Nebraska Cornhuskers 2015 Preview

Previewing the Nebraska Cornhuskers

The BYU Cougars head to Lincoln Nebraska to face the Cornhuskers to kick off the season. This is the first matchup between the two storied programs and has created plenty of excitement among fans from both sides.

The Cornhuskers head into the game with plenty of questions, with a head coaching shift from Bo Pelini to Mike Riley, it is unknown how this will affect the offense as they will switch from an option offense to a west coast offense. With 29 consecutive victories in home openers, it will be a tough challenge for the Cougars to leave Lincoln with a win.

Nebraska 2014 Record: 9-4

vs Florida Atlantic 55-7 W

vs McNeese State 31-24 W

@ Fresno State 55-19 W

vs Miami, FL 41-31 W

vs Illinois 45-14 W

@ #10 Michigan State 22-27 L

@ Northwestern 38-17 W

vs Rutgers 42-24 W

vs Purdue 35-14 W

@ Wisconsin 25-59 L

vs Minnesota 24-28 L

@ Iowa 37-34 W OT

vs USC 42-45 L

Bronco Mendenhall vs. Mike Riley

Mike Riley:

Season: 15th

Record: 93-80

Home: 54-34

Bye Week: 20-9

Season Openers: 9-5

vs. Bronco Mendenhall: 1-2

Bronco Mendenhall:

Season: 11th

Record: 90-39

Away: 34-23

vs P5: 18-19

Bye Week: 15-8

Season Openers: 7-3

vs. Mike Riley: 2-1

Nebraska depth chart


QB: Tommy Armstrong Jr/Ryker Fyfe

RB: Terrell Newby/Imani Cross

FB: Andy Janovich/Harrison Jordan

LT: Alex Lewis/David Knevel

LG: Dylan Utter/Jerald Foster

C: Ryne Reeves/Paul Thurston

RG: Chongo Kondolo/Jerald Foster

RT: Nick Gates/Zach Sterup

WR: Alonzo Moore or Jamal Turner

WR: Brandon Reilly or Lane Hovey or Stanley Morgan Jr

WR: Jordan Westerkamp/Taariq Allen

TE: David Suton or Trey Foster or Cethan Carter or Sam Cotton


DT: Maliek Collins/Kevin Maurice

DT: Vincent Valentine/Kevin Williams

DE: Greg McMullen/Freedom Akinmoladun

DE: Jack Gangwish/Ross Dzuris

CB: Daniel Davie/Trai Mosley

CB: Jonathan Rose or Joshua Kalu

SS: Byerson Cockrell/Aaron Williams

FS: Nate Gerry/Kieron Williams

LB: Michael Rose-Ivey/Luke Gifford

LB: Josh Banderas/Chris Weber

LB: Dedrick Young/Marcus Newby

Punter: Sam Foltz/Tyson Broekemeier

Kicker: Drew Brown/Jamie Sutcliffe

Kick Off: Drew Brown/Jamie Sutcliffe

LS: Jordan Ober/Chase Urbach

Holder: Sam Foltz

PR: Jordan Westerkamp

KR: Terrell Newby/Mikale Wilbon


The Cornhuskers are in the middle of an identity shift on the offensive side of the ball. After running an option-based offense, they will shift to a west coast offense similar to what Mike Riley ran at Oregon State. It is expected that they will keep some elements of the option system to benefit the strengths of QB Tommy Armstrong Jr but it is unknown to what degree that will be.

Armstrong is the teams leading returning rusher, but they will lose Ameer Abdullah who netted 1611 yds rushing and 19 TDs. Armstrong netted 705 yds and totaled 6 TDs on the season. Coming into the season, it will be a running back by commitee with the majority of carries going to Terrell Newby and Imani Cross who combined for 681 yds and 10 TDs on the ground last season.

Wide receiver is extremely thin for the Huskers. All-time leading receiver Kenny Bell has graduated and gone on to the NFL but they do return Jordan Westerkamp who totaled 747 yds and 5 TDs in 2014. After that, De’Mornay Pierson-El was expected to provide heavy contribution for the Cornhuskers, but he went down with an ankle injury in fall camp and then there’s a steady decline with only one other receiver who has 10 or more catches in Alonzo Moore who had 10 for 136 yds.

The offensive line is very green as well. Even though 4/5 are considered upperclassmen, between the five projected starters, they only have 24 total starts with 23 of those going to OTs Alex Lewis and Zach Sterup. With the experience the Cougars have in the front seven, especially in the DL they will need to exploit this in order to win.

