Thursday, June 7, 2012
The Nebraska Cornhuskers entered the 2011 season as the new guy in the Big Ten. They were able to finish conference play 5-3 and finished with an overall record of 9-4. The expectations were very high for the Huskers with many feeling they could win the Legends Division if not the whole Big Ten. But after disappointing losses to Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Michigan, their dreams were shattered. This year's team will have a lot of returning starters on offense and defense but questions will still remain.
The Cornhusker offense finished 66th in Total Offense last year. They have a great weapon in Taylor Martinez but many feel he has yet to utilize everything into a complete player. Nebraska finished 104th in passing offense last year and will have to have Martinez improve his accuracy and patience in the pocket. Martinez tends to be impatient in the pocket and would rather make a play with his legs rather than wait for a play to develop. The Rushing Offense of Nebraska was one of the tops in the nation finishing 15th. Returning running backs Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah combined with Taylor Martinez to rush for nearly 2,500 yards. They also rushed for 27 of the 31 rushing touchdowns for Nebraska. Look for Burkhead and Martinez to continue running wild if the Huskers can fill the gaps at both tackles and the center position. Seung Hoon Choi and Andrew Rodriguez split time last year at the guard position while Spencer Long steadied the other side. Choi looked to have had the better spring and will be leading Rodriguez heading into fall camp. The Wide Receivers were led by Kenny Bell last year. He led the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns .Quincy Enunwa will come back as another wide receiver threat that has room for a bigger statistical season if Taylor Martinez can get the ball to his receivers.
The Husker defense finished last year ranked 37th in Total Defense. While this is an improvement for the team, it is not near the dominant Black Shirt defenses of Tom Osborne. Defensive stopper Lavonte David has left for the NFL and Will Compton will be looked at to lead a resurgent unit. Cameron Meredith had the second most sacks on the Cornhusker defense last year and will be back for his senior season at defensive end. The Huskers will need to improve on their 64th ranked running defense if they are to reach the potential they have. Nebraska's secondary will have three starters returning including Daimion Stafford who was tied for the lead in interceptions on the team. Stafford along with Andrew Green and Ciante Evans will try to improve upon their 18th ranked passing defense. If the Huskers are able to shore up their running defense, they have potential to have a very special season.
The Huskers have a moderately tough non-conference schedule with Southern Miss, a trip to UCLA, and home contests against Arkansas State and Idaho State before the start of the Big Ten run. A brutal six game run for the Huskers starts off their Big Ten schedule with Wisconsin at home, at Ohio State and Northwestern, home for Michigan, at Michigan State and finally home for Penn State. If they can get through this run 4-2 or even 5-1 they will be in the driver's seat for the Legends Division. I think that Nebraska and Bo Polini have a lot going for them coming into the 2012 season and have them going 9-3 with potential for much better. The biggest factors will be be Taylor Martinez's development and if they can stop the run.