Tennessess-Chattanooga @ Nebraska
- Game time: 2:30
- TV: Big Ten Network
- Sirius Channel: 94
- Weather: Temp 80, 40% chance or rain.
Finally, it's time to watch some football. There were a lot of changes for the Huskers during the offseason, including four new assistant coaches - the first coaching changes since Bo Pelini has been back in Lincoln. The west coast / spread/ whatever you call it offense of Shawn Watson is apparently a thing of the past as Youngstown, OH native, Tim Beck, is now calling the plays.
They'll be a whole lot of things worth watching in the season opener, but here are five key's that may stand above the others. Enjoy the game and stay cool.
1. The freshmen running backs. Everyone knows what junior, Rex Burkhead, brings to the table. No questions there. But there's little doubt the Huskers are going to need the three newcomers to step throughout the season. It's not easy to spread the ball around to four guys playing the same position(especially with a running QB) so keep an eye on not only who, but how Tim Beck uses each of the backs in his offense. Are two of them in the game at the same time? Does one line up in the slot? If they don't get creative with one or two of them on offense, it wouldn't be shocking to see one possibly redshirt, with senior Austin Jones providing additional depth.
2. Tim Beck's offense. Nebraska isn't likely to show more than it has to an Saturday against a Chattanooga team that will no doubt be overmatched, but it still should be interesting to see what has changed from last season. We've heard a lot about the no-huddle, fast paced offense throughout the offseason so now we get to see how it looks in person, assuming they use it, of course.
3. Kicking game. Alex Henery is gone and it's sad to say, he's not coming back. Brett Maher steps in and obviously has some big shoes to fill. How does he handle kicking with 85,000+ people looking on?
And what about the kickoffs? Adi Kunalic was better than good in that department last year. If Maher or Mauro Bondi don't have some regularity on touchbacks, the Huskers will likely need to sharpen up their kickoff coverage unit just a bit. Those guys didn't get all that much practice last year.
4. The offensive line. Like the offense as a whole, it will be hard to judge the line going up against a very undersized Chattanooga defense, but it still the first live game action where the guys up front can start building some continuity together.
There were a slew of injuries among the group throughout the fall but who plays where and how much will be something to keep an eye on. Oh yeah, and don't forget to watch sophomore walk-on, Spencer Long, at right guard and true freshman, Tyler Moore at right tackle.
5. Keep the trainers on the sideline. It'll be a rugged schedule once the Big Ten schedule gets underway and as always, it'll be important to keep guys healthy through these first few weeks. Injuries are going to happen, but the less than trainers have to trot out onto the field on Saturday, the better. Keep your fingers crossed.
Prediction: How about 48-10, Huskers.