Big 12 Preview: Nebraska

In conjunction with the Big 12 Football Media Days being held this week in Houston, Go Pokes will be publishing previews on each of the conference's schools.

Nebraska Cornhuskers
OSU does not play Nebraska this season
Head coach: Bill Callahan (2nd year)
2004 Record: 5-6, 3-5 Big 12

One of the big questions going into spring at Nebraska was if junior college transfer Zac Taylor could compete for the starting quarterback spot with incumbent Joe Dailey. Following a performance in the spring game that netted him 357 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, all in the first half, Taylor cemented his spot at No. 1, after which Dailey transferred.

Still, Nebraska will have to prove it can pass the ball efficiently throughout the course of a game. In its first year in the West Coast offense, Nebraska was among the nation's worst in interceptions and failed to complete more than 50 percent of its passes. And, while returning running back Cory Ross topped the 1,000-yard mark on the year, the running game will have to have the passing game if it's truly going to be effective.

Sophomore receiver Terrence Nunn is one to watch, along with Isaiah Fluellen and Nathan Swift, who stepped up in the spring. One hit the Cornhuskers took in the spring was not having tight end Matt Herian, as the senior was still rehabbing from a broken leg incurred last season. Also, Nebraska lost the services of standout running back Brandon Jackson, who injured his shoulder during spring practice. It's unknown if either will be available this season.

Nebraska scored huge with juco transfer defensive tackles Ola Dagundoro and Barry Cryer, each proving they would help starting defensive interior linemen Le Kevin Smith and Titus Adams.

The Cornhuskers are still looking to find a replacement for the most prolific tackler in Nebraska history, Barrett Ruud, who went to Tampa Bay in the second round of the NFL Draft. The addition of junior college transfers Steve Octavien and Dontrell Moore have been a huge boost for the unit's overall speed, but they still haven't settled on the middle.

Quarterbacks took advantage of a woefully undermanned secondary in the spring. Sophomore Cortney Grixby looks very capable, but he wasn't getting much help. Running back turned defensive back Tierre Green proved to be fast enough to make up for mistakes, but still didn't know much about playing the position. The switch to zone coverage should be a major benefit for a group that, except for the safeties, is inexperienced. It starts up front, though. If Nebraska can get an effective push from the four-man rush, this defense could see a major turnaround. If they can't, the Blackshirts could end up the black and blue shirts once more.

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