Opening camp: Nebraska

August, 6, 2010
8/06/10
3:30
PM ET
Schedule: Practice starts Saturday

What’s new: The safeties. Larry Asante and Matt O'Hanlon are gone, and in their place will likely be Austin Cassidy and Rickey Thenarse, who missed all of last season with a knee injury.

Key battle: Quarterback. Zac Lee, Cody Green and Taylor Martinez will go at it in preseason camp. Green and Martinez are more athletic, but Lee started most of last season and is the more polished passer. Lee missed all of spring after surgery on his throwing elbow, and coach Bo Pelini says the younger two closed the gap without Lee to grab hold of the starting job.

New on the scene: Defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler. The heir apparent to Ndamukong Suh, he'll try to benefit from the attention sure to be shown his fellow defensive tackle Jared Crick, who was named the preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Breaking out: Safety/linebacker hybrid Eric Hagg. The centerpiece of Nebraska's "Peso" scheme, Hagg will be a safety playing third linebacker in a 4-3 scheme that's capable of dropping back into pass coverage or coming off the edge on a speed rush. His 6-foot-1, 200-pound frame is solid, but his speed allows him to be versatile.

Don’t forget about: The running backs. Roy Helu Jr. rumbled for more than 1,200 yards last season, and sophomore Rex Burkhead figures to take a few of Helu's carries this season. If the offensive line dominates, both might flirt with 1,000 yards.

All eyes on: The entire defense. Pelini famously said this defense could be "five times better" than it was last year. But the Huskers gave up just more than 10 points a game during the previous season, the best in the country. If he can duplicate that performance after losing three players to the NFL Draft, including Suh, Pelini might take a reputation as a defensive mastermind to the Big Ten in 2011.

Quoting: "Business as usual. The way we run our program is we talk to our guys about focusing on the process and what they have to do on a day to day basis to have an opportunity to compete. That hasn't changed. You know, we really haven't talked much about it. We're looking forward to the fall, and we've been doing our homework on the opponents" -- Nebraska coach Bo Pelini on the move to the Big Ten

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