Despite picking up its first loss of the season in a tight battle against Wisconsin, there’s plenty of hope for Nebraska’s 2016 season. The Huskers still control their own fate when it comes to getting to the Big Ten Championship Game. As for what happens after this season ends, the upward trend of the Nebraska program wasn’t dented at all after the loss to the Badgers.
Sitting at 4-1 in conference play, here are some things to note as the Big Red heads to play its most difficult game of the season thus far at Ohio State.
- Tommy Simply is Who he Is: We’re getting to the end of Tommy Armstrong, Jr.’s tenure as a Husker. At this point, it’s safe to say there is no longer a Good Tommy or Bad Tommy, but rather just Armstrong as he is.
He displayed varying degrees of footwork versus Wisconsin (during one play he fell flat on his butt). Still, I feel if he can get four seconds of protection from his offensive line he can be effective. This is the part where I’ve been saying “but he must make proper reads” for the entirety of his career. If it ain’t happening by now, I don’t know when to expect it.
The good news is that while Armstrong may struggle against better defenses, he has a deep and very capable wide receiver corps that can snag passes which are a touch too high or too hard. We’ll get a good chance to see how accurate this theory is versus the Buckeyes.
- What You See is What You Get With the Offensive Line: If there was ever a point where a redshirt was going to be pulled to help Nebraska’s injury-riddled offensive line, I have to think it would’ve happened by now. At this point, those players would lose a year of eligibility for the potential of what, exactly? Getting to the eight or nine wins that look likely anyway?
It’s pretty impressive that offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh has been able to get what he has out of this group considering various parts of his mammoths’ lower limbs are dinged up. Consider his use of three different offensive linemen to plug various holes, not to mention center Dylan Utter, who has been worked over by opposing defenses lately.
I thought that true freshman guard Boe Wilson might shed his redshirt and take over for D.J. Foster when he injured his knee in fall camp, but head coach Mike Riley gave the impression that would likely be a last resort.
While I’m not sure how well this line will fare against Ohio State, I feel it can help Nebraska pick up wins against Minnesota, Maryland and Iowa.
- Come Back, Cethan: Tight end Cethan Carter has officially been upgraded to “questionable” for the upcoming game against Ohio State. However, don’t count on seeing No. 11 just yet.
Riley commented on his star run blocker’s status this past Monday.
“I don’t know [that he comes back] this game. We’ll look at him tomorrow and see where he is. He’s been working out, hitting bags, running routes, and doing some stuff. He’s close and we’ll see how that goes this week. It would be good to have him back, but I want to make sure he’s really well and feels good. It might be one of those deals where he’s pretty close, and it might be best to keep him out another week just for his comfort and playing.”
Don’t get me wrong, I think Nebraska has a shot at upsetting the Buckeyes. That said, if I was the one making the call about sending Carter out to improve the odds, I’d sit him. You allow him to rest up more for three very winnable games and don’t risk the chance of him getting re-injured.