The football season is finally upon us so we met with the guys at SB Nation Blog Corn Nation to get their perspective on the game and how the Owls match-up. FAU will open the season on the road at Nebraska this Saturday at 3:30 pm ET. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.
Special Thanks to the Corn Nation staff for taking the time to answer these questions. You can find them Here.
Q: The FAU faithful believe that the Owls have a decent shot of knocking off Nebraska and at the least expect a good showing in Charlie Partridge's debut. Essentially it would be a downer if the final score was similar to the first meeting with Nebraska.This belief mainly derives from Nebraska's penchant to lose 4 games a year and may have hit a ceiling with Pelini. Is there any shot the Owls keep the game close after the 1st half?
Paul - No, not really. And I hope Owl fans don’t take that personally. The only real hope the Owls have for this game being less than 21 points is if Nebraska shoots itself in the foot. FAU’s strength on defense is pass defense, or at least it was last year. With a legit running threat QB and Heisman Candidate running back, I don’t see Nebraska trying to hard to pass against FAU. It could be a long afternoon for the Owls if NU is running downhill.
David - They do, huh? NU should be better almost across the board than FAU. If this is a game for much longer than 25 minutes, I think you’ll see a bunch of vitriol from the Husker faithful. I could FAU staying with the Huskers for the first quarter or so, but I don’t see NU having much difficulty as the game gets later.
Cobcast Ryan - Not a chance, we’re not Michigan.
Jon - No, because I have my mental breakdown is scheduled in late October/early November, not now.
Ranchbabe - I think FAU accomplished a lot last year, given the circumstances. With that said, if this game turns into a repeat of Wyoming 2013, the entire state will be in flames.
Brian: I mean, I suppose it is possible in the way that the Texas Rangers, through the eleventy billion injuries could still win the AL West. Doesn’t mean it’s going to happen though (bitter Rangers fan here, could ya tell?).
Now, I do remember that FAU had a balls out D last year, but when it comes to running the ball, FAU does allow 4 plus a carry. Besides, Bo seems to be alright in season openers, minus last year vs. Wyoming when it became a marathon that wasn’t good to see and a lot of stuff was set for the season.
Q: Nebraska has to replace 4 year starter QB Taylor Martinez. Although Tommy Armstrong Jr. started a few games last year and has the benefit of First-Team All-Big Ten RB Ameer Abdullah, what should the Owls expect to see from the sophomore?
Paul - Lots of running, enough option to silence the Nebraska purists, and just enough passing to keep defenses honest but not enough to throw a game away.
David - As Paul mentioned, the expectation is that with a talented and diverse running back corps, the offense will revolve around them. They’ve got other weapons, so you’ll see them try and get the ball to the likes of Kenny Bell, too, but look for a heavy dose of Abdullah and Co. and not ask Armstrong to be an All-American before he’s really ready to carry those expectations.
Cobcast Ryan - He runs a solid option. Watch out for the Play Action pass. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jamal Turner has a big game too.
Ranchbabe - What Paul said. We don’t need Peyton Manning, we just need some solid decisions and less turnovers.
Brian - Armstrong had 1 loss in his last 2 seasons of Texas HS Football, as he led his SA Cibolo Steele team to one 5A title and a runner up in another 5A title game. He throws a floaty (if that’s a word) type of ball at times, but he’s gotten better with running the offense and can make good decisions. Plus, he’s pretty tolerable at running, so he’ll give that extra player to worry about with his feet. That all being said, Nebraska has had 1 or more offensive turnovers since September… of 2012. No kidding, 26 straight games with a turnover. I’m more thinking that Nebraska wins in spite of turning it over. If Armstrong and the skill players can keep the ball to themselves, bank the win.
Q: The Owls return a very experienced and potentially explosive offense with Jacquez Johnson entering his second year in the system. What will he see from a Nebraska defense?
Paul - Hopefully a lot of Randy Gregory.
David - Beyond Gregory, the rest of the line has the chance to be very, very good. There’s a lot of NFL talent on that line. There are some questions about the linebackers but the back seven should be pretty stout as well. I’d imagine they’ll do everything they can to make Johnson uncomfortable.
Cobcast Ryan - Gregory and Valentine all over the backfield.
Ranchbabe - Mr. Gregory will be trying very hard to introduce himself early and often. Beyond that, it will be interesting to see some of the new faces in the secondary and how well they perform.
Brian - Everyone pimps the line (which should be better) but we’ve been told that the Linebacking crew of David Santos, Courtney Love, Josh Banderas and company is better. Santos and Banderas were exposed a lot at times (watch the film vs. Minny and Iowa to see what I speak of), but are a year older and got reps the last 2 or so weeks of Fall Camp with the loss of Michael Rose to a ripped ACL.
Q: Nebraska must replace an offensive line that compiled 125 starts together. How concerned are you about an offense's ability to move the ball with will be an inexperienced unit in comparison to last year?
David - There might be some concern, but that’s not to say this line is inexperienced. They’ve got a bunch of of guys who have a fair amount of playing time and with the addition of Alex Lewis, the transfer from Colorado who, reports indicate, is worthy of all the hype, the oline isn’t something that I’m really fretting. I could be in the minority on that, but it’s lower on the list of concerns for me.
Cobcast Ryan - This is my only major concern but part of me thinks that Alex Lewis adds enough to make it a fairly solid o-line
Ranchbabe - What Jon said. Our O-line was a hospital unit in 2013 and every upright body was playing extensively by the end. Even behind one-armed or one-legged (or both) guys, Abdullah still put together 100+ yard rushing games. I am a lot more concerned whether or not anyone in Lincoln has Googled “how to return a punt for positive yardage” than I am about the line.
Brian - The left side of Nebraska’s line with Lewis and Jake Cotton will be there go-to spot when they need something. The Center to Right Tackle part still need to be seen to believe. Givens Price will get the start and will rotate with Chongo Kondolo, Ryne Reeves, Mark Pelini and such. If the OL has issues, Tim Beck will go rogue and get the ball out to the guys on the flanks (Ameer, Jamal Turner, Terrell Newby) and counteract that.
Q: Nebraska wins the game… FAU wins the game…
Paul - NU wins if the Rapture doesn’t happen. FAU wins if Nebraska mistakes it for one of their 8 night games.
David - NU wins if they don’t try and get cute. FAU wins if NU tries to get cute and turns the ball over. Frankly, if NU sticks to it’s strengths and doesn’t get turnover happy, they’ll win it going away. Also, if the kicking game is the disaster some are predicting, that might keep things interesting for a while, too.
Cobcast Ryan - FAU better lose or I’m taking my ball and going home and we aren’t friends anymore.
Ranchbabe - NU wins if they 1) run the ball well and set it up with a low-risk pass game 2) don’t turn it over eight times (search for Iowa State-Nebraska “highlights” from 2009 if you need context) and 3) special teams makes progress from being “unwatchable” to merely below average. FAU wins if the Huskers set a new turnover record, special teams finishes their implosion started in the past couple seasons, and the young defense loses their cool early and often with blown assignments.
Brian - FAU wins if Nebraska has a terrible day on Defense and it comes down to outscoring FAU, which I truly think won’t happen. Nebraska wins if the Defense has a start to something resembling what we were told about all in camp.