Nebraska Spring Questions: RB

A look at the running back spot going into Nebraska spring football.

How will the position be used compared to 2015?

Head coach Mike Riley made noise shortly before Christmas when he told bowl reporters his goal for the Huskers’ offense in 2016 was to be at least third in the league in rushing.

After seeing Nebraska slip to No. 8 in the Big Ten this season, most fans dismissed the idea.

But with a big performance on the ground in the bowl game against UCLA, doubters have softened their stance and are hoping to be proved wrong.

Last spring and fall camp there was definitely an emphasis put on the passing game in practices. The Huskers had to get up to speed in the category when it came to offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf’s offense.

What will practices look like next month? Will the running game have a bigger focus?

IS DEVINE OZIGBO THE GUY?

Nebraska’s bowl game against UCLA also appeared to put sophomore running back Devine Ozigbo in the driver’s seat to be the Huskers No. 1 back.

A true freshman in 2015, Ozigbo finished with 21 carries for 87 yards against UCLA – both career highs. It might have taken the whole season to be trusted, but the former three-star prospect was the one carrying the ball in crunch time against the Bruins.

But will he keep the job? Does it get expanded? Or does the Nebraska coaching staff continue to be impressed by what senior Terrell Newby brings to the table?

After blinking, Newby is a senior and will have a strong competition on his hands in the spring to stay relevant in the Nebraska backfield. While he was never considered to be the next Ameer Abdullah, Newby had a lot of hype – not only as a signee, but heading into 2015. While he started more times than any other Nebraska running back, he failed take hold of the position. An ankle injury late in the year didn’t help.

CAN MIKALE WILBON BREAK THROUGH?

Every year a player, who’s not getting many reps, is deemed by the fans as the guy who could be great but is on the bench.

Wilbon showed flashes of his potential in 2015 fall camp, but never translated his hype filled preseason into anything on the field. Whether it was his pass protection or he did something to fall out of the good graces of the Nebraska coaching staff, something needs to change for the running back in 2016 if he wants carries. When healthy and at his best, he might have more talent than any other back on the roster.

DOES ARMSTRONG BECOME MORE OF A DEDICATED RUNNER? 

In our spring preview of the signal-callers, we didn’t really look at quarterback Tommy Armstrong as a runner, just a passer.

The senior has the ability to rack up rushing yards when used in Nebraska’s running game, but definitely had his number called on design runs a lot less last season.

With Patrick O’Brien possibly in the mix as the Huskers’ backup quarterback, does the coaching staff encourage Armstrong to run even more this season?


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