The 3-2-1: Fall Camp is here
The 2016 football season is finally here, as Nebraska will officially open up Fall Camp on Thursday afternoon.
As things get ready to kickoff, HOL will introduce a new weekly feature: The 3-2-1. We'll breakdown three things we learned that week, two questions we have and give one prediction.
Here is the first installment of The 3-2-1.
Three things we learned
Nebraska technically hasn't had a practice yet, but here are three things we learned about the Huskers over the summer:
1 - Tommy Armstrong is much further ahead
You've heard several times over the summer about the development of senior quarterback Tommy Armstrong. There's no question he's going to be further developed in year two of this offense under Danny Langsdorf and Mike Riley. It will still ultimately come down to the mental mistakes for Armstrong. There's no question he's got all the physical tools and I expect to see much more designed run plays for him in 2016.
2 - The offensive line has a solid starting five for now
From what we know right now, don't expect to see a ton of heated position battles on the offensive line in Fall Camp. Nick Gates (LT), Jerald Foster (LG), Dylan Utter (C), Tanner Farmer (RG) and David Knevel (RT) appear to be solid No. 1's at their respective positions heading into camp. Another name to watch as a swing tackle/guard is fifth-year senior Corey Whitaker. He would be the next man up if something where to happen. Also don't sleep on freshman tackle Matt Farniok, as his services could easily be called upon as well.
3 - This staff has high hopes for linebacker Josh Banderas
The fact that Riley chose to bring senior linebacker Josh Banderas to Big Ten Media Days over an established two-time All-Conference player like Nate Gerry tells you just how high of hopes they have for him in 2016. Riley wants Banderas to be one of the the center pieces of the defense, and has repeatedly said for this defense to be great, they need huge production out of the Mike linebacker position.
1 - How healthy is Pierson-El?
This will be something I'll be watching very closely in Week 1 of Fall Camp. Just how healthy is wide receiver De'Mornay Pierson-El, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Halloween weekend at Purdue. He's had a full nine months of recovery time, but he's also coming off a foot injury he suffered last year in Fall Camp. Riley said he's cleared, but they will limit his workload initially. I'll be watching this closely the first week or two of camp.
2 - What can Parrella get out of this defensive line?
Nebraska lost four defensive linemen from 2015 that had eligibility to return this season. They also lost defensive end Jack Gangwish. First-year defensive line coach John Parrella no doubt inherited a very difficult situation, as most of the hope of his defensive line is based on projections that defensive tackles like Mick Stoltenberg, Peyton Newell and Carlos and Khalil Davis will come into their own, and defensive ends like Freedom Akinmoladun will live up to their potential. A lot of things are going to need to come together for this group in camp as there are still so many questions surrounding the defensive line.
One prediction - Lamar Jackson will have a huge August
I've just heard too much this summer about cornerback Lamar Jackson's abilities for him not to see the field as a true freshman. He was ranked as the No. 1 safety in the country by Rivals.com and I fully expect him to see reps with the top defensive units in Week 1 of camp. I know secondary coach Brian Stewart has high hopes for Jackson, and I think he could end up pushing Chris Jones and some of the guys in the secondary for snaps when it's all said and done.
Sean Callahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he can be heard each day at 6:45 am and 5:05 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap-Up Tuesday's at 7 pm.