Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview 2006 - Husker Offense
What you need to know ... The West Coast offense should finally blow up with the pieces in place to run it the way head coach Bill Callahan wants to. It all starts up front with an improved offensive line that should be more athletic and, eventually, more consistent. There are more than enough star prospects at receiver and running back to put up some huge numbers as long as quarterback Zac Taylor makes the jump in production he's expected to. The return of tight end Matt Herian from a broken leg should mean big things for Taylor.
of the offense: Senior QB Zac Taylor
The key to the unit: Taylor has to go to the next level. His completion percentage has to be better in the bigger games and he has to keep the interceptions to a minimum.
Quarterback Rating: 7.5
- Zac Taylor, Sr. - 237-430 , 55%, 2,653 yds, 19 TD, 12 INT, 1 rushing TD
Stepping in from the JUCO ranks, Taylor finished the year as the Nebraska single season record holder for passing yards, completions and attempts. He had a better season than he got credit for since he had to adjust to the D-I level while getting popped over and over again thanks to a porous offensive line. Now he appears to know what he's doing and should be a superstar with a better line in front of him, a good group of receivers to work with, and an even better command of the attack. While he's not going to run much, he can take of and come up with a few big plays now and then.
- Joe Ganz, Soph.
The star scout teamer of last year is a smart, athletic quarterback who adds a little more mobility to the quarterback mix than the other prospects, but he still needs work on becoming a steady passer. He'll have to battle all fall to be the number two man.
- Harrison Beck, Soph. - 1-10, 21 yds, 1 INT
The team is still waiting for the former star recruit to be a factor in the quarterback race. He'll get more time to develop with Zac Taylor firmly entrenched as the starter, so he'll have to work on his command of the offense. Most importantly, he has to get healthy after having problems with an injured shoulder.
Nebraska finished dead last in the Big 12 in rushing? Nebraska? Averaging 96 yards per game is unacceptable in Lincoln, and it won't happen again despite the loss of top back Cory Ross. The offensive line is better, and it should pave the way for supreme talents Marlon Lucky and Brandon Jackson to put up big numbers. Bruiser Cody Glenn will see more than his share of carries if he doesn't win the starting job outright.
The key to the unit: Someone has to become a consistent threat. Lucky has to take the job by the horns, or else Jackson and Glenn have to become reliable producers.
Running Back Rating: 7
- Marlon Lucky, Soph. - 43 carries, 129 yds, 3 ypc, 2 catches, 3 yds
The superstar recruit of 2005 s saw a little bit of work, mostly in mop up time, but showed little of the flash that made all recruiting fans crazy. He ran for 2,036 yards and 40 touchdowns as a senior at North Hollywood High in L.A., and now he has to hold off several great prospects to be the number one back. With his combination of size, speed, and hands, he might be worth the wait until he gets comfortable in the offense.
- Fullback Dane Todd, Sr. - 8 catches, 75 yds, 9.4 ypc
The 235-pound senior earned Academic All-America honors and had few problems understanding the offense. He's not going to get any carries, but he'll get a few passes his way and should be a key blocker when the offense uses a true fullback.
- Cody Glenn, Soph. - 45 carries, 131 yds, 2.9 ypc, 4 TD
Glenn received little fanfare when he arrived in Lincoln with all the attention paid to Marlon Lucky, but he ended up being just as productive. He's a 230-pound power back who proved this spring that he could start and shine if needed. At the very least, he should be a good short-yardage back and great around the goal line.
- Brandon Jackson, Jr. - 18 carries, 52 yds, 2.9 ypc, 1 catch, 5 yds
Jackson was never right last season suffering from a shoulder problem, but he still served as a kickoff returner and saw a few carries. He ran for 390 yards and six touchdowns in 2004 and should be a factor in the rotation with tremendous speed in a 5-11, 200-pound frame.
- Kenny Wilson, Jr.
The 220-pound JUCO transfer runs a 4.4 40 using that speed to carry the Butler County CC offense scoring 27 touchdowns in two seasons. He was a big-time recruit who'll push hard for starting time. With his wheels, the coaching staff will find ways to get him the ball in space.
There are plenty of options to work with and a great combination of reliable veterans and explosive prospects. Terrence Nunn and Nate Swift are strong targets who know the offense and have proven they can produce, but they'll have to earn their starting spots every week with Todd Peterson, Maurice Purify and Tyrell Spain, bigger, faster, and more talented. The real excitement is over the return of all-star tight end Matt Herian. He'll provide the go-to receiver who'll demand double coverage on every play.
The key to the unit: Herian has to prove he can be the same player he was before the leg injury. The new wide receivers have to prove they can handle the intricacies of the offense.
Receiver Rating: 8
- Terrence Nunn, Soph. - 43 catches, 495 yds, 11.5 ypc, 7 TD
Nunn quickly turned into a reliable playmaker and got better and better as he grew into the offense. He's extremely quick showing off skills as a tremendous punt returner and has been great at making the short to medium range plays. With reliable hands and a nose for the end zone, look for him to turn into more of a deep threat if quarterback Zac Taylor gets more time to throw.
- Nate Swift, Soph. - 45 catches, 641 yds, 14.2 ypc, 7 TD
Swift blew up after not catching a pass in the first three games of last year with three 100-yard games with brilliant back-to-back performances against Missouri and Oklahoma catching 18 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns. Despite leading the team in receiving, he'll have to fight to keep the starting spot with several good prospects ready to see time.
- Tight End Matt Herian, Sr.
The All-America caliber tight end finally appears to be back and ready to contribute after missing almost two years trying to recover from a broken leg that required two surgeries. He's a decent blocker, but he's an NFL caliber target, or at least he was before the injury, and he needs to prove that he can be the fast, 6-5, 245-pound wide-receiver-playing-tight-end that he was before getting hurt. From 2002 to 2004 he caught 53 passes for 1,093 yards and ten touchdowns averaging 20.7 yards per catch.
- Todd Peterson, Soph. - 9 catches, 150 yds, 16.7 ypc, 2 TD
Peterson didn't do anything over the first half of last year and then blossomed into a good-looking deep threat. At 6-4 and 210 pounds, he's one of the team's biggest target with the speed to make big plays behind Terrence Nunn.
- Frantz Hardy, Jr. - 25 catches, 349 yds, 14 ypc, 1 TD
Hardy finished fifth on the team in receiving, but he didn't show off much of his blazing speed after the first half of the season. He only caught three passes over the final five games of the regular season. He ripped off a 73-yard touchdown catch in the opener against Maine.
- Maurice Purify, Jr.
It'll be a shock if he doesn't find a starting spot in a big hurry after catching 68 passes for 1,318 yards and 19 touchdowns last year for famed San Francisco CC. The superstar JUCO transfer is 6-4, 210 pounds and has next level potential.
- Tyrell Spain, Jr.
On all-around skills, Spain could quickly become the team's best receiver. He's 6-3, 190 pounds, fast, and has polished route running ability and a scorer's mentality. The only question is how fast he understands the offense.
- Tight end Josh Meuller, Jr. - 1 catch, 18 yds
The 6-5, 260-pound junior will mostly be a blocker in two tight end sets with Matt Herian catching most of the passes. He started in three games last year and should see plenty of action in the rotation.
- Tight end J.B. Phillips, Jr. - 15 catches, 108 yds, 7.2 ypc
The Academic All-Big 12 performer started every game last year and became a good target over the final four games catching eight passes. With the return of Matt Herian, Phillips will be used as an H-Back and should end up being more of a blocker.
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