Washington travels to Nebraska for the rubber match of this three game series. The Huskers thrashed the Huskies at Montake 56-21 early last season but the Huskies answered with a dominating 19-7 win at the Holiday Bowl.
Taylor Martinez returns to lead the team at quarterback. He is the first Cornhusker to ever throw for 300 yards and rush for 100 in a single game. He slumped a bit over the second half of the season. Bo Pellini's goal is to get a more consistent performance out of Martinez and the offense in 2011.
Rex Burkhead is very consistent running back. He isn't a home run hitter but he is productive gaining yardage and capable of carrying the ball 25 times a game. He can catch the ball well out of the backfield and he even lines up at QB in the wildcat from time to time.
Brandon Kinnie and Quincey Enunwa are the only returning receivers with any significant game experience. Kyler Reed takes over at TE. Nebraska has a lot of first and second year talent at the receiver positions. They need some players to make a move this fall.
The Huskers lost both of their talented starting guards. The most logical replacements are Andrew Rodriguez and Brent Qvale. Mike Caputo returns at center. Jeremiah Sirles and Marcel Jones will start at the tackles but there are questions about their overall durability.
Nebraska fielded one of the nation's best defenses in 2010, finishing 3rd in pass defense efficiency, 5th in pass defense, 11th in total defense, and 9th in scoring defense. However, they were below average against the run, finishing only 63rd. Look for Nebraska to move away from the Peso and play more 4-3 to get tougher against the run.
Jared Crick and Baker Steinkuhler return to anchor the defensive line. They need to find an adequate replacement for Pierre Allen out at one of the ends. Cameron Meredith and Josh Williams are the leading contenders for the starting jobs. Almost everyone returns at linebacker for the Blackshirts. Will Compton Lavonte David, and Sean Fisher are the starters. If any one of them goes down there is plenty of talented depth behind them.
The good news if you are a Husky fan is that Prince Amukamara, Eric Hagg, and Dejon Gomes have all graduated. Cornhusker fans counter with the fact that the cupboard isn't empty. CB Alfonzo Dennard returns and he just may be the first CB taken in the 2012 NFL draft. Ciante Evans should be lining up on the other side. Courtney Osborne and Austin Cassidy will start at the safety positions.
Washington Vs Nebraska
I actually like Washington's chances in this game even though it is way too early to make any type of bold prediction of certain victory. I really like the way our defense matches up with the Nebraska offense. It was defense that powered Washington's late season bowl resurgence and it will be defense that will get the program back to a bowl this season. Honestly we need to see both of these teams play before any type of accurate prediction can be surmised but my gut right now is saying Washington. I close my eyes and all I see is Ta'amu doing a total Godzilla against the interior of the Cornhusker offensive line.
Washington 24 Nebraska 14