Nov. 19, 2016
Nebraska Football: Five Players To watch vs Maryland
The No. 18 Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-2) will have one of the most emotional senior days in college football. On Saturday, the Huskers face the Maryland Terrapins (5-5) in a big game for both programs. First of all, the Huskers are trying to send the seniors out on a great note.
They will be celebrating the life of Sam Foltz and recognizing a class that has played with Foltz' spirit all season long. There's no telling how emotional the day will be. Furthermore, the game is an early kickoff, so the vibe will be a little different than if it was a night game in Lincoln.
Currently, the Huskers are tied for the lead in the Big Ten West. However, they need a little bit of fortune to earn a spot in the Big Ten Championship game. Due to the Wisconsin Badgers holding the tie-breaker, the Huskers need to win out, while the Badgers lose one of their remaining games. Otherwise, Nebraska will play another season without a conference title.
For now, all eyes are on Maryland. The Huskers still have an opportunity to win 10 games this season. At this moment, Nebraska is a 13.5 favorite over the Terrapins.
Must Read: Big Ten Power Rankings
Five Players To Watch
1. Tommy Armstrong- QB: There's no certainty that Tommy Armstrong will play on his senior day. The fifth-year senior didn't participate in practice on Thursday, due to his injured hamstring. Armstrong hasn't really practiced since suffering a head injury against the Ohio State Buckeyes. However, he was magnificent during the 24-17 win over Minnesota last week. Therefore, everyone expects Armstrong to give it a go Saturday morning. Keep in mind, the game is set to kickoff at 12 noon e.t.
If Armstrong is unable to play, fellow senior Ryker Fyfe is prepared to takeover as the signal caller. According to Omaha.com, Fyfe took all of the first team reps yesterday. During Fyfe's only career start, he threw four touchdowns and four interceptions in a loss to Purdue. Once again, Zack Darlington is set to be the back up quarterback if Armstrong is unavailable.
Coming into the game, Armstrong has 13 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He's also second on the team with 499 yards rushing, while leading the team with eight rushing touchdowns. Without Armstrong, the ground attack will look difference. However, if Armstrong can't run, he will be a liability with that bad hamstring.
2. Josh Banderas- LB: Josh Banderas already produced a career high 71 tackles this season. With two games left, Banderas wants to leave the Blackshirt defense on the highest level. He'll have his chance to impact the game on every level Saturday afternoon. In the last five games, Banderas has tallied 52 tackles, including four stops for a loss. In all, he has five tackles behind the line of scrimmage, while playing the best football of his life.
Maryland comes into Week 12 averaging 213 rushing yards per game. They also run the ball 43 times per game. Therefore, Banderas and the rest of the linebackers will be critical to the defense's success this weekend. Still, the Terrapins will be thin at the running back position tomorrow. Due to Lorenzo Harrison's suspension, the Terrapins will be without their second leading rusher. They also might play with Ty Johnson and quarterback Perry Hills. Yet, the Huskers can't be lulled to sleep against the ground attack.
3. Nate Gerry- Safety: Despite missing the season opener, Nathan Gerry has been a force across the board. He's second on the team with 64 tackles and seven tackles for loss. In addition, Gerry has seven pass breakups, one behind team leader Chris Jones. In case you forgot, Gerry also has garnered four interceptions. It's his third straight season with four interceptions. Something tells me he is about to notch a fifth takeaway on Saturday.
As a senior, Gerry has already been invited to some postseason games. However, his mission is two finish the regular season with two more wins. First, the Blackshirts have to take care of business at home. That means Gerry and the rest of the defensive backs have to display great run support against Maryland. He still needs 16 more tackles to break his single season record of 79.
4. Terrell Newby- I-Back: Terrell Newby has never produced a 1,000 yard season as Nebraska's I-back. Currently, he has 727 yards and four touchdowns in 2016. Does Newby have a 200-yard day in his final home game as a Husker? His career high is a 198 yard performance against South Alabama in 2015. This season Newby only has two 100-yard rushing performances. The first two came in back to back games against Illinois and Indiana. Maryland's defense gives up 228 yards per game. They also relinquish over five yards per carry. Due to Armstrong's uncertainty, senior day can turn out to be extremely special for Newby.
5. The WRs: The Huskers have three wide receivers ready to say Hello to Memorial stadium for the final time. Jordan Westerkamp, Alonzo Moore and Brandon Reilly haven't had the most impressive statistical season. However, they have come up big throughout the season.
Jordan Westerkamp: Westerkamp has 39 fewer receptions than last season. With two games left to play, it's impossible for the senior wide receiver to match his output. He's second on the team with 26 catches, and leads the team with four touchdown receptions. Westerkamp also missed two games due to a back injury. Yet, he's added 10 catches in the last two games. Unfortunately, Westerkamp hasn't scored since a two-touchdown effort during a win over Oregon.
Alonzo Moore: The Huskers were also without the services for Alonzo Moore this season. Moore is averaging over 22 yards per catch this season. However, he's only had an impact in six games thus far. Moore dealt with a variety of injuries and hasn't caught a touchdown since an early September game. He did scamper in for a 14 yard touchdown run against Purdue. The offense has to give Moore a chance to catch a few deep balls on Saturday.
Brandon Reilly: A year after posting 40 receptions, Brandon Reilly only has 12 catches in 2016. However, he's still averaging 20.8 yards per catch this season. Reilly hasn't found the endzone, but he's had some spectacular catches in his limited opportunities. There's a chance he may explode with a few nice plays on Saturday.