NFL teams had to cut their rosters down to 53 Tuesday, meaning a flurry of roster news is happening from all around the league.
That, of course, includes the latest round of rookies who spent the 2020 season at the University of Nebraska.
It will be no surprise when Brenden Jaimes makes the roster for the Los Angeles Chargers, considering he was a fifth-round draft pick.
His fellow former offensive lineman, Matt Farniok, is expected to make the first rendition of the 53-man roster for the Dallas Cowboys after being drafted in the seventh round, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Former Nebraska linebacker Luke Gifford is also expected to make the Cowboys' initial roster.
Not only that, but undrafted free agent tight end Jack Stoll has made the Philadelphia Eagles' roster, according to Philadelphia Daily News.
Elsewhere, running back Dedrick Mills was cut by the Detroit Lions and Dicaprio Bootle was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Among other recent Nebraska graduates, wide receiver Stanley Morgan made the initial 53 for the Cincinnati Bengals, where his receivers coach is former NU offensive coordinator Troy Walters and the head coach is former Husker quarterback Zac Taylor.
Khalil Davis (Tampa Bay) and Carlos Davis (Pittsburgh) both made initial rosters, as expected, while Lamar Jackson (New York Jets), Darrion Daniels (San Francisco) and Devine Ozigbo (Jacksonville) were all cut.
It's worth noting that the transaction wire is always dense with moves this time of year, and that players near the bottom of the roster who think they've survived sometimes end up being harmed by their franchise claiming players from other teams.
Sound Dashboard: Where can the Huskers make some noise in a 12-game slate?
Aug. 28, at Illinois
Sound check: One of Nebraska head coach Scott Frost’s central themes this offseason has been his contention that his program is moving in the right direction but could use “some wind underneath its wings” early in the schedule to generate confidence throughout the roster. In other words, this game feels extremely important for the Huskers. There will be plenty of intensity in the stadium as Bret Bielema begins his tenure as Illinois’ head coach. Volume reading: 8. There’s ample buzz because Nebraska wants badly to prove its program is on the right track. Plus, we all know what happened last season in Lincoln. The Illini’s 41-23 triumph was a body blow to the Huskers in the middle of their pandemic season. It’ll be on the visitors’ minds. Turn ’em up: You don’t have to be Joel Klatt to come up with one potential advantage for Nebraska. That is, in Frost’s fourth season at Nebraska, the Huskers are settled into their systems. They have plenty of veteran players who know exactly what they’re doing. On the other hand, Bielema’s crew has plenty of learning ahead, and it’s awfully dangerous to try to simplify game plans and schemes too much at this level of football.
Turn ’em down: Illinois hammered Nebraska with its ground game in last season’s game, and guess what? Illinois has a stable of quality backs, led by returner Chase Brown, as well as three super seniors on its offensive line. What’s more, Husker fans are well-acquainted with Bielema’s affinity for the run game.
Sept. 4, vs. Fordham
Sound check: Nebraska has enjoyed very few games in recent years that allow it to rest starters in the second half and play a lot of young reserve players. This game could — and probably should — afford the Huskers that opportunity. Volume reading: 4. Nebraska needs to build a head of steam for its Sept. 18 game at Oklahoma. It can’t afford to stumble, especially with its fan base hungry for Frost’s program to show progress. If you’re a Husker fan, you hope Frost’s squad shows up ready to fight. If it does, it should be a pleasurable afternoon for the faithful. Turn ’em up: First of all, Fordham has never played a Power Five program in its modern-day history. You wonder how the Rams will react to playing in a giant stadium that figures to be sold out. They’re just 8-18 under third-year head coach Joe Conlin. All signs point to a mismatch.
Turn ’em down: Fordham operates with 60 football scholarships, as the FCS maximum allowed is 62. And let’s be clear: It’s an experienced roster. The Rams will have a bunch of veteran players hungry to make history for their program.
