Offensive: There’s uncertainty at quarterback because senior Zac Lee, who started 12 games last season, missed spring ball after undergoing surgery on his throwing arm. That gave a good look to the backups, especially sophomore Cody Green, whose 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame makes him an intriguing weapon in the running game. The Cornhuskers have an array of fleet receivers, led by senior Niles Paul, who averaged 19.9 yards on his 40 receptions, and complemented by Mike McNeill, who shifted from tight end to wideout. The running game features a nice one-two punch with senior Roy Helu (1,147 rushing yards) and sophomore Rex Burkhead. Four starters return to the offensive line.
Defensive: It’s life without defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who’s off to the NFL, but the Cornhuskers still have junior defensive tackle Jared Crick, a potential All-American who might make a Suh-like impact. Sophomores Sean Fisher and Will Compton return to Nebraska’s two-linebacker alignment, which was used with great success in the Big 12 title game against Texas. Senior Eric Hagg will play a hybrid linebacker/nickelback position. The secondary should sparkle with the return of senior Prince Amukaamara and junior Alfonzo Dennard at cornerback, but there is uncertainty at both safety positions.
Specialists: Senior Alex Henery is one of the nation’s best specialists. He has made 50 of 57 career field-goal attempts, making him the most accurate place-kicker in Nebraska history. He averaged 41.4 yards per punt — and even more impressively, 30 of his punts were downed inside the 20-yard line. The return game is in excellent shape with Paul.
Coaching: Bo Pelini has Nebraska on the right track. The Cornhuskers are playing the type of football that long defined the program’s strength — an emphasis on the run and stout defense — and should be an excellent fit in the Big Ten, starting next season. For now, though, Pelini would like to make an impact in the Big 12.
Heisman hopefuls: Crick is one of the nation’s best players at any position. He won’t win, of course, but maybe he’s capable of a Suh-like trip to New York.
Next up: No. 9 Florida
CFT: Syracuse confirmed that former quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Don McPherson will have their respective jerseys raised to the Carrier Dome roof this year.
CFT: Senior receiver Wilson Van Hooser is transferring from Tulane to help care for his ailing mother.
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