LINCOLN — The defensive side of the ball has more proven, vocal leaders than the offense. The line is stacked, the corners are among the best in the conference, the linebackers are trash talkers, and the safeties are young, but fierce and talented.
But don’t tell tight end Jack Stoll that means the offense won’t be better than the defense early.
“That’s kinda something I think the media stirred up in their head,” Stoll said.
He’s confident the 11 guys NU runs out against South Alabama will be able to put up serious points. And he even feels good about the next 11.
Nebraska’s offense was among the best in the Big Ten last year, but they lose a 1,000-yard rusher in Ozigbo and a 1,000-yard receiver with Stanley Morgan.
Stoll doesn’t think the Huskers will miss a beat.
“We’re confident as an offense we’re gonna go out there and ball out,” Stoll said. “Whatever everyone else is saying, that’s fine; we know we’re walking around with confidence and swagger like we’re gonna go out there and put out 50, 60 points every single game, and I know that’s something we are definitely capable of doing.”
No college football team has averaged 50 points per game since 2013.
Sign up for Big Red Today news alerts
Get a daily Husker news roundup, recruiting updates and breaking news in your inbox.
Receivers developing depth
Offensive coordinator Troy Walters is pleased with the potential depth of his receiver room. Nebraska will solidify a depth chart over the next few days for Game 1 against South Alabama next Saturday.
Among those making those decisions difficult: Jaevon McQuitty, Andre Hunt and Mike Williams.
“We feel like we have some depth to put guys in and play just as fast,” Walters said. “We’d like to play 6, 7, 8 guys if we can.”
Williams was recruited to Nebraska from East Mississippi Community College. His first season with NU was a disappointment, with only a handful of catches. He was replaced as a starter by walk-on Kade Warner midway through the year.
But things have changed with Williams the past few months.
“Been a whole new Mike Williams,” Walters said. “And I kind of kid with him, ‘Hey, we need the new Mike Williams.’”
Last year, Williams played small. He was pushed around on the perimeter, he struggled with contested catches.
“He’s a small guy, but small guys need to play big,” Walters said. “He’s had a great camp going against Lamar Jackson and (DiCaprio) Bootle (and) every day has made him better. He’s made the contested catches, he’s blocking his butt off on the perimeter.”
Walters said they need to keep Williams fresh, since smaller guys wear down easily.
“He brings an explosive element to this offense that we need, so we just kinda need him to get better,” Walters said. “But very pleased where he’s at.”
South Alabama fast, physical
Tight ends coach Sean Beckton said coaches have started looking at South Alabama tape. He sees a defense that is physical up front and fast in the secondary.
“You’re dealing with kids from the South,” Beckton said. “Those guys are going to want to come up here and try to make a name for themselves. We’re going to make sure our kids are ready to go and dialed in to make sure those guys can meet what those guys are trying to bring on the field on the 31st.”
» True freshman tight end Chris Hickman is someone his position coach, Sean Beckton, sees as a “four-game guy” in order to keep his redshirt season and build up his strength. Beckton said the Omaha Burke grad told him Wednesday morning he was up to 212 pounds, which is well ahead of where he was as an early enrollee last spring. He laughed while saying that recruiting-site profiles listing him as 205 out of high school were “definitely off.”
“Our initial indication of what he’s going to be is spot on,” Beckton said. “He’s going to be a great player here for Nebraska.”» Stoll, a junior, remains the No. 1 tight end, Beckton said. But he told him in front of the position group Tuesday that Austin Allen and Kurt Rafdal have closed the gap. Allen would be the backup if the Huskers played a game today. Both sophomores have made strides physically and in understanding the offense.
» Receiver Andre Hunt has nicknames for most of Nebraska’s quarterbacks outside of starter Adrian Martinez. Andrew Bunch is “Air Bunch” — like the movie “Air Bud,” he laughed — along with “Honey Bunches of Oats.” Luke McCaffrey is “Luke Skywalker.” He couldn’t remember his moniker for Noah Vedral.