Sept. 11, vs. Buffalo
Sound check: Before Lance Leipold departed Buffalo to become Kansas’ head coach, this figured to be a difficult game for Nebraska. But Leipold became KU’s head coach in late April and took some key Buffalo players with him to Lawrence. So, this now looks like a much more manageable opportunity for Nebraska to generate momentum for the game against Oklahoma. Volume reading: 5. This seems like a good time to remind Nebraska fans of a sports axiom that certainly applies in the Husker football realm: Every game is big if you lose it. Turn ’em up: Buffalo was an excellent running team last season. But if the Huskers’ veteran-laden defense can stuff running back Kevin Marks and make the Bulls go to the air, well, they can look pretty average in that mode. Buffalo’s offensive line took a big hit when center Mike Novitsky followed Lance Leipold to Kansas. In addition, left guard Jacob Gall bolted for Baylor.
Turn ’em down: New Buffalo head coach Maurice Linguist knows defense, and he’s inheriting a group with plenty of good parts. The Bulls last season led the MAC in allowing 359 yards and 22 points per game. The pass rush was good, the run defense was OK, and the secondary good enough. Three starters are back in the secondary.
Sept. 18, at Oklahoma
Sound check: Oklahoma is widely regarded as a threat to win the national championship. So, Nebraska could be a massive underdog depending, of course, on how well it acquits itself in its first three games. If NU breaks from the gate well and enters the day with a 3-0 record, this game will get some national attention — in part because of NU at one point tried to get out of playing it in hopes of scheduling an extra home game. Yeah, there’s that little storyline to consider. Volume reading: 9. It’s the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Game of the Century. It’s Nebraska and Oklahoma, friendly rivals from yesteryear. All-time great players from both programs will be on the scene in Norman. It should feel magnificent. NU and OU have played each other 86 times but have not faced each other since Dec. 4, 2010, not long before the Huskers officially joined the Big Ten. Turn ’em up: Oklahoma has never lost a game in the Lincoln Riley era when it won the turnover battle. If someone is going to upset this Sooner crew, it’ll need takeaways, maybe several of them -- like the four Kansas State produced in its 38-35 shocker against OU last season. The Sooners were minus-2 against the Wildcats in 2019 as well, and dropped their only regular-season game.
Turn ’em down: Ultra-talented Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler enters his third year in Riley’s system. That level of QB comfort is scary enough. What’s more, Rattler throws to a receiving corps that’s regarded as one of the best in the nation. Include some talented backs in the mix, and an offense that spreads the ball around should be nearly impossible to completely corral.
Sept. 25, at Michigan State
Sound check: Nebraska’s program hasn’t reached a level where it can have a significant letdown in a Big Ten road game and casually expect to escape with a win. If it has reached that level, we haven’t seen it. Nebraska will pour a lot of energy into the game at Oklahoma. It better save plenty of energy for this trip. Volume reading: 6. It’s a safe bet the nation’s eyes will not be focused on this game. Nebraska fans, though, are yearning for Scott Frost’s program to show progress in his fourth year in charge, and any conference road win helps in that regard — especially one following a trip to Oklahoma. Turn ’em up: This may be an opportunity for Nebraska’s defense to carry the day. Michigan State’s quarterback situation was inconclusive coming out of spring practice, and the Spartans’ offensive line has been an issue for the past few years. Sparty does have talent at the wideout positions, which is something to watch.
Turn ’em down: As is typically the case, Michigan State’s defensive line is deep and talented. If Sparty is able to stonewall the Huskers’ running game and get pressure on the quarterback, we could be looking at a low-scoring grind of a game. MSU is a tough team to get a good read on because it is relying heavily on an influx of transfers after losing 20 players to the transfer portal.
Oct. 2, vs. Northwestern
Sound check: It’s Northwestern-Nebraska, so you know what to expect. A close game. A game that may not be particularly pretty. The Huskers will look forward to returning home after two straight road games. Beating the defending Big Ten West Division champion would be a significant development for the Huskers. Volume reading: 7. The 2021 season is regarded as a good test for Northwestern to see where it’s at as a program. The Wildcats lost ample talent on both sides of the ball from last year’s squad but are still regarded as an upper-level team in the division. Nebraska is fighting for such status. Yes, there is intrigue here. Turn ’em up: Northwestern’s defense lost a ton of firepower — including an NFL first-round pick in corner Greg Newsome — and features a new coordinator in Jim O’Neil. Meanwhile, Nebraska’s offense is led by a fourth-year starter at quarterback. The Huskers have key weapons — for instance, tight ends Austin Allen and Travis Vokolek — who are very comfortable in Frost’s offensive system. Advantage, Huskers.
