Start Time: Saturday, September 2, 7pm CST
TV: BIG10 Network
Radio: EAB Red Wolves Sports Network (107.9 FM, flagship)
Location: Memorial Stadium - Lincoln, Nebraska
Series: Nebraska leads 2-0
Live Stats: AStateStats.com/AStateRedWolves.com
Live Game Notes: twitter.com/AStateGameDay
Vegas Odds: Nebraska -14.5 Over/Under 47
Arkansas State Outlook
What to watch for when ASU has the ball:
So much focus has been placed on returning QB1 Justice Hansen and the all new rebuilt offensive line, there has not been enough talk about the Wand / White / Weh-Weh triumvirate at running back. Junior Warren Wand returns after rushing for 879 yards last season and appears ready to go over the 1,000 yard mark. Don't expect to see the talented Armond Weh-Weh in this one, as he continues to battle injuries.
The other overlooked and less discussed unit is the receiving corps which appears to be deep, talented, and tall. The Red Wolves will start 6’1” Sr. Dijon Paschal at one spot, with 6’6” Justin McInnis at the other WR position. Other weapons off the bench include 6’3” Omar Bayless, 6’5” Kendrick Edwards, and 6’3” frosh Jonathan Adams. It goes without saying that Blake Mack will get a ton of looks and will be a focus for the ‘Husker defense to shutdown but attention to the WRs will open the field and perhaps slow the blitzing from Nebraska's new 3-4 defense.
The fall camp focus on the passing game seemed to be pushing the ball down the field vertically and with a more seasoned QB in Justice Hansen and a deep receiving corps, this should be a strong point if the offensive line can give Hansen the time to go through his progression and make his reads. This will also open rushing lanes for talented backfield and give ASU a good balanced attacking against a defensive line that could be playing some true freshman early. Nebraska has hinted that they wont completely abandon the 4-3 look but depending on early success from the ASU offense, this game will hinge on making the ‘Huskers stay vanilla in their defensive play calling.
What to watch for when Nebraska has the ball:
Nebraska will start Tanner Lee at QB against ASU and the former Tulane signal caller is considered to have a good arm and NFL potential but will have to cut down on his INTs as he threw 17 last year for the Green Wave. What could be a good sign for the Red Wolves is that most of those INTs came as Lee faced pressure. A good consistent pass rush could put the ‘Huskers in long yardage situations and Ja’von Rolland-Jones will begin his journey for the 13.5 sacks he needs to become the NCAA FBS all-time career leader. ASU will most likely be without the services of DL Dee Liner as he nurses a groin injury and tries to prepare the Sun Belt stretch but should have enough depth to fill the gap. The ‘Huskers are green at several spots along the front line as well as in the skill positions of RB and WR, so there could be some opportunities for the ASU front six to break their offensive rhythm early which will be needed as they break in three new starters in a secondary led by the NCAA’s smartest player CB Blaise Taylor.
The setup is there for ASU to challenge early and keep the game close, but the Red Wolves need to grow up quick on the offensive front line and in the secondary. If those two units struggle early, this game could be ugly. I think they both hold up fine and this one goes late into the fourth before being settled.