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What you'll find in today's news:

Scouting Arkansas State: Breaking down the Red Wolves

Gates, offensive line ready to move forward

Before the 3-4 is unveiled, Bob Diaco's energy, teaching style and attention to detail have Blackshirts believing

Huskers Open Home Slate With Ameritas Players Challenge

The Husker Floor Plan

Darin Erstad locks down talented lefty

How did Nebraska's freshmen fare in fall camp?

Nebraska Needs the Screen Game to Slow Arkansas State's Pass Rush

Strong Words from a Former Fullback

Texas A&M commit Jordan Moore keeping open mind while eyeing unofficial trip to NU with brother on Saturday

Red Wolves' D-Line Gets a Boost

247 predicts every game this season

Add Another Big Name to Huskers' Visit List for the Wisconsin Game

Blackshirts bond Barry with former Husker

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Special Message from Coach Cook

Arkansas State quarterback Justice Hansen throws a pass against Troy in November in Troy, Ala. Arkansas State plays at Nebraska on Saturday.

Scouting Arkansas State: Breaking down the Red Wolves

Why you may need the Rolaids

1. That Arkansas State defense has a well-earned reputation after leading the nation last season in tackles for loss at 9.6 per game. The Nebraska offensive line didn't exactly inspire confidence in its last two games to end last season, and will have plenty of pressure on it right out of the gate to make folks forget about last year. Arkansas State has had at least five tackles behind the line of scrimmage in each of its last 17 games. Defensive end Ja'Von Rolland-Jones is the preseason Sun Belt defensive player of the year and the appropriately named Dee Liner is a second-team all-Sun Belt pick on the defensive line, and both players will be stout tests to see just how far NU's offensive line play has come.

2. The Red Wolves averaged 31 points per game last season after Justice Hansen took over as starting quarterback against Central Arkansas in the fourth game of the year, going 8-2 after an 0-3 start. The former four-star recruit, who spent a redshirt season at Oklahoma, completed 58 percent of his passes while throwing for nearly 2,800 yards. The 6-foot-4, 218-pounder will give Nebraska's young players in the secondary plenty to think about besides trying to remember their roles in a new defense.

3. This is a very confident team after last season's strong finish, and one that figures to play inspired football for its head coach. Blake Anderson's wife, Wendy, underwent breast cancer surgery Monday after being diagnosed in April with triple-negative breast cancer. Blake Anderson missed his Monday press conference to be with his wife, who has often been seen around the Arkansas State football facility while battling the disease. Wendy Anderson was "resting well" after surgery, according to a tweet from Blake Anderson. The coach is expected to be with his team in Lincoln.

Why you might chill

1. The Red Wolves have some talent but have stumbled out of the gate each of the past two seasons. Arkansas State lost 55-6 at USC in its 2015 season opener, and was drilled 31-10 at home by Toledo to open last season. This will be the first time Arkansas State has played a Big Ten team since losing to Nebraska in 2012, which dropped ASU to 0-10 all-time against Big Ten teams. The Sun Belt as a whole is 2-26 against the Big Ten since 2001, and a Sun Belt team hasn't beaten in Big Ten team since 2011.

2. ASU was hit hard by graduation, losing six starters on both offense and defense from last season's team. The losses included three defensive backs, two defensive linemen and two offensive linemen. They have to play sometime, but a night game at Memorial Stadium maybe isn't the ideal place for a mid-major program to be breaking in that many first-time starters. Especially on offense, where the Red Wolves like to move quickly and throw the ball a ton.

3. It's a night game at Memorial Stadium. And no matter the opponent, Nebraska is pretty good when playing at home under the lights. The Huskers have won 19 home night games in a row dating back to 2008, and are 45-5 all-time. Given all day to work itself into a lather for the season opener after five weeks of fall camp, Nebraska's crowd should provide another advantage for a team that already possesses a fairly wide talent gap on its opponent.

