Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Nebraska season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview
Head Coach: Scott Frost, 5th year at Nebraska, 15-29
7th year overall (34-36), 2021 Preview
2021 Preview: Overall: 3-9, Conference: 1-8
2022 Nebraska Preview
Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Nebraska Top 10 Players | Nebraska Schedule & Analysis
Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview 2022
By the way, the 2016 Nebraska team – two years before Scott Frost took over – went 9-4 and added to a run of nine straight bowl appearances.
At any other big-time program the guy who goes 15-29 in four years with four straight division finishes of fifth or worse would’ve been launched so hard.
Dan Mullen almost won the 2020 SEC Championship at Florida, came within a two-point conversion of maybe beating Alabama early last year, and then he had a bad month … gone.
Clay Helton lost to Stanford in early September, and USC deep-sixed its season to get rid of him and move on.
Michigan fans couldn’t try pushing Jim Harbaugh out the door hard enough before he pulled off that 2021 season, and Texas types had to be held back after Steve Sarkisian’s team melted down against Oklahoma and lost to Kansas.
College football coaches at huge programs don’t survive a few big losses, much less four years of them and a place like Nebraska.
And yet …
Keeping Scott Frost around to give him another shot makes total sense in a college football head coaching hiring and firing world gone mad.
The guy was a great offensive coordinator at Oregon, he took UCF to an unbeaten season, and he was the perfect fit at the perfect program at the perfect time when he got the dream gig.
Nebraska has been pumping quarters into this slot machine over and over and over again because there’s got to be a payoff coming. Worse yet, if it gets up from the chair now, it knows with 1000% certainty that the next team to sit down will hit the jackpot with one pull of the lever.
From the early problem of not finding an ill-timed penalty it didn’t like to commit, to turnover issues, to special teams gaffes, to being about as unclutch as a team can possibly be, Nebraska has itself to blame for most of this rough run. However, it also hasn’t had even the teeniest, tiniest, ittiest, bittiest semblance of good luck.
Yeah, sprinkles are for winners, but an unbelievable 20 of the 29 losses under Frost have been by eight points or fewer.
That leaves another nine losses under Frost when the Huskers got rolled – the program lost 12 games total from 1993 to 2001 – but you don’t lose to that many good teams in so many competitive games like they did last year and not think this whole thing might be really, really close to turning around.
Frost is changing things up from the coaching staff to the transfer portal to a general attitude of enough being enough.
He’s got a more talented starting 22, there’s enough experience to build around, and most importantly in all of this, he knows his team will battle – he could’ve lost his team several times over the last few years, and didn’t.
He could’ve lost this job several times over the last four years, and didn’t. For the all-too-patient Nebraska fans, this season should start to show why.
Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview 2022: Offense, Defense NEXT
Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview 2022: Offense
There will be a more diverse and dynamic offense at Nebraska this season. New offensive coordinator Mark Whipple has been around the block several times – he helped make Kenny Pickett a star at Pitt last year – but it’s not like the Nebraska offense was that big a problem.
The Huskers were second in the Big Ten in total offense, first in yards per completion, the passing game was consistent, and the rushing attack wasn’t awful. However, they couldn’t put the biscuit in the basket – they didn’t score enough, failing to hit 30 points against everyone but Northwestern and Fordham.
Adrian Martinez was everything for the program. He was supposed to step in and be the hand-picked perfect quarterback for Scott Frost, and he was magnificent at times. Now he’s at Kansas State.
Texas transfer Casey Thompson will almost certainly have the gig, but Florida State transfer Chubba Purdy and 2021 backup Logan Smothers will at least get looks.
The receivers should be stronger with home run hitters Trey Palmer from LSU, Marcus Washington from Texas, and Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda from New Mexico State stepping in around 6-4 Omar Manning and others who can stretch the field.
The offensive line is the sticking point. Turner Corcoran is a good one, 6-9, 330-pound Bryce Benhart is a possible NFL blocker, and here’s a little bit of experience from the 2021 depth ready to fill in. This group was just okay, though. Now has to be better for the ground attack and can’t let so many plays happen behind the line.
Whipple likes to pass, and then pass, and then maybe run a bit. He’s got the backs ready to do more.
Martinez was the main rushing threat over the last few years, but the program that was so historically good on the ground has had just one 1,000-yard runner since 2014. It’ll mostly be around a rotation of young backs – Rahmir Johnson, Gabe Ervin, and Jaquez Yant – to add some punch.
Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview 2022: Defense
The Huskers have to generate more big plays on defense. They came up with just 12 takeaways last year, were among the worst in the Big Ten in sacks, and there weren’t enough stops on third downs. There’s a whole lot of experience back among the likely starting 11, but …
The line has to be more disruptive. Hybrid pass rusher Garrett Nelson led the team with five sacks, and that was about it. DT Ty Robinson had two, and no other defensive lineman had more than 1.5. That’s where pass rushing transfer Ochaun Mathis comes in – he made 12.5 sacks and 26 tackles for loss at TCU.
There’s size to go along with the experience up front – getting former Alabama star recruit Stephon Wynn helps – but the stops have to come.
The pressure will likely come from Nelson and the outside linebackers, and the inside combination of Luke Reimer and Nick Henrich – as underclassmen they combined for 208 tackles – should be stat-sheet fillers.
