2016 vs. 2021 Huskers: An In-Depth Comparison

Oct 7, 2012
49
131
33
I thought this was an interesting comparison. 2016 was year two for Mike Riley, and his most experienced team during his time at Nebraska. While they benefited from an easier schedule, they ended the season a respectable 9-4. For the first time in the Scott Frost era, we have age/experience on our side. While the 2016 squad as more seniors listed, as you'll see below, 2021 team has more starts due to the free RS-COVID year.

2016 Depth Chart to start the season:

QB: Tommy Armstrong (Sr) - 33 starts
RB: Terrell Newby (Sr.) - 8 starts
WR: Jordan Westerkamp (Sr.) - 14 starts
WR: Alonzo Moore (Sr. ) - 14 starts
WR: Brandon Reilly (Sr.) - 7 starts [OR DPE (7 starts)]
TE: Cethan Carter (Sr.) - 25 starts
TE: Sam Cotton (Sr.) - 12 starts
LT: Nick Gates (So.) - 10 starts
LG: Jerald Foster (So.) - 0 starts
C: Dylan Utter (Sr.) - 14 starts
RG: Tanner Farmer (So.) - 0 starts
RT: David Knevel (Jr.) - 0 starts

DE: Ross Dzurius (Sr) - 4 starts
DT: Mick Stoltenburg (So.) - 0 starts
DT: Kevin Maurice (Sr.) - 1 start
DE: Freedom Akinmoladun (So.) - 4 starts
OLB: Marcus Newby (Sr.) - 6 starts
MLB: Josh Banderas (Sr.) - 19 starts
OLB: Dedrick Young (So.) - 11 starts
CB: Josh Kalu (Jr.) - 15 starts
CB: Chris Jones (Jr.) - 7 starts
S: Kieron Williams (Jr.) - 0 starts
S: Nate Gerry (Sr.) - 29 starts

2021 (Projected) Depth Chart to start the season:

QB: Adrian Martinez (Jr.) - 28 starts
RB: Markese Stepp (So.) - 12 starts
WR: Samouri Toure (Sr.) - 30 starts
(I was unable to find definite number on this. He has started at least 25 games, and played in all 11 his RFr season with 35 receptions. Unclear how many of those games he started, so I went with just under half)
WR: Zavier Betts (Fr.) - 1 start
WR: Oliver Martin (Jr.) - 6 starts (not counting Boobie in just yet)
TE: Austin Allen (Jr.) - 12 starts
TE: Travis Vokolek (Jr.) - 11 starts
LT: Turner Corcoran (Fr.) - 1 start
LG: Nouredin Nouli (So.) - 7 starts [OR Trent Hixson (12 starts)]
C: Cam Jurgens (So.) - 19 starts
RG: Ethan Piper (Fr.) - 7 starts
RT: Bryce Benhart (Fr.) - 7 starts

DE: Ben Stille (Sr.) - 21 starts
DT: Damion Daniels (Jr.) - 4 starts
DE: Ty Robinson (Fr.) - 6 starts
OLB: JoJo Domann (Sr.) - 15 starts
MLB: Will Honas (Sr.) - 9 starts [OR Chris Kolarevic (17 starts)]
MLB: Luke Reimer (So.) - 5 starts
OLB: Garrett Nelson (So.) - 9 starts [OR Caleb Tannor (9 starts) OR P. Payne (0 starts)]
CB: Cam Taylor-Britt (Jr.) - 17 starts
CB: Braxton Clark (So.) - 1 start
S: Marquel Dismuke (Sr.) - 19 starts
S: Deontai Williams (Sr.) - 9 starts


2016 Offense: 9 returning individual starters, 137 total game starts
2016 Defense: 7 returning individual starters, 96 total game starts
2016 total returning games started: 233

2021 Offense: 9 returning individual starters, 141 total game starts
2021 Defense: 9 returning individual starters, 115 total game starts
2021 total returning games started: 256


Potential biases in these numbers: I counted all starts equally (Toure's FCS starts are counted the same, which may inflate 2021 numbers). This also does not take into account any of the depth (no [OR] players counted, which would have boosted 2021 numbers). After looking at this, I'm curious what everyone would consider a successful season.
 
Last edited:

Cornicator

Nebraska Legend
Gold Member
Feb 27, 2009
43,539
132,635
113
54
Meadville
Biggest difference was that 2016 receiving and RB Corp had extensive experience all within the Nebraska program. Ozigbo and Tre Bryant even added an extra 700+ yards and 7 TDs from scrimmage. Stan Morgan was also a big part of the equation as well.

Toure, Martin, Stepp, Betts, and perhaps Manning are all highly regarded dudes, but they haven't been around long.

Reilly, Moore, Jordan, and DPE, were all 5th year guys. Stanley Morgan really helped propel that team too.

On the flipside, Nebraska is dramatically better in the defensive Front 7. Josh Banderas is the only player out of that group who could start for the 2021 team.

The depth and talent of the 2021 offensive line is also dramatically improved compared to 2016.
 
Oct 7, 2012
49
131
33
Biggest difference was that 2016 receiving and RB Corp had extensive experience all within the Nebraska program. Ozigbo and Tre Bryant even added an extra 700+ yards and 7 TDs from scrimmage. Stan Morgan was also a big part of the equation as well.

