Nebraska offense spring preview

A look at the Nebraska offense heading into spring football.

The 2017 spring season is underway for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Old faces have left and new faces will emerge by the end of spring ball.

Let’s take a look at the offense as the Huskers dive into spring practices.

Quarterback

Who needs to be replaced?

The Nebraska Cornhuskers will have a new starting quarterback heading into the new season for only the third time in the last seven years. Tommy Armstrong was an energetic leader on the field for his team and it wont be easy to replace that kind of personality quickly. The Cornhuskers also lose an in-state quarterback in Ryker Fyfe, however, his contributions weren’t really seen until the end of his senior year.

Who is returning?

In the 2016 recruiting class, Nebraska was able to sign one of the top signal callers out of the state of California in Patrick O’Brien and also gained a transfer from Tulane in Tanner Lee. The two seem to be in a race for the No. 1 position on the depth chart as we get spring practice underway. So far, all indications and gut feelings point to Tanner Lee as the starting quarterback for next season, but O’Brien is not far behind. I think if O’Brien is able to keep pace with Lee, this competition could go deep into spring ball – maybe even into the fall.

Who is new?

Over this past offseason, Nebraska was able to add two additional quarterbacks to the roster in junior college transfer Andrew Bunch and a four-star from California in Tristan Gebbia. Gebbia looks to be the future of the Nebraska offense, but the addition of Bunch could allow the Cornhuskers to redshirt Gebbia if they felt that was the best thing for the team. He needs to add weight.

Projected depth chart this spring
1.) Tanner Lee
2.) Patrick O’Brien
3.) Andrew Bunch
4.) Tristan Gebbia (Redshirt)

Running Back

Who needs to be replaced?

Nebraska lost its top rusher and featured back this past offseason with Terrell Newby graduating. Losing Newby hurts, but the emergence of a new quarterback that fits Riley’s system, the load of carries will fall more on the running backs and that could mean a breakout year for any one of them.

Who is returning?

The Huskers return their second leading rusher in Devine Ozigbo from a year ago and also junior Mikale Wilbon and sophomore Tre Bryant. Bryant exploded onto the scene last year with big games while replacing a mysterious absence from Ozigbo. With the experience that these three running backs give to the offense, we can predict that all three will be utilized in some way for next season.

Who is new?

There aren’t any new names to watch in spring ball and the final depth chart may look a little different as fall approaches. Next year, Jaylin Bradley will be enrolling at Nebraska and looks to make an impact early on in his college career

Projected depth chart this spring
1.) Devine Ozigbo
2.) Tre Bryant

Wide Receiver 

Who needs to be replaced?

Wide receiver is arguably the biggest hole needing to be filled in the Nebraska offense. Losing three of the top four receivers in Brandon Reilly, Jordan Westerkamp, and Alonzo Moore will hurt. 

Who is returning?

The door is wide open for younger guys to step up and show what they can do. The Huskers are already returning an established set of wide outs in Stanley Morgan and De’Mornay Pierson-El. The explosive pair combined for over 700 yards and three touchdowns last year. J.D. Spielman is also a returner who is a young and talented wide out looking to make an impact. He was named Scout team offensive MVP last year. Also emergences from former walk-ons Gabe Rahn and Bryan Reimers could be key returners in the fall.

Who is new?

While wide receiver coach Keith Williams didn’t get the number of wide receivers he wanted in this last recruiting class, the talent he is bringing in can’t be ignored. The three wide receivers the Huskers signed are all ranked in the Scout300 and two of them are already on campus to participate in spring ball. Four-stars Keyshawn Johnson, Jr. and Jaevon McQuitty are here and ready to dive in while the No. 58 overall ranked player in the class of 2017, Tyjon Lindsey, won’t be arriving until next semester. With the Cornhuskers losing so much talent at the wide receiver position, you can look at all three of these guys and make an argument for playing time.

Projected depth chart this spring

First Group
1.) Stanley Morgan
2.) De’Mornay Pierson-El
3.) J.D. Spielman

Second Group
1.) Bryan Reimers
2.) Keyan Williams
3.) Jaevon McQuitty

Tight End

Who needs to be replaced?

Tight end is a position with a lot of question marks heading into spring. Cethan Carter has graduated and will now enter into the draft along with Sam Cotton and Trey Foster departing as well. The trio accounted for all receiving yards at tight end this season and the Huskers are looking to see if any youngsters can step up and fill the massive void left at then end of the line.

Who is returning?

Right now, it’s looking like senior Tyler Hoppes will be the No. 1 for spring practice followed closely by Matt Snyder, David Engelhaupt, Connor Ketter, and Jack Stoll. The competition at this position is going to be fierce and there is no reason to count out any of these guys listed here. There are openings to be filled and look for any one of these guys to take that place

Who is new?

Just like with running back, there are no new tight ends that graduated early and decided to enroll in Nebraska for the spring semester. However, two talented tight ends could be making waves coming this fall. Talented in-state TE Austin Allen out of Aurora and Kurt Rafdal from Indiana are both options for next season. This competition is wide open so there is a chance both could see some playing time next year as freshman.

Projected depth chart this spring
1.) Tyler Hoppes
2.) Matt Snyder/Connor Ketter
3.) David Engelhaupt/Jack Stoll

Offensive Line

Who needs to be replaced?

Offensive line is one of the positions on Nebraska’s team that doesn’t have to replace a whole lot in terms of numbers. The only two players moving on are center Dylan Utter and Corey Whitaker. Utter had a large impact last season as the starting center while Whitaker saw limited action. The depth at the line is solid and should be looked at as a positive as we get into spring practice. 

Who is returning?

Nebraska is returning 80 percent of its starting offensive line from a year ago, so this group will have experience heading into next year. David Knevel, Nick Gates, Tanner Farmer, Jerald Foster, and Cole Conrad all have starting experience that will help them next season. The Huskers also have a group of talented redshirt freshman coming into the program that could push some of the more experienced guys aside as next season rolls around. Boe Wilson, Matt Farniok, Bryan Brokop and John Raridon, as well as sophomore Jalin Barnett and Christian Gaylord are all looking to make that early impact in their careers. 

Who is new?

The 2017 offensive line recruiting class was solid and I strongly believe, Coach Cav did a great job with this class. Three-star guard Broc Bando from IMG Academy (originally from Lincoln) is already on campus and participating in spring ball. Along with Bando, Brendan Jaimes, Matt Sichterman, and Chris Walker will follow Bando to the Huskers next fall. Of the four incoming freshman, I would predict Jaimes as a guy who could possibly see early playing time.

Projected depth chart this spring

Left Tackle
1.) Nick Gates
2.) Matt Farniok

Left Guard
1.) Jerald Foster
2.) Jalin Barnett

Center
1.) John Raridon
2.) Michael Decker

Right Guard
1.) Tanner Farmer
2.) Boe Wilson

Right Tackle
1.) David Knevel
2.) Cole Conrad


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