2016 vs. 2021 Huskers: An In-Depth Comparison

Oct 7, 2012
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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.
 
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Cornicator

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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
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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.
 

scarletred

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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..
 
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9and4

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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.
 
Jul 2, 2020
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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..
Why exactly does 21 get the nod? Have we been stronger and more physical since frost took over?
 

scarletred

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Why exactly does 21 get the nod? Have we been stronger and more physical since frost took over?

It obviously took a few years but you should have been able to see with your own two eyes the difference last year and you can definitely see how much bigger they even look this spring..
 
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PCastro

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Jul 20, 2019
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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.
Strength of schedule was 65th in 2016
 

Jhollenbeck41

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I can't imagine the depth of coaching ineptitude it requires to have - "without question" - stronger and more physical teams, yet still manage to lose at a substantially higher rate than 2015-2017
Everyone knows you're not a Nebraska fan. I mean this in no other way than saying that no one actually takes your words seriously and that you should unsubscribe from this site.
 

jlb321

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Everyone knows you're not a Nebraska fan. I mean this in no other way than saying that no one actually takes your words seriously and that you should unsubscribe from this site.

you sir or mam, along with others of your ilk, are better characterized as Frost fans ... you can hardly be called Nebraska fans at this juncture

at some point people will come to the harsh realization that being a Frost supporter and a Husker fan are mutually exclusive propositions

history will look with an unfavorable eye on those that continued to support the navigation of this once proud program further and further from relevance into year 4 and beyond

many are choosing legacy player/"coach" over program ....
 

Jhollenbeck41

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you sir or mam, along with others of your ilk, are better characterized as Frost fans ... you can hardly be called Nebraska fans at this juncture

at some point people will come to the harsh realization that being a Frost supporter and a Husker fan are mutually exclusive propositions

history will look with an unfavorable eye on those that continued to support the navigation of this once proud program further and further from relevance into year 4 and beyond

many are choosing legacy player/"coach" over program ....
I'm a sir. I am a Frost fan. I'm also a Frost critic. I also keep things real. Quite a few things are on Frost. Quite a few things aren't. Depends on the situation.
 

inWV

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I remember 2016 as the year the Oline was put together with bailing wire and duct tape. Take a look at the 2-deep for the Fresno game. Just not a lot there.
 

Tuco Salamanca

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I'm a sir. I am a Frost fan. I'm also a Frost critic. I also keep things real. Quite a few things are on Frost. Quite a few things aren't. Depends on the situation.
at this point I am no longer giving Frost a pass on anything.

This is his program and if there are still issues with anything, he needs to own them.

If a player from the past coach is still on the team, it would have to be from the 2016 or 2017 classes and I believe there are only like 9 or so players still on the roster from those 2 classes.

The reality is those players have used their 4 years of guaranteed scholarship, so if Frost wanted to, all of those players could be gone.

The remaining players have all been signed or recruited by Frost.

This program is 100% his. Every coach in America has things that are out of his control to a point. So saying things like some things are on Frost and some aren’t is sort of a cop out.
 

Cornicator

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I remember 2016 as the year the Oline was put together with bailing wire and duct tape. Take a look at the 2-deep for the Fresno game. Just not a lot there.


Nebraska's starting Offensive line vs. Ohio State in 2016:

LT Nick Gates
LG - Sam Hahn
C- Dylan Utter
RG- Corey Whittaker
RT- Cole Conrad

Nebraska didn't stand a chance in that one.

Farmer played a little bit, but was only about 65%.
Foster was still out with the knee injury.
Knevel was hurt.
Zach Hannon was the only other Linemen in Columbus that day. And he never played a meaningful snap in his Husker career.
 

Jhollenbeck41

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at this point I am no longer giving Frost a pass on anything.

This is his program and if there are still issues with anything, he needs to own them.

If a player from the past coach is still on the team, it would have to be from the 2016 or 2017 classes and I believe there are only like 9 or so players still on the roster from those 2 classes.

The reality is those players have used their 4 years of guaranteed scholarship, so if Frost wanted to, all of those players could be gone.

The remaining players have all been signed or recruited by Frost.

This program is 100% his. Every coach in America has things that are out of his control to a point. So saying things like some things are on Frost and some aren’t is sort of a cop out.
No I agree. I just meant more on the lines of if Cam Taylor drops another punt this year against Iowa, I'm not going to blame that on Frost. Cam Taylor has to catch the punt and make the play.


Overall program issues at this point, roster management, any general issues, W/L record, those things, yeah all on Frost at this point.


Cam Jurgens has a somewhat poor snap to the right of Adrian's wheel house in Week 1 but Adrian still does fine, I'm not blaming Frost.


That's all I meant.
 
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scarletred

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No I agree. I just meant more on the lines of if Cam Taylor drops another punt this year against Iowa, I'm not going to blame that on Frost. Cam Taylor has to catch the punt and make the play.


Overall program issues at this point, roster management, any general issues, W/L record, those things, yeah all on Frost at this point.


Cam Jurgens has a somewhat poor snap to the right of Adrian's wheel house in Week 1 but Adrian still does fine, I'm not blaming Frost.


That's all I meant.
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