With Mike Riley now at the helm of the Husker football team fans knew there would be some changes to the Husker team as a whole. But something that has been highlighted the most is the instillation of the pro-style offense.
In the past the Huskers have ran out of the shotgun formation. And the Huskers were a run heavy team out of that spread attack. They relied strongly on the run game to make their pass game work. The offense was often unbalanced.
The offense changing though isn't a big surprise to Huskers fans but it will be different for Husker fans to see this offense if it all pans out. Mike Riley has said "I'm impressed with a lot of the volume we have in." "I'm not impressed with how we execute it all."
So obviously the Husker offense has a long ways to go but of course the players are learning a totally different offense. After running the same offense for all that time Bo Pelini was there, it would be hard to change ways. And Mike Riley is still getting use to his new personnel. That personnel being different coaches and players. Coach Riley has never coached these kids and only recruited a few of the kids coming in.
But realistically the Huskers have have the players to run a pro-style offense. Quarterbacks with strong arms, the ability to get out of the pocket, and the ability to throw on the run. And that is another intriguing thing, with a new coach there is a new quarterback battle.
Tommy Armstrong was the full time starter last year but during this spring they have opened it up for a battle. But as if right now it looks as if Armstrong has the lead for that first spot. But players that are making a splash during spring practice are Johnny Stanton and AJ Bush.
Johnny Stanton is a familiar name for husker fans during last spring when there was a quarterback battle. But AJ Bush is one that fans may not be as familiar with. AJ Bush is a 6'3 220 pound redshirt freshmen who tore it up on the scout team last year. What makes him different than the other quarterback at Nebraska is bigger frame, and he is a lefty. He is definitely the wildcard of this quarterback battle. But any of these three quarterbacks should be effective in this pro-style offense.
Offensive Up and Downs
The offensive line has learned new technique from O-Line coach Mike Cavanaugh. This offense will be different for them as well. In the past Nebraska has recruited linemen who can move well and they have ran blocking schemes for the run game. Blocking out of this pro-style offense will be quite different for the offensive line. Some of the players returning on the line are Alex Lewis, Givens Price, Matt Finnin and Zach Sterup, Ryne Reeves, and Chongo Kondolo.
The running back position is where it gets tricky. After the departure of Ameer Abdullah the position is up for grabs. Imani Cross has received careers each year as a Husker but isn't really an every down back, but would be very effective as a third down back. During the spring practices players that have made a strong impression are Adam Taylor and Mikale Wilbon. Both players have a lot of talent but haven't ever played in an actual game, so that will be interesting to see when they do finally get the chance to compete in a real game.
The wide receivers should thrive out of this offense. Nebraska has a great blend of wide outs. A mixture of receivers that have great size, speed, and catching ability. Jordan Westerkamp should highlight the group. Westerkamp is a two year starter that continues to impress with each year.
Last years breakout player was De'Mornay Pierson-El. And lucky for him, Riley is very good with smaller receivers. Glenn Irons is another smaller receiver that could make an impact on this offense as well.
Jamal Turner was just cleared last week after suffering an achilles tear and arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Husker fans have been waiting for him to truly breakout. Turner has shown flashes throughout his career but has never fully put it together.
Nebraska has all the pieces for the pro-style offense to work, we will just have to wait and see how well it turns out.