October 25, 2014

Huskers and Rutgers ready to meet for first time since 1920

Another national leading sellout when NU hosts Rutgers (photo/Huskers.com)

Another national leading sellout when NU hosts Rutgers (photo/Huskers.com)

It will be the 337th consecutive sellout for the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium when the Rutgers Scarlet Knights visit today for an early 11 a.m. kick.

This game ends a string of five straight evening/night games for the Huskers and Bo Pelini has stressed to his players to come out ready to go right away.  Here are some of the key matchups and players to watch.

Ameer Abdullah vs. Rutgers’ defense.

Abdullah is the third-leading rusher in the nation and Rutgers had trouble against Ohio State when it came to wrapping up tackles. Linebacker Quentin Gause is the Knights’ best run-stopper.

Husker wideouts vs. Knights’ secondary.

Nebraska has two wide receivers (Kenny Bell and Jordan Westerkamp) with 27 catches for more than 500 yards and multiple touchdowns, and entrenched starting cornerback Gareef Glashen will need help from Nadir Barnwell, who is there next best.  He may be picked on.  Rutgers DBs also need to worry about quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr.’s running ability.

Blackshirts vs. Rutgers’ tight end Tyler Kroft.  

Can Rutgers use Kroft as their go-to guy in third down situations.  The Preseason All-American candidate has just 10 catches for 109 yards and no touchdowns in seven games.  The Huskers have troubles at times covering the tight end, perhaps the Knights use him more in key situations.

College Football Scout Report

Who: Rutgers (5-2) at Nebraska (6-1).

Where: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.

When: 11 a.m.

TV: ESPN2.

Series: Nebraska leads 1-0.

Huskers may really need to have Randy Gregory make an IMPACT this week (AUDIO)

Randy Gregory (photo/lottimpacttrophy.org)

Randy Gregory (photo/lottimpacttrophy.org)

If there was ever a week for Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory to make an impact, Rutgers would be the team to do it against. As defensive coordinator John Papuchis likes to point out the Scarlet Knights don’t mind going toe to toe with you in an old-fashioned grind it out type of game.

Gregory is one of 20 defensive players around the country named a quarterfinalists for the 2014 Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy, presented to the nation’s most impactful defensive player. Gregory has 28 total tackles, including six tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. Gregory also has an interception, a fumble caused, two pass breakups and a team-high nine quarterback hurries.

Gregory is one of two defenders from the Big Ten on the list, joining Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun. Gregory and Calhoun are among six defensive ends on the Lott quarterfinalists list.

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Players consider it an honor to wear the Blackshirts. So much, that one player doesn’t feel he’s ready to wear it yet (AUDIO)

Nebraska_Cornhuskers_Blackshirts16 Husker defenders were awarded the coveted Blackshirt jersey.

Upfront defensive ends Randy Gregory and Greg McMullen both were selected as ends in the Blackshirt group. Defensive tackles were sophomore Maliek Collins, and juniors Kevin Williams and Vincent Valentine. Four linebackers with seniors Zaire Anderson, Trevor Roach, junior David Santos and sophomore Josh Banderas being the recipients and a total of seven defensive backs were selected.  Corners Josh Mitchell, Daniel Davie and Jonathan Rose, ewcomers Byerson Cockrell and Joshua Kalu and two safeties, senior Corey Cooper and sophomore Nate Gerry.

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Big Red Report

Armstrong doesn’t throw any touchdowns, but comes up big on third down plays

The first three meetings between Nebraska and Northwestern were all close and after the first half it looked like it would come down to the end again, but the Huskers scored 24 unanswered points in the second half for 38-17 win.   Bo Pelini was happy with the finish.

Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. completed 18-of-29 passes for 221 yards. He did not throw an interception or a touchdown pass, but he made a couple of big third down completions.  He was 5 of 6 passing on third down in the second half, able to convert and sustain drives.  He did haul in his first career touchdown catch, a 16-yard reception from freshman wide receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El after a reverse handoff from Abdullah.

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Beck claims protecting the ball a trademark of Nebraska football…really? (AUDIO)

I’m not sure I would call protecting the football a trademark of NU football under Bo Pelini and Tim Beck (a term he used the other day at practice)…turnovers have always been an issue, in my mind. I could be wrong, but turnovers have been an issue against Northwestern as well.Beck says he wants to see steady ball movement from the offense throughout the game against the Wildcats

Even if the Huskers aren’t getting touchdowns or field goals, a couple of first downs and a good punt, flip the field position…don’t give Northwestern short fields to work with.  If the Huskers don’t score on drives, punts are going to be better than turnovers…NU has to make Northwestern work a little bit for their yards and points…A good defense can start with a good offense.

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AUDIO: 10-16 Big Red Report