The secondary has to generate more big plays and stops, too. S Myles Farmer is the only returning defensive back who came up with a pick. Plenty of tacklers return – Quinton Newsome made a whole lot of stops from his corner job – but the transfer portal should make the biggest noise.
Tommi Hill from Arizona State should step in for Cam Taylor-Britt, and JUCO transfer DeShaun Singleton and Northern Iowa corner Omar Brown should be instant factors.
Nebraska Cornhuskers: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT
Nebraska Cornhuskers: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats
Nebraska Cornhuskers: Key To The 2022 Offense
Don’t blow off the running game.
It’s a Mark Whipple offense, which means the passing game is going to work and some Husker receiver will end up going Andy Isabella/Jordan Addison and turn into a 93-catch star.
It’s still Nebraska, there’s a part of the base that would still love to win by dominating with the ground game, and the team has to be able to control things at times when it can rip off yards in chunks. That’s going to fall on the backs without an Adrian Martinez in the backfield to hit the home run.
Nebraska ran for over 200 yards three times last year. It was 3-0 when it did, 0-9 when it didn’t.
200 rushing yards hasn’t meant an automatic win in the Scott Frost era, but out of the 15 victories in the four seasons, the O hit the mark in ten of them.
Nebraska Cornhuskers: Key To The 2022 Defense
To hammer this home from earlier – make more big things happen.
The Huskers only came up with 20 sacks, and it only forced 13 takeaways.
The bulk of the sacks and plays behind the line came in just a few games, and three of those 13 turnovers came against Fordham. It wasn’t for a lack of hustle or effort – the D just didn’t come up with enough game-changing moments.
Offenses coughed it up ten times – Nebraska only pounced on a Big Ten-low three fumbles.
The defense came up with ten interceptions. Seven of them came in three games, so there were just three in the other nine games.
There’s too much experience and too many good parts not to do more.
Nebraska Cornhuskers: Key Player To The 2022 Season
P Brian Buschini, Soph. & PK Tommy Bleekrode, Jr.
How do you start winning all the close games? You start to own special teams, and that’s been a bit of a problem.
The Nebraska punting game was a struggle last year. In comes Brian Buschini, who averaged 46 yards per kick with 30 put inside the 20 at Montana.
Husker kickers combined to hit just 8-of-16 field goals and missed four extra points. Furman’s Tommy Bleekrode was an all-star punter, and last season he hit 15-of-18 field goals with one of his misses from 62 yards.
If these two are terrific, they might be that little bit of difference that’s been missing.
Nebraska Cornhuskers: Key Transfer
QB Casey Thompson, Sr.
It’s the weird part about the transfer portal – either you’re getting lesser program’s good guys, or you’re getting a great program’s backup. But that’s not really right when it comes to Thompson.
Texas has Hudson Card and Quinn Ewers – there’s only one quarterback job.
Thompson doesn’t have the big-time skills of those two, but he’s an accurate veteran passer who threw 30 touchdowns and just nine picks over the last three years. He’s not going to be Adrian Martinez on the ground, but he can run a little bit.
Nebraska Key Game To The 2022 Season
at Iowa, Nov. 25
You want to see the cliché of Lucy pulling the football in action? That’s what Iowa has done to Nebraska over the last four years in the Scott Frost era, and it’s been even worse than that.
There have been late heroics, a few meltdowns, and blowout, and overall, lots of pain over a seven-game losing streak. If nothing else, winning in Iowa City for the first time since 2014 would be very, very cathartic.
The schedule is light enough that Nebraska really and truly should have bowl eligibility locked up before the finishing kick of the season – at least, it had better. Now it has to finally get past this Iowa problem.
Nebraska Cornhuskers: 2021 Fun Stats
– Total Points: Nebraska 335 – Opponents 272
– Fumbles: Nebraska 17 (lost 7) – Opponents 10 (lost 3)
– Field Goals: Opponents 16-of-27 – Nebraska 8-of-16
Nebraska Cornhuskers Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT
Nebraska Cornhuskers Season Prediction, What Will Happen
It’s time for this to work.
College football wants this to work – the world is a more fun place when the traditional powers are a thing.
The Big Ten wants this to work – it needs the program to up its game and be a bigger star in the West.
The Nebraska fans want this to work – Scott Frost is their guy.
There’s no excuse for this not to work this season. Scratch that …
To remember how good Nebraska used to be, the idea of “work” means 11-1 and a shot at the College Football Playoff. That’s not happening, but there’s no reason this can’t be a strong winning season that points the trajectory of the program upward.
There’s experience, talent, and a desperation this time around that should all come together.
That, and the schedule isn’t bad.
There’s no Ohio State to deal with, and there’s no Michigan State or Penn State, either. there are also just four true road games.
Set The Nebraska Cornhuskers Regular Season Win Total At … 7
The Huskers have to make the big road trip to Dublin, Ireland to deal with an improved Northwestern, and then it’s time to eat.
You want a fun run? Try going a full month with four games – including the date with Oklahoma – at home. Follow that up with four very winnable games – at Rutgers, at Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota – before a brutal finishing kick.
If the 2022 season is going to work – however you want to define it – Nebraska has to be good enough to at least get to mid-November with a winning season firmly secured.
At the very least, the Huskers should be in the mix for fun things before at Michigan, Wisconsin, at Iowa to close.
And then Nebraska will have to work on preparing for a bowl game.