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Opponent Q&A with Corn Nation

Miami faces a stiff challenge this week against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. To learn more about the team from Lincoln, Ne, we enlisted the help of Brian Towle @BrianRTowle of Corn Nation, SB Nation's Nebraska site. How good is this year's version of the Huskers? Which players does Miami need to watch out for? All that and much more.

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Full Q&A below:


SOTU:  Nebraska lost in the most crushing of ways in Week 1 Vs BYU.    In your estimation have they recovered from the "Hail Mary" loss to the Cougars?

BT: I think that Nebraska saw a lot of good things in that game to be not worried about it. Granted, the way Nebraska lost that game was a kick to the teeth, but the way that the Huskers got mauled in the 2nd quarter and came back to take the lead is something to take away. Nebraska also played a pretty complete game last week against South Alabama, save for the pass D. Nebraska is probably as prepared as it’s going to be for the trip South to Florida, even if they had won against BYU. It’s better to have the game Nebraska did vs. South Alabama than what happened last year versus McNeese State, that is for sure.

SOTU: How is Mike Reilly different from Bo Pelini?    Will Miami see a lot more pro sets on offense?  What kind of defense can UM expect against this new regime?

BT: Mike Riley is less of a antagonistic asshole than Bo Pelini and that’s the main issue most folks will see. However, you can tell that Riley has an interest in getting weaknesses taken care of like penalties, personnel issues and such. Pelini was more in the mode of making the players fit the system while Riley and his coordinators have gone the opposite way. If it was simply wins and losses that were the issue, Bo would still be in Lincoln. However, you have to not be a dick to the people who you work with, donors, fans, and everyone else that looks up to you as the main man in the entire state. I’m not fully sold that Mike Riley is the golden egg, National title winning answer. However, he’s done well in development, recruiting, and hiring of assistants for the most part to give him time and the benefit of the doubt for sure.

Offensively, the first thing you’ll notice is that Nebraska’s offense won’t differ much from last year’s under Tim Beck. Granted, there are less things like zone read and a elimination of no-huddle, hurry-up type of playcalling, but the way that Nebraska uses shotgun/pistol and formations in 21 and 11 sets will remind you of what Nebraska does well. That is due to the fact that Armstrong isn’t a pure Pro Style QB, but that also lends into the way that Riley and Danny Langsdorf treats the Offense.

Defensively, you’ll notice that Nebraska sells out to stop the run much, much more. However, the Secondary play has been an issue through 2 games as the Huskers have given up over 650 yards of passing. Defensive Line play has come down a little bit compared to last year, but the Linebacking crew has gotten much, much better due to better coaching and a philosophy of opening up the depth chart and letting folks battle for the spots. If both Michael Rose-Ivey and Josh Banderas can see the field, then Nebraska will be as good as they come in the LB part.

SOTU: I went back and watched most of the BYU game.  It appears Tommy Armstrong looks to be more accurate this season, but he also appears to make a lot of throws into tight coverage.  Give me your assessment on Armstrong's play through 2 games in 2015.

BT: That’s fair, Armstrong has gotten a lot more confidence from Langsdorf and Riley on what he’s able to do. What has also helped in hindsight is that a lot of Wideouts have been injured in Fall Camp, therefore TA has gotten better with several other pass catchers on the roster. Langsdorf comes to Nebraska from the New York Giants, where he helped Eli Manning get a lot better in his one season in Jersey. I don’t expect the completion percentage to stay that high, but if Armstrong can limit mistakes and turnovers, Nebraska will be very efficient on O, and that’s what Riley and Langsdorf wants.

SOTU: What other Nebraska playmakers on both offense and defense should 'Canes fans be aware of this weekend?

BT: First off is the set of Wideouts that WR coach Keith Williams has taken from good to great. True Frosh Stanley Morgan is a star in the making, and Alonzo Moore has filled in for an injured Demornay Pierson-El very well. Nick Gates, a RS FR from Bishop Gorman in Vegas, has taken the Right Tackle spot and made it his. We do expect more than just Terrell Newby at RB, so take a peek at Devine Ozigbo and Imani Cross to run to make sure the position stays fresh in the Miami humidity.

Defensively, Michael Rose-Ivey came back from a torn ACL and suspension vs. BYU to lead the team in tackles. Nathan Gerry should be in the talk of great Safeties in FBS but tends to get overlooked. Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine, even though they have underachieved a little bit this year, are still a stout bunch of run stoppers between the tackles.

SOTU: Which match-ups or players on the Hurricanes worry you most?

BT: Offensively, the run blocking of Nebraska tends to worry me a little bit. Pass blocking seems to be great, but this group of 5 starters are trying to jell when it comes to run blocking. OL coach Mike Cavanaugh has kept them in together with very little substituting, so it’s their game to make or break.
Defensively, the one guy that has made all of us worry is Cornerback Daniel Davie. He was torched several times by South Alabama on the deep ball, and to be fair he was in position. However, there’s the whole look up and identify the ball thing that Davie has had issues with. The Secondary hasn’t be great but if they can shore up Davie’s spot, then it will be a little better.

SOTU:  Can The Cornhuskers win the B1G West?  Can anyone in the conference slow down Ohio State?

BT: I really do think that Nebraska can win the B1G West. There’s no team in that division that stands out to you and says they are the fave. Wisconsin still has issues with trying to replace Gordon, Minnesota struggles when they have to throw on Offense, and Iowa has looked alright so far, but we won’t know how good they are till probably this weekend. Nebraska had their fate in their hands last year and fell on their face big time, and that’s one of the main reasons Bo Pelini was given a big check to go to Youngstown, Ohio.

SOTU:  What are your all time favorite and least favorite and least favorite Miami Vs Nebraska moments?

BT: Favorite one has to be the 1995 Orange Bowl where the Huskers came back and won against Sapp, Lewis and The Rock for Tom Osborne’s first National Title. The least fave one was the Rose Bowl where I wanted Eric Crouch to have a better finish to his career by defeating Miami. Little did we know that, after the Colorado and Miami games that season, the program wouldn’t be the same.

SOTU: Last but not least, give me your prediction on who wins and why on Saturday?

BT: I’m going to hope that Daniel Davie plays a pretty damn good game on Saturday, and that the mistakes Miami makes while playing Florida Atlantic linger for the Canes. Nebraska has to be the more disciplined team to win the game, and there’s no reason that the Riley factor won’t help on that. I think TA goes for 260-270 yards, the run game goes for 200’ish yards, and Nebraska gets in the backfield and cures the ails of having Brad Kaaya dice them up. Huskers win 34-24.

Thanks again to Brian for working with us.

For more Nebraska coverage be sure to check out Corn Nation.