Toure, Martin, Stepp, Betts, and perhaps Manning are all highly regarded dudes, but they haven't been around long.

Reilly, Moore, Jordan, and DPE, were all 5th year guys. Stanley Morgan really helped propel that team too.

On the flipside, Nebraska is dramatically better in the defensive Front 7. Josh Banderas is the only player out of that group who could start for the 2021 team.

The depth and talent of the 2021 offensive line is also dramatically improved compared to 2016.

Good stuff. Forgot about Oz on that team. A lot of vets. Although they did switch schemes halfway through their careers.

Agree with you though. Excited to see the D go to work this year, but a few question marks at the O skill positions. Still think there is enough talent and experience that 8 wins should be the expectation. 6 wins and a bowl game will still be disappointing for me.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Oldie but goodie

scarletred

Nebraska Legend
Jun 17, 2001
37,301
14,747
113
I already like what I see on both sides of the ball from the 2021 compared to 2016 not mention the future for the next season comparing the two..

I’d like to include the winter strength and conditioning between the two as well.. 21 gets the nod on that segment..
 
  • Like
Reactions: yunginsNU2

9and4

Senior
Dec 4, 2013
2,445
3,695
113
Iowa City
I thought this was an interesting comparison. 2016 was year two for Mike Riley, and his most experienced team during his time at Nebraska. While they benefited from an easier schedule, they ended the season a respectable 9-4. For the first time in the Scott Frost era, we have age/experience on our side. While the 2016 squad as more seniors listed, as you'll see below, 2021 team has more starts due to the free RS-COVID year.

2016 Depth Chart to start the season:

QB: Tommy Armstrong (Sr) - 33 starts
RB: Terrell Newby (Sr.) - 8 starts
WR: Jordan Westerkamp (Sr.) - 14 starts
WR: Alonzo Moore (Sr. ) - 14 starts
WR: Brandon Reilly (Sr.) - 7 starts [OR DPE (7 starts)]
TE: Cethan Carter (Sr.) - 25 starts
TE: Sam Cotton (Sr.) - 12 starts
LT: Nick Gates (So.) - 10 starts
LG: Jerald Foster (So.) - 0 starts
C: Dylan Utter (Sr.) - 14 starts
RG: Tanner Farmer (So.) - 0 starts
RT: David Knevel (Jr.) - 0 starts

DE: Ross Dzurius (Sr) - 4 starts
DT: Mick Stoltenburg (So.) - 0 starts
DT: Kevin Maurice (Sr.) - 1 start
DE: Freedom Akinmoladun (So.) - 4 starts
OLB: Marcus Newby (Sr.) - 6 starts
MLB: Josh Banderas (Sr.) - 19 starts
OLB: Dedrick Young (So.) - 11 starts
CB: Josh Kalu (Jr.) - 15 starts
CB: Chris Jones (Jr.) - 7 starts
S: Kieron Williams (Jr.) - 0 starts
S: Nate Gerry (Sr.) - 29 starts

2021 (Projected) Depth Chart to start the season:

QB: Adrian Martinez (Jr.) - 28 starts
RB: Markese Stepp (So.) - 12 starts
WR: Samouri Toure (Sr.) - 30 starts
(I was unable to find definite number on this. He has started at least 25 games, and played in all 11 his RFr season with 35 receptions. Unclear how many of those games he started, so I went with just under half)
WR: Zavier Betts (Fr.) - 1 start
WR: Oliver Martin (Sr.) - 6 starts (not counting Boobie in just yet)
TE: Austin Allen (Jr.) - 12 starts
TE: Travis Vokolek (Jr.) - 11 starts
LT: Turner Corcoran (Fr.) - 1 start
LG: Nouredin Nouli (So.) - 7 starts [OR Trent Hixson (12 starts)]
C: Cam Jurgens (So.) - 19 starts
RG: Ethan Piper (Fr.) - 7 starts
RT: Bryce Benhart (Fr.) - 7 starts

DE: Ben Stille (Sr.) - 21 starts
DT: Damion Daniels (Jr.) - 4 starts
DE: Ty Robinson (Fr.) - 6 starts
OLB: JoJo Domann (Sr.) - 15 starts
MLB: Will Honas (Sr.) - 9 starts [OR Chris Kolarevic (17 starts)]
MLB: Luke Reimer (So.) - 5 starts
OLB: Garrett Nelson (So.) - 9 starts [OR Caleb Tannor (9 starts) OR P. Payne (0 starts)]
CB: Cam Taylor-Britt (Jr.) - 17 starts
CB: Braxton Clark (So.) - 1 start
S: Marquel Dismuke (Sr.) - 19 starts
S: Deontai Williams (Sr.) - 9 starts


2016 Offense: 9 returning individual starters, 137 total game starts
2016 Defense: 7 returning individual starters, 96 total game starts
2016 total returning games started: 233

2021 Offense: 9 returning individual starters, 141 total game starts
2021 Defense: 9 returning individual starters, 115 total game starts
2021 total returning games started: 256


Potential biases in these numbers: I counted all starts equally (Toure's FCS starts are counted the same, which may inflate 2021 numbers). This also does not take into account any of the depth (no [OR] players counted, which would have boosted 2021 numbers). After looking at this, I'm curious what everyone would consider a successful season.
Thank you for the overview. Oliver Martin is still a junior.