Nebraska Needs the Screen Game to Slow Arkansas State's Pass Rush

Ja’Von Rolland-Jones is 13.5 sacks away from being the NCAA’s career leader. He’s the reigning Sun Belt player of the year. He was a fixture in opposing teams’ backfields last season and he’s a fixture in the minds of the Huskers’ offensive coaching staff this week.

“You’ve got the nation’s leader in sacks, he’s gonna break the record,” offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said Monday. “The guy is a good pass rusher so we’re going to have to have a lot of help going to where he is, making sure he’s covered up and not letting him go to town.”

Rolland-Jones currently has 30.5 recorded sacks to his name. Nebraska knows how important it’s going to be to keep him and the rest of a front line from Arkansas State with plenty of talent at bay. So much so that Langsdorf started this week’s scouting report with the Red Wolves proficiency for sacking the quarterback and getting into the backfield.

The Huskers need to be efficient on offense when they open the season on Saturday and an effective screen game will go a long way towards helping accomplish that goal.

“They come after you,” Langsdorf said. “So, if you can neutralize some of that rush by changing things up, moving the quarterback and the launch points in the screen game, I think those are all good things to have to be able to combat the pass rush.”

The screen game is something that has been emphasized all offseason, not just for the first game. And no, Nebraska’s not about to just throw screen passes and quick hitters all day long, but switching up what Rolland-Jones and the rest of the Arkansas State front line has to think about when rushing the passer can be an effective way to slow them down.

“When you do have great pass rushers,” running backs coach Reggie Davis said, “it probably does get emphasized even more to try and give those guys something else to think about.”

If Nebraska can at least get Rolland-Jones to hesitate for a split-second – to question whether he needs to pin his ears back or drop off – he’s lost a bit of his advantage. Langsdorf said the team is preparing as if he will move around on the line, but regardless of where he is, that split second can be the difference between a protected throw, and a hurried or forced mistake.

Line coach Mike Cavanaugh said the screen play as a whole is one that takes time to develop, both in preparation and in action, and the Huskers are getting better, but it’s just a matter of getting the play going and getting the back past that first defender and into space.

Part of that is the offensive line setting things up properly. Part of that also lies on the backs being able to catch it cleanly and turn it up field. That means no bobbles, no drops, no mistakes. Davis likes where his room is at in that regard.

“They’ve all done some extra work in the offseason catching the ball,” Davis said. “I’m seeing a lot less drops and a lot less double-catches out of the guys, they’re catching it the first time.”

Success in the screen game won’t single-handily win Nebraska the game on Saturday, but it can’t hurt its chances, especially if it means quarterback Tanner Lee is more insulated from hits – something he hasn’t had to deal with in more than 600 days – from one of the most dominant sack-getters in college football.

Vegas, and most rationale people, know that the Huskers likely won’t lose on Saturday, but that doesn’t mean Nebraska isn’t preparing for a fight.

“I think enough of those ‘upsets’ have happened during these guys’ lifetimes that it’s fresh in their minds,” Davis said. “They know that they have to come out and play their best ball if they want to win the game.”

Add Another Big Name to Huskers' Visit List for the Wisconsin Game

Lock in another huge name for the Wisconsin game.

There are already reports that 2018 5-star linebacker Micah Parsons‍ will be in attendance for the showdown against the Badgers on Oct. 7. That seems to be the game that many 2018 Huskers commits want to hit.

Hail Varsity has learned that 2019 high 4-star linebacker Owen Pappoe‍ plans to attend the Wisconsin game as well. If you recall, Pappoe attended the June 23 Friday Night Lights camp and showed up already looking like a college athlete.

Pappoe is from Grayson High School in Loganville, Georgia, which is the same high school that produced current Husker and newly-minted Blackshirt Mohamed Barry.

Barry has been working hard to get Pappoe to consider Nebraska. Pappoe is the youngest player to ever be invited to Nike’s The Opening, the company's elite, invite-only camp that Brendan Radley-Hiles‍  starred at this year.

The Huskers are squarely in the mix here along with Alabama, Florida State, Clemson and every other school in the country. Pappoe already has 30-plus offers.


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