Work in Sports
Big Red set to do big winning
'99: 12-1, 7-1 Big 12
CoachFrank Solich (third season, 21-5)
Key offensive playersEric Crouch, QB, Sr.
Nation's speediest option quarterback (team-leading 889 yards, 16 TDs in '99) has added 10 pounds of muscle from last year.
Dominic Raiola, C, Sr.
Dan Alexander, I-back, Sr.
Bobby Newcombe, WR/KR, Sr.
Key defensive playersCarlos Polk, MLB, Sr.
Strong senior season could cement his status as greatest linebacker in Nebraska history.
Loran Kaiser, DT, Sr.
Keyuo Craver, CB, Jr.
Key newcomerCollins, RB, Jr.
Six running backs are ahead of him on the depth chart, but some Nebraska insiders say he's the missing ingredient needed for a national championship.
Throwback playerA strong recovery from an ankle injury could make Cornhusker fans remember Grant Wistrom and Trev Alberts when they see DE Kyle Vanden Bosch play.
21st century playerLB Randy Stella showed flashes of his other play-making abilities by blocking punts and running backs kicks last year.
Fast factPunter Dan Hadenfeldt, who broke the school punting record last season, was granted a sixth year of eligibility after petitioning the NCAA.
OutlookSolich might worry about the lack of defensive producers, but the Cornhuskers have a deep team brimming with offensive weapons. The Cornhuskers return nine offensive starters but must keep Crouch healthy if they want to challenge for a national championship. The lack of a proven backup at quarterback and depth at outside linebacker are two questions that the Cornhuskers face coming into the season. If Crouch makes it through the season in one piece and Collins develops as advertised, Solich's first national championship could be in the works.
-- Tim Griffin