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    [2022] Big Ten Preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    NEWS NETWORK

     

    Tonight the new season finally starts and with the Nebraska Cornhuskers being the first team to see on-field action in the Big Ten, we will be looking at the next former giant in this series that has a few years on the downswing under its belt. Five seasons ago the Lincoln based university made it to the national stage and only had to bow out in the Championship game, losing 19-34 to the Longhorns of Texas.

     

    After that the Huskers finished 9-4 and ranked two years in a row, still respectable. The 20s haven't been kind to them so far, though. 2020 was a complete letdown and Nebraska went 4-8 - last year they managed 6-6 and made a bowl game, but going into the season as the #7 in the inofficial team strength rankings, hardly anyone could find a cheer for that in them. Also, they lost there and had another season with a negative record to write into their history books.

     

    Will 2022 be the year they turn it around?

     

    6270_nebraska_cornhuskers-alternate-0.pn

     

    :bigten: LOSSES - :bigten: HOPES
    While Nebraska lost a slew of uperclassmen to the draft and dropped in the overall rankings, the Big Ten as a whole lost ground and relative to other teams, the Cornhuskers find themselves in a promising spot - once more. Their solid but not really eye-popping attack duo of QB Sean Connell (2096yds, 59% completed, 14/6 TD/INT ratio) and RB Franklin Riggins (4,97ypc for 1248 and 17 TDs) both return for their Senior year and will have to step up their game a bit if they want to take some glory to the draft with them.

     

    This will not be easy, though. With TE Sebastian Babb (PHI), FB Zahir Willis (MIN), OT Ned Eller (IND) - declaring early - and C Leon Moran (undrafted) they lost four of their blocking staples to the Pros. They still have a solid line though and will look to add shifty Halfback Hakeem Nixon into the mix. Local media expects the Huskers to go more run-heavy this year and we heard that QB Connell had to come in for extra ball security training in the offseason to reduce his fumbling issues. He had 5 last year, amounting to nearly one every ten carries!

     

    :bigten:GER CHANGES THAN THEY HOPED FOR

    While last year it was a - frankly - underperforming offense that hamstrung Nebraska, this year the Defense is the bigger question mark. With their pair of star DTs, Maxwell Quezada (ARI) and Devon Brantley (SF), running out of eligibility the proclaimed plan of the AD was that the Secondary, led by Ballhawk CB Jonathan McAfee was going to be this years' safety net. McAfee didn't agree and, after a great Junior season with 7 INTs, declared early (LAR). For the careful reader a pattern emerges: way too many brackets with NFLHC team abbreviations in them.

     

    In the back of the defense the whole responsibility now lasts on Safety duo Jadon Holmes and Bryce Moore, who will probably have to iron out more than a few CB mistakes - and also will have to collect a lot more turnovers than they did last year, combining for one INT. DE Tyler Ruff (9 sacks) and his counterpart Mario Browne (4.5) reliably pressured opposing passing attacks and outplayed their 3.5 rating, but this won't nearly be as easy without Quezada/Brantley basically sieging the whole o-line. Hope is at home in the NEB Linebacker corps, where JR ILB Nicholas Quinn already played a good season and matured to a vocal leader last year.

     

    WHAT IF WE WANT TO GO :bigten: ANYWAYS

    With their new coach @caesari the Cornhuskers have found new hope though and as we said in the beginning, while there's a lot of signs pointing towards a rocky season in Lincoln, on paper they lead the second tier of Big Ten teams, following close behind Michigan and Purdue. Their matchup against Tennessee tonight will give a first insight into the competitiveness. If the offense manages to overcome the leaving stars, the run game holds its promises and QB/WR play gels just a little better then look for the defense to rally together and give this team a chance in every one of their games, be it at Auburn or Purdue.

     

    That's a lot of ifs though and while a big part of the Nebraska faithful think with the new staff there is a new atmosphere and work ethic to be found in this program that could take them back to the top, there's also the Cassandras. They think that not having a back-up plan for a struggling QB will backfire and another season is about to be lost in the ocean that is CFBHC mediocrity. We here at Gazzetto dell'American Football tend to see the glass half full and that Nebraska will profit from their ADs "optimistic" scheduling, giving all B1G teams a run for their money and staying in contention for the division championship until Purdue closely beats them to it.

     

    That doesn't sound too bad, right?

     

    2022 Nebraska Cornhuskers Depth Chart

    2022 Schedule:

    Spoiler
    Tennessee
    Bye
    at Auburn
    Bye
    Wisconsin
    Ohio State
    Northwestern
    at Purdue
    Bye
    at East Carolina
    Indiana
    Bye
    at Maryland
    Bye
    at Illinois
    at Minnesota
    Iowa


    PS: Minnesota out of favor QB Robbie Koehler got the memo from our last issue and transfered to North Dakota from Minny. We wish him luck!

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