Nebraska Football: Four challenges facing Mike Riley’s first year with Cornhuskers

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Dec 5, 2014; Lincoln, NE, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Mike Riley laughs during his press conference at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Riley is installing a pro-style offense at Nebraska, but can his team fit his model?

The Nebraska Cornhuskers’ former workhorse running back Ameer Abdullah is off to the NFL—and the team is about to enter a major transition.

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First-year head coach Mike Riley will focus less on the ground pounding strategy of the past and attempt to install a pro-style offense. Whether that is the best fit for its personnel is questionable, but the team is going to air it out more this year. It could fix things quickly, or it could backfire.

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Determining which is a challenge, and even dual-threat quarterback Tommy Armstrong, Jr. will not be seeking to rush as much this season. He’s actually due to entirely reinvent himself, for better or worse. Some question whether he has the accuracy to be a true pro-style quarterback and from a numbers standpoint it’s tough to dismiss those concerns.

The drastic shift in approach will impact Nebraska and give it a new identity, but it’s tough to imagine that it will necessarily be better. Vegas oddsmakers expect the team to decline to eight wins (from nine last season), and the recent injury to wide out De’Mornay Pierson-El casts darker clouds still. With the lightning quick wide receiver expected to miss six to eight weeks, Nebraska will have to dig further still in attempt to find big plays.

It’s not that these tasks are necessarily impossible.  Teams are able to keep clicking following major departures all the time.  However, the Cornhuskers have been so formulaic as a program that it’s going to have many fans rubbing their eyes as the team becomes far less predictable this season.

Next: Wide Receiving Issues Abound