Nebraska football: Huskers have something special in WR Trey Palmer, RB Anthony Grant
Trey Palmer continues to become more comfortable in Nebraska’s offense. His weekly numbers continue to take an upward trajectory as he’s quickly become Casey Thompson’s go-to target.
Anthony Grant continues to be the alpha dog in Nebraska’s backfield. He ran for 132 yards on a 32 carries against Indiana. It was the 4th time in 5 games he’s topped 100 yards on the ground.
The dynamic duo is displaying their talents on the big stage weekly. Each game their confidence grows.
Palmer recorded his first career 100-yard game Saturday. His 8 catches for 157 yards were both career highs. His 71-yard TD reception early in the 4th that put the Huskers ahead to stay showed off his ability to stretch the field.
Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple is getting creative in finding ways to get him the ball. Starting in the slot, putting him in motion, using an array of routes are all ways the LSU transfer is getting himself open and targeted.
He’s shown his versatility by returning kicks as well. He was a dynamic kick returner at LSU, returning 23 punts for 188 yards and a TD. Palmer’s ceiling is high, and the Huskers are reaping the benefits of his improved chemistry with Thompson.
Palmer on a record pace
Continuing at his current pace puts Palmer in line to eclipse school records in receptions in a season (Marlon Lucky, 75 in 2007) and receiving yards (Stanley Morgan Jr., 1,004 in 2018). He currently ranks No. 16 nationally in receiving yards.
Palmer was matter-of-fact when asked about his 71-yard TD grab.
“I do that at practice,” Palmer told reporters following the game. “My number got called. I made the play.”
He’s been a no-nonsense kind of guy since arriving on campus. The coaching turmoil of the early-season hasn’t seemed to bother him. He goes about his business and has stepped up when called upon.
The offseason portal was kind to Nebraska. Palmer has hit the ground running since Day 1. And Nebraska’s offense is better because of it.
Grant turning heads as NU’s workhorse back
Grant has reached the 600-yard rushing mark just 5 games into the season. He ranks 8th nationally in rushing, averaging 120 yards a game. Impressive stuff from the Florida State and New Mexico Military Institute transfer.
Nebraska hasn’t had a back of Grant’s caliber since Ameer Abdullah. He shows strength, agility and durability. His jump cuts rival those of some of the NFL’s best. He’s running behind an offensive line that’s been less than dominant, yet he finds ways to turn losses into gains.
Anthony Grant running angry.
Like seeing Thompson take the yardage with the scramble because he has to. LB’s have played deeper all year because he refuses to run.
Give your receiver more space by taking the yardage #NEBvsIU make a LB play closer to the LOS pic.twitter.com/zbbmNDU3Kq
— What does the film say? (@Huskers_film) October 2, 2022
In Nebraska’s 12-play, 54-yard game-clinching drive vs. the Hoosiers, Grant carried 8 times. The drive ended with a 1-yard Thompson TD. But to everyone in Memorial Stadium, there was no question who the bell cow of the drive was.
He’s already run for 75 more yards than Nebraska’s leading rusher in all of 2021. There are still 7 games to play. Assuming he stays healthy, how high he climbs the single-season charts is anyone’s guess.
In order to win in the Big Ten, you need a running game, something Nebraska’s lacked in recent years. Could Grant be the difference maker in 2022? Who knows. But his presence certainly helped the Huskers move the chains and eat clock late with the lead against Indiana. It’s something interim coach Mickey Joseph certainly took note of.
Start of something bigger?
Each week the B1G West becomes more jumbled. Minnesota, last week the clear favorite, got dumped at home by Purdue. Iowa’s offense remains a hot mess, as the Hawks were beaten by Michigan. Wisconsin just fired Paul Chryst. The division is literally up for grabs.
Nebraska enters a pivotal 4-game stretch with a Friday road game at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are licking their wounds from a 49-10 drubbing at the hands of Ohio State.
Then comes a trip to West Lafayette to face Purdue. Back-to-back home games against division foes Illinois and Minnesota follow. A gauntlet it’s not. As crazy as it seems, Nebraska could play itself into B1G West contention heading into November.
How can the Huskers do it? Continuing to get better play from its revamped defense is key. But on offense, the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies. Keep feeding the ball to its talented pair of skill players.
If the first 5 games are any indication, Palmer and Grant will continue doing work.