There is very little doubt that excitement surrounds the Nebraska football team, especially on offense. The Huskers showed quite a bit of promise towards the end of last season, most notably on offense.

That improvement alone has people excited to see what the Cornhuskers can do when they take the field for real in 2019.

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On Saturday, fans will get a glimpse during the annual Spring Game, but that's also not going to be something to really base an opinion on.

That game, despite having more than 70,000 attendees and being on national television, is just a glorified practice. A glorified practice that will have some notable absences such as Wandale Robinson and Maurice Washington. The real reason should be excited about the 2019 season is because of what we've already seen in the past from Scott Frost and company.

Nebraska on the verge of a big imrpvement [Image via C4/YouTube]
Nebraska on the verge of a big imrpvement [Image via C4/YouTube]

Nebraska offensive improvements are a look to the future

Mitch Sherman of the Athletic wrote a very deep dive on just why similarities between UCF and Nebraska in Scott Frost's first years should get fans excited. Then, when you look at the kind of improvements that were made in the second year at the AAC school, Husker fans should be positively giddy.

It's not just a matter of improving scoring averages or yards per play. Those are things that did indeed improve year after year under Frost.

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They are also things that improved from Mike Riley's last year to Scott Frost's first year in Nebraska. It's more interesting than that.

As Sherman pointed out, the Knights had a modest, but very real improvement in drives that ended in touchdowns and offensive plays over 20 yards. In Frost's first season, UCF jumped from 125th and 127th to 113th and 96th respectively.

The Cornhuskers were 73rd and 66th in Riley's final season in both stats. In Frost's first year with the Nebraska football team, they were 68th and 25th. That big play ranking was a much bigger jump than he saw at UCF. It's a safe bet that's because of the incredible performance of Adrian Martinez.

The second year at Nebraska could hold big things

Now, looking at what happened at UCF between Frost's first and second year at UCF and projecting what could happen at Nebraska, the turnaround could be quicker than anyone has been allowing themselves to hope.

In the coaching staff's second year for the Knights, the team finished second in both the previously mentioned categories. Not coincidentally, that season was McKenzie Milton's second under center.

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2019 will obviously be Adrian Martinez's second for the Nebraska football team and the entire team's second running Scott Frost's offense.

What could be the icing on the cake are the defensive improvements from 2017 to 2018 for Erik Chinander's group. Yes, it's hard to go anywhere but up after the disaster that was Bob Diaco, but Nebraska still showed promise among the blackshirts as well, even if there were still hiccups.

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Yards per rushing attempt allowed went down a full half-yard. Opponent passer rating went from over 138 to 118. Yards per play were also reduced by a half yard (something that could be important over the course of a game). Even the much-maligned special teams showed improvement in kick coverage over the course of the season.

It's not as though Nebraska football fans are going to be hard pressed to find reasons to be optimistic in 2019. What's important to note with these statistics is that the optimism isn't just blind loyalty or blind hope.

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