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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 6

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Page 102 of 117

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 6 103 chance to win the West would be finishing in a 7-2 tie with the Badgers and owning the tiebreaker." Callahan thinks it'll have to be the offense that spurs the team to division-contending heights. And it may be more prepared now than ever, simply because four-year starter Tommy Armstrong Jr. exhausted his eligibility. Enter Tulane transfer Tanner Lee, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound- er whose skill set better suits Riley's pro-style scheme. "They finally have a quarterback that can do the things they want to do," Callahan said of Lee, who threw for about 3,500 yards in 2014 and 2015, including setting Tulane freshman records in 2014 with 185 completions, 1,962 yards and 12 touchdowns. "The last two years Mike Riley was forced to do things he's never done in his coaching career. Going forward this is going to look a lot more like what you'd expect to see from a Mike Riley offense. "Lee is an NFL prospect who can make all the throws, he makes smart decisions and has as quick of a release as you'll see. When it's all said and done, he has a chance to best quarterback in the Big Ten West. The biggest key, though, is can they protect him?" And another: Who will he throw to? Gone are three of Nebraska's top four receivers. And the Cornhuskers have to replace leading rusher Terrell Newby, too, though Devine Ozigbo, Tre Bryant and Mikale Wilbon could combine to do so. Ozigbo averaged 4.2 yards per carry as Newby's primary backup and had 412 yards and five TDs. New defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is changing to a more base 3-4 approach, which should suit the personnel well considering there's a good base of play- ers returning in the back seven. The secondary is the team's strength with Chris Jones (3 INTs, 10 PBUs) at corner, and Joshua Kalu (66 tackles, 11 PBUs) at safe- ty after a move from corner to allow Lamar Jackson on the field. There's pretty good depth there, too, with Ki- eron Williams (62 tackles, 5 INTs), Antonio Reed and Eric Lee. There should be four solid options to split snaps in the front three, led by defensive end Freedom Akin- moladun (4 sacks) and tackle Mick Stoltenberg, and there's good depth at inside linebacker with junior Dedrick Young (60 tackles, 4 PBUs) and senior Mar- cus Newby. "The biggest question is that outside boundary line- backer position where they need to find a guy that can be a great pass rusher off the edge," Callahan said. "Today that would be Alex Davis, but he has yet to be an impact player." — Stacy Clardie

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