Offensive line no longer Nebraska's strength

Nebraska no longer dominates the trenches, Kevin Jones is a legitimate Heisman hopeful and Michigan needs a tight end.

Updated: June 16, 2003, 5:15 PM ET
By Mel Kiper Jr. |
Q: Can Frank Solich and Nebraska come back from a 7-7 record with a revamped offensive line? -- Tommy Brown, Sunnyvale, Calif.
Jammal Lord
Jammal Lord is a quality QB, but he will need some help if NU is going to bounce back.
The biggest obstacle Nebraska has to overcome is not a retooled new offensive or new defensive scheme, but rather the depth of the Big 12 conference. The Huskers open the season at home against Oklahoma State and face Penn State in Lincoln two weeks later, and those are very important games.

Both teams beat Nebraska last year, including an embarrassing 40-7 rout at Penn State, and winning those games would go a long way toward getting some of that Husker swagger back. And Nebraska will need all the momentum in can get going into the latter part of its schedule, which includes games at Missouri, Texas and Colorado, as well as visits from Texas A&M and Kansas State.

I like quarterback Jammal Lord, though. He can run the option and needs only to be adequate throwing the ball, and some of the criticism he has faced during his career has been unwarranted. I don't know if Lord is the next Tommy Frazier, but he can be better in the passing game than Eric Crouch and is a very underrated quarterback. If he can get the support he needs from David Horne at running back and Ross Pilkington at wide receiver.

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst
Mel Kiper has served as an NFL draft analyst for ESPN since 1984. He is a regular contributor on SportsCenter and ESPN Radio and writes weekly for ESPN Insider.