2014 Team Stats:

Points Scored Per Game: 37.8

Rushing Yardage: 3118

      Returning for 2015: 1507 (48.3%)

Passing Yardage: 2735

      Returning for 2015: 2735 (100%)

Total Offense: 5853

      Returning for 2015: 3122 (53.3%)

Fumbles: 27

      Recovered: 14

      Lost: 13

Interceptions: 12

      Returning for 2015: 12

Sacks Allowed: 29 (-240 yds)

First Downs: 290

        Rushing: 149

        Passing: 115

        Penalty: 26

Third Down Conversion: 76/184 (41.3%)

Fourth Down Conversion: 6/13 (46.2%)

Penalties: 75 (-655 yds)

Red Zone Efficiency: 53/60 (88%)

Red Zone TDs: 42/60 (70%)

PAT Attempts: 60/60 (100%)

Individual Stats:

QB Tommy Armstrong Jr: 184/345, 2695 yds, 22 TDs and 12 INTs, 133.0 efficiency, 145 carries for 705 yds and 6 TDs

RB Imani Cross: 75 carries for 384 yds and 5 TDs

RB Terrell Newby: 67 carries for 297 yds and 5 TDs

WR Jordan Westerkamp: 44 catches for 747 yds and 5 TDs

*WR De’Mornay Pierson-El: 23 catches for 321 yds and 4 TDs

WR Alonzo Moore: 10 catches for 136 yds and 0 TDs

*TE Cethan Carter 6 catches for 98 yds and 1 TD

*Player will not compete against BYU


Similar to the Cougars, the strength of Nebraska’s defense is in the DL. Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine are considered to be two of the best DTs in the Big Ten. Even though the Huskers lose Randy Gregory to the NFL, they have brought more talented players to reload the position in Greg McMullen and Jack Gangwish will apply pressure on the outside.

As experienced as the DL is for the Huskers, the LB crew is just as inexperienced. With Michael Rose-Ivey who as a RS-Freshman had 66 tackles before being sidelined with an ACL injury as a Sophomore, he will be sidelined for today’s game. Dedrick Young and Luke Gifford are expected to start at the outside linebacker spots, Young is a true Freshman while Gifford is a RS-Freshman. At the MLB spot, Josh Banderas is expected to start, in 2014 he had 50 tackles and 2 TFL

Team Stats:

Points Allowed Per Game: 26.4

Turnover Ratio: 23:25

Forced Fumbles: 14

      Returning for 2015: 7

    Fumbles Recovered: 10

      Returning for 2015: 5

Interceptions: 13

      Returning for 2015: 10

Sacks: 29 (-240 yds)

      Returning for 2015: 16 (131 yds)

TFL: 101 (-347 yds)

      Returning for 2015: 47.5

QBH: 61

      Returning for 2015: 36

PBU: 51

      Returning for 2015: 27

INTs: 13 (124 yds)

      Returning for 2015: 10 (124 yds)

TDs allowed: 44

        Rushing: 25

        Passing: 15

First Downs Allowed: 246

        Rushing: 113

        Passing: 118

        Penalty: 15

Third Down Conversion: 58/193

Fourth Down Conversion: 10/20

Red Zone Efficiency: 36/44 (82%)

Red Zone TDs: 27/44 (61%)

PAT Attempts: 44/44 (100%)

Key Returning Players:

FS Nate Gerry: 88 tackles, .5 sacks, 6.5 TFL, 4 PBU, 5 INT, 3 QBH

LB David Santos: 50 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 INT, 1 QBH

LB Josh Banderas: 50 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 QBH

DE Greg McMullen: 47 tackles, 4 sacks, 5 TFL, 4 PBU, 10 QBH

DT Maliek Collins: 45 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 9.5 TFL, 13 QBH

DT Vincent Valentine: 45 tackles, 3 sacks, 4 TFL, 2 PBU, 2 QBH

CB Daniel Davie: 41 tackles, 6 TFL, 5 PBU, 2 INT

SS Byerson Cockrell: 29 tackles, 1 TFL, 7 PBU, 1 INT, 1 QBH

Special Teams:

Nebraska loses their star return man De’Mornay Pierson-El to injury for the season opener. Last year he had 34 returns for 596 yds, and 3 TDs. Jordan Westerkamp will take over the return duties for Pierson-El.

The Cornhuskers return both their Punter and Kicker from last season, Kicker Drew Brown was 59/59 for XP and 14/21 for FG on the season Brown struggled from beyond 40 yds going 2/7 on the season. Punter Sam Foltz was able to pin 26 punts inside the 20 last season.


Trevor Samson: 14/21 FG, 59/59 XP

        1-29: 5/6

        30-39: 7/8

        40-49: 2/6

        50+: 0/1


Drew Brown: 47 KO, 2819 yds, 60.0 avg


Sam Foltz: 63 punts, 2659 yds, 42.2 avg, 26 inside 20 yd line

Punt Returns:

*De’Mornay Pierson-El: 34 returns, 596 yds, 17.5 avg 3 TDs, 86 long

*Player will not compete against BYU


10 Most Viewed

To Top