Corn Nation was nice enough to talk with me about the upcoming Southern Miss-Nebraska game. Let's take a look at writer Brian Towle's answers to my six pressing questions about the Cornhuskers.
With Nebraska coming all the way back versus Miami last week before falling in overtime for yet another heartbreaking loss, what is the mindset for the Cornhuskers heading into this game?
It could be considered rough, as Nebraska is seen as, even with all it’s issues, 2 game ending plays from being 3-0 and ahead of schedule for the season. That being said, many folks think the Huskers are a 8-9 win team, and winning this game with a B1G West schedule that is very favorable, especially on the road, shows a level of enthusiasm. Some Nebraska fans, however, are simply not that patient and want to be the team that dominates every team along the way, which is simply few and far between in this day and age. I don’t think focus will be an issue this week, as the 4th Quarter showed what kind of team this can be.
Terrell Newby seems to be having a good start to the season, but no one else has stepped up. Is it all Newby, all the time, or is there someone to look for running the ball this week?
Interesting note about that is that, in the first game, Newby was rotated with Imani Cross and Devine Ozigbo. Against South Alabama, Newby was the man who evidently was going to be ridden, even with a big lead and some decent stats. Coaches said that because of the way Nebraska started last week vs. Miami, Newby stayed in the game and the rotation was scrapped. I do expect to see Cross and Ozigbo more this game, but don’t be surprised to see Newby end up with the lion’s share.
Tommy Armstrong Jr. seems to have improved passing the football this season. Has his higher than usual passing numbers been more from a shift in philosophy with a new head coach, or has he improved that much as a passer?
Tommy finally has two sets of eyes helping him with Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf running the Offense and giving him input. However, it has to be mentioned that the Wideouts group led by Keith Williams has stepped up big time, especially with Demornay Pierson-El out of the lineup. Jordan Westerkamp and Brandon Reilly has filled in big time, Freshman Stanley Morgan has arrived early, and Alonzo Moore and Tarriq Allen have shown flashes of being better. Route running and concepts have gotten Armstrong the open spots to throw the ball. The reason for the stalling last week during the 1st half was due to many drops, as Armstrong was let down with 6 drops, with at least 4 of those ones that would have moved chains and kept drives alive.
Bo Pelini's time at Nebraska was interesting to say the least, how has the fan base adapted to Mike Riley as the head coach? Have they turned on him any since the 1-2 start
It’s really a mixed bag. The part of the fanbase that simply thinks Bo was fired because he was "only a 9 win coach" is up in arms, but there are a majority realizing that there’s a lot more season ahead for the Huskers, including the Big Ten run. There are many good things to like with Mike Riley, from sideline demeanor to how he treats players, fans, and the program. Granted, being 1-2 will get some hot takes flying in from what’s wrong, but there’s a sense of Riley actually realizing what’s doing Nebraska bad and wanting to fix it, instead of just grandiose statements and dismissive actions.
The Nebraska defense has gotten much better in the second half of games after a slow start. What do you attribute the better second half defense this season?
Good question. The things we all thought would be strengths (corner play, DL play) have been weaknesses to a fault while the one thing we all fretted (LB play) has actually been a pretty decent strength. Mark Banker is adapt in shutting down the run, but passing in both coverage and pass rush has been an issue. Oddly enough, the Huskers are a much better team come the second half. Not a airtight team by all means, but much better than the first 30 minutes of games.
Time for your prediction. How does this game and who comes out on top?
Homecoming for Nebraska, and a real anger in how they came out vs. Miami will be taken out on Southern Miss. I think Armstrong keeps up his solid numbers and Terrell Newby has a decent day. Much more importantly though, the Huskers do well on D and keep Southern Miss out of the end zone till it doesn’t matter. Huskers win 38-13.
Brain Towle is a Nebraska writer for Corn Nation and can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @BrianRTowle