The hopeful untouchables

With three games left in the regular season, Nebraska is banged up and bruised. With multiple players out, who can Nebraska not afford to lose at this point? Big Red Report breaks it down.

8.) Andrew Rodriguez – Offensive line
The senior's career hasn't been what a lot of Nebraska fans were hoping for, but the Aurora native's play will be crucial over the next few weeks with Jeremiah Sirles on the shelf. Rodriguez can not only play offensive tackle, but the guard spots as well. Expect to see him play both on Saturday.

7.) Quincy Enunwa – Wide receiver
Jamal Turner is likely still out and Kenny Bell's hamstring is tender, meaning Enunwa's leadership is even more important at the position than usual. He's been the Nebraska quarterbacks' top target, with 42 catches on the season. He's also their best blocker on the outside, which is crucial in the Nebraska running game.

6.) Corey Cooper – Safety
Cooper has become a solid last-line of defense for Nebraska, averaging six tackles over the last three games. His size allows him to move up close to the line of scrimmage as needed. Cooper has two sacks and four tackles for loss. If he went down, Nebraska would struggle to find a safety as physical as the junior.

"He's a leader. He's gotten better," said Pelini. "He works really hard at it. He's a guy who played DIME a year ago. I think that experience up front has helped him. It has translated to how it works on the back end."

5.) Cole Pensick – Offensive line
With the Huskers' front five depleted at the moment, Pensick's status is crucial not only from a leadership standpoint, but because he plays multiple positions. While he's Coach Garrison's first choice at center, Pensick can slide over to the guard spot, that's currently missing Jake Cotton and Spencer Long.


Ciante Evans

4.) Ciante Evans – Cornerback
Saturday against Michigan, it became clear how important Evans really is to the secondary. He's often been labeled by his coaching staff as one of the best defensive backs in the Big Ten and there seems to be a certain level of trust with the senior. Evans was changing players jobs pre-snap, as he recognized what Michigan was doing. To watch him talk about the role, you click here: http://nebraska.scout.com/2/1344925.html

3.) Tommy Armstrong – Quarterback
The redshirt freshman is trying to come into his own, getting on the field training with senior Taylor Martinez likely done for the year. Armstrong's ability to lead a game-winning drive on the road in the Big House will give him nothing but confidence going forward. Armstrong isn't that far ahead of Ron Kellogg III, if he went down with an injury, Kellogg would be able to manage the offense near the same level it is now. But, the senior can't run the option the same way as Armstrong does.

2.) Randy Gregory – Defensive end
Yesterday the Nebraska newcomer was named to the Ted Hendricks Award watch list after posting 7.5 sacks in the Huskers first nine games. Gregory has become a force up front and given Big Ten offensive tackles all they can handle. His 11 quarterback hurries is giving Nebraska a presence on the edge that they haven't had the past few seasons.

"I'm not throwing him into (Ndamukong) Suh's category yet, but I think he can have that type of impact on our program down the line," said Pelini. "That's when Suh became a better player. It wasn't about the statistics or the stats or anything else. When he really bought into the details and the little things that allowed him to become the player that he was here when he finished up his career here."

1.) Ameer Abdullah – Running back
The junior has rushed for 100 yards in every game besides the UCLA loss and been the Huskers most stable offensive threat. A Doak Walker Award candidate, Nebraska wouldn't have seven wins without Ameer Abdullah in the backfield. Imani Cross and Terrell Newby are serviceable running backs, but if either were the starter, Nebraska's rushing attack would be towards the bottom of the conference.

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Josh Harvey has covered college football and recruiting for Fox Sports & Scout.com since 2008. He is now the Publisher of Big Red Report, covering Nebraska athletics.
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