October 8, 2015

Huskers open B1G race at Illinois

Mike Riley

Mike Riley

Nebraska opens the Big Ten Conference race with a visit to Illinois. The Huskers finished non conference play with a record of 2-2 and take on Illini squad that is 3-1.

After spending the past 12 years navigating the PAC-12 Conference this will be Husker coach Mike Riley’s first trip around the Big Ten.

“It’s both exciting for me and a little scary”, said Riley. “We did offseason study of these teams and we will basically apply all of that stuff and what we learn right now to each game, game by game.”

It is the Husker’s first visit to Champaign since 1986. With the Maryland-Michigan game moving to the morning, kickoff has been move back to 3:02p.m.


Return of Pierson-El would give Husker offense a boost

De'Mornay Pierson-El

De’Mornay Pierson-El

De’Mornay Pierson-El has returned to practice and may play in Nebraska’s Big Ten opener at Illinois on Saturday. The sophomore wide receiver and punt returner has been sidelined since suffering a broken foot in practice back on August 18th.

Junior quarterback Tommy Armstrong is looking forward to having an added weapon on offense.

“He’s one of the great players on this team and we’ve just got to make sure we are smart with him”, said Armstrong. We’re not sure when he is going to be 100 percent.”

Pierson-El earned freshman All-American honors in 2014 when he returned three punts for touchdowns last season and led the nation with 596 punt return yards. He added 23 catches for 321 yards and four touchdowns.



Huskers want touchdowns not field goals

Tommy Armstrong Photo Courtesy Scott Bruhn/NU Media Relations

Tommy Armstrong
Photo Courtesy Scott Bruhn/NU Media Relations

Nebraska wants touchdowns and not field goals when the Huskers open Big Ten play at Illinois on Saturday. Five first half field goals on Saturday kept Southern Mississippi within striking distance and allowed the Golden Eagles to rally and make things interesting in the second half.

Junior quarterback Tommy Armstrong says the Huskers need to be more efficient in the red zone.

“We couldn’t capitalize or execute in the red zone in the first half”, said Armstrong. “We found the end zone a few times in the second half but overall we could have put a lot more points on the board.”

Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf says it starts with being better on third down.

“And I tell the guys you know sometimes it’s a bad call and you have got to bail us out and sometimes we get it wired pretty good against a defensive look and it should work”, said Langsdorf. “If we can make plays in the red zone, especially on third down, we will be able to keep the drives going.”

Lunt making plays for 3-1 Illini

Illinois coach Bill Cubit

Illinois coach Bill Cubit

Illinois coach Bill Cubit says better protection is one of the reasons quarterback Wes Lunt has been making more plays in a 3-1 start to the season. The junior is connecting on better than 60 percent of his passes so far this season with six touchdowns and only two interceptions.

Through four games the Illini have given up only three sacks. A year ago Illinois quarterbacks were sacked nearly three times per game.

“Last year he was getting hit a lot”, said Cubit. “I attributed some of that to the offensive line play, some of that to him not getting rid of the ball and some of it to the wide outs not getting to the right spots. It’s still a work in progress but I think our offensive line is handling pretty well and Wes understands our system a lot better.”

Lunt’s top target is former Iowa Western Community College standout Geronimo Allison. The senior from Tampa, Florida, has 24 receptions this season and is averaging just over 15 yards per catch.



Huskers work to bolster pass defense

Chris Weber

Chris Weber

The Huskers are working to bolster the pass defense as they prepare to open Big Ten play at Illinois. Nebraska ranks last in the FBS in pass defense at nearly 380 yards per game and coach Mike Riley says they are looking at any schematic changes that could help.

“The combination of getting enough pressure and getting some curve balls in coverage is a difficult thing to mesh”, said Riley.

Sophomore linebacker Chris Weber says the problems defending the pass can be fixed and it is not just the responsibility of the secondary.

“Everybody has got to do their job,” said Weber. “We’ve got to get a pass rush up front, linebackers have got to get to their drops and the back end has got to do their thing. Really, pass coverage is not just on the back end it’s on every aspect of it.”

One of the reasons the Huskers are giving up so many passing yards is opponents are not able to run the ball. Nebraska ranks seventh in the country in run defense at just over 73 yards per game.