Turn ’em down: Northwestern’s offense lost seven productive players, but some prognosticators think the Wildcats have a chance to be more explosive in 2021. Much of that belief stems from the arrival of quarterback Ryan Hilinski from South Carolina. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound sophomore started 11 games for the Gamecocks in 2019 but reportedly fell out of favor with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.
Oct. 9, vs. Michigan
Sound check: Michigan was 2-4 last year. But it’s Michigan. It’ll have talent, and that talent will be coached well. Jim Harbaugh is 49-22 in six seasons at the school. He signed a contract extension in the offseason and revamped his coaching staff. A total of 17 starters return, including four offensive linemen. Volume reading: 8. It’s Michigan. It’s the Maize and Blue. It’s Harbaugh. The Wolverines haven’t been to Lincoln since 2012, when they fell 23-9 to a Bo Pelini-led Husker outfit. The stadium will be jacked up for this one because, well, it’s Michigan. Turn ’em up: So, Nebraska faces another team breaking in a new defensive coordinator. In this case, it’s Mike Macdonald, formerly a Baltimore Ravens linebackers coach. He has nine starters back from a unit that was jackhammered last season by Wisconsin to the tune of 49-11. It’s largely why former defensive coordinator Don Brown was shown the door.
Turn ’em down: Michigan’s veteran offensive line gets your attention, as do the Wolverines’ skill players. If Harbaugh solves the quarterback puzzle, he’ll have a dangerous offense on his hands. Along those lines, Michigan has a third-year offensive coordinator in Josh Gattis. Wolverines fans want to see vast improvement from his unit.
Oct. 16, at Minnesota
Sound check: If you’re a Nebraska fan, you’re likely aware of a troubling trend. Minnesota has won three of the past four games in this series, including blowout triumphs in 2017 and 2019 in Minneapolis. Last season, the Gophers prevailed 24-17 in Lincoln despite being without 33 players due to COVID-19. Volume reading: 7. Because of the above reasons, Nebraska fans will watch this game with an especially discerning eye. There was a time when Husker fans would never dream of Minnesota gaining the upper hand on dear ol’ NU for a sustained period. Give P.J. Fleck ample credit here. Even with last year’s disappointing 3-4 finish, he’s 26-19 in four years at the school — and now he has one of the most experienced teams in the Big Ten. Turn ’em up: If Nebraska’s veteran defense can hold up against Minnesota’s rushing attack — not an easy task — the Gophers will have to turn to a passing attack that was anemic last season and appears to lack scary playmakers on the perimeter other than senior Chris Autman-Bell.
Turn ’em down: Minnesota’s defense last season had trouble replacing seven starters, including four NFL draft picks. But once defensive coordinator Joe Rossi simplified the scheme, the unit tightened up. In their last two games, the Gophers held Nebraska to 17 points and Wisconsin to 20. Seven starters return on the unit, including dynamic pass-rusher Boye Mafe (4½ of the teams eight sacks last season).
Oct. 30, vs. Purdue
Sound check: This is the type of game Nebraska simply has to win. Whatever momentum Purdue built in fifth-year head coach Jeff Brohm’s first two seasons has been overshadowed by a 6-12 record the past two. The Boilermakers are on their third defensive coordinator in the last three years, and their special teams have been awful much of the time. Brohm is hoping four SEC transfers bolster the defense. Volume reading: 5. This may seem a little on the low side, but nobody would blame Nebraska fans if they are looking ahead toward a rugged — but potentially exciting — November schedule. Turn ’em up: Purdue not only has a new defensive coordinator in Brad Lambert, but also a revamped defensive staff. The Boilermakers ranked 94th in pass defense last season in part because they recorded a league-worst five sacks during a 2-4 season that ended with four straight losses. Rutgers and Nebraska both scored 37 points against Brohm’s crew in that stretch. The Huskers once again should put up a big number.
