At quarterback, Sam Keller takes over for 2006 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Zac Taylor. Keller transferred to Nebraska from Arizona State in 2006. The 6-4, 230 pounder has all the tools needed to be a successful quarterback in the West Coast Offense.
Keller sat out last season after transferring to Nebraska but has plenty of game experience at the college level. In 19 career games at ASU, Keller threw for over 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns.
So far this season Keller is averaging 225 yards passing in wins over Nevada and Wake Forest. The Huskers passing game will provide a real challenge for the USC secondary this Saturday in Lincoln. Not only is Keller one of the better quarterbacks that the Trojans will face all year but the Huskers also have a very solid group of wide receivers in Terrence Nunn, Nate Swift and Maurice Purify.
The one knock on Keller is that he is a gunslinger and has a tendency to try and force his throws. Look for the talented Trojans secondary to try and force Keller into making bad decisions. On defense, Pete Carroll likes to stop an opposing teams running game early and force them into third and long situations. So the Huskers passing attack against the Trojans secondary will be one of the most intriguing matchups of the day.
The Huskers running game is led by junior running back Marlon Lucky. Lucky, a local product from North Hollywood High School in California will be the key to the Huskers offense against USC.
Many college football analysts around the nation predicted that 2007 would be a breakout year for Huskers running back Marlon Lucky. And so far Lucky hasn't disappointed. In his first two games Lucky has rushed for 323 yards and 4 touchdowns, although the majority of his yards came against the outmanned Nevada Wolfpack.
Marlon Lucky is a multi-dimensional threat out of the backfield for the Huskers. Not only does he have the speed and size to be a game breaker rushing the ball, but he is also a threat in the passing game. Last year he caught 32 passes for the Huskers and is currently third on the team with 7 catches in 2007.
Stopping Lucky will be the top priority for the Trojans defense this Saturday. Last year the Trojans held Lucky to just 27 yards on 10 carries at the Coliseum.
Behind Lucky on the depth chart is freshman 6-1, 245 Quentin Castille. Castille has been very solid for the Husker so far in his first year and is second on the team with 106 yards rushing.
The Huskers possess one the best receiving units in the Big 12 led by veteran receivers Terrence Nunn, Nate Swift and Maurice Purify. All three of the Huskers receivers had over 20 catches in 2006 and combined for 12 touchdowns.
Terrence Nunn, a senior receiver from Houston, Texas is the Huskers most consistent receiver. Nunn led the Huskers with 42 receptions last year. Nunn has played in all 39 games since he became a Husker and is second in school history with 109 career receptions.
Nate Swift will start as the X receiver for Nebraska against USC. Swift has been a very steady performer for the Huskers the last two seasons. In 2005 Swift had a Nebraska freshman record 45 receptions. In 2006 Swift had 22 catches while sharing duties at the X receiver spot with junior college transfer Maurice Purify.
The Husker big playmaker at wide receiver in 2006 was Maurice Purify. Purify led the team with 7 touchdowns in his first year in Lincoln. Purify had some off the field issues this summer and was suspended for the Huskers opener against Nebraska. On the field Purify is probably the Huskers most gifted receiver and at 6-4, 200 he creates matchup problems for most opposing cornerbacks.
The Cornhuskers have three experienced players returning at tight end: J.B. Phillips, Josh Mueller and Hunter Teafatiller. Senior J.B. Phillips will get the start for the Huskers against USC. The 6-3, 245 Phillips has started in 24 games in his career as a Husker and is mainly used for his blocking. In 2006 Phillips had 13 catches and 2 touchdowns.
Behind Phillips the Huskers have two very capable backups, Josh Mueller and Hunter Teafatiller. Last season Muller and Teafatiller combined to score 6 touchdowns for Nebraska.
The Huskers depth and experience at offensive line is one of the strengths of this year's team. Senior Brett Byford at center is the leader of the talented group. Byford started 13 games last year and is considered one the better offensive lineman in the Big 12.
Matt Slauson also returns at right guard for the Huskers. The Huskers offensive line is very big and physical and has opened up some big holes for Marlon Lucky so far this season. If the Huskers are able to establish the running game early with Marlon Lucky this could turn out to be a very close game.