Today Adidas revealed Nebraska’s new 2018 A1 Primeknit uniforms https://thespun.com/news/nebraska-just-unveiled-new-football-uniforms-for-the-2018-season which resemble the uniforms the Huskers wore back when Scott Frost was the starting quarterback. The stripes on the pants are gone, similar to the late 90’s uniforms, which is a pleasant and appealing change. But this article is not about fashion or apparel trends. Although the 2018 Huskers will be upgrading their aesthetic appeal from a jersey standpoint this coming year, more importantly, they will drastically improve several aspects of their game. This article is not meant to merely suggest or outline aspects of Husker football that needs improvement this year. This article will identify five areas where the Huskers don’t stand a chance of performing worse than last year.
(1) Sacks – The Huskers finished ranked 119 out of 130 teams in total sacks last year. They tallied 14. Compare that to UCF’s 27 and USC’s whopping 46. Expect Nebraska to infuse very young new talent into a much better defensive scheme to increase this number in 2018. Player to watch here is Breon Dixon, outside linebacker.
(2) Interceptions – The Huskers finished the 2017 campaign with 9 total interceptions. Akron, who Nebraska plays this year, more than doubled that at 19. UCF finished tied for second in the nation with 20. The Husker defensive back unit was by far the biggest weak link on the entire team. I expect that to be the same this year, but I also know the new scheme and added competition to the unit will yield a 2018 interception total that surpasses 9. Player to watch here is Cam Taylor, corner.
(3) Rushing – The 2017 Huskers were astonishingly poor at running the football finishing ranked 122 out of 130 teams. Arguably the Huskers were the best overall rushing team in the country from the years 1988 – 2002. The Huskers simply had no explosive running back last year. That will change in 2018 with the addition of several track style speedsters. Scott Frost’s up-tempo spread offense will result in the Huskers ranking in the top 40 for rushing in 2018. Player to watch here is Miles Jones, receiver/running back.
(4) Third Down Conversions – Keeping a drive alive by converting third downs shares a direct correlation with wins. Clemson, perhaps the best team in college football last year, led the nation in third down conversion efficiency. Scott Frost’s 2017 team finished in the top 25 in this category. Nebraska? They finished 81. Whether Nebraska’s figure was due to a lack of creative third down play calling, offensive lineman that lacked strength or endurance, or a depleted pool of playmakers, this figure will see improvement in 2018, especially with a smarter offensive coordinator and a plethora of new speedy playmakers who thrive in open space. Player to watch is Adrian Martinez, quarterback.
(5) Total Offense – There were consecutive years in the past where Nebraska would lead the country in points per game, or at least finish in the top five. UCF averaged just under 5o points a game in 2017. That was tops in the country. The Huskers finished ranked 91. An underachieving quarterback and total absence of a rushing attack resulted in such a poor national ranking in terms of putting points on the scoreboard, which obviously is necessary to improve a win/loss record. The 2018 Huskers will benefit from a more efficient rushing game and improved offensive coaching to drastically improve this aspect of their game in 2018. Player to watch is Greg Bell, running back.