Turn ’em down: Granted, speedy receiver Rondale Moore bolted for the NFL a year early. Even so, Purdue has impressive remaining weapons, most notably 6-foot-2, 205-pound junior David Bell (139 receptions and 15 touchdowns in his career). Running back Zander Horvath is a load to bring to the ground and is also productive as a pass catcher (47 career receptions).
Nov. 6, vs. Ohio State
Sound check: Many Nebraska fans and media actually came away encouraged in the aftermath of the Huskers’ 52-17 loss last season at Ohio State — which goes to show how far apart the programs have been of late. Make no mistake, though, this version of the Buckeyes doesn’t appear to be a major threat to win a national title, in part because they’ll have a young starting quarterback. They are, however, the hands-down best pick to capture a fifth straight Big Ten championship. Volume reading: 9. Whenever the Buckeyes come to town, it’s a monumental event. They’re college football royalty, with appearances in four of the seven College Football Playoffs. They’re a machine, much like Nebraska’s program in the 1990s. This game should bring out the best in the Huskers, as long as they approach it the right way. Turn ’em up: Ohio State’s pass defense struggled mightily last season. How mightily? The Buckeyes ranked 122nd nationally in that category, surrendering 304.0 passing yards per game. Ohio State’s defensive issues in Kerry Coombs’ first season as coordinator left some to wonder if he’s the right man for the job. Keep in mind, Ohio State finished 7-1 last season and reached the national championship game (a 52-24 loss to Alabama). The standards are incredibly high in Buckeye country — anything less than a national title is basically considered a disappointment.
Turn ’em down: Ohio State’s receiving corps — led by Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson — is widely regarded as being the best in the nation. The Buckeyes also feature a dynamic tight end in Jeremy Ruckert as well as two of the nation’s best offensive tackles in Thayer Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frere. All that talent will take pressure off whoever starts at quarterback — most likely redshirt freshman C.J. Stroud.
Nov. 20, at Wisconsin
Sound check: Wisconsin has won seven in a row in the series. This season, with what figures to be one of the nation’s top defenses, UW capturing eight in a row looks pretty promising. Volume reading: 8. We harken to one of former Nebraska coach Bill Callahan’s favorite sayings. “The games to remember are the games in November.” If the Huskers end their skid against the Badgers in Camp Randall Stadium this season, NU fans will reminisce about it for years and years to come. Turn ’em up: Nebraska’s veteran defense will square off against a Wisconsin offense that last season averaged only 345.6 yards and 25.1 points, its fewest in both categories since 2004. After beginning last season with a bang, quarterback Graham Mertz dealt with COVID-19 and ultimately ended up 79th nationally in passing efficiency (125.2).
Turn ’em down: Maybe we buried the most important part of the story. That is, Wisconsin returns four starters along its offensive line. What’s more, the Badgers have one of the nation’s best tight ends in Jake Ferguson, the grandson of Barry Alvarez. You have to think offensive-minded head coach Paul Chryst will get the offense on track this season.
Nov. 26, vs. Iowa
Sound check: Iowa has won six in a row in the series, but Nebraska has been within a touchdown in each of the past three outings. The 2021 Hawkeyes don’t appear to be as strong in the trenches as previous outfits. Volume reading: 9. Hey, this is a bona fide rivalry game, and it’s easy to imagine there being plenty on the line for both teams. Bottom line, it’s time for Nebraska to break down the door in this series. Turn ’em up: Iowa lost three of its four defensive line starters from last year’s high-grade unit, and its offensive line has a pair of new starting tackles. On the other hand, junior center Tyler Linderbaum is widely regarded as the nation’s best player at his position. That provides some comfort for quarterback Spencer Petras, who was solid down the stretch last season.
Turn ’em down: Iowa closed last season with six straight wins. Yes, the Hawkeyes have some key question marks. But they have the look of a team that could win a wide-open division.
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