The Nebraska Cornhuskers sit at 4-0 and are ranked No. 15 in the country, but forget that. It’s Draft Day yet again! Time to tally up my score and see where The Battle for NU left me in the standings.
Quarterback Tommy Armstrong – A pretty good selection considering Armstrong was named the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Week. He tallied 378 yards of total offense including rushing for a career-high 132 yards on 13 carries. He did plenty of damage through the air completing 62 percent of his passes for 246 yards and a touchdown. One point for me.
Running back Devine Ozigbo – If Zig could’ve held onto the pigskin, at worst Nebraska would’ve been downed at the one-yard line and likely punched it in for six. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and he was left with 13 carries for 42 yards. Not his best day.
Wide Receiver Jordan Westerkamp – No. 1 certainly got plenty of balls thrown his way and ended up snagging one for 13 yards. However, his impact on this game came on an end-around for six points thanks to some awesome blocking by Stanley Morgan. I’ll take half of a point here.
Defensive end Ross Dzuris – He was due for a quiet day and Northwestern did a good job bottling him up. Dzuris had a paltry three tackles (one solo). We all know he can do better and I penalize myself a point as a result.
Safety Kieron Williams – No. 26, on the other hand, was all over the place in the secondary yet again. He tied Nathan Gerry for tackles with eight (five solo), but he didn’t do the other damage Gerry did. I’ll call this half a point and be happy.
Now at 11.5 out of 20 for the season, it’s time to pick some big-time winners and Illinois gives me the opportunity to do just that. You don’t open as a 21-point underdog if Vegas thinks you’re going to shine.
To the new and improved draft board!
First Round Pick: Quarterback Tommy Armstrong – Illinois may have the 40th-ranked passing defense in the country, but that’s thanks to the likes of Murray State, North Carolina and Western Michigan. Keep in mind the Tar Heels completed 76 percent of their passes for 250 yards and two scores. Western Michigan managed a shade under 200 yards on the ground, another plus for TA4.
I like this past week’s Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week to go off and that’s saying something considering there may be a new starter on the offensive line.
Second Round Pick: Safety Nate Gerry – He simply makes plays. Ever since he’s been back, the guy’s been solid aside from a few brain farts. He tops the tackle charts, is great in run support and is making the most of his senior campaign. Prediction for the Illini at the hands of Gerry: Pain.
Third Round Pick: Wide Receiver Brandon Reilly – On Monday, Mike Riley emphasized that Nebraska looks to complete 15 of what it considers “big plays” per game. That equates to 10-plus yards on the ground or 20-plus yards through the air. This is a pick connected to Armstrong as Reilly is arguably the Huskers’ best deep threat.
Fourth Round Pick: Defensive end Ross Dzuris – The Illini managed three rushing yards against Western Michigan. Three, tres, drei. You know who I like to keep such numbers low? That’s right! Mustachioed Mayhem himself! Wes Lunt is nowhere near as mobile as Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson and you know what that means. Timber!
Fifth Round Pick: Wide Receiver Jordan Westerkamp – Oh Westy, I haven’t forgotten about you. If Armstrong goes off through the air, I expect the Roommate Connection® to be involved. Westerkamp didn’t have the biggest day during his homecoming, but he plays just as well in front of Memorial Stadium’s crowd. Given it’ll be in front of about 100 less Westerkamps or so, but still.
Wide Receiver Stanley Morgan – One of this team’s best run blockers, Morgan isn’t afraid to get in front of Armstrong’s darts and can bring them in with a welcomed frequency. If No. 4 isn’t having success going over the Illini’s heads, look to Morgan to loosen them up underneath.
Defensive Tackle Kevin Maurice – The Mighty Mo had a great game against Northwestern with three solo tackles up front to go with two sacks. That’s pretty impressive considering Northwestern’s quarterback is more slippery than an eel doused in oil. Again, these Illini don’t seem to be the biggest threat on the ground and Lunt’s just waiting to be gobbled up.
Running Back Mikale Wilbon – One of the game’s biggest questions: Will Wilbon’s carries decrease now that he’s out of his home state and his team’s facing the No. 70 rushing defense in the nation? As long as Wilbon can hang onto the football, with a bye week coming, it might not be the worst idea to see what he can do.