environment” don’t quite set the scene in store on November 25.
The Husker offensive line looks to remain dominant, averaging 180 yards on the ground per game and were tied for 9th for the least sacks allowed in FBS in 2015. Lineman supply has never really been an issue for the Huskers, seeing as they have in-state recruiting access to the beefiest corn fed boys out there. It also doesn’t hurt to have a quarterback that has a penchant for side stepping defenders and extending plays.
The defense is eager to make a name for themselves, quietly posting a top 10 run D and top 25 3rd down conversion berth. Stats like those are impressive, but when coupled with a spotty-at-best pass defense, mildly-competent passing attacks can and have taken them back behind the wood shed.
As far as recruiting classes go, the Huskers have out done themselves this year. Enticing talent from places like Florida and California to go play in Lincoln, NE is no easy feat but with a strong tradition and bright future, Mike Riley and gang seem to have the ship headed in the right direction. Tristan Gebbia and Keyshawn Johnson Jr are a QB/WR pair from Calabasas, CA and are both 4 star recruits. They committed early so they must have bought in to the program before they even moved into the dorms. Guy Thomas, a DE from Miami is the top defensive recruit and though he may be a little undersized at 6’3″, 200 lbs, it’s nothing 20,000 calories a day, every day can’t fix (or switching to LB, probably). Some more 3 star linemen and receivers round out the class, hoping to bring some new blood to the squad.
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