Husker Rushing Tiers


Husker Rushing Tiers

Its been a long four years for “Run the Ball” at Nebraska. Devine Ozigbo in 2018 provided some optimism for the Scott Frost offense to become Nebraska’s first Tier 2 rusher since Ameer Abdullah’s Tier 1 season in 2014. Nebraska’s top rusher throughout the Mike Riley era was Terrell Newby in 2016. He could only muster 67 YPG rushing and 7 TDs on the season. For more details about the tiers see this post.

Average RB Stats by Tier (1998- 2018)

Att
Yards
TD
Avg
Rec
Rec.Yds
Rec.TD
Tier 1
22.31
127.17
1.26
5.70
1.75
16.07
0.09
Tier 2
17.26
89.78
0.82
5.20
1.54
13.74
0.07
Tier 3
12.71
61.98
0.56
4.88
1.28
11.04
0.06
Tier 4
9.01
38.31
0.35
4.25
0.97
7.98
0.04

Nebraska’s dearth of Tier 1 rushers extends beyond just the Mike Riley era. Talented backs such as Rex Burkhead, Roy Helu Jr., and Cory Ross could only crack Tier 2 status running the ball. Since 1998, only Dahrran Diedrick and Ameer Abdullah produced Tier 1 seasons (Diedrick in 2001, Abdullah in 2013, 2014). 

Frank Solich

Somewhat surprising was the lack of elite production from the Solich era producing only a single Tier 1 rusher. What Solich may have lacked in quality he made up for in quantity. In 2002, three Huskers qualified for sports-reference.com rushing leader list. Quarterback Jamal Lord qualified as a Tier 2 rusher that season after failing to qualify for the passing leader lists. While no player in 2003 cracked the top two tiers, three Huskers qualified as Tier 4 rusher with another as a Tier 3 rusher. Any two of the player’s production combined would easily qualify as a Tier 2 player and maybe even a Tier 1 player.


Bill Callahan

Bill Callahan’s “Pound the Rock” era graded out better than expected. The only year that did not produced a top two tier rusher was 2006. While they did not qualify for the rushing leader lists, Cody Glenn and Kenny Wilson combined to produce another 705 yards rushing along a dozen more TDs in 2006. While the 2007 season was perhaps more remembered for Marlon Lucky’s ability to catch the check down from Sam Keller, Lucky still produced a Tier 2 rushing season with nearly 85 yards per game. 


Bo Pelini

Bo Pelini’s rushing attack was blessed with a future NFL running back headlining the attack each season he coached. With three players splitting the load in 2008, no player qualified as a top two tier rusher. He would not fail to reach this mark again in his tenure with Roy Helu Jr. producing Tier 2 seasons in 2009 and 2010, Rex Burkhead reaching Tier 2 in 2011 and 2012, and Ameer Abdullah reaching the top tier in 2013 and 2014. 


Mike Riley

The Mike Riley era was the darkest era in terms of ground production. None of his running backs ever reached Tier 2 status. Terrell Newby in 2016 had the best rushing season for Riley, averaging 67 YPG.


Scott Frost

Only two Husker head coaches produced a Tier 2 rushing or better in their inaugural season: Bill Callahan and Scott Frost. While Cory Ross and Brandon Jackson produced similar per game numbers to Devine Ozigbo and Maurice Washington, the 2004 duo didn’t have a third player stealing rushing yards from them. Tierre Green only managed 284 rushing yards for the Huskers in 2004. Adrian Martinez rushed for 629 additional yards on the ground in 2018. Despite a similar start, the Husker rushing attack appears to be headed in a better direction than in 2004. In 2019, “Run the Ball” guy may be able to smile again.

Who was your favorite Nebraska rusher the past 20 years?

