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2016 Nebraska Spring Football: Running Backs

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What's in store for Nebraska running backs in 2016? Probably more of the same.

Terrell Newby on the loose!
Terrell Newby on the loose!
David McGee

The running back corps lost battering ram Imani Cross, but that's about it. Savior-turned-disaster Jordan Stevenson is gone as well but with a good riddance, don't let the door hit you on your way out and

The Nebraska fan base seems to be hoping that someone amongst the returners will save us from the mediocrity that is Terrell Newby.

Is that fair to Newby?

No, but Nebraska has had a love affair with the "next guy up" at running back for as long as I can remember. Rick Berns was replaced by I.M. Hipp who was replaced by Jarvis Redwine who was replaced by Roger Craig who was replaced by Mike Rozier. In every case it was "that next guy is going to be the greatest ever"; never content with the guy we had even though each one was pretty damned good in their own right.

Gone:

Imani Cross: Graduated.

Jordan Stevenson: Transferred the hell out of Lincoln.

Returning:

No Player Position Height Weight Year Hometown
29 Graham Nabity IB 6-0 210 Sr. Omaha, Neb. (Elkhorn)
39 Jordan Nelson IB 5-7 180 Sr. Omaha, Neb. (Burke)
34 Terrell Newby IB 5-10 200 Sr. Los Angeles, Calif. (Chaminade)
23 Austin Rose IB 6-1 215 So. Lincoln, Neb. (North Star)
28 Adam Taylor IB 6-2 210 Jr. Katy, Texas (Katy)
21 Mikale Wilbon IB 5-9 195 So. Chicago, Ill. (De La Salle Institute)
27 Noah Johnson RB 6-0 210 RFr. Sutton, Neb. (Sutton)
37 Wyatt Mazour RB 5-9 190 RFr. Albion, Neb. (Boone Central)
22 Devine Ozigbo RB 5-11 225 So. Sachse, Texas (Sachse)

Newcomers:

No Player Position Height Weight Year Hometown
Tre Bryant RB 5-11 200 Fr. St. Louis, Mo. (Christian Brothers College)

Nebraska running back Terrell Newby David McGee

2015 Rushing Statistics:

Name Pos G Att Yards Avg. TD Att/G Yards/G
Terrell Newby RB 13 147 765 5.2 6 11.31 58.85
Imani Cross RB 12 111 444 4 6 9.25 37
Tommy Armstrong Jr. QB 12 98 400 4.08 7 8.17 33.33
Andy Janovich RB 13 42 265 6.31 3 3.23 20.38
Devine Ozigbo RB 9 39 216 5.54 1 4.33 24
Alonzo Moore WR 12 14 106 7.57 0 1.17 8.83
Brandon Reilly WR 13 11 96 8.73 0 0.85 7.38
Cethan Carter TE 11 2 48 24 1 0.18 4.36
Mikale Wilbon RB 2 9 35 3.89 0 4.5 17.5
Jamal Turner WR 12 4 23 5.75 0 0.33 1.92

Looking Ahead to 2016:

What Nebraska will do with its running game in 2016 will remain a great mystery until the season is underway. There will be plenty of talk about it, of course, because that's mostly what's left between now and when the season starts.

(I recently had a dream in which I kidnapped Danny Langsdorf and had him tortured to tell me his secrets. 96 straight hours of sleep deprivation, when he finally broke all he did was mutter pass plays. Not a single run. Not one, so the guards said. Okay, maybe I really didn't have this dream but I bet I do before the 2016 season starts!)

Nebraska's running back rotation was could be best described as random in 2015. It was understandable to start the season as the new coaching staff needed to learn about what they had, but at the season went on it seemed as if whomever was playing was determined by dice.

Mikale Wilbon showed flashes early getting carries against BYU and South Alabama but then disappeared completely. Devine Ozigbo had seven carries for 70 yards against Illinois, but then got nine carries total in the next seven games until he had 21 attempts against UCLA. Andy Janovich started at running back against Wisconsin. Cross ran like he knew his career was ending against Michigan State and again against UCLA. Throughout it all was Newby getting the most playing time and the most carries, and, in the end, the most yardage.

The 2016 running back situation doesn't look much different than that entering 2015. Newby looks like the guy who will get the most work, but he's not a clear cut favorite above the rest. Fans tend to forget that Ameer Abdullah wasn't the back they completely fell in love with until his senior season and although Newby didn't show as much potential as Adbullah did as a junior, some of that could be attributed to a lack of confidence; something the offense suffered as a whole.

Perhaps it's as simple as that going into 2016 - the offense gets more confidence in running the ball and because of that Danny Langsdorf's tendency changes to run more than pass. Which one comes first, the coach or the players? Does it matter as long as the Huskers are more successful running the ball?

Philosophically, I'd say yes, but that is a long and complicated and may require more advanced dream analysis.