Nebraska RB Tiers since 1998
Name
Year
G
Att
Yards
Avg
TD
Rec
Rec.Yds
Rec.TD
Tier
Devine Ozigbo
2018
12
12.92
90.17
6.98
1.00
1.92
16.92
0.00
2
Maurice Washington
2018
11
7.00
41.36
5.91
0.27
2.18
20.09
0.09
4
Mikale Wilbon
2017
11
8.00
34.45
4.31
0.55
1.91
7.27
0.00
4
Devine Ozigbo
2017
10
12.90
49.30
3.82
0.30
1.60
12.30
0.00
4
Terrell Newby
2016
13
14.62
67.62
4.63
0.54
1.38
11.46
0.08
3
Devine Ozigbo
2016
9
10.78
45.78
4.25
0.56
0.56
11.11
0.00
4
Terrell Newby
2015
13
11.31
58.85
5.20
0.46
1.85
12.23
0.08
3
Imani Cross
2015
12
9.33
37.58
4.03
0.50
0.17
0.83
0.00
4
Ameer Abdullah
2014
13
20.31
123.92
6.10
1.46
1.69
20.69
0.23
1
Imani Cross
2014
11
6.82
34.91
5.12
0.45
0.00
0.00
0.00
4
Ameer Abdullah
2013
13
21.62
130.00
6.01
0.69
2.00
17.85
0.15
1
Imani Cross
2013
13
6.54
34.38
5.26
0.77
0.31
1.00
0.00
4
Rex Burkhead
2012
8
12.25
84.38
6.89
0.63
1.38
11.50
0.25
2
Ameer Abdullah
2012
14
16.14
81.21
5.03
0.57
1.71
12.71
0.14
2
Rex Burkhead
2011
13
21.85
104.38
4.78
1.15
1.62
13.62
0.15
2
Roy Helu Jr.
2010
14
13.43
88.93
6.62
0.79
0.36
3.29
0.00
2
Rex Burkhead
2010
14
12.29
67.93
5.53
0.50
1.07
10.57
0.00
3
Roy Helu Jr.
2009
14
15.71
81.93
5.21
0.71
1.36
10.64
0.00
2
Roy Helu Jr.
2008
12
10.42
66.92
6.42
0.58
2.08
22.17
0.00
3
Quentin Castille
2008
13
8.15
35.92
4.41
0.46
0.69
8.38
0.00
4
Marlon Lucky
2008
12
10.42
43.08
4.14
0.58
2.17
24.00
0.08
4
Marlon Lucky
2007
12
17.17
84.92
4.95
0.75
6.25
58.75
0.25
2
Quentin Castille
2007
12
6.33
28.58
4.51
0.33
0.25
2.75
0.00
4
Brandon Jackson
2006
14
13.43
70.64
5.26
0.57
2.36
22.36
0.14
3
Marlon Lucky
2006
14
10.07
52.00
5.16
0.43
2.29
27.36
0.00
3
Cory Ross
2005
12
18.75
73.50
3.92
0.42
3.58
32.67
0.25
2
Cory Ross
2004
11
18.82
100.18
5.32
0.55
1.91
23.82
0.18
2
Brandon Jackson
2004
10
8.50
39.00
4.59
0.60
0.00
0.00
0.00
4
Jammal Lord
2003
13
16.54
72.92
4.41
0.77
0.00
0.00
0.00
3
Cory Ross
2003
13
10.00
44.23
4.42
0.31
0.15
2.77
0.00
4
Josh Davis
2003
13
10.62
46.15
4.35
0.15
0.31
1.62
0.00
4
David Horne
2003
12
8.92
36.75
4.12
0.33
0.08
0.42
0.00
4
Jammal Lord
2002
14
17.93
100.86
5.63
0.57
0.00
0.00
0.00
2
Dahrran Diedrick
2002
14
12.79
66.50
5.20
0.43
0.29
1.36
0.00
3
David Horne
2002
9
14.11
72.33
5.13
0.78
0.44
0.78
0.00
3
Thunder Collins
2001
12
7.83
53.92
6.88
0.42
1.58
15.75
0.00
3
Dahrran Diedrick
2001
11
21.18
118.09
5.58
1.36
0.09
-0.45
0.00
1
Correll Buckhalter
2000
11
9.64
68.18
7.08
0.64
0.45
7.73
0.09
3
Dan Alexander
2000
11
16.55
104.91
6.34
0.73
0.18
1.55
0.00
2
Dan Alexander
1999
12
11.17
72.08
6.46
0.67
0.33
4.67
0.00
3
Correll Buckhalter
1999
11
10.09
60.18
5.96
0.55
0.27
1.91
0.00
3
Correll Buckhalter
1998
12
11.83
66.58
5.63
0.67
1.08
7.33
0.00
3
Joel Makovicka
1998
12
8.08
38.17
4.72
0.17
0.33
5.58
0.00
4
Bobby Newcombe
1998
6
13.83
38.00
2.75
1.33
0.00
0.00
0.00
4

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